Troops Eliminate 78 Bandits, Recover Massive Firearms in North-West
This is a media brief on the activities of Operation HADARIN DAJI (OPHD) and Operation THUNDER STRIKE (OPTS). These operations were launched in responsive compliance with the strategic directive by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN), President Muhammadu Buhari to effectively tackle the spate of security challenges confronting some states in the North Western part of the country. The Defence Headquarters (DHQ) after careful evaluation of the security situation, reinvigorated its anti-banditry operations with the launch of Operation HADARIN DAJI (OPHD) and Joint Task Force Operation THUNDER STRIKE (JTF OPTS). This media brief will therefore, acquaint the general public with the activities of OPHD and OPTS.
OPERATION HADARIN DAJI
2. The Defence Headquarters on 10 May 2019, reorganized operation SHARAN DAJI which was launched to curtail armed banditry, kidnapping and other sundry crimes within Zamfara state and its environ. The new operation was reorganized and reinvigorated with the acquisition and injection of new platforms and additional manpower. This new operation therefore subsumed earlier independent operations by the services and other agencies. Thus, presenting a common and united front for joint operations by the Armed Forces and other security agencies (including the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps) in tackling armed banditry in North Western part of the country. In order to reflect the jointness of the new security outfit, the nomenclature was changed from Operation SHARAN DAJI to Operation HADARIN DAJI and a Force Commander in the person of Major General Jide Ogunlade was appointed to command the Joint Operations.
3. This reorganization is already yielding results as the joint troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI have recorded several significant achievements in the theatre of operations. Since inception, troops of OPHD have recorded strings of successes against the criminals, including a daring rescue operation in which troops neutralized 54 armed bandits in an encounter in fortified enclaves in Moriki, Madada and Dumburum forests in Zamfara state. Several assorted fire arms were also recovered from the bandits.
4. It will suffice to mention that in the last 2 months, since the commencement of the joint operations, the gallant troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI have in series of successful encounters rescued over 50 kidnapped victims and neutralized about 78 armed bandits from various fortified enclaves in Zamfara and contiguous states. The troops have also recovered a total of 39 firearms which include 16 AK 47 rifles, 1 Light Machine Gun, 14 Dane guns, 2 Pump action rifles, 3 semi-automatic rifles, 3 pistols and 2,437 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition. Additionally, over 25 suspected armed bandits have been arrested and recovered 14 motor cycles used by them. The bandits are currently undergoing preliminary investigations, after which they will be handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies.
5. On the realization, that bandits were generating financial resources through cattle rustling to fund their criminality, troops of OPHD also embarked on anti-cattle rustling operations, which led to the interception and stalling of cattle rustling activities. This culminated in the recovery of 2,278 cows, which have been duly returned to their respective owners.
6. Presently, the troops are jointly dominating flashpoints with aggressive land and aerial patrols, amongst others to deny the bandits freedom of action. It should not go without mention, that the aggressive operations of the joint troops of OPHD has restored some sanity in the security situation in Zamfara and its environ, which has dovetailed into the ongoing peace process and reconciliatory engagements in the region. Additionally, OPHD is currently shaping the environment to make the state conducive for reactivation of farming and other socio-economic activities. This has so far, contributed immensely to the gradual restoration of economic progress of the state.
OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES OF JOINT TASK FORCE OPERATION THUNDER STRIKE
7. The problems of insecurity orchestrated by kidnappers, bandits, cattle rustlers, and other criminal activities along major highways and adjoining villages around Kaduna-Abuja axis reached alarming proposition some few months back. This necessitated several security operations and exercises to assist the Nigerian Police in tackling these criminal menaces. Realizing the gaps in these earlier measures, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) under the leadership of the Chief of Defence State (CDS) General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin, constituted the Joint Task Force Operation THUNDER STRIKE (JTF OPTS). The operation had the mandate to reorganize and coordinate the existing security structures along the road and rail line in order to bring the situation under control.
8. The JTF OPTS has so far recorded some milestone successes, as several suspected kidnappers and bandits have been arrested, with arms and ammunition recovered from the criminals in the last 2 months of operation. In the conduct of the operations, troops of JTF OPTS were able to identify a number of black spots along Abuja-Kaduna highway, such as Jere, Katare, Rijana, Kurmi-karshi, Gidan-mamman Black-gold and Gidan-guza, where criminals unleashed attacks on unsuspecting and innocent road users. Premised on this discovery, troops embarked on series of fighting patrols to dominate the highway and rail line. Cordon and search operations were also carried out to mop up illegally acquired fire arms in the hands of identified criminal gangs, while security escorts were provided for farmers and road users. These operations led to the successful interception and arrest of 14 suspected kidnappers, while 6 bandits were neutralized. In a unique occurrence, troops while on aggressive patrol along Abuja-Kaduna highway discovered a group of bandits dressed in military camouflage who would have been ordinarily perceived by unsuspecting members of the public as military personnel on routine checks along the highway mounted an illegal road block. The courageous troops moved tactically to the scene, engaged them in a fire fight and neutralized the bandits.
9. The troops have so far recovered a total of 38 firearms comprising, 11 AK 47 rifles, 1 Semi-automatic rifle, 1 Revolver Pistol, 23 Dane guns, 2 locally made pistols, 157 rounds of 7.62 mm Special ammunition, 8 cartridges, 2 AK 47 magazines, 5 Mobile phones and 4 solar panels. Other recoveries made by the troops include 7 Motor cycles used by bandits and 695 cattle. The cows have been returned to their respective owners.
10. May I at this juncture, use this window of opportunity to reassure Nigerians, particularly, inhabitants of Kaduna, Zamfara and the contiguous states that the military and the security agencies are fully committed to guaranteeing your safety and security. I equally wish to encourage members of the public not to be intimidated, but to promptly report suspicious movements and activities in your localities to the nearest security agency.
I urge you to please remember to “say something, when you see something”.
Together we can collectively rid our nation of criminality and promote peaceful coexistence.
Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu
Ag Director Defence Information