Molly Kilete, Ipetu-Ijesa
The Nigerian Air Force(NAF), Thursday conducted a counter insurgency operation exercise at Ipetun Ijesa, Osun State with a warning to terrorists and other criminal groups terrorizing the peace in the south west to stay clear or have themselves to blame.
The exercise codenamed ‘Buje Ekun’ took place along the Akure-Oshogbo Expressway.
Chief Of the Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar who gave the warning, said the NAF, was more than ever before ready to rid the South West region and indeed the country of criminals.
He has therefore warned all those in the habit of breaching the peace of the country to allow Nigerians go about their legitimate businesses without any form of molestation.
He said Nigerians have the rights to purse their legitimate businesses and aspirations without hindrance.
He assured that the NAF, working with other security agencies would continue to work together to create the enabling environment for law abiding Nigerians to live without fear of being harassed.
Abubakar said said “Well my advise to terrorists, bandits and other criminal groups is very clear, what we are saying is that they must allow Nigerians to pursue their legitimate aspirations without hindrance.
“If they fail to do that, the consequences is what we have demonstrated this afternoon”.
The NAF, while noting that the NAF, chose Ipetu-Ijesa, as the venue for the exercise to test its operational capability against insurgency, banditry and kidnapping since the state does not have an airport or an helipad, said the experience of the exercise has revealed some of the loopholes that may be experienced should the service have to combat banditry, kidnapping and terrorism in the south west states.
To this end, he said the NAF intends to establish more logistics and operational bases at Ipetu-Ijesa, to meet the security challenges in the zone.
He further explained that with the successes recorded during the exercise, the NAF, can confidently carry out air operations to counter any form of criminality in the south west states at the shortest possible notice.
He said “We will work with other security agencies to function together to secure the peace of the country and create an enabling environment that would allow for development and prosperity for all Nigerians and the only way you can do that is by building capacity within your personnel.
“And what we have done here is to see how we can integrate the air and ground element to work in unison and work effectively for the execution of the clearly defined task.
“Iam very satisfied with what I have seen with the Special Operations Command and like I said we are moving to other zones of the country so that we are able to appreciate the challenges that we are likely to face.
“Remember Ipetu-Ijesa does not have any airport so we had to rely on the airport in Akure, and Akure does not have fueling facility so you must think of all the logistics requirements in terms of making sure that you have sufficient fuel from other places to be positioned in Akure at the time that it is required and the quantity that is required and that we have exercised the logisticians as well and we are very happy with what we have seen”.
Abubakar, who said the NAF had conducted similar exercises in Kaduna, Kano and Minna in the last four months, said “the essence of these operational exercises is to ensure that NAF personnel maintain a high level of combat readiness to meet the demands of our current security challenges”.
“As you are aware, this great country is experiencing various forms of security challenges across the six Geo-Political zones. The acts of terrorism by the BHTs in the North-East as well as armed robbery and kidnappings in other parts of the Nation require that we evolve new strategies to effectively and efficiently tackle these challenges which have severe consequences on human and material resources of the nation.
“This objective no doubt is in tandem with our yearnings and aspiration to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
“In order to ensure timely deployment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives as well as effective and efficient administration, we considered the need for the right Service structure being an essential requirement for professionalism. “This led to the establishment of the Special Operations Command as well as the creation of quick response units aimed at addressing the challenges of asymmetric warfare, such as the one posed by the Boko Haram terrorists and other forms of criminality thereby bridging the gap in force protection capabilities”.
To effective tackle the security challenges in the country, the NAF chief said, “the NAF equally expanded the NAF Regiment Specialty with many of these personnel trained for Force Protection in Complex Air and Ground Environment (FPCAGE). More so, the NAF was able to improve the strength and capacity of its Special Operation Forces (SOF) personnel to 1,000 over the last 4 years. These capacity development efforts have yielded positive results by equipping our personnel with the skills required to adequately protect NAF Bases and critical national assets against attacks by Boko Haram Terrorists and other criminal elements”.
Also speaking, the Osun State governor, Gboyega Oyetola, who was also the Special Guest while commending the NAF, said , “the display of capabilities during these exercises has shown that the NAF has continued to evolve ideas to effectively tackle the menace of insurgency and other forms of armed banditry in all parts of the country”..
Represented by his Deputy, Adegboyega Alabi, Oyetola said “Osun State has witnessed cases of armed banditry and kidnappings. In some instances, the victims of these vices were killed, while millions of Naira is being paid in ransom to free captives. One of my key objectives as the Executive Governor of this State is to ensure that all residents conduct their legitimate activities without fear of molestation by miscreants or bandits.
“We believe that security is paramount and that no nation can progress or become prosperous without measures emplaced to ensure the adequate security of lives and properties of its inhabitants. The current leadership of the Nigerian Air Force has demonstrated the resolve to ensure that its officers and men are capable in performing their duties.
“The essence of training and exercises of this nature for a fighting force like the Nigerian Air Force cannot be over emphasized. The Nigerian Air Force has further set the trail by developing and expanding the functions of its Special Operations Forces thereby ensuring that adequate capacity is being built by engaging in exercises that evolve lessons, tactics and doctrine in the conduct of Counter Terrorism Operations.
“As a Service vested with the enviable role of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation by air, the timing of this event is right as it affords the Nigerian Air Force the opportunity to assess the capacity development efforts as well as building on the physical fitness and combat readiness of its personnel. It would also deter criminal elements from destabilizing the State. I am equally glad that my administration’s task of protecting the lives and properties of the good people of Osun State is receiving the drive with the conduct of this operational exercise. We are indeed highly appreciative of the efforts of our armed forces in the fight against terrorism and other societal ills”.