*Air Force deploys fighter jet in Sokoto
By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
A combined team of special forces of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force has killed scores of terrorists, who made another daring attempt to retake Baga, the headquarters of the Multinational Military Joint Task Force (MMJTF) in Borno State which was recently recaptured by the Nigerian military.
The routing of the terrorists comes as the Nigerian Air Force deployed a fighter aircraft in Sokoto State with combat helicopters in Gembu, Taraba State in a renewed bid to contain banditry.
The Baga encounter, which took place weekend, saw troops tackling the terrorists who attacked troop positions in two gun trucks and tried to break into their defensive positions.
“The terrorists, armed with two gun trucks, a vehicle laden with Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and a suicide bomber met their waterloo while frantically fighting to break into the formidable defensive position of the troops.
“The gallant troops responded swiftly in a fierce counter offensive, unleashing superior and overwhelming firepower on the terrorists and neutralised five of them, including a driver and a gunner firing from a gun truck, a suicide bomber in a vehicle loaded with IED and two other terrorists.
“In the ferocious counter attack, the valiant troops destroyed one gun truck and one IED – carrying vehicle.
“The troops also recovered one Anti Aircraft gun and three AK 47 rifles belonging to the terrorists.
“The troops are relentless and in high morale as they continue in hot pursuit of some of the terrorists who fled the scene of the encounter when they were overpowered by the troops,” an army statement said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed a fighter aircraft, along with support equipment, and a detachment of Special Forces (SF) personnel to Sokoto to further boost anti-banditry operations in the North-west of the country under Operation Diran Mikiya.
The deployment, the Air Force said, is aimed at adding value to the efforts to deal with the spate of insecurity in some parts of Sokoto State and the border areas between Zamfara and Sokoto States.
Receiving the air assets, pilots and SF personnel, the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, charged them to exhibit the highest sense of professionalism as they go about their task of securing communities whilst ensuring they deal decisive blows on the bandits.
Also present to receive the personnel and equipment were the Commander Air Task Force Operation Diran Mikiya, Air Commodore Ayoola Jolasinmi, and the Commander 119 Forward Operating Base (119 FOB), Air Commodore Jibrin Usman.
Following an assessment visit to NAF units in Katsina, Zamafara and Sokoto States on 26 December 2018, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Sadique Abubakar had stated that facilities at the Sultan Abubakar III Airport would be upgraded to facilitate the deployment of NAF platforms and equipment to enable the conduct of air operations from the airport for enhanced NAF response capability in support of the anti-banditry operations in the area.
Speaking on the Gembu deployment, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the ultimate objective for Gembu was to have a fully functional NAF Base, complete with helicopter landing pads (helipads) and possibly an airstrip.
This, he said, would allow for the deployment of some of the new NAF combat helicopters procured by the federal government to Gembu, when they arrive.
The CAS noted that NAF had already commenced the construction of a helipad at Birnin Gwari to boost the anti-banditry operations in the North-west of the country and also intended to commence the construction of a helipad in Gembu, once the necessary land titles for the proposed site were regularised and handed over to the service.
Air Marshal Abubakar seized the opportunity to thank the Governor of Taraba State Darius Ishiaku for his efforts to regularise the documentation for the lands that had been allocated to the NAF.