September 14, 2011

Army, Airforce move into Jos

Army, Airforce move into Jos

JOS—Following President Goodluck Jonathan’s directive to the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin to take over the security of Jos and stop the sectarian killings, Vanguard gathered yesterday that the Nigerian Airforce has already put on standby, a C-130 aircraft for the airlifting of troops from two Army Brigades, one from the South West and another from the North Central to complement soldiers on ground for the operation.

The General Officer Commanding ‘3’ Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Adamu Marwa, who only resumed duty last week has been summoned to Abuja for briefings concerning strategies to be employed towards implementing the presidential directive.

Also, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika as well as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar whose personnel and equipment would form the bulk of the deployments were said to be in marathon meetings for the better part of yesterday with their Principal Staff Officers, discussing operational implications of the President’s order.

Vanguard gathered that following the meetings, the Army High Command has directed the deployment of some armoured vehicles used for reconnaissance activities, advanced communications and night vision equipment as well as light combat attack vehicles to Jos for the operation.

Already, the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Command of the Nigerian Air Force, Markudi, Air Vice Marshal Odesola was said to have deployed some of the air surveillance aircraft in the command for surveillance activities to cover the long expanse of land and valleys where most of the attackers on both sides of the divide pass through to perpetrate havoc.

Meanwhile, indications have emerged that following investigations by bomb experts in the armed forces, most of the bombs used by the Boko Haram group and others for their attacks including that of Jos, are being manufactured or assembled locally.

This development came just as it was gathered that following this discovery, security agents are now combing parts of the country for those persons either trained by the military or the police but who would have retired from service, with the capability of assembling or building explosives.

While not ruling out that foreign technical assistance may have been obtained in the assemblage of some of the explosives used in some of the Boko Haram attacks like that of Force headquarters, a source told Vanguard that evidence collated on the UN house bombing, so far point to the fact that some locally made devices were put together to manufacture the explosives.

The source noted however that, “we are closing up on them as we have been able to unmask their modus operandi and their bases, and very soon Nigerians will hear the details of what has been happening”.

While refusing to give names of those suspected to be behind this group of people, the source said that “the planners of the attacks are very wealthy as the suicide attacks are capital intensive. Those who plan it buy brand new cars and settle the family of those to go on the suicide mission financially. So it is not something anybody can just dabble into without substantial reward”.

Giving an insight to the modus operandi of the group, the source said, “after any successful attack, they will study the security situation put in place and re-strategize. When they observe that tension is dying down and security arrangements have relaxed, they strike again. This intelligence is now available to the security agencies.

Residents hail Jonathan’s directive

Residents of Plateau State yesterday welcomed the directive by President Goodluck Jonathan that the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Oluseyi Petirin should take over the security of the state expressing hope that he would make a difference.

A cross section of residents who spoke yesterday said since previous measures such as the setting up of the Special Task Force (STF) have not solved the problem, they hoped he would come up with new strategies to solve the recurring crisis in the state.

A civil servant, Maiyaki Ishaku said the deployment of the CDS was an indication that the Federal Government was now taking the problem of Jos seriously.

“We do not know what the CDS will do to make a difference, but for the president to ask such a high-ranking officer to oversee the security of the state is an indication that the problem, for once, is being accorded serious attention. We can only hope and pray that his coming will bring the desired peace”, he said.

Acting President of Civil Society Coalition in the state, Dr. Tor Iorapuu also supported a change of strategy in tackling the security challenges as well as a review of the security arrangement.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition at a press briefing yesterday he said “the security saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and property should be overhauled so as to weed out bad eggs that have brought disrepute to the task force.

“In Egypt, military officers who unleashed violence on protesters are being tried. The STF must court-martial all those that have been fingered to have compromised the security of the state to restore public confidence”, he added.

Other residents who spoke, expressed similar sentiments stressing the need for Petirin to restore the confidence of the people in the security men as some of them have been accused of compromising in their duties.

Air Marshal Petirin is expected to take charge of security in the state anytime from now in accordance with the directive of the president.