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DEFENCE

Appreciating the Elasticity of Nigerian Army

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By Frank Itodo 

In the annals of the Nigerian Army, it has never been this tough. The crisis in North-East Nigeria is taking its toll, and this calls for concern from all critical stakeholders. That we have managed to stay secured remains a mystery because the Nigerian Army has been stretched thin in the task of ensuring that Nigeria’s territory is preserved from eternal aggression and also ensuring that every Nigerian is free to go about his or her endeavours without fear.

This didn’t happen overnight. In my opinion, it is as a result of the failure of past leadership in the country to correctly orientate and equip the Nigerian Police for greater efficiency. They felt it wasn’t such a big deal to have a responsive police force that would live up to expectation. So the result is the involvement of the Nigerian Army in roles that ordinarily the Nigerian Police should be able to handle.

The Nigerian Army had indeed saved the day when the nation was bedevilled with activities of militant groups. I recall the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which indeed tasked the operational effectiveness of the Nigerian Police that the Nigerian Army had to come to the rescue. And as usual, a crisis of phenomenal proportion was averted.

What Nigerians didn’t realize was that the Nigerian Police whose constitutional role it is to quell such uprising were helpless and could not match the violent nature of the IPoB militant group. And as they say, the rest is also history and no form of commendation was extended to the Nigerian Army.

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We were also witnessed to the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers that almost brought the economy of the country to its knees. Again the Nigerian Police was missing in action for lacking in the capacity to deal with the threat posed by the Niger Delta Avengers. This too became history not without the great sacrifices made by the Nigerian Army.

The interesting thing about the failure of the Nigerian Police int  the discharge of its duties is the fact that at some point the Nigerian Army was simultaneously carrying out eleven military operations across the country at the same time. For example, there was Operation Lafiya Dole set up to counter-terrorism and Boko Haram insurgency. It was later expanded to specialized operations including “Operation Crackdown,” “Operation Gama Aiki,” and “Operation Safe Corridor.”

There was also Operation Crocodile Smile II, an exercise which involves amphibious war games in the Niger Delta region and parts of Ogun State. It was aimed at protecting the nation’s crude oil infrastructure. Operation Tsera Teku was launched in Warri, Delta state to check piracy in the Niger Delta region. Operation Awatse was started to dismantle the operational bases of pipeline vandals and militants in the coastal areas of southwest Nigeria.

Operation Sharan Daji/ Operation Harbin Kunama II was established in the Northwest to battle armed bandits, cattle rustlers and robbers operating mainly in Zamfara, Kaduna, and fringes of Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kano states. Operation Safe Haven is stationed in Plateau State with areas of operation extending to Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara state to quell ethno-religious conflicts and other criminal activities.

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Operation Delta Safe This was set up to replace Operation Pulo Shield. It is aimed at containing security challenges in the Niger Delta, especially the protection of critical national assets and provision of security in the area. Amongst a host of others.

What does this tell us? It’s merely the fact that the Nigerian Police failed woefully in the above areas that the Nigerian Army had to step in. With such operations by the Nigerian Army, it is sufficing to say that the Nigerian Army has been indeed stretched thin. However, they have not buckled, and we do not need to wait for them to buckle before the right thing should be done.

The Nigerian Police must get serious and stop playing to the gallery. The times we are in requires that they put their best foot forward in the area of crime prevention, maintenance of law and order and dealing with societal disorders. The political authorities in Nigeria must commend the Nigerian Army for its invaluable contribution to the sustenance of peace in Nigeria.

The political authorities must also see the burden on the shoulders of the Nigerian Army with its various operations in the country and begin the process of overhauling the operations of the Nigerian Police for greater efficiency before things get out of hand.

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I have reserved praises for the leadership of the Nigerian Army whose dynamism has been brought to bear in dealing with the myriads of security challenges in the country including those within its purview and those outside its purview. I cant but encourage the leadership of the Nigerian Army not to relent in this arduous task that has stretched it thin.

