The Ministry of Defence has warned traditional rulers, highly placed politicians and other sponsors of armed banditry in the North West fanning the killings and other insecurity in the area to retrace their steps as security agencies are now out to visit the full wrath of the law on them.
A statement by Col Tukur Gusau, Public Relations Officer to the Defence Minister, Mansur Muhammad Dan Ali, noted that the Ministry of Defence is very concerned about the security challenges in the North West particularly, in states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna state.
It said, “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.
“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.
“Reacting to the spate of renewed banditry in the area, he said 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 the last four years the Ministry of Defence has carried out reforms in the Armed Forces leading to expansions to meet up with contemporary security challenges.
” In line with this the Nigerian Army established Division 8 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 in 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.”