From Molly kilete, Abuja
The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has announced that military operations conducted in the last week across the country have led to the arrests and killings of 87 suspected bandits, terrorists, kidnappers, oil thieves, with several of their strongholds in the North-East and other parts of the country destroyed.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Organisation, Major General John Enenche, who made the announcement, said soldiers also recovered several arms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons from the criminals. He stated that the soldiers recovered several barrels of stolen crude oil in the Niger Delta region, and destroyed illegal refineries and wooden boats used to convey the stolen products.
The DMO spokesman, while giving a breakdown of military operations conducted between November 26 and December 2, in various parts of the country, at a media briefing in Abuja, said that during the week under review, the soldiers arrested wanted bandit collaborators, pirates, vandals and kidnappers.
He said the terrorists and criminals no longer have a conducive environment in which to carry out their attacks as they used to a result of a campaign of continuous air bombardment of their strongholds, aggressive air and ground patrols, clearance operations, among other operations, to curb their activities.
Gen Enenche, assuring Nigerians of the determination the armed forces towards securing the country, called on the public to continue providing timely information on the activities of criminals in their various localities to the military and other security agencies for prompt and effective action.
His full statement on military special operations in the past one-week says:
‘Troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI and other subsidiary operations have sustained their operations in the North-West zone of the country progressively. The gallant troops within the period carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes and aerial patrols. Notably, on 26 November 2020, troops of Operation ACCORD intercepted and arrested 2 suspected bandits named Ibrahim Umar and Ibrahim Sani. Preliminary investigation revealed that suspects have affiliation with bandit’s leader called Turji. The suspects are in custody for further investigations. Similarly, on 27 November 2020, troops while on routine patrol arrested 2 suspected bandits named Iro Ibrahim and Umaru Abdullahi from Daba village. During preliminary investigation, pictures of Iro Ibrahim where he was holding 2 rifles was found on his phone. The suspects are in custody for further actions. Relatedly, still, on same 27 November 2020, troops of Forward Operating Base Nasarawa while on routine patrol around Mashayar Zaki received intelligence reports that some wanted bandits’ collaborators were seen around Girkau village of Anka Local Government Area. Troops swiftly moved to the village and arrested 4 suspects named Mohammed Farida, Usman Bawa, Umar Bawa and Umar Boyi. The suspects are in custody for further investigation.
‘Equally, the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI has sustained air operations against armed bandits with the obliteration of another camp and neutralisation of scores of their fighters at Birnin Kogo Forest in Katsina State. Airstrikes executed by the Air Component also resulted in the destruction of some structures at a camp in Dunya Forest in Katsina State. The air raids were conducted on the heels of impeccable intelligence reports indicating that the 2 camps, with their clusters of huts, were among the locations being used by the terrorists-affiliated armed bandits to store their sophisticated weapons and plan attacks. Aerial surveillance missions also established pattern-of-life evidence of the presence of black attire-wearing terrorists at the 2 locations. Consequently, the Air Component dispatched an appropriate force package of Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships, which engaged the 2 locations in successive passes, destroying portions of the camps, including their storage facilities, which were seen engulfed in flames. Human Intelligence sources later confirmed that no fewer than 37 bandits were neutralized at Dunya while many more were killed at Birnin Kogo.
‘In the North-East zone, several land and air operations were conducted by the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies. The gallant troops adopted sustained vigilance and offensive postures through comprehensive ground and air operations. Within the period in focus, troops of Army Super Camp II Gamboru-Ngala conducted clearance operations at some suspected BHT/ISWAP criminals hideout at Garal village and Bulankesa village. The gallant troops made contact with the terrorists and effectively engaged and dominated them with rapid firepower. During the encounter, 2 BHT/ISWAP criminals were neutralised. Relatedly, on 27 November 2020 troops of Strong Response Area Pulka conducted a robust clearance patrol at Ashigashiya area. During the operation, troops made contact with the criminals at their logistics base. In the ensuing gun battle, 2 terrorists were neutralised while others escaped with gunshot wounds. Several bags of assorted grains and other food items were recovered. Thereafter the logistics warehouse was destroyed.
‘Furthermore, troops of 27 Task Force Brigade laid in wait for some suspected BHT/ISWAP criminals around Doksa general area. Troops made contact with the criminals and engaged them with superior gunfire forcing the terrorists to flee into the Bush in disarray. In the aftermath of the encounter, one BHT/ISWAP criminal was neutralised. Troops recovered one AK 47 Rifle, 2 Mobile Phones, one Bow and Arrow and one Boko Haram Terrorists pass slip (Identification Pass).
‘In the same vein, the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE neutralised several ISWAP elements and destroyed their hideouts at Ngwuri Gana, along the Gulumba Gana-Kumshe axis, as well as at Tumbuma Baba on the fringes of Lake Chad, both in the Northern part of Borno State. This was achieved through airstrikes executed on 27 November 2020, as part of a new subsidiary Operation, tagged “WUTAR TABKI II”, after series of aerial surveillance missions had indicated that the 2 locations, with structures and logistics items camouflaged under dense vegetation, were being used as staging areas where some ISWAP leaders and their fighters meet to plan and launch attacks. The coordinated attacks launched by the Air Task Force, employing an enhanced force package of Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships, resulted in the destruction of some of the terrorists’ structures as well as the neutralisation of several ISWAP fighters.