Also, for the leadership of the Nigerian Police, there ought to be a significant reorganization of its operations to reflect the exigencies of time. This is not the time to play to the gallery, but rather, this is the time to take a cue from the Nigerian Army and be the best they can be. If this is not done, then there would be no moral justification for officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force to continue to draw salaries monthly.

The task of securing Nigeria is not an impossible one. It only requires commitment and sincerity of purpose as exemplified by the conduct of the Nigerian Army. It is naturally expected that the Nigerian Police should take a cue from the Nigerian Army if they are indeed desirous of making meaningful contributions to peace and stability in Nigeria.*Itodo wrote from Lagos

COVER

Army Launches Operations Against Oil Thieves

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From Tayese Mike, Yenagoa

The Nigerian Army in Bayelsa State at the weekend launched a raid on the camps of suspected oil thieves and Militants at Igbomotoro and Azuzuama communities of Southern Ijaw Local Government area of the state.

It was gathered that the raid, which was conducted by men of 5 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, also combed the crude oil pipeline route along the Obama flow station, Kolo creeks and Brass areas of the State.

While a senior military sources said that the operation was also targeted at tackling the operations of some known militants involved in setting up illegal bunkering camps in communities of Southern Ijaw and some other illegal activities.

Another claimed the operation was targeted at arresting a known militant leader over his alleged shady activities, but he escaped with his boys through the creeks when he was alerted about the impending military raid.

It was also however gathered that the shrine allegedly being used to administer oaths on youths during recruitment into the illegal bunkering activities by the suspected militant leader was destroyed and many other items including Military Camouflage, Mobile phones and military boots were seized.

Indigenes of the Igbomotoro community however cried out over alleged military occupation of the area thereby causing panic and desertion by indigenes over fear of indiscriminate arrest.

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An Indigene of Igbomotoro, who pleaded anonymity, however told Daily Asset on Sunday that the area is calm as the military men have retreated from the community as at Sunday morning,” the situation is calm now. We are peace loving community and would not want soldiers to occupy our area.”

Attempts to get the spokesman of the 16 Brigade of the Nigerian Army and the Joint Military Task Force to speak on the development proved abortive as no one showed signs of denying or confirming the development.

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DEFENCE

Troops Nab Alleged Gunrunner, Seven Rail Track Vandals in Taraba, Benue

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By Gom Mirian, Abuja

The Military High Command said its troops of Operation whirl stroke have arrested a notorious gun runner, one Mr. Ardo Manu Abdulrahaman Maranewo who has been on the security wanted list while seven rail tracks vandals were arrested in Taraba, Benue States.

Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Bernard Onyeuko, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said Abdulrahaman is specialized in selling and leasing arms and ammunition to bandits and kidnappers in Taraba State.

“Troops on patrol in Udei general along Udei -Makurdi-Lafiya road arrested 7 rail track vandals namely; Tersoo John (40yrs), Donald Kperuv (30yrs), Abraham Tinde (25yrs), Jamilu Danlami (20yrs), James Yandela (29yrs), Idris Usman Imam (32yrs) and Abubakar Adamu (30yrs).

Onyeuko said that the rail track vandals were arrested with a trailer (ABJ KWALI 846XB) loaded with cut to size vandalised railway tracks and sleepers.

He in another development, said the troops have on June 21, also raided a kidnappers enclave at Maraba in Ukyonugu Ityuluv Ward in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State and arrested a bandits collaborator one Mr. Ichen Igbaka, a 65- year-old and his wife Mrs. Salomi Gbaka.

“Their house as a hideout for kidnapped for late bandit leader Mr Azu,” he said, adding that the suspects and items recovered are in custody for further interrogation.

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Meanwhile, in the North West he said “On 21 Jun 2022 troops of FOB Bakura Operation HADARIN DAJI responded to distress call of terrorists’ activities at Rafin Dankura in Bakura LGA of Zamfara State engaged the terrorists in a shootout after abducting innocent civilians.

“After the encounter troops rescued the six (6) kidnapped civilians and neutralised 2 bandits in the process.

