President Buhari unleashes troops on cattle rustlers, bandits

4 President Buhari interacting with troops deployed to curb the activities of bandits and criminals in Zamfara and neighbouring states under Operations Sharan Daji and Diran Mikiya, at Katsina Airport

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday gave marching orders to Nigerian troops to be ruthless in the battle against cattle rustlers, bandits and kidnappers in the country.

He urged them to keep up the good work in the results achieved in dealing with banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in the affected states, within the short period of the operation’s existence.

Speaking shortly before leaving for Abuja from Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport, Katsina, the president who interacted with troops deployed to curb the activities of bandits and criminals in Zamfara and neighbouring states under Operations Sharan Daji and Diran Mikiya praised them for their service and dedication to the nation.

Specifically, Buhari’s visit to the soldiers was meant to appreciate the work of the Nigerian Armed Forces for the tremendous results that are being achieved in securing this nation and its people.

President Buhari commended officers of the Nigerian Air Force and the Army for their counter-offensive actions against bandits in Zamfara State and environs, assuring them of his full support as ‘‘a worthy commander-in-chief”.

He said, ‘‘I am here and pleased at this opportunity to address you and express my pleasure and happiness as your commander-in-chief on your performance on the two respective operations.

“Nigerians are looking up to you and us to secure the country. What is happening in the areas of operations are disgraceful. I’m very pleased with the way officers and men are firmly putting it down and I want you to be as ruthless as humanly possible. Nigerians deserve some peace”.

The president reminded the troops that when he was elected into office in 2015, he promised the nation security, an improved economy and a commitment to fight corruption.

He stated: “The country has to be secured to be managed, we have been doing our best and we depend on you a lot to do what is needed in the field. I do not want you to spare any cattle rustler, armed robber or any person who thinks he is above the law.

‘‘I commend you for the job you have been doing so far and I assure you that I will continue to be a worthy commander-in-chief. Thank you very much and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria,’’ the president said.

In his brief to the president, the Air Officer Commanding, Special Operations Command of NAF, Sampson Akpasa, said locations such as Mashema, Shinkafi, Ajia, Rafi, Shamashalle, Zurmi and Galadi in Zamfara State previously used as bases by the bandits have been made untenable through sustained air assault and armed reconnaissance.

‘‘The air efforts in the last couple of weeks also provided close air support to ground troops on various occasions. Additionally, the Air Task Force (ATF) responded to several distress calls from sister security forces and locals by neutralising the identified massed bandits and preventing imminent attacks on villages/towns such as Yanwari and Hayin Alha”, Akpasa said.

In the spirit of the Sallah celebrations, the president donated five bulls to the troops.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army yesterday warned its officers against any act of mutiny, saying the military would not condone any form of uprising or rebellion by soldiers fighting the Boko Haram insurgents.

Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Maj Gen Abbah Dikko, gave the warning during a launch at the Maiduguri Military Command Centre.

He condemned the act of mutiny under any guise, maintaining that the law and ethics, which the Nigerian Army is guided by, would take its full course on errant soldiers.

Dikko reminded them of their oath of recruitment, pointing out that they voluntarily joined the military and as such, must be disciplined.

He said, “You have decided to put your life on the line for the territorial integrity of Nigeria. So, it is very important that we are reminded of our roles and responsibilities to the nation and our responsibility to the society, most importantly our responsibility to ourselves because we are not a conscript army. We are a regular military.

“Those who have volunteered to serve and that is the only time you will volunteer, subsequently having offered your service, it is the responsibility of the services to deploy you where they find you appropriate.

“So it is important that we continue to retain our professional comportment so that we can serve diligently. It’s important that we uphold the values and ethics of the system that we belong to.

“It is also important that we understand it is a service to our fatherland. It is not a service to ourselves. The bedrock of your service as a soldier is discipline. A soldier must remain disciplined at all times. A soldier must obey instructions.”

On the fate of soldiers who protested at the Maiduguri International Airport, Dikko said they would be disciplined in accordance with military laws.

His words: “We don’t punish in the military. We discipline. Discipline is the bedrock of the job. If there’s no discipline, then we can’t have an army. So, if a soldier errs, he must be corrected.

“We are focused and doing what we are supposed to do in order to finish the assignment that we’re given. No matter what it takes, we’ll do it professionally. Everybody is motivated and well catered for.

“There are some that are not here and you don’t know what they’re going through. You cannot say you’ve heard them complaining that they’re not in the townships. Some are in locations that are out of reach. So, we must understand the difficult times in which we find ourselves”.

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