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Insurgency: Matawale commends NAF for “forcing” bandits to negotiating table

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Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawale has commended the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for its role in helping to “force” bandits terrorising the state to the negotiating table.

According to the News agency of Nigeria (NAN), NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement, yesterday, said the governor gave the commendation when he visited the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the NAF Headquarters in Abuja.

The statement quoted Matawale as saying that the pressure mounted on the criminals through air and ground assaults, “for the first time in more than four years, was able to halt attacks on villages, thereby bringing relative calm to the state,” adding that no fresh attacks had been recorded in the state in the last three weeks.

The governor explained that the decision to negotiate with the bandits was to immediately end all forms of insecurity in the state, so that the people could go about their normal activities without fear, noting that markets, which were hitherto closed for several years, have since been reopened and several captives have regained their freedom.

He thanked the leadership of NAF and its personnel for their immense contributions to the gradual restoration of normalcy to the state and pleaded for additional support in the areas of community development and provision of healthcare services to help alleviate the shortfall in amenities caused by many years of banditry attacks.

Responding, Abubakar congratulated the governor for his efforts in bringing peace to the state and promised that NAF would continue to support the Zamfara peace initiative.

The CAS assured that NAF would sustain its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions across Zamfara and surrounding states to deter attacks, saying the establishment of the 207 Quick Response Wing in Gusau, the state capital, with its helipads and fuel facilities, had added impetus to air operations and improved the conduct of ground operations by the 250 NAF Special Forces operating in Gusau and Bungudu Councils, with the ultimate aim of having a minimum of 700 Regiment and Special Forces personnel in Zamfara to compliment the efforts of other security agencies.

Abubakar said the establishment of a NAF Detachment in Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State had also enhanced its ability to effectively conduct air operations in the area, adding that the two newly-acquired Augusta 109 Power Helicopters, which were inducted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo during the recently concluded NAF Day Celebration, would soon be deployed to the Northwest.

He further noted that the service had been working with the previous state government toward the construction of a new runway in Gusau to enable fixed wing aircraft operate from the state.

The CAS recalled that NAF had conducted a five-day medical outreach in Shinkafi in August last year and had concluded plans to conduct medical outreaches in some other councils of the state and solicited the continued cooperation of the people and government in the provision of intelligence to ensure effective and efficient conduct of operations.


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