The Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, on Friday stated that bandits fleeing from Zamfara State as a result of ceaseless superior firearms from troops were responsible for recent attacks in Katsina and Sokoto States.
He also said the bandits had migrated from their epicentre to Kaduna, Kano and Niger states following the success being recorded by troops after the launch of its special operation, tagged: “Operation Harbin Kunama III.” The army chief therefore announced that troops would be conducting the special exercise in the affected areas to rid them of the bandits and other criminal elements.
Addressing a press conference at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, on the “Re-organisation of Exercise Harbin Kunama III”, Buratai regretted that the fleeing bandits had “resorted to soft targets while relocating to other safe havens within contiguous states of Katsina and Sokoto.”
Speaking through the Chief of Training and Operations, Nigerian Army, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, he vowed that the bandits and other criminal elements hiding in forests of the affected states would soon be smoked out in the new re-organises army special operation.
“Current threat assessments revealed the migration of the bandits from their epicentre to other areas in Kaduna, Kano and Niger states,” he said.
While noting that Exercise Harbin Kunama III was launched on April 1, 2019, after the Chief of Army staff’s Press Conference in Gusau, Zamfara State on 31 March 2019, the COAS said he was pleased to inform all that the exercise has so far achieved tremendous successes within the past one month.
According to him, “Several bandits and criminal elements have been captured and killed while some camps, hideouts and equipment of the criminals have been destroyed.
“It has however been observed that there appear to be a resurgence of their activities in other contiguous States to Zamfara.
“This is occasioned by fleeing bandits that have resorted to attacking soft targets while relocating to other safe havens within contiguous States of KATSINA and SOKOTO.
“Current threat assessments revealed the migration of the bandits from their epicentre to other areas in Kaduna, Kano, and Niger states.
“It is against this backdrop that Exercise Harbin Kunama III is being re-organized and its mandate expanded to effectively ensure the complete defeat of the fleeing bandits.
“This is to restore public confidence and enhance safety while also ensuring socio-economic activities continue without fear or intimidation,” he explained.
The army chief spoke further: “It is on this premise that I want to plead with the general public to persevere in the face of seeming inconveniences due to restrictions that may be imposed in these areas while the Nigerian Army is conducting the exercise.
“The Nigerian Army mandate is aimed at building confidence and ensuring our country is rid of criminal elements that are poised to destabilize the normal life, rights and freedom of the people across the country as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“I want to assure the general public that the Nigerian Army will carry out its constitutional mandate professionally and within the ambit of the law while adhering to the ROE. Consequently, I urge the general public to claim ownership of the security of the country and willfully avail us with credible information that will assist in flushing out subversive and criminal elements from their hideouts and safe haven.
“Be rest assured that the Nigerian Army will continue to support the non-kinetic efforts of the civil authority to combat criminality and banditry as well as prevent it from gaining traction and spreading to other relatively peaceful regions of the country.”
While appreciating traditional rulers and religious leaders, Buratai “further enjoin them to continue to support the Nigerian Army with credible information that will assist in the professional conduct of our exercises and operations to rid the area of banditry and criminality.
“They are encouraged to continue to galvanize their subjects and followers to tow the path of peaceful resolution of conflicts rather than resulting to violence which does nobody any good.
“I use this medium to once again call on all religious leaders to pray for the success of our exercise and operations as well as pray for the total eradication of insecurity in our country,” he tasked them.