Military authorities at the weekend urged terrorists in the North-east to surrender to troops when there is still time to do so.
The call came as the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, has charged troops to sustain the onslaught against insurgents in order to rid the North-east of terrorists.
This is also coming as the Zamfara State Governor, Mr. Bello Matawalle, has rejected all overtures of peace offered by bandits in the state, insisting that the state government was no longer interested in negotiating with bandits, who had rejected the Olive Branch offered to them earlier by the government.
Also following the sustained onslaught against bandits in Zamfara State, many of them, who fled from the ongoing military operation in the state on several motorcycles were on Friday ambushed and killed in Niger State by men of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
Speaking yesterday in a media interview in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, the Theatre Commander of Operations Hadin Kai (OPHK), Maj. Gen. Christopher Musa, urged the Boko Haram members, who are yet to surrender not to allow other recalcitrant members to deceive them.
“Those that surrendered recently are currently undergoing re-orientation under the Nigerian Army and I am calling on those that are yet to surrender, to follow suit.
“We are not going to release them into their various communities until they have gone for re-orientation under the Nigerian Army as well as fully screened,” he said.
He explained that: “So far, we released 500 to Borno State Government in July 2021,″ pointing out that before their release, they were given vocational training to be self-reliant.
Musa further explained that some of them are innocent but were forcefully conscripted into the terror group. Speaking on the closure of Damboa, Damaturu and Gamboru Ngala roads, he said the roads were being opened. “We have started re-opening the roads and the new arrangement now is that everyday; our troops will escort the travellers using the road in order to ensure they reach their various destinations safely.“
“We have started re-opening the road which was closed for a very long period of time; people should be patient, we have been witnessing return of peace in Maiduguri”, he said.
He, therefore, called on people of the liberated communities wishing to re-locate to their various communities to seek permission from the state government, adding that the Nigerian Army will provide security for the protection of their lives. Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Amao, has charged personnel of the Air Component of Operation HADIN KAI (OPHK) to sustain the onslaught against terrorists and insurgents in the North-east.
He gave the charge while on an operational visit to frontline troops of 105 Composite Group, Maiduguri and 103 Strike Group, Yola.
The visit, which served as morale booster to personnel of the air component, afforded the air force chief the opportunity to interact with them with a view to addressing some of their immediate operational challenges. A statement issued by the Nigerian Air Force said on arrival in Maiduguri, Amao was briefed by the Air Component Commander, OPHK, Air Commodore Nnamdi Ananaba, who gave a summary of the major achievements recorded by the air component towards degrading the capabilities of insurgents in Borno State, especially in the last 30 days.
The CAS, thereafter, commended the troops for their commitment to the current onslaught against insurgents in the North-east, while urging them to sustain and maintain the momentum.
According to him, “the outcome of our air operations has been very encouraging and positive and we must sustain these efforts to remain on course towards meeting our overall end state of ridding the region of these criminals”
He went on to charge the troops to remain focused and committed towards their operational objective. “Absolute commitment, discipline and dedication is required at this point in time for us to get the job done”, he said.
Amao also expressed optimism that the security threats confronting the country would soon be a thing of the past as the NAF, in synergy with other sister services is working assiduously to flush out all criminal elements so as to enable all Nigerians go about their daily lives and businesses without fear.
He stated that in view of the centrality of air power in joint operations, the NAF would continue to provide the much-needed air support for the ground forces in all theatres of operation in the country. While at Yola, Amao expressed appreciation to the personnel for their commitment and dedication to duty and charged them to continue to synergise their efforts with other security agencies within their location.
He told the troops that the entire nation remains grateful for their sacrifice and commitment towards keeping Nigeria safe.
Meanwhile, the Zamfara State Governor, Matawalle, has rejected all overtures of peace offered by bandits in the state. Matawalle insisted that the state government was no longer interested in negotiating with bandits, accusing them of rejecting the Olive Branch offered to them earlier by the government.
The governor said the barrage of attacks on bandits by security forces had made them to make fresh overtures to government seeking dialogue.
