- Zamfara chiefs want ground troops to mop up bandits after air strikes Apologise over position on NAF bombings
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday charged troops fighting bandits in Zamfara State to remain resolute in sustaining efforts to eliminate them in the state and the entire North-west zone.
The charge came as the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs advised the Nigerian Air Force to apply care while tracking bandits fleeing into communities after air strikes in order to avoid the killing of innocent people and allow ground troops to do the mop up operations.
Hosting personnel of the Air Task Force, Operation Diran Mikiya, to a luncheon to mark the Easter celebration, Abubakar charged officers and airmen to sustain their fighting pace in order to eliminate bandits in the region and maintain peace.
An update released by NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the Air Force Chief, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding, Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal Napoleon Bali, tasked the personnel “to remain resolute while sustaining their efforts to eliminate the activities of bandits in Zamfara and surrounding states with a view to ensuring peace in the country.”
Bali lauded the magnanimity of the CAS in ensuring that the personnel had a few hours to unwind in celebration of the holy season.
He said this would no doubt boost their morale and assuage the pains of their inability to celebrate the season with their families.
Bali also commended the Commander 213 Forward Operations Base in Katsina, Group Captain Hadi Ahmed, for providing necessary base services support to ensure the smooth operations of the task force.
Also present at the luncheon were the Commander 17 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Colonel Buhari Madaki, as well as officials and staff of civil agencies operating at the Musa Yar’Adua International Airport.
Meanwhile, the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs yesterday advised the Nigerian Air Force to allow ground troops to mop up bandits fleeing into their communities after air strikes to avoid collateral damage.
The Chairman of the Zamfara State Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Atahiru Ahmad, who is also the Emir of Anka, gave the advice at the weekend when a seven-man high powered investigation team led by Air Vice Marshal Idi Lubo visited him at his palace in Anka.
“I want to appeal that care should be applied while tracking the bandits running from your fire power into the community; please allow the ground force to take over so as to avoid killing innocent people,” he said.
The emir also apologised to the Nigerian Air Force over its earlier position that NAF bombings killed 11 civilians.
According to him, “The council regrets the embarrassment caused by the press briefing because it was not targeted at the Air Force or the army but at our own son, the Minister of Defence, who wrongly accused us of complicity in the bandits’ activities in the state.
“l apologise over whatever embarrassment the statement may have caused, and from now on, we have drawn a line, there won’t be anything like that again.
“Out of the 17 emirate councils that we have in the state, mistakes occurred in only four with the submissions we gathered in the last two years. l also want to state that nothing happened to innocent citizens in the last six months in the state.”
He maintained further that “the Emir of Bungudu is not the spokesman of the council even though he read out our press briefing that day. The list of victims that he released to journalists on a later day did not emanate from me nor was I aware of it as the chairman. l will only take responsibility because l am the chairman.”
Earlier, leader of the team, Lubo, said the team was in the state to investigate the true position of the allegations in order to avoid future occurrence.
“We have also come with condolence letter from the Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar, in case some innocent people were killed in our encounter with bandits,” he said.