(Sumaila Ogbaje, NAN)
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) says recent media reports that motorists had abandoned the Abuja-Kaduna highway because of insecurity is misleading.
DHQ had on Saturday led journalists on a tour of the road from Abuja to Kaduna to ascertain the validity of the claim.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there was normal movement of various types of vehicles on the road from Zuba to Kaduna.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj-Gen John Enenche, said the tour was to enable the journalists to have first-hand information on the security situation on the road.
Enenche said the tour was to also correct the purported desertion of the road and assure motorists of their safety.
‘People are being misinformed and there is no truth whatsoever that the road is deserted.
‘We are telling the general public that they should have confidence in the armed forces and the operation that is going on here and go about their normal business.
‘We are there to protect you and to continue to take the criminals out of their enclaves and just be waiting for them on the road,’ he said.
Maj-Gen. Usman Mohammed, General Officer Commanding 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, said that the troops of Operation Thunder Strike had continued to provide security on the highway.
Mohammed, who also doubled as the Commander of the Defence Headquarters led Operation Thunder Strike, said that successes have been recorded in the fight against kidnapping in spite of the recent incident.
‘Quite alright there is a threat on this road sometimes as you are aware of the incident that happened here last Sunday.
‘Even though some people were kidnapped, some were rescued while efforts are on to rescue the remaining ones,’ he said.
The GOC said the operation was organised into six sectors covering the entire stretch of the road from Zuba to Kaduna to carry out mobile patrol and respond to security threats on the road.
He said the troops also carry out clearance operations to identified hideouts of the criminals with minimal presence of the troops on the highway.
He said that the strategy was for the troops to go after the criminals in their enclaves so as not to allow them to have any opportunity of coming out to the road in the first place.
Mohammed said the military had put in place adequate measures to keep the road safe and free for traffic flow.
‘After the last incidence, we have increased the number of troops on this road and we have added additional logistics so that people can be seeing their presence on the road.
‘We are going to also police the hot spots and I want to use this opportunity to reassure members of the public that we are doing our best.
‘Contrary to the report that the security were not on the road, we are doing our best to ensure that there is peace and security on the road,’ he said.
Mr Umar Jere, Chairman, Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Jere Branch, said the security agencies had been doing their best to secure the road.
Jere said that his members had confidence in the ability of the military and other security agencies to keep the road safe and secure from criminals.
He called on the security agencies to sustain the tempo of their operation to deny the criminals any freedom of action.