By Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity)
MAJOR SECURITY MILESTONES IN 2019, BY PRESIDENCY
These are no doubt times of great security challenges for our country, and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is not leaving any stone unturned to restore sanity and calm.
For the records, below are some of the security initiatives taken between January and now, for the safety and security of Nigerians:
Ø Operation Puff Adder (Nigerian Police), Operation HARBIN KUNAMA 3 (Nigerian Army) and Exercise Egwu Eke 3 (Nigerian Army) have all been launched in 2019, to complement the existing Operations Sharan Daji (launched in 2016 by the Nigerian Army) and Diran Mikiya (launched 2018 by the Nigerian Air Force). All of these operations are focused on tackling banditry and criminality in the North West of Nigeria.
Ø Operation HARBIN KUNAMA 3 was launched on 1 April 2019 to ensure the complete defeat of the bandits fleeing military operations in Zamfara and escaping into Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Niger and Sokoto States.
– Hundreds of kidnappers and bandits have been arrested or killed since January, several camps/hideouts destroyed; and hundreds of hostages rescued. In a two-week operation in February (lasting from Feb 4 to Feb 14), 80 hostages were freed by the Nigerian Army, with 37 bandits killed.
– Aerial bombardments of bandits’ camps have been intensified in recent months. A new Air Force Base – the 271 Nigerian Air Force Detachment (271 NAF Det) – was commissioned at Birinin Gwari in Kaduna State in May 2019, to complement the 207 Quick Response Group (QRG) established in Gusau, Zamfara State, in 2017.
Between January 2019 and the 1st week of May, 2019, a total of 270 suspected kidnappers, 275 suspected armed robbers, were arrested and 105 assorted weapons plus a large cache of ammunition recovered by the Nigerian Police within the states of the North West and North Central Nigeria.
● April 5- The Nigerian Police launched ‘Operation Puff Adder’, a multi-agency strategy, in collaboration with the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Department of State Services (DSS), tailored towards ridding the Kaduna – Abuja Expressway, Kogi, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states of all forms of crimes and criminality- kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle rustling, amongst others.
● April 9- Police operatives attached to ‘Operation Puff Adder’ arrested three notorious criminals involved in the kidnap of Channels Television’s staff, Mr. Friday Okeregbe- Hanniel Patrick, Abdulwahab Isah and Salisu Mohammed.
● April 10- Officers of the ‘Operation Puff Adder’ killed nine notorious criminals on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. 6 Ak47 Rifles, 1 Pump Action Gun, 1,206 Rounds of Ak47 Ammunition, 7 Magazines, 28 Cartridges And 158 Expended Shells were recovered from the criminals.
● April 16- Operatives attached to ‘Operation Puff Adder’ arrested one Mallam Salisu Abubakar, 48yrs old, a native of Dutsinma LGA, Katsina State. The Mallam, is a self-confessed spiritual father of kidnappers terrorizing Abuja-Kaduna expressway and parts of other North-West/North-Central states.
● Following the arrest of the kidnappers’ ‘spiritual father’, Police detectives attached to ‘Operation Puff Adder’, arrested 18 notorious kidnappers and armed robbers at different times and places across the country. A total of twenty- two (22) AK 47 rifles, five (5) locally fabricated pistols and a cache of live ammunition were recovered from the bandits.
● May 5- Operatives from ‘Operation Puff Adder’ rescued unhurt 27 kidnap victims including 5 Chinese nationals. The Chinese citizens who were earlier kidnapped on 15th April, 2019 in Bobi, Niger State, were safely and successfully rescued from a forest in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, following painstaking investigative efforts, including both air and ground surveillance. Two of the kidnappers died from injuries sustained during exchange of gun fire with the Police in the course of the rescue mission. Twenty-two other kidnap victims were rescued in Zamfara State and other parts of the country.
● 8 January – The Army flagged off ‘Exercise EGWU EKE III’ in 8 Division Nigerian Army’s area of responsibility at 1 Battalion, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State.
● 2 February- Troops of 8 Division of the Nigerian Army on ‘Exercise EGWU EKE III’, in conjunction with other security agencies recovered dangerous weapons from criminals and political thugs in Sokoto State. This has really contributed immensely to a peaceful security situation in the state.
● 15 March- Troops of 72 Special Forces Makurdi, deployed at Yelwata, in Guma LGA, which is a border town between Benue and Nasarawa states, while on patrol along Yelwata-Kadarko road engaged armed robbers in a gun battle, which resulted in the elimination of one of the armed robbers, while others took to their heels. The suspects were dressed in military desert camouflage and robbing motorists along the road.
● 13 April- Troops conducting ‘Operation Sharan Daji’ in Zamfara State killed 23 bandits and arrested 18 suspected informants, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and logistics suppliers to armed criminals in the state.
