The Nigerian Army Monday said troops deployed in the fight against bandits in the North-west region of the country, have killed 48 bandits and rescued 18 persons held hostage in the first phase of its newly launched Operation Tsare Mutane to flush out criminals.
Among the bandits killed were four top commanders namely; Yellow Mai-Bille, Sani Meli, Dan-Katsina and Sama’ila Bakajin Bari, while the bandits’ leader in the area, Jummo sustained gunshot injuries.
Troops also recovered eight AK-47 rifles and one G3 rifle, one PKT and a machine gun from the bandits.
Director Army Public Relations Brigadier-General Mohammed Yerima, who made this known in a statement, said the soldiers in another operation destroyed several bandits’ camps around Gabiya, Bozaya and Mereri and the adjoining forests in Maru local government area of Zamfara state.
In the operation, he said, troops recovered 4,600 rounds of ammunition, 2 AK-103 rifles, eight AK-47 magazines, 1,628 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 54 rounds of PKM, one motorcycle and five Techno mobile phones.
The statement reads: “Troops of 8 Division, Nigerian Army operating in Zamfara and adjoining states made tremendous progress in the ongoing fight against banditry and other violent crimes in the North-west. The division had earlier launched Operation Tsare Mutane following the directives of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Ibrahim Attahiru, for the division to stabilise the area in order to facilitate the return of socio-economic activities.
“The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the division, Major-General Usman Yusuf, launched the first phase of Operation Tsare Mutane which lasted from 23 March to 2 April, 2021 in Maradun LGA of Zamfara state.
The troops successfully cleared many bandits’ camps in Jaya, Kadaya and Bayan Ruwa amongst several others.
The troops successfully neutralised 48 bandits while the bandits’ leader in the area ‘Jummo’ sustained gunshot wound in his leg. The troops rescued 18 kidnap victims from the bandits’ enclave. Moreover, eight AK-47 rifles and one G3 rifle, as well as one PKT and a Machine Gun were recovered from the Bandits.
“Meanwhile, in continuation with the second phase of Operation Tsare Mutane, troops sacked several other bandits’ camps around Gabiya, Bozaya and Mereri and the adjoining forests in Maru LGA of Zamfara state from 19 April to 3 May 2021. The areas which were heavily infested by bandits were successfully cleared by the highly spirited troops. Key bandits’ leaders including Yellow Mai-Bille, Sani Meli, Dan-Katsina and Sama’ila Bakajin Bari were neutralised in the process while the main leader, ‘Nasanda’ narrowly escaped with fatal injuries. Equally neutralised in the operation was one Isan Heshi who is a close ally of a notorious bandit called Nagala. Isan Heshi was the second in command to Heshi before he joined Nagala following Heshi’s death in an earlier operation.
“Items recovered in the second phase of Operation Tsare Mutane include 4,600 rounds of ammunition, two AK-103 rifles, eight AK-47 magazines, 1,628 rounds of AK-47 ammunition, fifty four rounds of PKM as well as one motorcycle and five Techno mobile phones.”
But in Katsina state, another set of bandits stormed a mosque in Jibia local government area of the state and abducted 40 faithful during a Tahajud (midnight prayer session) early Monday.
Confirming the development, spokesman of the state Police Command, Gambo Isah said 30 of the abductees were however rescued by the police.
He said the hoodlums came in their number and surrounded the mosque while the prayer session was on.
Isah said: “It is around Abattoir quarters, which is their notorious route into Jibia. They surrounded the worshippers and fired a shot into the air to scare them after which they abducted about 40 of them.
“But a combined effort of the police, military, local vigilante and members of the community went after them and succeeded in rescuing about 30 of the victims.
“When we conducted a headcount this morning, about 10 are still missing, but we are not sure if they are actually with the bandits or they have ran to other places for their safety. But investigation is ongoing.”
Buni wants air patrol
In a related development, Yobe state Governor and Chairman APC Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee Mai Mala Buni has called for intensive air patrol and warfare to effectively check the resurgence of insurgency in the North-east.
The APC chairman made the call Monday at a meeting with President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan and the Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao, where they had an extensive deliberation on the security situation in the North-east.
In a statement released after the meeting by the governor’s Director General, Press and Media Affairs, Mamman Mohammed, Buni said the meeting was to brief the CAS and reassure him of the support and cooperation of the governors of the North-east in general.
