Eliminating Banditry in N’west with Operation Sahel Sanity

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Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai

Francis Sardauna writes that the inauguration of Operation Sahel Sanity in Katsina State is a right step in tackling banditry and kidnapping in the state and the entire North-west area of Nigeria

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Yusuf Buratai on July 6th, 2020 flagged off another military operation codenamed, Operation Sahel Sanity, to tackle banditry and other nefarious activities in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger states. The aim of the operation is to support Operation Hadarin Daji in dislodging bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers in the North-west region of the country. The operation was launched as part of activities commemorating the 2020 Nigerian Army Day Celebration, during which the Nigerian Army Super Camp IV was established in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

The military operation, headquartered at the Special Army Super Camp IV, is comprehensively stemming the wave of insecurity bedeviling Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto States.

Buratai, who flagged off the operation, also launched the newly acquired 10 Mines Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (M-RAP) which were part of the military hard wares for Operation Sahel Sanity. The chief of army staff during the launching, said the M-RAP vehicles were conceptualised, designed and fabricated in Nigeria by the 107 Division Equipment Support of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri.

Prior to the commencement of the operation, killings by bandits had crippled the activities of the people of the North-west zone.

However, barely two months into the operation, the people of the zone, particularly those living in rural communities have started witnessing changes due to tremendous successes recorded by troops of the operation. The troops, within the period under review, carried out series of successful clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence building patrols within Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara States. Theses multiple and coordinated operations led to the killing of over 81 bandits and the arrest of over 54 suspected bandits, informants, food and arms suppliers and their collaborators in the affected states.

Also, the troops rescued over 18 kidnapped victims, recovered 983 rustled cattle, seven Ak-47 rifles, one GPMG and 20 dane guns within the first month of the operation in the affected states.

Similarly, numerous bandits’ camps and their logistics bases, including that of the notorious Katsina Dangote, were completely destroyed by troops of Operation Sahel Sanity fortnight after its inauguration. The Acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brig.-Gen. Bernard Onyeuko, told journalists that the troops had also destroyed eight other major bandits’ camps at Lebi Fulani village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State.

Onyeuko, who briefed journalists in Faskari on the achievements recorded by troops of Operation Sahel Sanity, added that the destroyed camps were under the supervision of a notorious bandits’ leader known as Abu-Radde. He said: “Troops on clearance patrol destroyed 8 major bandits’ camps owned by notorious Abu-Radde at Lebi Fulani Areas in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina. Troops during the operation recovered 4 dane guns and other items.”

Onyeuko explained that the troops apprehended several armed bandits, their informants and logistics suppliers in Zamfara and Katsina states. He said the troops also arrested a suspected bandit’s informant and logistics supplier named Saifullahi Adamu at Garin Dodo village in Katsina State. The suspect, according to him, was arrested following credible information about his elicit engagements with suspected bandits and his wife, Mrs Hauwa Abubakar, alleged that the suspect forcefully married her.

Onyeuko said: “His (suspect) wife Mrs Hauwa Abubakar said bandits, whom her husband associates with, usually accuse her of reporting their activities to security agencies and subject her to several abuses. Mrs. Hauwa was rescued from her husband and has been handed over to the Katsina State Government while the suspect is in our custody for further interrogation.”

In another development, he said: “On 9 August, 2020, troops deployed at Mara arrested two suspected bandits named Jamilu Mani and Aminu Lawal along Danmusa – Runka Road. The suspects were terrorizing the area. In the same vain, troops deployed at Bingi while on patrol arrested a suspected bandit and impostor named Sani Saidu wearing a police uniform with the name tag bearing ‘James Oname’.”

He said preliminary investigation revealed that James Oname a Police Sergeant was killed in 2015 by bandits at Tunga Rakumi in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, adding that “the suspect is undergoing further interrogation”.

Onyeuko affirmed: “On 10 August 2020, troops deployed at Yarsanta while on routine patrol intercepted a kidnapped escapee named Auwal Yusuf wandering aimlessly along Yarsanta-Kabuge general area. The victim was promptly rescued by the troops and taken to safety. Similarly, troops on patrol encountered suspected bandits with rustled cows along Bagega-Sabon Birni, they opened fire on sighting the troops but fled into the bushes as troops responded with superior firepower. During exploitation, troops found traces of blood along bandits’ escape route while 12 cows were recovered by the troops.”

He said the troops had on August 5th, 2020, foiled a coordinated bandits attack on residents of Zamfarawa Kagara village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. Onyeuko added that the bandits invaded the village and rustled several cows but while attempting to escape with them, troops arrived the vicinity and engaged the bandits, neutralized one, while others escaped with gunshot wounds and recovered all the rustled cows.

He said the chief of army staff has commended the troops for their gallantry, successes and the professionalism exhibited within the short period of Operation Sahel Sanity and urged them not to rest on their oars.

Meanwhile, there is no gainsaying therefore that within 44 days of Operation Sahel Sanity in Katsina and other North-west states, troops have recorded tremendous achievements in line with the aim of the operation. These achievements are further evident by the gradual return of peace and resumption of farming, social and economic activities by the locals with reduced fear of threats in their communities. However, there is need for the gallant troops to continue to dominate volatile villages and communities within the region with confidence building patrols and clearance operations in order to completely flush out the marauding bandits for peace and development to thrive.