● 20 April- Troops on Operation ‘HABIN KUNAMA III’, based on credible intelligence about bandits’ movements in Kirsa and Sunke in Anka LGA, Zamfara State, continued with the clearance operation into the hinterland to clear the brigands, arresting 18 informants and recovering arms and motorcycles.
● 22 April- Troops of 72 Special Forces (SF) Battalion Makurdi deployed for internal security operation in Katsina-Ala LGA, Benue State, averted a terrible clash between two Tiv clans-Shitile and Ikyora in the early hours of that day. They exterminated 5 mercenaries, recovered arms and ammunition.
● May 8- A patrol team of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army raided a bandits’ den at Gonan Bature East of Rijana and Kasarami farm house in Chikun LGA, Kaduna State. The abandoned Kasarami farm house was reportedly forcefully occupied by criminals and had been used as a shelter and a place where victims of kidnapping were kept.
● May 8- Troops on Exercise ‘HARBIN KUNAMA III’ arrested a notorious logistics supplier for bandits crouching between Jibia-Batsari axis -one Marwana Abubakar was arrested at Kwashabawa village in Jibia LGA, Katsina State.
● May 8- Troops of 311 Artillery Regiment successfully conducted a raid operation on a suspected facility in Kontagora township, Niger State. During the raid, some weapons were discovered and recovered.
NIGERIAN AIR FORCE:
● 19 January- The Nigerian Air Force deployed a fighter aircraft, along with support equipment, and a detachment of Special Forces (SF) personnel to Sokoto to further boost anti-banditry operations in Northwest Nigeria under ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’. The deployment is aimed at adding value to the efforts to deal with the spate of insecurity in some parts of Sokoto State and the border areas between Zamfara and Sokoto States.
● 7 February- The Air Task Force (ATF) of ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’ intensified the bombardment of armed bandits’ hideouts in Zamfara State and environs, after several camps being used by the bandits to launch attacks against innocent civilians were identified.
● 21 February- The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) provided a mobile Jet A-1 fuelling facility to enable the refuelling of NAF Helicopters that would operate out of the 23 Quick Response Wing (23 QRW) Nguroje. This will further enhance security on the Mambilla Plateau.
● 12 March- In continuation of efforts to enhance security in Kaduna State and its environs, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), working with other security agencies, intensified aerial surveillance over identified hotspots and flashpoints in the state while sustaining its air patrol along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway. Some of the areas covered in the surveillance missions include Gonin Gora, Kajuru, Kujama, Kasuwar Maganin and surrounding settlements.
● 31 March- A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Special Forces (SF) Team operating in Zamfara State successfully repelled attacks by armed bandits who attempted to invade Hayin Mahe and Hayin Kanawa Villages in Gusau Local Government Area.
● 8 April- The Air Task Force (ATF) for ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’ renewed air offensive against armed bandits in Zamfara State and its environs. The air strikes are aimed at flushing out the bandits from their hideouts in Sububu, Rugu and Kagara Forests, amongst others, whilst ensuring the protection of the lives and properties of citizens in Northwest Nigeria.
● 9 April- The Air Task Force (ATF), ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’ neutralized dozens of armed bandits in Sector 2 Area of Operation in Zamfara State and also supported surface forces to move into the attacked areas to mop-up the fleeing survivors and recover their weapons. Some of the bandits fled across the border into Niger Republic.
● 13 April- The Air Task Force (ATF) for ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’ destroyed some logistics stores belonging to bandits at a location within Kagara Forest, Zamfara State. Some of the armed bandits who had fled their camps as a result of NAF’s earlier air strikes had relocated some logistics items, including fuel, motorcycles and local arms-making equipment, to another location within Kagara Forest.
● 16 April- In response to reports that high profile armed bandits were gathering around Rafi and Doka villages of Mada District in Gusau Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State, which is under the Area of Responsibility (AOR) of the 207 Quick Response Group (207 QRG), a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Special Forces (SF) Team was dispatched to the area to secure the 2 settlements.
● 22 April- The Air Task Force (ATF) for ‘Operation DIRAN MIKIYA’ neutralized about 10 armed bandits at Sububu Forest area in Zamfara State. This was achieved while the ATF was responding to a request for close air support by ground troops of Sector 7 Area of Responsibility of Operation SHARAN DAJI, who had come into contact with armed bandits in Shinkafi Local Government Area (LGA).
● 4 May- NAF commissioned the 271 Nigerian Air Force Detachment (271 NAF Det) at Birinin Gwari in Kaduna State. The Detachment was established to serve as support Base and a blocking force for troops in Operations DIRAN MIKIYA and SHARAN DAJI.
It is the constitutional duty and responsibility of government to safeguard lives and properties. The Buhari administration remains committed to this, and despite recent spikes in the spate of crime and criminality, the evildoers will be beaten, and badly, too. The ravening clouds can never be victorious. Soon, they shall no longer possess the sky.