“Similarly, on 21 June 2022 in response to a distress call on terrorists activities made contacts with marauding terrorists at Maigora in Faskari LGA of Katsina State and neutralized 2 terrorists in the process.

“Items recovered includes 2 AK 47, 1x 36 hand grenade, 2 x cell phones and the sum two hundred and eleven thousand, nine hundred and fifteen naira (211,915.00),” he disclosed.

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CRIME

Don’t Resume Train Service until AK-9 Victims are Rescued, Family Members Charge NRC

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42 days after terrorists attacked the AK-9 train along the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, families of the over 100 persons still in captivity have urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, not to resume services on the corridor until all those held captive are safely rescued.

Addressing a press conference, Monday, in Abuja, the families lamented the horrible conditions the abducted passengers have been forced to live in, even as they took a swipe at the manner the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the NRC have so far handled the matter.

Representatives of the families, Abfulfatai Jimoh and Ba’abba Muhammad said it would be insensitive for NRC to resume operations on the route with fate of scores of passengers kidnapped still unknown.

“Abuja-Kaduna train service should not resume until the quick and safe rescue of our family members held hostage and adequate security measures are put in place to guarantee the safety of prospective passengers.

This position aligns with the prayers of the majority of Nigerians,” they said.

According to them, “it has been 42 long days of living in fear, virtually no sleep, no bath, wearing the same clothes, under the scorching sun and rain, and exposed to extreme environmental hazards.

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“The emotional, psychological, mental, and physical torture arising from these conditions are only imaginable.

“Among the abducted passengers are children- some as young as three years old, pregnant women, women including an 85-year-old great grandmother, and others. Some of these victims have health challenges requiring daily medications, which they have had no access to in the last 42 harrowing days.”

In an emotionally-laden voice, Jimoh added that the story of one of the victims giving birth in the forest is difficult to accept in a sane society.

“We read in the news that one of the two pregnant women in captivity delivered her baby in the forest.

“Giving birth is supposed to be a moment of joy; how would it have been if this woman delivered her baby in the comfort of a maternity ward? In whose hands? What is the place of birth of this baby, the forest? While some families have their breadwinners in captivity, others have their wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, and aunts held down in the bush.

“This hostage-taking has drastically disrupted the living conditions of affected families. Children are crying everyday, with the only question in their mouths being: When are my Mummy and Daddy coming home? What a miserable state!

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“Since this unfortunate attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train, we believe the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, alongside his security and intelligence chiefs, have been working to rescue our loved ones. We have been given assurances that a positive outcome of these efforts would be apparent soon.

“We must, however, register our displeasure with the way and manner the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi has been handling this tragic event since it occurred. Just a few days after 28th March, Mr. Amaechi was seen running around the Stadium in Port Harcourt where he declared his intention to become the next President of Nigeria.

“We had expected Mr. Amaechi to be running around as to how to get his abducted passengers rescued, and this is highly disappointing. Mr. President also directed the Management of NRC to establish a Situation Room to give a minute by minute account of rescue efforts to relatives of kidnapped passengers.

“Still, one week after this Presidential directive was issued, NRC has neither contacted the relatives of kidnapped victims nor established any Situation Room as directed by the President. This display of gross incompetence and insensitivity should lead to the appropriate punishment.

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“Furthermore, we sought the intervention of the leadership of the National Assembly, which is the people’s court, but nothing has been forthcoming from them.

“We want to extend our profound gratitude to Nigerians, elder statesmen, traditional, religious, and community leaders, and the Nigerian media who have lent their strong voices to this struggle both in the open and behind the scene and their prayers for divine intervention. We still need this vital support until success is achieved,” they said.

Fielding questions from journalists, Hidayiat Yusuf, spokesperson for the families slammed the NRC for contemplating resumption of operations on the route, saying “if there was security in place, our loved ones would not have been kidnapped.

“We are ready to negotiate with the terrorists if they are willing. If it is money they want, they should come forward and say so,” she added.

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