…as Nigeria Army purchases 20 unmanned aerial vehicles from UAE
By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA-Acting President Yemi Osinbajo was on Wednesday briefed on the present security situation of the country by the Service Chiefs.
Present at the meeting were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Tukur Buratai; Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette Ibas, the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Abubakar, Director General of Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, among others.
The Service Chiefs declared their total support to President Muhammadu Buhari who is away in London on medical vacation.
Minister of Defence, Masur Ali who spoke on behalf of the Service Chiefs reiterated their loyalty to the Commander-in-Chief, C-in-C.
He lauded the present government for the “their relentless support” to the armed forces.
He said that substantial success had been recorded in the fight against terrorism, saying that a good number of the terrorists had surrounded to the military.
He said: “Let me start by expressing our appreciation to the current administration for their relentless support and continuous funding of the armed forces in the conduct of its operations.
“This has no doubt impacted positively on the capacity of our armed forces and troops in fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East and other security threats across the country.
“On behalf of the armed forces and other security agencies, we pledge our total commitment and loyalty to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“The ongoing operation in the North East has recorded tremendous success and has led to restoration of normalcy in most parts of the affected areas. The current strategy being adopted involved the simultaneous conduct of consolidation and stabilization cases so as to enable the civil authorities take lead role as quickly as possible.
“Our troops in conjunction with the vigilante groups successfully conducted clearance operations in villages and Boko Haram camps which led to the recovery of weapons and communication equipment as well as apprehension of many suspects.
“This is being supported by continuous aerial surveillance by the Nigerian Air Force so as to ensure that terrorists do not regroup.
“In addition, several high profile Boko Haram commanders were arrested and over 20,000 persons mostly women and children held hostage by the terrorists were rescued.
“A number of the terrorists have surrendered to our troops and currently, rehabilitation and deradicalisation process for this category of Boko Haram terrorists and other rescued persons is ongoing.
“Also, the armed forces are currently providing medical support and basis amenities such as food, clothing, water supply to most IDP camps in the North East.
“Furthermore, several inter and intra roads and bridges that were impassable due to the security risks have been reopened and damaged ones reconstructed to enhance movement of people and goods in the North East.
“The Nigerian Army Small Arms Competition will be conducted by 7 Division at Sambisa Forest to consolidate the gains achieved so far and further sharpen the skills of our troops.”
Dan-Ali also said that to sustain the anti-terrorism war, the army had procured gadgets included 20 unmanned aerial vehicles from the United Arab Emirates by the Nigerian Navy.
Expressing appreciation to the government for making the welfare of the troops a priority, the Defence Minister also revealed that Nigeria recently held a meeting of Ministers of Defence from the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin member countries where major appraisals were made.
He said that a decision was taken to support the operations of the MJTF operation Gama Aiki II nicknamed Rawan kada in the North East.
The countries according to him, included, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
“In other to sustain the tempo of the counter insurgency operation in the North East, the present administration had recently procured modern equipment to enhance the combat effectiveness of our armed forces.
“Mine-resistance ambush patrol vehicles, one 20mm Motors and ammunition were being procured by the Nigerian Army. Also, some patrol boats and other platforms have been ordered by the Nigerian Navy for outpost at Lake Chad Basin while contract for helicopters from Russia for the Nigerian Air Force has been awarded and approval for addition four of MI 35 are being awaited.
“Additionally, 20 unmanned aerial vehicles from the United Arab Emirates have been procured by the Nigerian Air Force to support the operation in the North East.
“This administration has also shown tremendous concern to the welfare of troops particularly in the North East through prompt payment of troops’ salaries and allowances as well as improvement in medical services.
“Last week, we had a meeting with Ministers of Defence from the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin member countries, hosted by Nigeria. The countries include Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
“Memorandum of Understanding for the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to fight Boko Haram terrorists was signed during the meeting. This was aimed at supporting the operations of the MJTF operation Gama Aiki II nicknamed Rawan kada in the North East.
“With regards to the situation in Southern part of Kaduna State, peace talk is currently ongoing to address the current clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the communities”, he said.
On the crisis in southern Kaduna, the Minister said that the intervention of former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar was paying off, adding that the Nigeria Army was constructing a barracks at the area.
“Recently, some religious leaders led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, were in Southern Kaduna to mediate between the herdsmen and farmers.
“As part of efforts to curtail this menace, Nigerian Army is in the process of constructing a permanent barracks in Kafanchan. Also, the Nigerian Army is expected to conduct exercise Harbin kunama II in Southern Kaduna, Falgore Forest in Kano and the forest in Bauchi to flush out the criminal elements.
“The activities of cattle rustlers and armed bandits generally in the entire North West have been significantly reduced. Efforts and peace talks to put an end to this cattle rustling and armed banditry in communities in Zamfara and Katsina State have successfully resulted in the handover of various weapons to troops in the states.
“Bandits from an area in Zamfara State handed over 234 dane guns, 94 locally made pistols, 25 locally made revolvers, 17 locally made multi mural pistols, 10 locally made double barrel, 11 AK47 and five machine guns in addition to the ones collected in Katsina recently”, Dan-Ali said.