“There is need for increased synergy between the security forces in the collective fight against insurgency. The Air warfare is very crucial in surveillance, fight and Air cover to the ground troops.
“We are all committed to seeing the end of this ugly scourge which has stayed for too long, claimed many lives, destroyed many properties and consumed our scarce resources” the governor said.
The statement also commended Senate President Lawan for his support in the fight against insurgency.
Mohammed also recalled Governor Buni also met with the Chief of Defence Staff General Leo Iraboh, the Chief of Army Staff Lt.-General Ibrahim Attahiru and the Commandant General Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps Abubakar Ahmed Audi.
“He said the contact was necessary to support and encourage the security agencies to intensify their campaign against terrorism in the region.
“Governor Buni in his meeting with the security Chiefs last week, assured the support of his administration to the security operatives to effectively combat insurgency,” it said.
Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Usman Baba has assured that banditry and all forms of criminality across the country would soon be a thing of the past.
The police boss gave the assurance Monday at the graduation ceremony of Tactical Leadership and Command Course (TLCC) 16/2021 of Police Staff College Jos.
He said: “We are working hard to make sure that peace and tranquillity are restored to all crisis areas in Nigeria. Security is everybody’s business; we cannot do it alone, so we are doing our best to reach out and ensure inter-agency cooperation with other security agencies especially the military.
“By the special power of God Almighty, and support of Nigerians, we are going to defeat insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, and all other forms of insecurity in this country.”
The IGP also assured making training one of the key components of his administration, saying the initiative would ensure proper management of internal security in the country.
While describing the 2020 EndSARS campaign as unfortunate, he called on the participants to regularly review their human rights posture in the performance of their duties as tactical commanders.
Baba said: “On the other hand, you must be fast in distinguishing between subversive activities engineered by outlawed organisations and common crimes to enable you to apply the necessary force in the defence of your lives and government property.
“I am happy that your course consisted of lessons in community policing and technical aids in policing. The two are the in-thing in modern policing.
“Embrace them and ensure the knowledge trickles down to your subordinates to make your job easier.”
And amidst the rising security challenge, the federal government has raised the alarm over the increasing number of inmates in the Nigeria correctional centres.
The development, it said, arose from the rising insecurity and criminality across the country.
Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola said this development should prompt the leadership of the nation’s correctional facilities to be proactive, vigilant and alive to their responsibilities to defend the country’s integrity at all cost.
The minister spoke Monday during the decoration of Haliru Nababa as the Controller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service in Abuja.
He said the choice of Nababa came from a “rigorous meritocratic selection” after 31 years in Service, describing him as a gallant and patriotic officer.
Aregbesola said: “Interestingly, he is mounting the saddle at a time of unusual security challenges. These are manifested in the insurgency in the North-east, banditry in the North-west and parts of North Central, kidnappings in virtually all parts of the country, financial crimes and ritual killings in the South-west, militancy that is assuming an insurrectional dimension in the South-east and South-south and sundry other criminal activities in all parts of the country.
“The implication of this is that the custodial facilities will be bursting at the seams with the influx of inmates awaiting trials or convicts serving terms and awaiting execution.
“This poses a special challenge in that some of the inmates belong to organisations that will deem themselves to be fighting an ethno-religious and political causes.
“Therefore, their members outside will be planning to break into the facilities to free their members.
“There are also sophisticated criminal organisations whose members are either serving terms or awaiting trials and are now using the security situation in the country as an opportunity to attack our custodial centres and obtain their freedom.
“Whatever may be the motive, custodial centres have been under consistent attacks in a brazen challenge to the authority of the Nigerian state.”
The minister also urged correctional service officers to use the presence of inmates in the custodial centres to garner intelligence reports for use by security agencies to address the security situation in the country.
He said: “It is necessary to bolster discipline and professional integrity among the rank and file. An organisation is as strong and effective as the level of discipline within it.
“There are a few bad eggs that smuggle prohibited items to inmates, assist them in running criminal operations while in custody, take them out to unapproved places and locations and wittingly or unwittingly facilitate jailbreak for them.
“They should be fished out. Their nefarious activities endanger the nation, other staff and inmates. There should be no place for them. There should be zero tolerance for them in the service.”