President Muhammadu Buhari made a surprise visit to troops battling bandits, kidnappers and criminals in Zamfara and neighbouring states under Operations Sharan Daji and Diran Mikiya on Saturday.
This happened before he boarded his Air Force plane at Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport, Katsina, to Abuja.
Mr Buhari praised the troops for their service and dedication to the nation, urging them to remain “ruthless” in the battle against the criminals. In the spirit of the Sallah celebrations, the president also donated 5 bulls to the troops.
The unannounced visit was intended to appreciate the work of the Nigerian Armed Forces, for the tremendous results that are being achieved in securing this nation and its people.
During the interaction, the president applauded officers and men of the Nigerian Air Force and the Army for the counter-offensive against bandits in Zamfara State and environs, assuring them of his full support as ‘‘a worthy Commander-in-Chief.’’
He urged officers and men 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.
‘‘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.
“The country has to be secured to be managed…we have been doing our best and we depend a lot on you 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.
The Federal Government had, on July 29, assembled the 1000-strong military personnel, comprising the army, air force, police and the civil defence to help in tackling the activities of the bandits.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has deployed fighter aircraft to Katsina, the airport with the closest proximity to Zamfara, to allow for immediate and effective response to the menace of the bandits.
The president had also authorised the engagement by NAF, of advanced satellite surveillance technology to help in accurate detection of movement and locations of the bandits.
In his brief to the president, the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, Sampson Akpasa, said locations such as Mashema, Shinkafi, Ajia, Rafi, Shamashalle, Zurmi and Galadi in Zamfara State, previously used as staging and trading bases by the bandits have been made untenable through sustained air interdiction 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 Alhaj,” Mr Akpasa, an air vice marshall, said.