Following renewed military operations in Zamfara and Kastina states, security forces are at a heightened state of watchfulness in border communities to check fleeing bandits from escaping the states.
In Niger State, a joint security camp set up to track fleeing bandits from infiltrating the state has killed 40 of them.
Government sources hinted that the bandits-prone states have resolved to increase security around forest reserves in the boundaries of their respective states
A security source told LEADERSHIP yesterday that in view of the new resolve, operational plans are ongoing to make it difficult for the bandits to set up camps in the forests.
Consequently, at the weekend fleeing bandits suspected to be from Kastina and Zamfara state were chased out of Kamuku, Allawa and the forest adjoining Mariga local government area in Niger State.
It was learnt at the weekend that the joint operations were sponsored by the neighbouring states of Kaduna, Kastina and Zamfara in a renewed inter-state cooperation to fight banditry.
The security sources hinted that “the joint operations at the weekend saw to the killing of 40 of the bandits fleeing the ongoing military operation in Zamfara and Katsina states.
“We took the offensive to them following a tipoff and we set up before they could set up along the forests, and in all the operations at the weekend, 40 of them were killed. Some of them escaped with gunshot wounds and we recovered some of their arms and ammunition.
According to the source, “Unlike in the past, with the new collaboration, there is synergy among us. Now we know when they will be fleeing from one operation and the way to make sure they will not set up camp to abduct people for ransom.”
LEADERSHIP recalls that Governor Nasir el-Rufai had said in Minna recently that “the problem of banditry and insurgence has been around for a while. The governor of Niger state and I have, more than two and half years ago, presented what we felt were the solutions to banditry activities in our states.
“My advice to the new service chiefs is to look at what has been recommended and what has been done by their predecessors. So, what the new service chiefs need to do is to build on the foundation build by their predecessors.
Niger State governor Abubakar Sani Bello, on his part, has been very consistent in calling for inter-state collaborations and holding talks with his northwest and north central counterparts.
We’re Getting Results, says Katsina Govt
In Katsina State, the special adviser to the governor on security matters, Ibrahim Ahmed Katsina, told LEADERSHIP yesterday that the measures taken to combat insecurity are yielding positive results in the fight against banditry, thanking the people for complying with government directives.
He said the government would continue to do its best to put to an end to banditry and other related crimes and criminality in the state.
Investigation by LEADERSHIP revealed that some bandits who escaped from the ongoing military onslaught in Zamfara State now regrouping in Safana and Danmusa local government areas of Katsina State.
Credible sources said the bandits were forced to relocate from some villages in Zamfara to the area because of hunger and hardship.
According to him, the bandits’ presence in the areas is causing panic and tension as people no longer go to their farms, and they fear the hoodlums would try to invade their community in search of food.
He gave the affected villages as Gobirawa, Guxurawa, Gora, Hankibiri, Kabuke, Dandire, Malama, Kaiga Mara Zafarawa and Katsina in Danmusa local government.
He called on the government and security agencies to come to their aid as a matter of urgency to protect the people on that axis.
Katsina State government has recently taken several measures as part of the containment tactics agreed to by the Northwest states to tackle bandits’ attacks and other nefarious activities bedeviling the zone.
The last measure was the shutdown of mobile network services in the 13 local government areas of the state, including Danmusa and Safana.
We Are Alert To Influx From Zamfara – Police
The Kaduna Police Command has said there is no room for alarm as the Command is aware of an influx of people from Zamfara State following the offensive against bandits in the state.
According to the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), ASP Mohammed Jalige, the Kaduna State police Commissioner has ordered all the police sectors to be on the alert as to movement of suspicious persons into the state.
He said, “The police are fully aware that the bandits may want to use Kaduna State among other neighbouring states as a hideout, but be assured that the police is not going to leave any stone unturned to ensure that they don’t have any hiding place in the state.”
According to him, the police had been ordered, amongst others, to be suspicious of motorists into the state.
He called on the citizens to be watchful of their surroundings and report suspicious persons and movements to the security agencies for prompt action.
Military Disowns Gory Pictures On Zamfara Operations
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has dismissed a report of trending gory pictures with the caption “Alhamdulillah. ZamfaraMustSecure” purporting to be from the ongoing military operations against banditry in Zamfara State.
The director defence information, Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, in a statement, said the allegation contained in the publication is false and malicious and has no link whatsoever with the operations being conducted by troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN).
He said while it is true that the Armed Forces are currently conducting a successful military operation against bandits and kidnappers in line with its constitutional roles, “these operations are conducted in strict compliance with the rules of armed conflicts, utmost professional manner, strict adherence to rules of engagement and respect for fundamental human rights and dignity.”
He said the viral pictures being circulated had nothing in common with the ongoing operations.
“This callous action of linking ongoing operations with falsehood is deliberate and thus seeks to tarnish the good image and reputation of the AFN.
