With the current commitment to end insurgency in the Northeast and banditry in the Northwest and Northcentral, the Nigerian Military seems ready to unleash the final onslaught that will ensure that the criminal elements fizzle out, writes OKODILI NDIDI.
Recent facts and figures emanating from theatres of operation in the Northeast and Northwest parts of the country are, indeed, something to cheer about.
The rising number of neutralised and surrendered terrorists, as well as a cache of arms and ammunition captured by the troops herald the looming end of terrorism that has spanned over a decade.
Despite reported setbacks in the anti-terror war, including unfortunate loss of men and materials, the Nigerian Military has dominated the battle and pushed the terrorists to the fringes of the forests in the border communities from where most of them have voluntarily surrendered or were captured.
Records of feats achieved by the troops in the frontline, also confirm that the Nigerian Military is in the final push to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
For instance, a total of 882 repented Boko Haram fighters have been de-radicalised under the Operation Safe Corridor, while many others who have surrendered are being profiled.
Within the last few months, no fewer than 500 Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West African Province (ISWAP) top commanders have been killed, throwing the terror groups into a leadership crisis.
This number is apart from the fighters killed at different occasions through air interdictions and land bombardments.
The no kinetic approach to the anti-terror war is also paying off lately as troops are in robust relationship and co-operation with the civilian populace, which has resulted in an effective and timely gathering of credible intelligence that has aided troops’ operations.
It is, therefore, appropriate to predict that the end of Boko Haram, ISWAP and another splinter terror groups are at hand but the Nigerian Military, against all odds must sustain the current momentum for this to happen.
The renewed onslaught against the terrorists is not unconnected with the new resolve by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Service Chiefs to end the Boko Haram terrorism now at all costs.
It is on record that the Armed Forces of Nigeria, in conjunction with other security agencies and the intelligence community, are working assiduously to restore peace in troubled zones across the federation as well as deny the criminal elements freedom of action at all times.
Just in a space of one week, 196 criminal elements were killed across the theatres of operation.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major-General John Enenche, who made the revelation during the weekly press briefing to update Defence correspondents on military operations said the Armed Forces of Nigeria continued its major operations across the country with renewed vigour and attendant successes.
While noting that the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have continued to exhibit sustained resilience in the fight against terrorism in the Northeast, General Enenche said this was evident in their recent encounters with the Boko Haram terrorists/ISWAP elements across the Northeast theatre of operation.
He said: “During the period under review, troops’ encounters with the criminal elements resulted in the destruction of their structures and equipment, as well as the capture of arms and ammunition.
Our gallant troops also rescued some hostages with some criminal elements surrendering to the troops.”
The Coordinator revealed that the ground troops of Operation Lafiya Dole had no fewer than 17 encounters with the BHT/ISWAP criminals in the Northeast theatre of operation.
These encounters, he further revealed, resulted in the killing of 75 BHT/ISWAP fighters, the capture of large arms and ammunition, as well as vehicles and equipment.
He noted that also recorded were the capture of some criminal elements and spies as well as the rescue of 35 BHT captives, while four of their fighters surrendered to our troops.
General Enenche said: “Between June 2 and 3, 2020, the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole conducted comprehensive precision strikes, to mark the launch of its subsidiary Operation Long Reach II on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
The massive air strikes resulted in the obliteration of BHT structures used as meeting venue at Mainyakare Village on the fringes of Sambisa Forest.
“In the process, several of their fighters were neutralised. More of these criminals were also killed and their logistics facilities destroyed in devastating air strikes executed at Mina along the Gulumba Gana-Kumshe Axis in the Northern part of Borno State.
Furthermore, 17 BHT/ISWAP criminals were killed by troops of 25 Task Force Brigade on 7 July 2020.”
He, however, averred that a total of 92 enemies of the country were killed in the Northeast theatre of operations within the period under review.
The Spokesperson of Nigerian Military posited that it is clear that troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria are resolute in their endeavour to end the BHT/ISWAP menace in the Northeast.
General Enenche also highlighted the remarkable exploit of troops involved in the anti-banditry operations in Northwest and North Central, saying:
“In continuation of intensive clearance operation in the Northwest, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji have continued to record tremendous successes against the bandits.”
He said within the period under review, troops killed 58 armed bandits in Katsina and Zamfara states with others escaping with gunshot wounds, noting that three repentant bandits embraced peace and surrendered to the troops with their arms and ammunition.
In addition, 367 cows and 184 sheep rustled by criminals were recovered.
