Nigerian Army has confirmed the killing of 50 bandits on Saturday and the re-jig of of 1,300 personnel, including 300 generals to give pep to plans to end banditry and insurgency in 2021 as promised by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The killing of the bandits on Saturday, January 9, 2020 in Zamfara, epicentre of banditry in Northwest, brings to 270, the number of bandits killed since July 2020 in an intense campaign against the menace in Nigeria.
The renewed onslaught against criminals, according to the army, would be further fired by the new structure of the Army which was announced on January 9, 2020.
The Nigerian Army Headquarters approved the redeployment of senior officers across military formations, including Major Generals, Brigadier-Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, and Captains.
The Army Spokesman, Brigadier-General Sagir Musa, said the postings, which were approved by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, was to reinvigorate the system for greater performance and effectiveness as promised by Buhari in his New Year message.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj-Gen John Enenche, said on January 10, 2020 also that troops have also recovered about 334 rustled livestock from the bandits during the latest encounter in Zamfara.
“Currently the gallant troops have continued to dominate the theatre of operation with aggressive patrols to deny criminals freedom of action.
“The Military High Command commends the gallant troops for the feats recorded and encourages them not rest on their oars until normalcy is restored to all troubled zones of the country,” he said.
He said that prior to Saturday’s operation, at least 220 bandits were killed and 335 hoodlums nabbed in Nigeria’s North West since July.
The Army said the operation was as part of the efforts to restore peace and normalcy in communities troubled by the bandits.
He said the Army also rescued 642 kidnapped victims while anti-banditry troops also destroyed 197 enclaves of bandits, including the notorious Katsina Dangote triangle and nabbed 326 illegal miners in Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Zamfara and Katsina States.
Exercise Sahel Sanity was launched by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt- Gen Tukur Buratai, on July 6, 2020 to tackle banditry and other nefarious activities bedevilling the North-west region.
The soldiers successfully foiled 165 bandits’ attacks and 81 kidnap attempts in communities across the zone in the period under review.
“It is also heart-warming to note the rescue of 344 students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara who were abducted by bandits early in December.
Worried by the increasing level of criminality in Nigeria, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has also advised Nigerian government to seek foreign assistance in dealing with the security challenge in the country.
Soyinka said on Saturday that the current situation was so bad that government should not shy away from paying “people to come and help us” in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats to life and property.
“Let them get away with the issue of sovereignty. If they have to pay people to come and help us, then call them whatever you want. Please go ahead because we’ve reached that stage of desperation,” Soyinka said.
“A general mobilization of Nigerians to defend themselves could be more like it. I will prefer a general mobilisation in which people are trained; farmers especially are trained to work with the hoes in one hand and the gun in the other hand, ready to protect their lives, their harvests and the rest of us.
“We are not unique; history is full of those situations… I will like to see a national mobilization. Let’s be practical.”
After 11 years of gruelling torture of insurgency which has seen the death of over 35,000 people, especially in the northeast states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, President Buhari has promised to end the menace in 2021.
At the Special Friday Prayer for the 2021 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration at the National Mosque, Abuja on January 8, 2020, Buhari said that insurgency and all forms of criminality will soon be a thing of the past.
Buhari said: “It is not possible for Nigerians, especially the Armed Forces to forget fallen heroes in any situation we found ourselves in life, and as a country.
“The sacrifices they have made will always be remembered for. And as you can all see, the special prayer is the religious aspect of it, and one of the many activities lined up to honour and remember them.
“On the 15th we are going to lay the wreath, we will also pray for them, for eternal rest, “he said.
Buhari, encouraged those living, the gallant officers to continue with their courageous tendencies in ensuring that the country remained an indivisible corporate entity for the peaceful co-existence of all.
“By the special grace of Allah, the country will soon get out of its present challenges, insecurity and otherwise,” the president said.