As herdsmen kill kidnapped policeman, 2 NSCDC officers in Benue
Over 10,000 fleeing Tiv villagers stranded in Lafia
There is palpable tension across some states in the country, as President Mohammadu Buhari yesterday ordered all the security chiefs to comb seven states currently experiencing killings of innocent Nigerians on a daily basis.
This is even as Benue State Police Command has announced the murder of one of its officers recently kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state.
The affected states are Benue, Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Taraba, Adamawa and Kogi.
A highly placed security source in the presidency yesterday told Nigerian Pilot that the president had approved full military actions in the affected states in other to put an end to the killings.
According to the source, a joint operation will be carried out in conjunction with the operatives of the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Army, Department of States Service, DSS, police and civil defence.
The source further added that the operation was going to be a full blown military action.
Already, the Nigerian army said it was planning the conduct of Exercise Ayem Akpatuma from Thursday, February 15, to Saturday, March 31.
Chief of Training and Operations (Army), Major General DD Ahmadu, while briefing newsmen last week disclosed that operation Ayem Akpatuma would be conducted in 1 and 3Divisions, including HQ CAR, Gds Bde and 707 SF Bde Areas of Responsibility covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States.
General Ahmadu said exercise Ayem Akpatuma had become more expedient due to upsurge in cases of armed banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Kaduna and Niger States, as well as other sundry crimes in Kogi State and herdsmen/farmers clashes and attacks on innocent members of some communities, particularly in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa States by armed militias.
“These security challenges have continued unabatedly in these states despite the efforts by sister security agencies to curb them,” he said.
He recalled that last year, the Nigerian Army conducted several training activities for its personnel in different geopolitical zones of the country, in line with its constitutional role in aid of civil authority.
“The need for troops to be exercised refreshed and to imbibe the requisite skills to cope with these emerging security challenges within the 1 and 3Divisions, including HQ CAR, Gds Bde and 707 SF Bde Areas of Responsibility in aid of civil authority calls for this exercise. “Also, the drive towards actualising the COAS vision, which is to have a Professionally Responsive NA in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles, informs the plan for the conduct of this exercise.
“This exercise will be conducted in conjunction with other security agencies such as Department of State Services, the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps. It will also afford the troops an opportunity to effectively checkmate the dreadful activities of the marauding criminal militias perpetrating criminal acts in these States and its environs.
“Additionally, Exercise Ayem Akpatuma is also conceptualised to dovetail into real time operations, thereby fulfilling both training and operations objectives of sharpening operational skills of personnel as well as providing an avenue to conduct operations against violent criminals when called upon.
“Exercise Ayem Akpatuma will also be unique as the ones before it with the establishment of Step-Up Brigade Headquarters in Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger States. Emphasis will be placed on raids, cordon and search operations, anti-kidnapping drills, road blocks, check points and show of force, as well as humanitarian activities such as medical outreach,” he noted.
Buhari’s directive came during a meeting with the nation’s security chiefs namely the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok- Ete Ekwe Ibas, the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar, and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in what was believed to be part of efforts aimed at curtailing the security challenges being witnessed across the country.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, as well as the Comptroller General of Immigration.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, and the National Security Adviser, Maj. -Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), also attended.
Others are the director- general of the DSS, Lawal Daura, and the director-general of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar.
The meeting was held amidst concerns over the spate of killings by people suspected to be herdsmen in some parts of the country, and abductions in other parts.
The meeting was an extended one, as the number of participants was extended to accommodate the heads of the Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigeria Prisons Service and the NSCDC.
None of those who attended the meeting was willing to speak to journalists when approached for comments at the end of the meeting.
As at the time of filing this report, the presidency has yet to issue an official statement on the meeting.
He promised to get back to this reporter when confirmed.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that the DSS had on Saturday briefed Buhari on the negotiations that led to the release of three University of Maiduguri lecturers abducted by suspected Boko Haram terrorists in Magumeri, Borno State, and 10 women kidnapped in a raid by the militant group on a military/police convoy on Damboa Road, near Maiduguri.
Following the briefing, the president had urged the DSS and the Nigerian Army to intensify efforts to bring home the remaining Chibok girls still in the custody of the terrorists.
A statement by the senior special assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, read in part: “The president, who got step-by-step progress reports on the lengthy negotiations while they took place, received the good news with a lot of happiness.
“He commended all those who, in one way or the other, helped in making the release possible. He then urged the DSS and the Nigerian Army to intensify efforts to bring home the remaining Chibok girls still in the custody of the terrorists.
“The director-general of the DSS, Lawal Daura, assured the president that they were working hard to bring home the remaining girls and, as soon as possible, bring the Chibok girls saga to an end, as well as other killings going on across the country.”
The meeting is coming barely 48 hours after the release of three lecturers of the University of Maiduguri and 10 police officers’ wives by the Boko Haram.
It was gathered that the release of the lecturers and police officers’ wives last Saturday might be part of matters to be discussed at the council.
The DSS on Saturday briefed President Buhari on the negotiated release of the lecturers and police officers’ wives.
It would be recalled that four policemen were last week kidnapped and a security van burnt down, after suspected Fulani herdsmen ambushed security men in Logo LGA of Benue State.
The officers were said to be returning from a confidence-building mission in remote villages when suspected herdsmen opened fire on them in Tse Akpam village, near Azege town.
However, suspected Fulani herdsmen have killed two staff of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC.
It was gathered that the officers identified as Adams Godwin and Abah Patrick were killed in Awange near Kasseyo Town in Guma LGA of Benue State yesterday evening.
Guma is the hometown of the current governor of the state, Samuel Ortom.
The incident came barely 24 hours after state police command announced the murder of one of its officers recently kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the state.
The assailants after killing him removed his vital organs.
When contacted, the Benue State Police PRO, ASP Moses Yamu said he was not aware of the development at the time of this report.