End Taraba Violence Now, Buhari Orders Security Forces

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Muhammadu Buhari

NAF kills scores of bandits in Zamfara Olonisakin seeks joint operation against terrorism in W’Africa

Omololu Ogunmade and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja condemned the current attacks on the people of Kona in Taraba State, and ordered security forces to end the violence not only immediately but also decisively.

This is coming as fighter jets of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) yesterday recorded major breakthrough as they bombed locations of armed bandits in Dangote Village in Zamfara State, killing scores of bandits.

The president, according to a statement by presidential spokesman, also threatened that attacks on innocent people in the name of revenge or whatever motives would not be tolerated by the government.

According to the statement, Buhari said “no group of people has the right to surround innocent people and unleash murderous violence on the people,” warning that resorting to self-help is an invitation to anarchy which in turn will make everyone unsafe.

According to the statement, Buhari said in a cycle of violence characterised by revenge and counter-revenge, there are no winners adding that in a state of permanent hostilities, people undermine not only law and order, but also their own ability to conduct their everyday businesses in peace.

“I always wonder how people can conduct their businesses in the absence of peace and tranquillity because violence ruins everything and leaves the people worse off…

“It is difficult to build a virile nation where hate and intolerance dominate the people’s minds. It’s easier to destroy than to build. People should count the economic costs of this violence to their own lives,” Buhari reportedly said.

The statement also said the president warned against a situation where community leaders abandon their responsibilities and allow thugs to set the agenda, saying it is dangerous for peace and security in the country.

It also said he criticised leaders who publicly preach virtues of peace, but privately promote hate and intolerance which ultimately culminate in violent destruction of life and property.

Meanwhile, fighter jets of the NAF yesterday bombed locations of armed bandits in Dangote Village in Zamfara State, killing scores of bandits.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, has also called for joint operations against terrorist groups by member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The NAF strikes neutralised scores of armed bandits who gathered for an overnight meeting preceeding planned attacks in Zamfara villages.

NAF said successive bombardments in huts around forests set the huts on fire as some of the bandits scampered to safety.

“The operation, which took place at dawn was executed based on credible human intelligence (HUMINT) reports indicating that some armed bandit leaders had assembled for an overnight meeting in a cluster of huts at the location to plan for attacks against nearby communities.

“Consequently, after confirmatory Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), the Air Component dispatched two Alpha Jets and an attack helicopter to strike the location”, a NAF statement said.

The statement issued by NAF Spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the bandits fired at the air aircraft as they struck huts where key leaders of the bandits were located.

“Overhead the target area, some armed bandits were seen near the huts, while others were spotted in the surrounding bushes. “The Alpha Jet attacked the location in successive passes, neutralising the bandits in the surrounding bushes in the first few passes and destroying two of the huts housing the key leaders, which were seen engulfed in flames, in the fourth pass.

“Some surviving bandits, who were firing at the attack platforms while attempting to flee the location, were mopped-up in follow-on attacks by the helicopter”, he said.

Meanwhile, Olonisakin, who was elected the new Chairman of the West African Chiefs of Defence Staff said joint and combined operations were needed to confront security threats to the sub-region.

The CDS who assumed leadership of the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Defence Staff on at the ongoing 39th ordinary meeting in Abuja, said collective efforts by each member state as well as collaboration with other stakeholders and partners in the pursuit of collective security and economic development will ensure peace and stability in the region through the platform provided by ECOWAS.

Listing the threats ranging from insurgency, terrorism to piracy, human and drugs trafficking, oil theft and other vices at sea, he said these security threats have been exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms, and light weapons occasioned by the numerous porous borders within the sub-region.

Olonisakin disclosed that the acquisition of these weapons has emboldened the criminal elements in their nefarious activities.

“The growing trend of local terrorist organisations affiliated with and receiving support from well known international terrorist organizations has also become very worrisome. “This trend portends grave danger to our collective security. It is a matter of concern that terrorism and violent extremism have continued to threaten the peace and security of our sub-region”, he said.

He maintained that “these security threats have been exacerbated by the proliferation of small arms, and light weapons occasioned by the numerous porous borders within the sub-region. “This threat calls for collective action on the path of each member state as well as collaboration with other stakeholders and partners.

“In this regard we need to intensify intelligence gathering, joint and combined operations to combat this menace. It is hoped that through this frequent interaction of ECOWAS Chiefs of Defence Staff and our political leaders, our collective efforts at ensuring peace and stability in our region will be fruitful,” he added.