On additional effort been made to crumble the inglorious industry of terrorism, armed banditry and growing criminal empire across the federation, particularly in the north, General Enenche said as part of efforts to mitigate the current spate of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other activities of criminal elements in the Northwest, the Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Burutai launched subsidiary Operation Sahel Sanity under Operation Hadarin Daji.
He said: “Already, Operation Sahel Sanity has recorded significant successes with the neutralisation of 46 armed bandits in Yargamji Village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State.
Relatedly, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji under Operation Accord, acting on credible intelligence, raided and destroyed bandits’ enclave at Gidan Zamfarawa and Bawan Daji villages. Troops also recovered arms and ammunition.”
He, nevertheless, hypothesised that these successes recorded within the period are evident of the troops’ determination, resilience and commitment to end the security challenges bedevilling the Northwest, stressing that a total of 104 bandits were killed within the period under review.
He further explained that troops of Operations Safe Haven conducted several ambushes, raids, clearance patrols and air operations at various locations within the zone which resulted in appreciable successes within the period.
“Notably, troops recovered two locally fabricated revolver rifles with three rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and five cartridges from a repentant member of Irigwe Militia Group in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
They also rescued four herders from suspected militias in Dong Village of Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
“Troops equally arrested three notorious armed robbers during a raid at Jenta Maskeri, Jenta Adamu, and Jenta Mangoro areas in Jos North LGA of Plateau State.
The robbers, Amos Bulu, Benjamin Timothy, and Geoffrey Samson were arrested with one fabricated pistol, one cartridge shell, one knife, two mobile phones, and one dummy pistol,” he further explained.
General Enenche was not silent on its non-kinetic approach to improving Civil-Military Co-operation (CIMIC) under Operation Safe Haven so as to harvest credible intelligence that could lead to dismantling criminal structures and network within its areas of responsibility, with the view of denying them freedom of action.
He revealed that the theatre command has completed the drilling of boreholes in Nkindero and Fulani settlements in Bassa LGA of Plateau State, adding that this general security situation applies to all the states within the North Central.
Summarising the recorded successes of Nigerian Military in the ongoing intensive operations in the North Central, the Coordinator said peace is gradually returning to the troubled locations while the confidence of the local populace is being enhanced.
He posited that farmers are gradually returning to their farms as a result of troops’ patrols in the hinterlands to deny armed herdsmen, rustlers and other criminals freedom of action.
While explaining that their efforts are not just aimed at restoring peace in the troubled zones, he said they are also to force economic saboteurs in the Niger Delta region out of business.
To this end, General Enenche said the Maritime Component of Operation Delta Safe specifically, Nigerian Navy Ship Delta and Pathfinder impounded 565,000 litres of suspected illegally refined AGO.
These significant feats, he said, were recorded in Opumami community and Opuedebubor Creek in Warri South LGA of Delta State as well as Mejikiri, Buguma in Asari Toru LGA of Rivers State.
In a related development, the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations said troops of Sector 1 Operation Delta Safe, in conjunction with Forward Operating Base Escravos, deactivated all Illegal Refining Sites (IRS) identified within Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) pipeline general area.
He said: “During the operations, a total of 17 IRS were deactivated at Agor-Illa Warri southwest LGA while 30,000 litres of illegally refined AGO and 125.7 barrels of stolen crude oil were impounded.
“In another development, on July 2, 2020, Forward Operating Base Escravos took custody of Tug Gulf Eagle with 10 crews from Nigerian Navy Ship Bomadi.
The vessel was arrested by Nigerian Navy Ship Bomadi off Ramos River Entrance for operating without her Automatic Identification System.
At the time of arrest, the vessel had 125,000 litres of AGO. The vessel was subsequently moved to NNS Delta for further investigation.
“The Armed Forces of Nigeria in furtherance of the objective of restoring peace and ridding the country of economic saboteurs will intensify offensive against economic sabotage, particularly in the Southern part of the country.”
The Military High Command, he said, uses this medium to appreciate and applaud all the gallant troops of the Armed Forces and personnel of other security agencies involved in various operations across the country for their commitment and professionalism.
It also encouraged troops and personnel of other security agencies to remain resolute and decisive in curtailing the activities of terrorists, armed bandits and other criminals across the country.
The High Command of the Armed Forces also reassured the public of its commitment to securing the country for all human activities to strive, enjoining citizens to continue to provide timely information on the activities of criminals in their various localities to the nearest military and other security agencies for prompt action.