“For the record, the AFN conducts a fortnightly defence media operation brief in which pictures of the operations are displayed to compliment achievements in the ongoing operations. Any attempt therefore to portray the AFN in bad light as a crude force is unacceptable and unpatriotic,” he said.
He therefore, urged the general public to disregard the gory pictures, adding that the AFN will not rest on its oars in performing the constitutional mandate of ensuring that the nation remains safe and peaceful for all law-abiding citizens.
Also yesterday, the DHQ said it will not comment on ongoing military operations.
Defence spokesman Major General Sawyerr, while speaking with LEADERSHIP, queried why the Nigerian media keep questioning military operations and advised against such attitude.
He said questioning military operations gives out vital information to the adversaries.
“We don’t speak on our operations when they are going on. We planned an operation that has cornered these people and we are achieving results.
“By inquisitive questioning of military operations, we are giving out our strategies,” he said.
Speaking further, he said, “They said we are not doing anything, we are doing something now and they said the people are running; let us allow operations to end.”
31 Bethel Students Still In Captivity 68 Days After – CAN
Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed dissatisfaction over what it described as silence of Kaduna State government on the fate of the 31 students of Bethel Baptist High School still in kidnappers’ custody.
CAN queried the state government on the outcome of the military operation the government said was ongoing to root out the kidnappers from their hideouts.
The bandits had on 5th July, 2021 stormed the Baptist College located on Kaduna-Kachia road and kidnapped 121 students.
The students were later released in batches, with 31 of the students still in the bandit’s den 67 days after.
In a statement issued yesterday by its chairman, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, CAN demanded the immediate rescue of the 31 students from the kidnappers.
According to the CAN chairman, “Our Government has abandoned the 31 Bethel Baptist High school, Damishi, Kaduna, children in the bush with bandits.
“The silence about the 31 Baptist High School, children still in the hands of their captors is bad and condemnable.
“These children were taken away from their school on 5th July 2021. It is 67 days today and our leaders are silent as if all is well when truly all is not well. How can it be well when parents of these 31 children have not known sleep for these 67 days? Any caring leader will also not sleep. These children should be released or rescue without delay.
“We all know that Kaduna State Government closed down schools for over a month claiming that the military will go after bandits and have again asked all schools to reopen without bringing back our children.
“What happened with the military exercise that led to the closure of schools? Was it just another drama to divert the attention of parents and those sympathizing with the parents from the real situation?”
According to him, the church in Kaduna State will not keep quiet till all the children and everyone in captivity is released and returned home.
Anglican Primate Seeks More Openness From Military, Politicians On Insecurity
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) and the Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria and Bishop of Abuja Diocese, Most Revd. Henry Ndukuba, have disclosed that nothing brings down a nation like deceit, as they called on the military and the politicians to begin to be true to themselves.
The duo disclosed this at the dedication of the new church auditorium by the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Abuja Diocese yesterday.
Vice President Osinbajo particularly noted the forces of evil and hate are more vehement than ever.
Seeking concerted efforts to end the scourge, he said the battle between light and darkness is now more intense than ever.
The VP was, however, optimistic that the church will prevail.
According to him, “We must continue to build churches, knowing that everywhere we plant a church, we light the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men and this is the answer to all misery.
“Every church built is an important thing for the spread of God’s kingdom. Evangelism is crucial, but there must be a place dedicated for the disciple. That is why many agree that church planting is important for evangelism.”
Accordingly, Ndukuba said in times like this, the nation can overcome adversity by uniting.
The primate, therefore, called on politicians, religious leaders, and the state governors and the President to work together.
“We will overcome only as we unite. This is what we ought to do.
“But a situation in which there are infractions in our security, and we see clear compromise and betrayal in our system is unacceptable.
“Therefore, we call on the military and the politicians to begin to purge themselves. Let us be true. Nothing brings down a nation than deceit.
“Leadership deceit will compromise security, integrity, and good work that needs to be done for the common good of the people.”
Speaking further, he said the compromise must stop.
“If we love Nigeria, let us live as patriots. The labours of our heroes’ past shall never be in vain. We pray that God will arise for this nation someday,” he said.
The primate said the greatest weapon against anarchy is the power of God and his word.
“He has never failed. So let us live true to our faith. Let’s trust God and work with others.”
He stressed the need to encourage Nigerians not to give up.
“Yes, we have security, economic and so many other challenges confronting us. The church is part of society. We are not separate from what is happening around us. But we want to encourage everyone not to give up.
“God has not given upon us. So, we are trusting God that Nigeria will rise again soon. The role of the church should be to pray and also to teach the word of God,” he added.
In another development, Osinbajo and other clerics have called for more prayers as the Buhari administration works hard at solutions to the challenges confronting the nation.
They spoke yesterday at the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), City of David Parish, Utako, Abuja, where they prayed for an end to the spate of violent attacks in parts of the country.
Other dignitaries at the dedication of the City of the David building include Senator Philip Aduda; Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen and other officials.
Beside the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who joined the vice president at the Anglican church, there was also the former Information Minister, Prof. Jerry Gana, among others.