· Promises sustained onslaught against criminals
· Highlights recent successes by security agencies
Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja
The federal government has cautioned Nigerians against political and ethnic sentiments that are capable of worsening the current ethnic and religious clashes over insecurity in some states, stating that President Muhammadu Buhari Administration is working assiduously to address all issues currently creating tension in the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, spoke at a press conference on Monday in Abuja, along with his counterpart, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rafui Aregbesola, on efforts being made by the federal government to combat terrorism, banditry and other criminal activities.
He said that with the renewed determination and vigour by the government, the security agencies were set to sustain their onslaught against terrorists, bandits and criminal elements in the country.
Noting that the administration is fully aware of its responsibility to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, the federal government’s spokesman quoted the President as saying that government will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to national security and civic wellbeing.
Highlighting what he called the ‘’recent successes’’ recorded by the Armed forces and other security/intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorists, bandits and other criminals, Alhaji Mohammed said that since the beginning of this year, which is barely three weeks old, the Armed Forces had neutralized 158 criminal elements across the country.
He said this was in addition to scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during air strikes, adding that some 52 criminal elements were arrested, with scores of arms, ammunition and equipment recovered.
“Troops have also rescued a total of 17 kidnapped victims across the country. In addition, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of stolen Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) have been recovered.
‘’Furthermore, a total of 1,184 of 25kg bags of Yaraliva Nitrabor Fertilizer were impounded by the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“Please note that in addition to the numbers of neutralized criminal elements quoted above, many others were incapacitated and their camps destroyed’’, he added.
The minister who said the government will not relent until peace had been restored to every troubled part of our dear nation, explained that the President has continued to provide the security agencies with the wherewithal to successfully prosecute their various operations.
He continued, ‘’The security agencies have been discharging their responsibilities creditably. It is now up to us, as citizens, to give our undiluted support to the security agencies, who daily sacrifice to keep us safe.
‘’The successes being recorded by the security and intelligence agencies in fighting insecurity did not come cheap.
‘’They have come as a result of the unrelenting efforts and sacrifices of the gallant officers and men of the military as well as other security and intelligence agencies that conduct operations across the country.’’
The Minister stated that even though some of the troops paid the supreme price in the course of the operations, the security and intelligence forces had consistently exhibited gallantry and resilience in the various operations, saying Nigerians owe them a debt of gratitude.
Explaining the successes achieved by the security and intelligence agencies at the different geo-political zones, the minister claimed that in the North-West, 118 armed bandits were killed in addition to a total of 11 kidnapped victims that were rescued since the beginning of the year.
In the North-East, within the period under review, Alhaji Mohammed added that 30 terrorists, including some of their commanders, were killed by troops, apart from the scores who were killed by air raids/attacks.
‘’Several gun trucks were captured in addition to the 13 recently captured at Marte in Borno State, while some others were destroyed by the gallant troops. Also, a total of 13 assorted rifles and 2 Anti-Aircraft guns were recovered from Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, in addition, several arrests were made – including high value targets – within the period.
‘’Now, during the past week alone, five Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists were eliminated by troops as they attempted to overrun Abbagajiri and Dusula towns in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno.
‘’The troops, from the 402 Special Forces Task Force Brigade, had on Wednesday encircled some terrorists’ enclaves at Abbagajiri and inflicted heavy casualties on them’’, he further explained.
Making similar claims in other zones, he added that in the South-South, troops of Operation DELTA SAFE conducted anti-crude-oil theft and illegal-oil-bunkering operations, in addition to anti-illegal-maritime activities.
‘’In the course of their operational activities, 24 illegal refining sites, 11 wooden boats, 142 metal tanks, 17 dugout pits and 45 ovens were destroyed. Also, 30 suspects were arrested while 14 pumping machines, 13 speed boats and 13 outboard engines were recovered.
‘’Additionally, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil and 1,724,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) as well as 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) were recovered’’, he said.
In the South-West, he claimed troops of Operation AWATSE destroyed several illegal refining sites and arrested 8 boats engaged in illegal activities.
The federal government’s spokesman explained that in addition to the kinetic military operations, the Armed Forces routinely carry out non-kinetic operations in form of Civil Military Cooperation Activities (CIMIC), fostering several stakeholders and reconciliation meetings among hostile communities and carrying out medical outreaches in host communities.
He promised that the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police will be re-energized and reorganized, with a view to enhancing their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against the country.