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Multilateral tactics against terrorism and banditry

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Our Defence correspondent, LINUS ALEKE, examines the multilateral approaches to tackling insecurity in the country with particular reference the Seminar on Regimentation and Combating Security Challenges Associated with Forests and Protected Areas put together by Nigerian Army Department of Standards and Evaluation.

For a very long time now, Nigeria has been entangled in security challenges of varying degrees. From militancy; armed robbery, kidnapping to the more complex challenges like insurgency, terrorism and banditry.
Regrettably, this threatening phenomenon has continued to fester despite huge resources already expended by government and unquantifiable effort exerted by the nation’s armed forces.

These criminal elements and enemy of state has continued to hibernate and plot their nefarious activities from forests and protected areas across the troubled zones.

This act of resorting to forests to launch coordinated attacks on soft targets is also denying wildlife their original habitat, hence the recent symposium by Nigerian army to find lasting solution to the troubling challenges.

In his key note address, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai said the activities of bandits and criminal elements in such protected areas across the country through illegal logging, cattle rustling and other criminal vices has made these areas uninhabitable for animals.

He explained that the main thrust of the Seminar is the strengthening of regimentation through the maintenance of mascots by all existing units as well as introduction of mascots to all the newly created units and formations.

“I have directed the Department of Army Standards and Evaluation to ensure that my directive for the establishment of Mini Zoos in all NA Barracks is enforced to the later. Units and formations are encouraged to get animals that include their mascots and some others within their Areas of Responsibilities to populate the Zoos. This will go a long way to preserve our local animals.

“Similarly all battalions and regiments are expected to have their own mascots duly approved by the Department of Army Administration with allotted Army Numbers for payment of personal emolument required for their upkeep. I have also directed that the Sambisa Forest should be turned into an Ecosystem Resort Centre where war relics of the past few years in the North East will be maintained as historical sites for tourism that will attract scholars and tourists as well as a revenue generating venture for the country.

“The Nigerian Army has continued to collaborate with other stakeholders to guarantee national security necessary for national development. The National Park Services being one of such stakeholders manages all national parks as well as protect these sites for the development of Nigeria. The Nigerian Army in retrospect established the Barracks Investment Initiative Programme in which personnel were encouraged to engage in agro-allied activities and ventures in which animals are kept in ranches within our barracks”, he further explained.

While giving a deeper insight into what the Nigerian Army and other services are doing to reverse the foregoing anomy the Chief of Army Staff said, “Exercise Harbin Kunama IV was recently launched in Gusau, Zamfara State. The Exercise will later dovetail into real time operation. This Exercise will involve large scale employment of personnel and logistics movement to cover Suburu, Kagara, Gando, Dumburum forests in Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara states respectively.

The aim is to flush out bandits and insurgents groups from some identified forest areas. The Exercise/Operation will be intelligent driven and highly mobile in nature while integrating other security agencies and collaborating with paramilitary organizations to enhance the posture of the troops and the successful conduct of the operation. There is the need therefore for all stakeholders to come together to deliberate on how to salvage our forests and parks from poachers, insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and armed bandits”.

He also gave a historical background of the use of mascots as well as the superstitions, saying “As you all know the Army as part of its customs ethics and tradition adopts mascots as part of its regimentation. Mascots are objects, animals or persons that are chosen as a symbol of a regiment and are assumed to bring good luck. The word ‘Mascot’ originates from the French term ‘Mascotte’ which means lucky charm. It was first used in 1867 and popularized by a French Composer Edmond Audran.

The earliest record of the customs of the Army adopting Mascot is that of a goat belonging to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers in the 1775 American War of Independence. In our own clime, warriors of old go to war with dogs leading in front to give early warning. This age long practice and tradition is therefore part of Army regimentation all over the world and the Nigerian Army is not an exception. The affinity between soldiers and animals are assumed to bring good luck.It is generally believed that the spirit lodged in the mascots propels a fighting force to victory. This belief creates high level of morale and psychological spirit of courage in troops.”

COAS added that domesticated animals and some tamed wild fauna such as dogs, goats, horses, mules, camels, peak corks, eagles, jackals, foxes, lions, tigers to mention but a few live in the forests and are important aspects of the overall ecosystem, stressing that all animals and plants in the ecosystem co-exist to balance each other out to ensure a perfect nature.

The army chief also observed that it is for this purpose that environmentalists, scientists, Park Rangers, Park Wardens, Forest Rangers and Vet Doctors are required to ensure that they preserve the continual existence of these floras and faunas.

While positing that Wild Life and National Parks are designated in various countries of the world for the protection and preservation of these animals as well as the Forests and Parks, Buratai said that National Parks are actually designated and protected areas that are clearly defined geographical space, recognized, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long-term conservation of nature with associated ecosystem services and cultural values.

He added that the variety of our native species and the ecosystem forms the conservation of biodiversity which is a vital aspect needed in safeguarding our economy, cultural, spiritual and aesthetic values.

These National and Wild Life Parks he said provides a safe haven for our animals and native plants and serve as places of tourism that if well harnessed would be a source of foreign exchange earnings.

COAS however regretted that most of these animals are being poached illegally and the nation’s forests and parks are now sanctuaries for criminals, kidnappers, armed bandits, insurgents and terrorists, while forests and Wild Life Park managers have been sacked from their jobs.

While bemoaning the ugly episode, Buratai contends that there is gradual deforestation which in itself constitutes danger for the ecosystem and of course amount to a challenge to national security thus necessitating the setting up of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East and other operations nationwide.

Earlier in his address of welcome the Chief of Army Standards and Evaluation, Major General Ali Nani said that the main thrust of the seminar was to discuss the point of convergence between the regimentation in the Army, our floras and faunas as well as forests and national security.

The seminar he said will be in 2 parts, adding “The first part is what we have started this morning, which will comprise of 4 lectures and interactive session for 2 days. The second part is a field trip to 2 national parks- the National Park at Kanji and Cross River National Park from 3 to 6 April 2019.

“The essence of this seminar is to enlighten participants on regimentation, maintenance of mascots and establishment of parks and mini zoos in Nigerian Army Cantonments and Barracks. In addition, it will assist to build capacity of troops in combating the emerging security challenges associated with game reserves, forests and protected areas across the nation. The Nigerian Army as part of the Nigerian Armed Forces, is currently engaged in several ongoing Internal Security operations in aid to civil authority to ensure security across the Nation in line with our constitutional roles.

The expected collaboration from this seminar between the military, police, paramilitary and other security agencies is therefore an important step towards curtailing the security challenges peculiar to some forests, game reserves and national parks in Nigeria that have been turned into safe havens and staging areas by bandits, criminal elements, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, robbers and terrorists”, he posited.

He said the theme of this Seminar which is “Enhancing Synergy between Nigerian Army and National Park Service: National Security in Perspective” was therefore coined to reflect current realities in the nation, where no single security service or agency can tackle security challenges all alone.

QUOTE

These criminal elements and enemy of state has continued to hibernate and plot their nefarious activities from forests and protected areas across the troubled zones.

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