Military Plans Grand Offensive against Bandits

•  To unfold Joint operation of all security agencies   
• Task now to cover entire North-west
By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

Military authorities yesterday unveiled a plan for a grand offensive against armed bandits who have intensified attacks in Zamfara and contiguous states, killing and abducting hundreds of innocent Nigerians.

Addressing a news conference in Abuja, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Yusuf Buratai, represented by the Chief of Training and Operations, Major General Lamidi Adeosun, said the Army Headquarters had resolved to reorganise “Exercise Harbin Kunama III”, an operation earlier put in place to contain banditry in Zamfara State.
He said the new offensive will incorporate other security agencies and extend to other states experiencing attacks by bandits.
Major General Adeosun said a joint operation involving other security agencies would soon be unfolded and would take the epicenter of the crisis.
He said the decision was premised on the fact that bandits were relocating to safe havens in other states like Katsina, Sokoto and Kaduna after they were displaced in Zamfara.
“A joint operation comprising all the security agencies would unfold soon. They are taking over the epicenter of the crisis.
“The COAS wants us to provide a wedge, a blockade that will plug all the loopholes through which the bandits escape”, he said last. This informed the decision to reorganise Exercise ‘Harbin Kunama’ and expand its mandate.
“It has however been observed that there appears to be a resurgence of their activities in other contiguous states to Zamfara.
“This is occasioned by fleeing bandits that have resorted to attacking soft targets while relocating to other safe havens within contiguous states of Katsina and Sokoto. Current threat assessments revealed the migration of the bandits from their epicenter to other areas in Kaduna, Kano and Niger States”, he said.
According to him, “It is against this backdrop that Exercise Harbin Kunama III is being re-organised and its mandate expanded to effectively ensure the complete defeat of the fleeing bandits.
“This is to restore public confidence and enhance safety while also ensuring socio-economic activities continue without fear or intimidation”.
He appealed for the understanding of the public on the inconveniences they may face during the operations.
“It is on this premise that I want to plead with the general public to persevere in the face of seeming inconveniences due to restrictions that may be imposed in these areas while the Nigerian Army is conducting the exercise.
“The Nigerian Army mandate is aimed at building confidence and ensuring our country is rid of criminal elements that are poised to destabilise the normal life, rights and freedom of the people across the country as enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
“I want to assure the general public that the Nigerian Army will carry out its constitutional mandate professionally and within the ambit of the law,” he said.
The bandits terrorising the North-west of the country were at the height of their criminal enterprise on Wednesday night, attacking Government Girls Secondary School, Moriki in Zuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State, where they kidnapped six persons.
A witness that saw the Zamfara attack said the attackers opened fire on the school, killing one man, and abducting two teachers and four nursing students.
Worried about the ugly development, the House of Representatives resolved on Thursday to summon President Muhammadu Buhari to come and explain how he is tackling the escalating banditry.
The resolution followed an amendment to a motion of urgent national importance by Hon. Dayyabu Safana, urging lawmakers to propose to the Buhari-led federal government to impose state of emergency in Safana/Batsari/Dan-Musa Federal Constituency, Katsina State as a way to curb armed banditry.
Buhari is also under attack from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which Thursday held him responsible for the worsening state of insecurity in the land, saying the president was loitering around the United Kingdom while the nation was under the siege of gun-wielding criminals.
A statement by PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, called on Buhari to immediately return home and use the remaining part of his first tenure to seek help instead of wandering abroad under the guise of private visits to the UK.