*Troops kill ISWAP, B’Haram fighters in Borno as bandits extend operations to Niger
Deji Elumoye, Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna
President Muhammadu Buhari, for the umpteenth time, moved against criminal elements in the country, when he instructed the military to go after terrorists and kidnappers with force.
At the same time, the military authorities, at the weekend, said troops killed fighters of the Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and Boko Haram during a fire-fight in Biu, Borno State.
This, however, is as bandits have reportedly shifted base to Niger north district, invading parts of Kontagora and Mashegu Local Governments, after allegedly wreaking havoc in Niger east for some months.
But the president, who bared its fang against the recurring incidents of security lapses in some parts of the country, ordered immediate major military operation in Niger State, which has, for instance, faced continued attacks on its communities by bandits and remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, fleeing theaters of war in the Northwestern and Northeastern parts of the country.
Exercising his power as Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s Armed Forces, Buhari, in a release, yesterday, by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, directed the Defence Headquarters a few days ago, to respond robustly to the cases of killings and kidnappings in the Niger State and to give effect to the strategic objectives through the use of force.
“I would like to express sincere sympathies to the government and people of the state following recent security incidents,” Buhari said, reiterating that security was a responsibility of every member of the community and only through solidarity and cooperation with law enforcement agencies could the problems be finally defeated.
According to him, “The federal government is willing to strengthen support and cooperation with all the states. I believe that with the full cooperation of the citizens, we will surely overcome this problem”.
But the military authorities, at the weekend, while claiming to have killed ISWAP fighters and their Boko Haram counterparts during a fire-fight in Biu, Borno State, said troops of Sector 2 Joint Task Force(JTF) North East (NE) Operation HADIN KAI(OPHK) dealt decisively with Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists, who made frantic efforts to infiltrate the ancient town of Biu, Borno State.
A statement by Army spokesman, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, who claimed that the troops had pursued the fleeing terrorists, responded to a video of the insurgents opening fire on what appeared to be the Nigerian Army University, Biu, had gone viral a few days ago.
The military, however, said, “The criminal elements met their waterloo, when the gallant troops of 231 Battalion and 331 Artillery Regiment swiftly routed them in a failed incursion at Maina Hari village in Biu on Saturday, January 15, 2022.
“In the intense battle, troops unleashed superior fire power on the terrorists, neutralising five BH/ISWAP terrorists, compelling others to withdraw in disarray,” it said.
The war update issued by the army said troops also captured from the terrorists, one gun truck, one Deshka M anti aircraft gun, one HK 21 Machine Gun, one Rocket Propelled Grenade Bomb, 137 rounds of 12.7mm anti-aircraft rounds among others.
This, notwithstanding, the recent terrorists attacks on communities in the two Niger councils had left no fewer than three people dead and at least, 28 others abducted.
The latest incident came just days after bandits embarked on the killing of innocent villagers in two communities of Shuroro local government. leaving scores of people dead and houses in an entire village burnt, resulting in villagers seeking protection in Kuta, the headquarters of the local government.
The incident occurred a few days after Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, made a call for a total war to be waged against the bandits, “now that they have been declared terrorists” following the massacre in Shiroro communities.
The assault on Farin-Shinge in Kontagora Local Government, the home council of Governor Bello and Kulho, Jigawa, Dogo Fadama communities in Mashegu Local Government area of the state, reportedly took place between Friday night and Saturday morning last week.
In Kulho village alone, one person was reportedly killed, while 18 others were abducted. The incident in Farin-Shinge near Kontagora took place in broad day light as the villagers were preparing for the 1.00pm prayers on Friday.
“The gun men came on about 18 motorcycles. There were three of them on each of the motorcycles. They were shooting anyhow, making the villagers to scamper to the forest. The unlucky ones were kidnapped, but one person was killed,” an eyewitness said.
Vice-Chairman of Kontagora Local Government Council, Alhaji Aliyu Makiga, confirmed the attack on Farin-Shinge village, saying, “The gunmen came through the Tegina route in their large number”, pointing out that the security operatives tried to foil the attack but met “stiff resistance from the well-equipped gunmen.
:”They kidnapped a lot of people but some were set free when their motorcycles could not carry all of them and others are still with them.
“They (gunmen) are demanding for a ransom of seven 50 litres jerrican of petrol, Viju Milk and other drinks,” Makiga said, even as the Police have not confirmed the incidents.
Meanwhile, in commemoration of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration (AFRDC) 2022, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, weekend, presented brand new Hilux vehicles to 14 living heroes of the Nigerian Army, who served the nation, when their services were mostly needed.
The COAS added that the presentation was in honour and recognition of the sacrifices of both the fallen heroes and veterans, who were still alive for their services to the Nigerian Army, the nation and humanity.
The presentation was done nationwide, across all formations of the Nigerian Army, to signpost the significance of the celebration.
Presenting the vehicles on behalf of the COAS to one of the beneficiaries, the Provost Marshal (PM), Army, Maj Gen Robert Aiyenigba, stated that Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration, provided an opportunity for retrospection and appreciation of the patriotism and sacrifices demonstrated by both veterans and fallen heroes.
“It is in appreciation of their services that the COAS presents these vehicles to the retirees” he stated.
Aiyenigba further pointed out that the gesture was an affirmation of the high premium, the COAS placed on welfare of personnel.
The provost marshal symbolically handed over the keys and official documents of a brand new Hilux vehicle to the former Regimental Sergeant Major, Headquarters Nigerian Army Corps of Military Police (NACMP), Ex-Army Warrant Officer, Akinyokun Felix, on the occasion of his retirement after 35 years of meritorious service to the nation.
In his response for the kind gesture, Ex-MWO Akinyokun Felix, thanked the COAS for finding them worthy of the award, describing it as a morale booster to them and those they left in service.
He added that they would continue to support the Nigerian Army to succeed in her constitutional mandate even in retirement.