He said the bandits’ emissaries informed him that they had repented and would want to dialogue with government.
He said instead, security forces would flush them out of the state.
“My administration will no longer grant amnesty to bandits as they have failed to embrace the peace initiative earlier extended to them,’’ the governor said, while addressing a congregation in Gusau, the state capital at the weekend.
He urged residents to be patient and to support new security measures put in place to flush out bandits and their collaborators to restore peace in the state.
He noted that some of the bandits were running out of Zamfara to other states as a result of the new security measures introduced by the state government.
Matawalle warned politicians against giving any form of support to bandits, stressing that: “politicians should fear God and stop buying motorcycles to distribute to people who, in turn, sell to bandits to perpetuate their evil acts.’’ The governor said also the state government would prosecute any politician caught in the act.
The state government had cut off food, petroleum products supply and other essential commodities from the reach of the bandits in their various camps.
The government had also incepted several vehicles conveying food, drinks and petroleum products to various bandits’ camps in the state. The government said earlier that it had also arrested more than 100 violators of Matawalle’s Executive Order to restore law and order in the state.
Matawalle had established the Special Taskforce to enforce measures to address the lingering security challenges of mass kidnapping for ransom and cattle rustling in the state.
On August 26, the governor signed an Executive Order suspending all weekly markets in Zamfara, banned bicycles and motorcycles from carrying more than one passenger and not more than three passengers in the case of tricycles.
The state government had also established a Special Taskforce to ensure full compliance with the order while mobile courts were set up to prosecute violators.
Meanwhile, commercial activities in the state have been halted following the two weeks suspension of telecommunication networks in the state by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). All banking services, mobile telephone services, internet and other related services have also been suspended.
In a related development, the state Commissioner for Police, Mr. Ayuba Elkanah, announced the suspension of movement of all motorcycles with clutches in 13 local government areas of the state.
In a chat with newsmen, Elkanah urged members of the public to continue to support security agencies by giving them vital information that would assist in fighting crimes and criminally in the state.
“In a bid to achieve this aim, additional measures have been put in place – riding of motorcycles that have clutches have been banned in the 13 local government areas of the state in addition to the earlier enforcement of restrictions on motorcycles and tricycles in Gusau Local Government Area.
“In Gusau area, Damba and Mada are equally affected in the ban on riding motorcycles with clutches,’’ Elkanah said.
The police commissioner said they had authoritative information that some unscrupulous elements use the vehicles, especially Golf III cars and Canter trucks, to supply petroleum products and food items to bandits’ camps,
In a related development, many bandits, who fled from the ongoing military operation in Zamfara State on several motorcycles were on Friday ambushed and killed in Niger State by men of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
The exact number of bandits killed could not be immediately ascertained but a source at Maganda village in the Shiroro Local Government Area where the incident happened told newsmen that “they were many”.
He added that one soldier involved in the battle “is still missing”. Some of the bandits who escaped with serious bullets wounds were being trailed by the soldiers as the entire forest was being combed in search of the escaped ones while the villagers had been engaged to assist in evacuating the remains of the neutralised bandits.
It was gathered that six sub- machine guns and a number of AK-47 riffles and bags of ammunitions were recovered from the bandits.
According to a source at Allawa community, who spoke to newsmen on the condition of anonymity, most of the bandits neutralised resembled foreigners because: “from the dead bodies that we saw, they are not Nigerians; these are foreigners; all of them are carrying long hairs like women”. One of the Co- Conveners of the Concerned Shiroro Youth, an organisation monitoring the security situation in the local government area, Alhaji Yussuf Kokki when contacted on phone confirmed the incident, saying “we heard about it but we don’t have the details”. Meanwhile, the District Head of Wawa in Borgu LGA, Dr. Mahmud Aliyu who was abducted by bandits a week ago has regained his freedom.
Police Public Relations Officer of the Niger State Police Command, DSP Wasiu Abiodun confirmed the release of the monarch.