Military, Intelligence Agencies Step Up Strategy to End Kidnappings, Banditry

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•Say 40 terrorists killed in encounter

By Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna

The military high command and intelligence agencies are working on a grand plan involving a joint-operational strategy to stem the rampant kidnappings of schoolchildren in the North, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

This is coming as the Nigerian Army yesterday said it was making concerted efforts to rescue three teachers from the Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School, Rama village, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, that bandits abducted yesterday.
Besides, the army also claimed that it killed 40 terrorists and lost four personnel on Saturday during a clash with elements of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists along the fringes of Lake Chad and Tumbus.

Sources told THISDAY that the military, intelligence organisations and other security agencies were working on a grand plan that would stem armed banditry, insurgency and kidnapping following reports that the crimes were being masterminded by some influential people.

One of the sources said intelligence gathered so far pointed to the existence of active sponsors of the ongoing mass kidnappings of schoolchildren.

“There is a holistic operational arrangement coming out. All these things are sponsored. Farmers cannot go to their farms; they cannot go and cultivate their farmlands.

“Now, they came to the education sector. They have started going to all these schools.

“But with the intelligence dragnet all over the place, something is being done about it. A grand joint operational arrangement is underway,” he said.

The bandits have been on the rampage in the few weeks, abducting pupils and others in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger States, among others.
Last Thursday, they had kidnapped 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

Troops of Quick Response Force of 1 Division, Nigerian Army had on Friday foiled an attempt by the bandits to kidnap some students of Turkish International Secondary School located in Rigachikun, Kaduna State.

The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Yerima, in a statement, said following the firefight, troops were able to rescue 180 persons, comprising of 132 male students, 40 female students and eight civilian staff.

Another attempt to kidnap pupils of Government Science Secondary School, Ikara in Ikara Local Government Area of the state was foiled on Sunday.

Teachers Abducted in Kaduna Primary School

Gunmen yesterday invaded the Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School, Rama village, Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, abducting three teachers.

The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, told reporters in Kaduna that other than the three teachers, no pupil was kidnapped.

He said security agencies were intensifying efforts to rescue the teachers.

He stated that the bandits invaded the school on motorcycles about 8:50 am.

According to him, the pupils fled upon sighting the bandits on motorcycles, adding that the two pupils who were missing during the commotion had been found.

He named the three teachers kidnapped as Mr. Rabiu Salisu, Mr. Umar Hassan and Mr. Bala Adamu.

“Pupils who had just arrived at the school to begin the day’s activities took to their heels in the course of the commotion, as the bandits invaded the premises on motorcycles.

“This led to two pupils going missing, identified as Ahmad Halilu and Kabiru Yahaya.

“However, we are happy to inform you that the two missing pupils have been found.

“We can also confirm that no single pupil was kidnapped from the school. Other than the three teachers previously mentioned, no staff or pupil of the school is missing following the attack,” he said.

Aruwan said security reports showed that the bandits rustled cattle and went away with five motorcycles and other valuables.

He said the military and other security agencies in the Birnin Gwari area were pursuing the bandits to rescue the abductees.

He also said troops on patrol in Faka, Chikun Local Government Area of the state had rescued a young boy wandering in the Faka Forest.

Aruwan said the boy, identified as Adewale Rasaq, was kidnapped over a week ago in the Kudenden area of Chikun LGA, and escaped from his captors while his parents were negotiating the payment of a ransom of about N15 million with the bandits.
Also, the troops, while on patrol in a forest around Kachia and Kauru Local Government Areas found a girl, Fatima Lawal, who had escaped from bandits.

Aruwan said the girl said in her statement that she was kidnapped about three weeks ago at Randa village, in Kadage of Kauru Local Government Area.

The commissioner said the two persons would soon be handed over to their families.

The commissioner who declined to take questions from journalists did not give any update on the 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, who were kidnapped by last Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army said it is making concerted efforts to rescue the teachers involved in the latest kidnapping in Kaduna.
Army spokesman, Yerima, told THISDAY yesterday that the military was working towards ensuring the rescue of the abductees.

“The army is doing something about it. This is police work but there’s nothing we can do; we have to come in,” he said.

Scores of Terrorists, Four Military Personnel Killed

The Nigerian Army yesterday reported the loss of four personnel on Saturday when they clashed with elements of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province terrorists along the fringes of Lake Chad and Tumbus.

A statement by Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Yerima, said troops of Sector 3 Operation Lafiya Dole were on a clearance patrol when the incident occurred.

In the statement titled, ‘How Troops Obliterated Boko Haram Terrorists Along Fringes Of Lake Chad, Tumbus,’ the army said the troops destroyed the insurgents’ gun trucks and captured their ammunition.

“As they (troops) commenced the second phase of their operations and advancing along the Kukawa-Monguno road, about 14 kilometres to their base, they sighted BHTs/ISWAP gun trucks and swiftly commenced pursuit with heavy fire and deft manoeuvre.

“In the course of the hot pursuit, which was aided by air cover provided by the Air Task Team of Operation Lafia Dole, several terrorists were neutralised and their gun trucks destroyed.

“Unfortunately, however, one officer and three gallant soldiers paid the supreme sacrifices while those wounded in action are currently receiving medical attention at 7 Division Medical Services and Hospital in Maimalari Cantonment,” it stated.

Also, as part of the ongoing offensive operation against terrorist groups, Boko Haram and the ISWAP in the North-east, Yerima said in a separate statement yesterday that the troops of Operation Lafiya Dole killed 41 terrorists after “heavy fighting” yesterday in Borno.

He said the troops conducted a fighting patrol along Gulwa and Musuri in Gamboru Ngala Local Government Area of Borno State.
“At Musuri, troops encountered elements of the terrorist group and swiftly engaged them in a firefight, which lasted for about 45 minutes.

“With superior firepower, troops ultimately dominated the area after neutralising 41 of the terrorists” it said.

The update said troops recovered sophisticated weapons and rescued 60 elderly women and children from their captors.

It listed items recovered from the fighters to include 12 AK-47 rifles, eight Fabric Nationale (FN) rifles, a motorcycle, six bicycles, mechanic toolboxes, a sewing machine, a large quantity of batteries used for making of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and sex enhancement drugs.