TARKAA DAVID x-rays the impact of Operation Wutan Daji II, against banditry and other criminals in the Northwest part of the country.
Bandits have laid siege on the Northwest communities following the activities of illegal mining. Reports have indicated that illegal mining is a major source of funds for bandits and other criminal elements operating in the Northwest with sophisticated weapons. Others believe it is as a result of the dislodgement of terrorists from the Northeast following both air and land offensives.
The war against banditry and other criminal elements received a significant boost with the deployment of additional air assets for Operation Wutan Daji II to smoke out armed bandits following the successes of Operation Wutan Daji I.
The Operation, which is a subsidiary of Operation Hadarin Daji, has successfully destroyed several bandits enclaves and neutralised scores of bandits and provided support to ground troops in the Northwest.
For instance, on 13 September, 2020 the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji decimated an armed bandits’ camp in the Doumborou Forest area of Zamfara State. The airstrike resulted in the killing of several armed bandits belonging to the gang led by ‘Dangote’.
Military authorities said that the target was designated for the attack, after Human Intelligence (HUMINT) reports as well as series of confirmatory aerial surveillance missions indicated that ‘Dangote’ and some of his members, along with their logistics items and rustled livestock, had established a new camp at the southern edge of the forest.
According to them, “The Air Component, therefore, dispatched an enhanced force package of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets and helicopter gunships to attack the location. The attack aircraft engaged the target area scoring accurate hits and taking out several of the bandits, while some of their structures were seen engulfed in flames. HUMINT sources later revealed that several of ‘Dangote’s followers were neutralised in the airstrike.”
Similarly, on 25th September 2020, the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji on 15 September, 2020 also eliminated several armed bandits and destroyed their logistics facilities in the Kwiambana Forest area of Zamfara State in massive airstrikes.
The location was designated for an attack after HUMINT reports and confirmatory Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions, established that the cluster of huts and other structures at the edge of the forest served as a hideout for notorious bandits’ leaders ‘Sani Mochoko’ and ‘Damina’ and some of their fighters.
According to the military authorities, the Air Component, therefore, scrambled NAF jets and helicopter gunships to attack the location. The attack aircraft were said to have taken turns in engaging the target area resulting in significant damage to the bandits’ structures as well as the killing of several of their fighters.
The NAF director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement, said the NAF, through the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI (AC OPHD), had decimated 7 armed bandits camps and neutralized close to 100 armed bandits in air interdiction missions executed under Operation WUTAN DAJI 2 from 12 – 16 September 2020.
He said the Air Component conducted 18 missions in 82 sorties, flying over 100 operational hours with about 36,000 litres of Jet A1 fuel expended during the subsidiary operation, which was aimed at taking out some identified locations in Zamfara and Katsina States, including hideouts within the Doumbourou and Kwiambana Forests as well as at Dutse Asola and Dutsen Bagai.
This was revealed after the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, had undertaken an operational visit to the AC OPHD Headquarters in Katsina on 17 September 2020 where he expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the Operation Wutan Daji 2.
He commended the Air Component for the successes so far recorded and urged them to sustain the intensity of operations in order to deny the armed bandits safe havens as well as curtail their ability to attack innocent civilians.
While in Katsina, the CAS also inspected facilities and ongoing projects at the NAF Base and interacted with the pilots as well as other officers, airmen and airwomen of the AC OPHD.
Speaking after the briefing and inspection, the CAS expressed his satisfaction with the level of progress made and results achieved.
The Air Chief, therefore, commended the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command (AOC SOC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Charles Ohwo, as well as the Air Component Commander and his staff for their commitment towards securing the lives and properties of people in the affected areas.
While stating that the subsidiary Operation WUTAN DAJI 2 was part of the overall effort to eliminate armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements from troubled parts of the North West and North Central Zones of the Country under the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led Operation Hadarin Daji, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the missions conducted had translated into the relative peace being experienced in Zamfara and surrounding States.
He reiterated that the NAF would continue to work in synergy with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies until lasting peace is restored to all parts of the Country.
The CAS added that he had also noted the infrastructural gaps in the NAF Base Katsina which, he said, the Service is working hard to address in order to ensure that personnel who are conducting combat missions and maintaining the aircraft have conducive work and home environments to enable them to be more effective in carrying out their various tasks.
Air Marshal Abubakar while thanking the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his support that had enabled the Service to acquire new aircraft and reactivate erstwhile unserviceable platforms, conduct robust and result oriented training as well as provide necessary infrastructure and meet other welfare needs of personnel noted that this had empowered the Service to continue to contribute meaningfully towards ensuring the security of Nigeria and Nigerians.
While addressing the personnel, the CAS urged them to continue to contribute their quota towards mission accomplishment. He said HQ NAF, on its part, would ensure the sustained availability of aircraft and associated equipment, along with the necessary logistics support at various airfields.
He, therefore, urged the personnel not to give the bandits any breathing space but sustain the tempo of operations by locating all remaining bandits’ camps and neutralising the criminals, wherever they may be found.
Operation Wutan Daji II has proven to be a cracking response as it has successfully eliminated several armed bandits and destroyed their camps and logistics facilities and equipment. There is no doubt that the conduct of such subsidiary operations as well as sustainment of actions on the ground will bring an end to the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements in the Northwest zone of the country.