The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Thursday said air interdiction by the Air Component of Operation HADARIN DAJI killed no fewer than 82 terrorists while many others sustained various degree of injuries at Kofar Danya Village in Bukkuyum local government area of Zamfara state.
The military high command also said 26 oil thieves were arrested by troops of Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO and OCTOPUS GRIP in the Niger Delta region of the country.
Director Defence Media Operations Maj.-Gen Benard Onyeuko stated this while briefing journalists on the successes recorded by various military operations in the country from 16 to 30 June 2022.
“Following report about the planned attack on Kofar Danya Village, the air component mobilized to the location and sighted over One Hundred and Fifty (150) terrorists converged under a thick vegetation.
“Accordingly, Nigerian Air Force platforms engaged the terrorists with heavy bombardment which destroyed the terrorists’ concentration camp. Consequently, credible feedback from the locals around Kofar Danya disclosed that over Eighty Two (82) of the terrorists suffered heavy casualties as many of them were neutralized while other sustained various degree of injuries,” he said.
Speaking further on operations in the South-South Zone, Onyeuko said the military recovered stolen crude, 68 wooden boats and 9 speed boats amongst other equipment from economic saboteurs.
“A total of three million and seventy-four thousand (3,074,000) litres of Automotive Gas Oil, three million eight hundred and then thousand (3,810,000) litres of crude oil, fourteen thousand (14,000) litres of Premium Motor Spirit and Fourteen Thousand (14,000) litres of Dual Purpose Kerosine was discovered,” he said.
Bandits kill attack Niger mining site
And in a related development, terrorists reportedly killed 30 people including security personnel and villagers at the Ajata-Aboki mining site in Gurmana ward of Shiroro local government area of Niger state.
The terrorists were said to have invaded the mining site Wednesday evening during which several people were also abducted.
Co-convener Concerned Shiroro Youths of Niger state Sani Abubakar Yusuf Kokki said this in a statement Thursday in Minna.
He said the casualties included mobile police men, soldiers and villagers working in the mining company.
Kokki said many others also sustained various degrees of multiple bullet injuries and taken to various medical facilities for treatment.
Kokki also said scores of the bandits were also neutralised as security personnel fought back to repel the attack.
“On getting the wind of the ugly development, the Nigerian Army stationed at a nearby Erena swung into action by engaging them in fire for fire. Unfortunately and sadly, as at yesterday, officers were gunned down while many others have been wounded through multiple gunshots,” the statement added.
Top army officers as victims
At the IBB Specialist Hospital Minna, some of those who spoke to Blueprint said over 40 bodies were deposited at the morgue.
An eyewitness said “the bodies of the slain persons were mostly soldiers brought in this morning at about 11am with a truck.”
He said the military personnel have been pouring in more retrieved bodies of their dead colleagues at intervals till 5pm, Thursday.
It was learnt that a Colonel of the Nigerian Army was among those wounded and on admission at the hospital, while a Major and Captain were among the gallant officers who lost their lives.
However, a medical doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity, said 20 bodies were at the morgue with five wounded soldiers receiving treatment at the emergency ward.
Gov directs manhunt
Confirming the development, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello directed a manhunt for the remaining terrorists who attacked the mining site.
In a statement Thursday, the governor condemned the attacks, assuring the terrorists would be brought to justice.
“This is really disturbing especially as the state has been relatively peaceful with only pockets of attacks being recorded as compared to some time past.
“It really saddened my heart to hear about this. It is even more worrisome to know that the lives of security personnel were involved and expatriates were also among those kidnapped,” he said.
He commiserated with heads of the various security agencies that were part of the joint security operatives in the state for the loss of their personnel while ensuring the people’s safety.
The governor also sympathized with the families of the slain security agents, assuring them that the sacrifices of their loved ones would not go in vain and commended the bravery of those who engaged the terrorists, causing them to record casualties also.
Bello appealed to the security personnel not to be dampened by the incident on their colleagues encouraging them to remain committed to discharging their duties and ensure the safe return of the four Chinese nationals and an unspecified number of workers kidnapped at the mining site.
He also prayed for the safe return of those kidnapped.
