By Chimezie Godfrey
The Military has neutralized scores of Indegineous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Eastern Security Network (ESN) criminals in the South-East zone of the country.
The Director, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters Abuja, Brig. Gen. Benard Onyeuko, disclosed this at the briefing of Journalists on the operations of the Armed Forces of Nigeria across the country between 16th and 29th July, 2021.
Gen. Onyeuko disclosed that troops out of credible intelligence raided camps of notorious IPOB/ENS group at Enugu and Anambra States and consequently neutralized several of their members.
He said,”In a renewed effort by the Armed Forces to end the menace of Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network in the South East Zone of the Country, own troops based on credible intelligence conducted a raid operation on a notorious camp of the group at Akpawfu Community in Nkanu East LGA of Enugu State.
“A combined team of security operatives raided the camp and neutralized some of their members and recovered some arms and ammunition in the process.
“In a another development a new ESN hideout at Ihiala in Anambra State used in the production of explosives was discovered and destroyed by the security forces within the period under review.”
Gen. Onyeuko stressed that troops have continued to maintain vigilance and dominate the Zone with patrols to deter intending criminal activities.
He said that the operational engagements of Operation Hadarin Daji within the period in focus include clearance, search and rescue as well as extensive air operations to dominate the airspace and provide of close air support for ground troops.
According to him, these operations which were conducted concurrently in different locations of the North West Zone, resulted in the killing of several bandits, rescue of kidnap victims and recovery of large catches of arms and ammunition.
“Within the period, own troops responded to distress calls of bandits and armed militia groups’ attacks on civilians at Hanutaru and Dansadau villages in Maru LGA of Zamfara State; along Gusau – Sokoto Road. Troops also carried out rescue operations within the period at Bakori LGA of Katsina State; Eldabala village in Tangaza LGA and along Lamba Bakura – Dogo Karfe Road in Sokoto State.
“Consequently, no fewer than 14 armed bandits were neutralized. Also, a total of 36 kidnapped victims were rescued within the period and troops assisted one of the victims to safe delivery of a baby during one of the encounters. A total of 7 AK-47 rifles, 6 motorcycles, assorted military and police uniforms, 6 vehicles and 4 machetes among other items were recovered within the period.
“Also, a total of 24 criminal elements were intercepted and arrested, including 16 bandits’ informants/collaborators and an impostor by name Faisal Saidu who paraded himself as Lance Corporal Saidu Abubakar.
“Furthermore, a total of 223 rustled livestock were recovered during the period,” he said.
Gen. Onyeuko equally revealed that troops of Operation Hadin Kai conducted several land and air operations at different locations of the theatre, which include robust clearance, ambush and road piquet operations as well as comprehensive air patrols to dominate the general area and neutralize terrorists as well as frustrate other criminal elements.
“Cumulatively, the operations led to the neutralization of 16 BHT/ISWAPs as well as arrest of 29 of them, while 40 civilians were rescued. BHT and their families 5 female Adults and 12 children were arrested at FOB Mayanti and Darajamel on 15 Jul.
“Troops also recovered one General Purpose Machine Gun, 4 AK-47 rifles, 50 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and one belt containing 296 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammunition, accessories for making IED among other items,” he said.
The Defence Spokesperson also said that troops of Operation conducted several kinetic and non-kinetic operations concurrently at various locations in Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna States.
According to him, within this period, troops responded to distress calls of armed bandits’ attacks on civilians, as well as incidents of kidnap, armed robbery and farmland destructions by herders’ cattle.
He said these operations were conducted at Ungwan Jabba, Ungwan Rohogo village in Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State; Rafiki village in Bassa LGA as well as Kerang and Panyam villages in Mangu LGA of Plateau State.
Other locations where some incidents were recorded are Penjum and Magamiya villages in Zango Kataf LGA of Kaduna State.
Other areas include Godogodo District; Kafanchan Town and Kyayya village, all in Jama’a LGA as well as Numbu village in Sanga LGA, Kaduna State.
He added that raid operations were also conducted on some Sara Suka members’ hideouts and other criminals’ enclaves at Rikkos and Gangare general areas in Jos North LGA; Biembiem village and Dabba Village in Wase LGA of Plateau State.
According to him, cumulatively 7 armed bandits and 5 armed robbers were neutralized and several others escaped with gunshot wounds, while 12 were arrested within the period.
He also said that a total 12 assorted rifles, a truck load of stolen railway tracks and sleepers were also recovered in the course of the operations.
He added a total of 17 kidnap victims were also rescued from their abductors within the period.
According to him, all arrested criminals and recovered items have been handed-over to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further necessary action, while rescued victims have been reunited with their families.
He equally said that peace and security meetings were also held in various parts of the state with community heads, youth leaders and relevant stake holders.
He assured that troops have continued to dominate the theatre of operations with aggressive fighting and air patrols to deny criminal elements freedom of action within the operation Safe Heaven theatre of operations.
Speaking on Operation Whirl Stroke, he said troops within the period simultaneously conducted several operations in different locations in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States.
According to him, troops responded to distress calls on bandits’ attacks as well as youths’ clash over land dispute at Kyegba village in Takum LGA of Taraba State and Ogundu village in Guma LGA of Benue State on 15 and 16 July 2021, respectively.
“Troops also carried out rescue operations at Uttu village in Toto LGA of Nasarawa and Tsegbaka village in Utenge Council Ward of Benue State.