‘In continuation of intensive kinetic operations against armed bandits and other criminals in the North Central zone, troops of Operations SAFE HAVEN, WHIRL STROKE and other subsidiary operations conducted raids at identified criminals’ hideouts. Notably, within this period, troops of Operation NUTCRACKER II in conjunction with local vigilante members while on clearance operations engaged armed bandits at Dutse Magaji in Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State. During the Operation, 3 bandits were neutralised while one AK47 rifle and 38 rustled cattle were recovered.
‘Equally, following credible intelligence on persistent banditry activities at Agwan Mada in Nasarawa State, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE on 27 November 2020, swiftly mobilised to the general area and carried out an overnight raid operation on a bandits’ camp. In the course of the encounter, 3 armed bandits were neutralised while, troops recovered 4 AK 47 rifles, one locally made rifle, 3 AK 47 magazines, 67 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition and some cash. The hideout was subsequently destroyed. Relatedly, troops of Sector 3 carried out a dawn raid on the residence of some herdsmen said to be behind recent clashes between herders and farmers at Atiyagiso community in Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. During the operation, troops successfully apprehended 2 suspects namely Mr Abdulkareem and Mohammed Sani who confessed their involvement in the crime following which they were handed over to the police for further action.
‘Furthermore, on 29 November 2020, Operation SAFE HAVEN arrested 3 suspected kidnappers in Kanam Local Government Area of Plateau State. Items recovered include one AK-47 rifle, one Barreta pistol, 3 rounds of 7.62mm Special Ammunition, one pair of military camouflage uniform and 9 sim cards. The suspects and items have been handed over to the appropriate security agency for further action.
‘As part of non-kinetic activities of the Defence Headquarters, on 26 November 2020, the Commander Operation SAFE HAVEN presented TVs, DSTVs, tables and chairs to Government Secondary School Gidan Waya in Jama’a Local Government Area. Similarly, on 27 November 2020, the Commander Operation SAFE HAVEN commissioned a renovated Clinic at Sabon Kaura village in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State as part of CIMIC activities. In a related development, Stakeholders’ peace meeting was held at Headquarters Sector 3 in Jos South Local Government Area of Plateau State on 28 November 2020 as part of measures to curtail incessant kidnapping, illegal mining, and farm encroachment among other security challenges. Members were urged to avail timely and credible information on activities of criminal elements to Operation SAFE HAVEN. In attendance were various leaders and other stakeholders of Irigwe, Rukuba, Berom, Afisere, Fulanis and Jarawa.
Troops of Operation DELTA SAFE have sustained the fight against economic sabotage to secure critical oil infrastructure in the zone. Notably, on 26 November 2020, gunboats of Forward Operating Base IBAKA, while on routine patrol around Mbo river, intercepted and arrested one large wooden boat laden with 229 drums of 300 litres of product suspected to be PMS with 2 suspects, outboard engines and pumping machines. Items and suspects are currently in custody to be handed over to the relevant security agency.
‘Additionally, within the period under review, troops of 146 Battalion discovered and immobilised 2 reactivated illegal refining sites containing 4 boilers, 6 storage tanks and one wooden boat laden with illegally refined oil products around Oputumbi in Bonny Local Government Area of Rivers State. Furthermore, troops of Operation DELTA SAFE immobilised 2 reactivated illegal refining sites containing 3 boilers and 5 storage tanks laden with crude oil around Orutoru in same Local Government Area.
‘In another development, troops of 146 Battalion discovered and immobilised 4 illegal refineries containing 7 boilers, 7 hoses, pumping machines, 3 reservoirs, 8 storage tanks as well as a wooden boat loaded with illegally refined oil products around Alakiri, Cowthorne Channel 3, Asarama-Toru and Oputumbi in Okirika and Bonny Local Government Areas of Rivers State. Relatedly, troops of 103 Battalion immobilised a wooden boat loaded with illegally refined AGO around KM 45 in Degema Local Government Area of the State.
‘Meanwhile, Operations CALM WATERS II and SWIFT RESPONSE recorded successes. Within the period under review, about 130 bags of 50kg of foreign parboiled rice, as well as 10 suspects, were arrested and handed over to the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). Other items intercepted were 3 wooden boats with 34,800 litres of PMS with 5 outboard engines and 2 pumping machines recovered.
‘In the South-West zone, troops of Operation AWATSE have continued to intensify the fight against pipeline vandals, economic saboteurs and other criminal elements in the zone. Within the period under review, troops of Operation AWATSE while on routine patrol intercepted 6 trucks fully loaded with stolen petroleum products at Areppo. The operation was conducted after an intensified surveillance was carried out by troops within the general area. Accordingly, troops moved swiftly to the area and met vandals loading their trucks with the fuel. Troops arrested 10 of the vandals and 6 trucks loaded products.’