Some traditional rulers in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina states, and parts of Kaduna, are among “unpatriotic persons” allegedly responsible for the rising spate of armed banditry/kidnapping in the areas,
Cases of kidnapping, armed banditry and other violent crimes in the affected areas, had led to the killings of scores of people, rape as well as destruction of property.
The Ministry of Defence, which made the allegation in a statement yesterday by the Minister’s Public Relations Officer, Col. Tukur Gusau, said those involved in the act, provided intelligence to the suspected bandits, thereby compromising ongoing military operations.
“It is instructive to mention here that insurgency and terrorism are global phenomena that cannot be addressed through military actions only. The whole society has to rise in unison to support the government’s efforts to address the problem.
“However, in spite of the concerted efforts of the Armed Forces and other security some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations”, Gusau said.
While expressing the Ministry’s concern over the security situation in the affected areas, Gusau said efforts were being intensified, with a view to reversing the ugly trend.
He insisted that the military operations going on in the states, were eloquent demonstration of the government’s commitment towards ending the spate of killings, and restore order.
His words: “The Ministry of Defence is very concern about the security challenges in the North West particularly, in states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna state. Due to the recent prevailing security situation in the states the Ministry through the Nigerian Army is now conducting Exercise Harbin Kunama IV simultaneously in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto States.
“The purpose of the exercise is to effectively flush out the activities of criminal elements in the North West. The Nigerian Air Force has also intensified air strikes against the bandits in Zamfara. So far, the combined efforts have yielded to lot of successes leading to the killing of many bandits, rescue of many innocent persons including the renowned Islamic scholar Sheik Ahmad Suleiman.
“The Government is also addressing the remote and immediate causes that gave room to high spate of armed banditry in the states. Recently the government acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and environs following intelligence report that suggest close collaboration between the activities of the bandits and illegal miners.”
He further noted that: “In the last three years, the Ministry of Defence had carried out several reforms geared towards the reorganisation and expansion of the Armed Forces in order to meet up with contemporary security challenges across the nation and the sub region.
“In line with this the Nigerian Army established 8 Division with headquarters in Sokoto to cover Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states while the Headquarters of 1 Brigade was relocated from Sokoto to Gusau. Presently the tactical headquarters of 8 Division has since located to Gusau. Similarly, the Nigerian Air Force also established Quick Response Force in Gusau and landing areas in Gusau and Birnin Magaji respectively.
“The Ministry of Defence therefore, wish to warn any person or group of persons who choose to connive or sympathies with the bandits to perpetuate crime against the law abiding citizens to hence force retract there steps or face the full wrath of the law. The Armed Forces of Nigeria have been directed to deal decisively with anybody identified helping the bandits under whatever guise no matter how highly placed the person or persons may be.
“The Ministry of Defence want to once again use this medium to assure Nigerians that the Armed Forces of Nigeria in conjunction with other security agencies will continue to protect lives and properties of law abiding citizens of this country. The general public is also requested to cooperate with the Armed Forces to discharge of its constitutional responsibilities effectively”.