By Ajogwu Jerry
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai as a routine has concluded a tour of areas affected by the activities of armed bandits in Nigeria’s northwest region.
Recall that TheNigerian reported a visit by the Army Chief to felicitate with troops on Tuesday during the commemoration of the 2019 Eid-El-Fitr celebration marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Gen. Buratai’s visit to the Northwest reached a climax on Thursday as he continued operational tour of the troubled areas in Zamfara and Katsina States respectively.
Represented by the Chief of Training and Operations Army, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, the COAS combed the affected areas by touring the borders between Nigeria and Niger Republic.
The convoy of the COAS came to a halt along the Gusau — Jibia — Zurmi road, a border location close to Maradi in Niger Republic where he interacted with a detachment of Nigerien troops patrolling the borders of Niger and Nigeria.
The detachment upon interaction led by one Capt Mamadu Yousuf disclosed it is a joint patrol security architecture between aimed at fighting armed banditry alongside Nigerian troops in the region.
The Army Chief and his entourage later penetrated into the hinterland where they had a brief stopover and interaction with troops and local vigilantes at Yar’Gamji village in Katsina State. TheNigerian reliably gathered that no fewer than 14 locals were recently killed during an encounter with armed bandits in Yar’Gamji. Three other women were also abducted.
Gen Adeosun read the goodwill message of the COAS to the troops stationed at Yar’Gamji village while urging them to sustain the tempo against the bandits.
The General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division Nigerian Army, Major Gen Hakeem Otiki promised an enhanced welfare package for the troops as contained in the COAS goodwill message, while urging them to crush any criminal element in the area.
“Ensure you do your job diligently without delay because as soldiers you have the license to kill criminals but you must not be killed”.
“It is your responsibility to safeguard this nation from every form of security threat. Make sure you patrol the flashpoints both day night. Do not hobnob with any local to avoid distractions” he instructed.
Otiki further gave the troops a standing order to crush any act of banditry in the area.
The COAS and his team proceeded to the Palace of the District Head of Batsari where issues bothering on security challenges around the jurisdiction of the traditional ruler were discussed. The Chairman of Batsari Local Government Area Alhaji Mannir Mu’azu was also in the palace to receive the COAS during the visit.
Representative of the COAS later moved to the front line, to address troops of 17 Brigade at the outskirts of Batsari town in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State during a Sallah Day Luncheon organized by the Chief of Army Staff in honour of the troops.
Gen Buratai ably represented by Gen Adeosun advised the troops to be competent, professional and responsive in the discharge of their constitutional roles.
“As professionals, you are tasked to protect Nigeria and Nigerians. You must use your weapons legitimately to ensure that criminal elements operating carelessly in this region are smoked out within the shortest duration”.
The GOC 8 Division, Maj Gen Otiki in his remarks applauded the commitment of the troops while tasking them to do more because “more has been given to you so much is expected”.
He also directed troops to confiscate or destroy any suspicious vehicular movements by the bandits operating in the hinterland.
Representative of the COAS and his entourage later paid an operational visit to Tashan Modibbo / Batsari border town, an invading route frequently used by the bandits located in Batsari Local Government Area.
The COAS was promptly briefed by the Brigade Commander of the Division.
Gen Buratai acting swiftly, instructed a 500 meters clearing of bushes and shrubs in the area proposed for troops deployment to enable a clear visibility of troops patrolling the area in their bid to dislodge invading bandits.
The COAS and his entourage later proceeded to Katsina State Government House.
The team was received by the Governor, Rt Hon Aminu Bello Masari, the Secretary of the State Government and other top government functionaries.
Gen Adeosun said the purpose of the visit is to interact with the troops as well as to assess the security situation in the State and the Northwest region.
“This visit is in line with the tradition of the COAS to pay homage to the Executive Governor of the State and assess the disposition of troops, and the security situation in the region”.
He noted that security situation in Katsina State recently escalated through the inimical activities of armed bandits but was curtailed by the gallant troops.
He also informed the Governor that peace has returned to the once troubled areas especially in Batsari Local Government. He acknowledged the efforts and support of the State government, urging them not to be tired.
Reacting to the gesture, Gov Masari prayed that the visit will be historic in curbing the menace of armed banditry in the State.
He reiterated that the government of Katsina State will not sit down and watch their people being killed.
“We cannot sit down and watch our people being killed. We are going to do our best by providing every necessary support to the military in fighting these devilish elements.
“We believe the military will crush the bandits same way they defeated Boko Haram Terrorists in the Northeast and we are not going to relent in providing the necessary support”.
Gov Masari hinted that the problems in the Northwest have no ethnic or religious colouration.
He said other regional armed forces are looking up to the Nigerian armed forces because of their immeasurable roles and importance within the African and sub Saharan region.
Top senior Army officers from the Nigerian Army Headquarters, 17 Brigade and 8 Division participated in the operational visit to the troops in the frontline.
PICTURES FROM THE EVENT