“Troops’ swift response during the incidents forced the armed bandits to flee in disarray as well as brought the conflict situation under control. Cumulatively, troops recovered a total of 5 motorcycles, 3 pump actions one locally-made mortar tube, 6 Dane guns, 3 machetes and 62 assorted rounds of ammunition within the period.
“Similarly, 6 kidnappers were arrested and 12 kidnap victims were rescued by troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE within the period under review.
“Troops have continued to dominate the theatre of operations with standing and fighting patrols to deny armed groups freedom of action,” he said.
Gen Onyeuko disclosed that troops of Operation Whirl Puch/Thunder Strike have continued to sustain piquet operations as well as highway, clearance, fighting and confidence building patrols within its area of responsibility.
According to him, within the period in focus, troops provided security on Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highways and vulnerable routes to deny armed militiamen and herdsmen freedom of action as well as deter criminal elements in the theatre of operation.
He said,”Effectively, on 18 July 2021, own troops tracked and arrested a notorious criminal named Mr Simon Unande, who supplies military uniforms and accoutrements to militia gangs in parts of Benue and Taraba States.
“Troops also carried out operations at Unguwan Mashaya in Mararaban Gassol, in Gassol LGA of Taraba State and around Sabon Gayan Village in Chikun LGA of Katsina State.
“Within the period, a total of 2 Dane guns, 3 AK-47 rifles, 2 locally fabricated rifles, 3 motorcycles and 23 rounds of 7.62mm ammunition as well as 16 livestock were recovered during the operations.
“The arrested criminals and recovered items have been handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies for necessary action, while rescued persons have been reunited with their families. Troops have continued to sustain their operational tempo with its area of responsibility.”
He also said that troops of Operation Delta Safe conducted series of anti-crude oil theft, anti-illegal bunkering, anti-illegal oil refining, anti-smuggling and anti-militancy operations. These operations recorded significant successes in some locations.
According to him, these include Isaka Community in Okrika LGA; along Oyenda Creek in Andoni LGA; Alagba Community and Cawthorne Channel all in Rivers State. Other locations include; Hununu Creek in Akasa Community, Bayelsa State; Madagh Creek in Warri South LGA and Opugbene Community in Warri South/West LGA of Delta State.
He said during the operations, troops discovered and immobilized illegal refining sites with a total of 24 ovens, 37 storage tanks laden with a total of 120,000 litres of illegally refined Premium Motor Spirit, 80,000 litres of illegally Automotive Gas Oil and 1,100 barrels of stolen crude oil.
Troops also arrested a large wooden boat laden with 22,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosine or (Kerosine), five 45HP boat engines and 2 pumping machines.
He gave the assurance that troops have remained on high alert and sustained intensive land, maritime and air patrols to provide security for critical maritime infrastructure in the Operation DELTA SAFE area of responsibility.
Gen. Onyeuko further said that troops of Operation AWATSE within the period in focus sustained their operational tempo against economic saboteurs and other criminal elements within the South West Zone of the Country.
According to him, on 20 July 2021, troops of Operation AWATSE, acting on credible atintelligence carried out raid operation on criminals engaged in illegal oil bunkering activity at NNPC Pipeline Right of Way Sagamu by Toll Gate, Ogun State.
“During the raid operation on the location, troops arrested 3 bunkerers with 8 vehicles containing over 56 jerry cans of stolen Premium Motor Spirit and other oil products.
“Similarly, on 24 and 25 July, troops simultaneously conducted routine patrols and sting operations at Arepo and Majidun Communities in Lagos State to forestall pipeline vandals’ activities and other economic saboteurs.
“During the operations troops arrested 3 vandals including their spy named Mr Bamidele from Ikotun, Lagos State. Troops have continued to dominate the theatre of operation with land, maritime and air patrols to protect Nigeria’s economic infrastructures in the Zone,” he assured.
On non-kinetic activities of the Armed Forces, he disclosed that the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General LEO Irabor has continued consultations with retired senior military officers of the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the various geopolitical zones of the Country as a way of leveraging on their experience and feel their pulse on the security challenges in their local communities.
He recalled that on 19 July 2021 the Chief of Defence Staff had a no-holds bared interaction with retired senior officers from the North West Zone in Kaduna.
Also that on 22 July 2021, he took the security parley to the South East which was held at Owerri, Imo State, adding that during both interactions with retired senior officers the CDS assured the people of the Zones of his commitment towards improved security in the Country.
He maintained that the retired senior officers are the most qualified in the matrix of peace and security of the nation, adding that having served and now live in the various communities, they know the misperception on the security challenges in the Country.
He encouraged the military veterans to see it as their responsibility to make stakeholders understand what is at stake in “the quest for security, peace and unity of our dear Country.”
The CDS re-emphasized the dynamic synergy between the Nigerian military and other security agencies to address the security challenges in the Country
Gen Onyeuko therefore stressed that from the updates so far, there is no gain saying, as it is obvious that members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies are seriously committed and are working assiduously to fight all forms criminality for the unity of this Nation and will not relent in their efforts to achieve sustainable peace in the Country.
He said that the Military High Command commends the enormous sacrifices of troops in the various theatres of operations across the Country.
He also said that the general public and the press community are highly appreciated and are also encouraged to continue to support efforts of the military by providing credible and timely information that will facilitate our proactive engagements.