NSCDC in Kwara
In another development, the Kwara state command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) Thursday paraded two suspected terrorists arrested near a gold mining site in the state.
The command also recovered dangerous arms in their possession.
Addressing journalists during the parade, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Olasunkanmi Ayeni, said the suspects were arrested at a location close to gold mining site at Agbede village in Moro local government area of the state with locally made pistol and rifle, among other dangerous weapons.
The corps’ image maker, who identified the suspects as Abdulahi Alhaji, 19-year-old and 39-year-old John Ihenka, said the suspects were capable of using the arms in their possession to perpetuate different kinds of crime in the society.
He said: “We are all aware of the security situation and banditry around us. This command has been working so much not to allow these bandits to infiltrate our state. The Corps Tactical Unit (CTU) of our command was able to apprehend these two suspects, namely Abdullahi Alhaji, 19 years old from Kaduna state and John Ihenka, 39 years old.
“Alhaji was trying to get cartridge for the local pistol he said he had bought for N8,000 and fortunately for Nigerians he asked question from the wrong person. From this process, we were able to trail him, leading to his arrest.
“It was the arrest of Alhaji that led to that of John, who he said, sold the local pistol to him. On getting to John’s place, the officers in intelligence unit were able to get this rifle from him and other dangerous weapons.
“We know that no one has the right to own local pistol or local rifle. The highest is the one which is licensed from Nigeria Police. Keeping this with them, one should understand what they may be using it for. We implore members of the public to always furnish us with useful and timely information so that we can all live in peace and secured environment.”
Speaking with journalists in an interview, the suspect, Abdullahi Alhaji, said he bought the gun to defend himself in his cattle business.
Ihenka, who confirmed he sold the locally made pistol to Alhaji, said he is a security guard in a gold mining company.
“They already know that I’m using it (gun) in the company and they said this gun is not good for security I should go and drop it. I then dropped it. I had a leg pain problem. I sold the local pistol to treat myself. I took permission from the company that I’m going to plant in my farm. I bought chemical for the farm from where I was called and asked if I was the one who sold the local pistol to the suspect and I said yes.
“The company knows that I have the gun. I’m not a kidnapper. I’m a security man in gold mining company. The reason why the suspect said I should sell the pistol to him is because he has cow and he is sleeping in the bush. That is why I sold it to him. I made a mistake for selling the gun to him. I don’t have more guns to sell,” said the suspect.
Matawalle vindicated our position – CNG
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has commended Zamfara state Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle for authorising the use of firearms by citizens of the state in protecting themselves against attacks by bandits.
In a statement made available to Blueprint in Abuja, Thursday, CNG Director Strategic Communication Samaila Musa, said the coalition had been vindicated at Matawalle’s directive.
It said no matter how belated, the governor’s decision “is aimed at involving and directly engaging communities in protecting, preserving, and defending their lives and livelihoods against marauding terrorist-bandits that are terrorising and pillaging our communities with little or no requited force.”
The statement reads: “The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) views the recent policy for authorisation for use of firearms by citizens of Zamfara State for self-defence by Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle with mixed interest.
“We note that the effort by the Zamfara State Government is aimed at involving and directly engaging communities in protecting, preserving, and defending their lives and livelihoods against marauding terrorist-bandits that are terrorising and pillaging our communities with little or no requited force.
“While CNG is delighted that some of its positions are being recognised and accepted in tackling the security challenge in the North; it is however frowning at certain efforts that try to maintain the status quo without genuine commitment to ending the bloodbath across the North.
“CNG wishes to remind Nigerians that it has been advocating community mobilisation, engagement and participation in addressing the insecurity in the northern Nigeria in particular and the country as a whole.
“We therefore commend Governor Matawalle for recognising this approach although belatedly. We have equally keenly observed reactions from individuals and groups across the country with a particular concern with the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who faulted the authorisation for self-defence. We reject his rejection of self-defence! Self-preservation and defence are natural, inalienable and fundamental that cannot be denied.
“We wish to remind the CDS that even his principal, Minister of Defence, has once called for self-defence amidst incessant killings by terrorists in Nigeria. The CDS himself told Nigerians that many personnel of the armed forces were facing court-martial for conniving with the kidnappers, bandits, terrorists and other criminals.”