Air Force arrests 16 suspected armed bandits in Zamfara
Centre writes U.S., UK over herdsmen, farmers’ crisis, alleged missing N100b ranch fund
The 207 Quick Response Group (QRG) of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in Gusau, Zamfara State, has arrested 16 suspected armed bandits during Operation Sharan Daji.
The out-going Commander of the Unit, Group Captain Caleb Olayera, said this while receiving the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was on an operational tour of the NAF unit in Gusau.
Olayera said aside from the 207 QRG ground operations, it had been conducting air operations such as intelligence, surveillance and armed reconnaissance and close air support, as part of its contributions to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led Operation Sharan Daji.
He also stated that the group had arrested a major hard drug dealer and recovered three guns, seven cartridges and a magazine loaded with 30 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition from suspected armed bandits.
Besides, he said the quick response group had rescued three injured villagers at Boko village as well as five policemen held hostage, in addition to liberating three kidnapped victims.
Meanwhile, the CAS, who commended the personnel of 207 QRG for their efforts so far in restoring peace to Zamfara State, equally saluted their constant bravery in the face of danger.
Abubakar, who later spoke with journalists, said the NAF needed intelligence report from the populace to help in dealing with the security challenges in the state.
He, therefore, urged the people to support the armed forces by providing credible intelligence report on the location of the armed bandits.
The Air Chief, who was later received by the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State, Malam Ibrahim Wakala Mohammed, and other top government officials during his visit to the Government House in Gusau, acknowledged that the projection of air power had natural limitations, but that notwithstanding, the NAF would continue to do its best within the ambit of safety.
He said more NAF personnel and air assets had been deployed to add value to the ongoing operations in Zamfara State and environs.
However, the deputy governor, who lauded the CAS for the courage and efforts of NAF personnel deployed for operations in the state, acknowledged and praised the personal commitment of Air Marshal Abubakar, whom he said, had visited the state severally.
In another development, Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has written the United States Embassy and the British High Commission over the nagging crises between herders and farmers in Nigeria, which have led to the death of many citizens and destruction of property worth millions of naira.
CESJET, in a letter signed by its Executive Secretary, Isaac Ikpa and addressed to the international bodies, lamented that the needless killings of innocent Nigerians as a result of clashes between herders and farmers could have been averted if the N100 billion ranch fund allegedly approved by the immediate past government was never siphoned by some selfish individuals.
Ikpa, who called on the international bodies to assist the Federal Government in identifying those that have stashed ill-gotten wealth outside the shores of the country, also solicited their support in extraditing unpatriotic Nigerians that have caused untold human and economic losses through their actions and inactions.
The letter read in part: “We are by this letter seeking the urgent intervention of the United Nations, the Ambassador of the United States of America and the British High Commissioner in the frequent herdsmen and farmers’ conflicts that have engulfed some parts of country in recent times.
“The increasing clashes between farmers and pastoralists have recently become worrisome, especially in the nation’s wetland areas of the Middle Belt and North-Central.
“The ongoing conflicts are costing Nigeria at least $16 billion in potential revenues yearly.”
“Farmers have accused the Fulani herdsmen of failing to control their cattle and of damaging crops. In turn, the Fulani accused farmers of stealing their cattle. With an estimated death toll of approximately 2,000 to 3,000 between 2016 to date, the clashes are becoming as potentially dangerous as the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.
“The present conflict is an economic and environmental problem. Some politicians and unpatriotic Nigerians have turned it to a political game of chess with the sole aim of scoring political gains at the detriment of peace and economic stability.
“Politicians, especially members of the opposition, have turned the herdsmen/farmers’ conflict into an easy to ‘sell’ and ‘buy’ commodity for the campaign, as 2019 elections are approaching.
“Monies meant for security concerns were stolen without regards for the future implications.
“Policies that were intended to serve the interest of the country at large were replaced with decisions that were self-serving to only a few, thereby causing a crisis of unimaginable proportions, including the herdsmen/farmers’ conflict.
“Assist the government of Nigeria in the prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of these unpatriotic Nigerians that have committed crimes against humanity and causing deaths by abusing public office and betrayal of trust.
“Assist the government of Nigeria in extraditing unpatriotic Nigerians that have caused untold human and economic losses through their actions and inactions.”