The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, says security agencies have so far neutralised 250 bandits and captured over 600 since the interruption of communication facilities in Zamfara, parts of Niger, Sokoto and Kaduna states.
Irabor revealed this at the resumed weekly ministerial briefing, organized by the Presidential Communications Team, led by Mr Femi Adesina, on Thursday in Abuja.
The CDS also disclosed that thousands of kidnapped citizens were rescued from various camps of bandits located in Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto and Katsina states in the last five weeks.
He said: “The primary objective of the government is to ensure the peace and wellbeing of every citizen so, we undertake our operations and activities to ensure there is peace, development and the provision of amenities that aggregate to governance.
“We are responsible for the security content in that regard so to that extent, looking at the numbers, from the last report that I got on Monday, we have neutralized over 250 of the bandits, we have equally arrested well over 600 and because it is a continuous thing, the figures might also change.
“I will like to also indicate that the rescue operations have led to the rescue of many of those recruited by the bandits, which is also part and parcel of that action and is not limited to Zamfara state but it also extends to Sokoto and Katsina.”
He restated the resolve of the Armed Forces to continue the fight against bandits and other criminals troubling some parts of the country.
“We will continue to do what we are meant to do, that is why we are still there although not all share the fact that we have done very well but many who understand the issues applaud the actions we have taken both in the Northeast and Northwest and we have had many compliments with regards to that.
“So for me, we will not be distracted, we will remain resolute and undaunted while engaging the criminals, to see that we scale up our operations not just in the Northeast or Southwest, but across the country,” he affirmed.
On whether the leader of Islamic States of West African Province (ISWAP), Abu Musab, is dead or alive, Irabor said: “I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead. He is dead and remains dead.’’
On the whereabouts of the concentration of bandits, the CDS said: “They are essentially where they are. That is the reason why we are pursuing them.
“But more seriously, a larger number of the bandits remain in the Northwest.
“Of course, a few who are having inroads into the Northcentral, we are taking action, so that they do not spread beyond the known locations.
“But let me tell you also that threat as it were, whether terrorism, banditry, or any form of criminality, they are not confined to boundaries.’’
Commenting on the recent surrender of Boko Haram fighters, Irabor said over 1,800 of the insurgents had so far surrendered.
He called on stakeholders and all citizens to cooperate with security agencies in order to win the fight against insurgency.
“The massive surrendering of Boko Haram terrorists is as a result of the actions we have taken in the Northeast.
“But I also believe that issues surrounding defence and security are not just military-centric but it has to involve all stakeholders and all citizens,” he said.