•Dismisses amnesty for bandits proposal, plots encirclement strategy
•Killings in Zamfara a daily occurrence, worrisome, laments Governor Lawal
•Plateau governor seeks military’s assistance, agrees to army chief’s suggestion to exhaust non-kinetic approach first
The military high command, yesterday, hinted at plans to launch a comprehensive military offensive against non-state actors responsible for killings in Zamfara, Plateau, and Benue states, as well as Southern Kaduna.
It said military commanders were meeting to find a lasting solution to the security challenge, stressing that the military will not allow the ongoing killing of women and children in the affected states.
The suggestion came as the governor of Zamfara State, Dauda Lawal, bemoaned the precarious security situation in his state, lamenting that people were being killed daily in the state.
Speaking while receiving the Zamfara State governor at the Army Headquarters in Abuja, Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, said the planned military operation was in tandem with presidential directives and the renewed hope agenda of the President Bola Tinubu administration.
The government’s renewed hope agenda is expected to guarantee economic development, peace and stability, not just in troubled spots, but also in the whole country.
Lagbaja dismissed the proposal of amnesty programme for bandits, saying an existing amnesty in the state is being exploited by armed bandits to terrorise the citizenry. He said the military operations and intelligence chiefs were working to synchronise the operations of the 1 and 8 Divisions of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna and Sokoto, on a strategy to encircle the bandits and wipe them out.
The army chief disclosed that as part of the strategy, commanders of 1 and 17 Brigades had been given some independence to intervene in some operations to ensure security in Zamfara State.
Lagbaja said, “We are working to find a lasting solution to the insecurity being experienced in Zamfara State. Just yesterday, I tasked the chief of military intelligence to tinker on ways to address the issue and other regional groups that operate in Zamfara State, because we will not have a situation where some people constitute themselves into lawless groups and just go into communities and kill children and defenseless women.”
Lagbaja told the governor that as a security proposition, the issue of amnesty being suggested by some people in the state was a non-starter. He said this was considering that an earlier amnesty granted the bandits was exploited by them to kill and terrorise people.
He stated, “The Chief of Operations (Army) is working to synchronise the operations between 1 Division and 8 Division that we have so that when they push on the south these criminal elements will not have the freedom to migrate. But when they push them from the north, they do not have the freedom to migrate, they can be quickly encircled and completely destroyed.”
Earlier in his remarks, the governor of Zamfara State lamented the perilous security situation in the state, calling the situation worrisome.
Lawal said, “There was never a day that passes by without people being killed in one area or local government or the other and this is very, very worrisome for us because without security, basically there will be no development without security. People will not be able to go to farm and produce what they consume and beyond.
“Without security our children will not be able to go to school, which is a serious setback for the people of Zamfara and the environment.”
Equally speaking while receiving the Plateau State governor, Caleb Mutfwang, in his office, the army chief said the military had already received reports from the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3 Division, and was applying some measures.
“We will stop at nothing to provide combat enablers that will bring lasting peace to the Plateau,” Lagbaja stated.
He said the operations will be extended to Benue and Southern Kaduna.
Lagbaja stressed the need to constitute an early warning mechanism in local councils, working with troops, even as he called for a stakeholders meeting to try to address the security situation before the application of kinetic measures.
Earlier, the Plateau State governor said his state was at a challenging juncture and needed the support of the security forces.
He said, “We want to seek the support of the army and security agencies to ensure that the situation is brought to an end. We will continue to collaborate with the army to ensure that sectarian crisis are contained so that we can live in peace.”