The Nigerian Army, through its troops in the Operation Sahel Operation, neutralised a total number of 220 armed bandits during its operations between July and December, 2020 in the North-Western part of the country.
This was as the army operations led to the arrest of 335 suspected bandits, 326 illegal miners, 147 bandits informants and collaborators, 14 bandits arms suppliers, 24 rustled cattle marketers and 46 bandits logistics suppliers were arrested.
A total of 642 kidnapped victims were rescued by the valiant troops, including the rescued 344 students of Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, just as the troops successfully foiled 165 bandit attacks and 81 kidnap attempts.
Similarly, a total of 7,761 cows, 1,867 sheep/rams and four camels were recovered and given back to the owners by troops within the period.
The Army Headquarters made the disclosures in a release issued on Wednesday on the general update on the activities of the Operation Sahel Sanity during the period under review.
According to the release, signed by the acting Director, Defence Media Operations, Brigadier General Benard Onyeuko, the army operation has been active be in combating the menace of armed banditry and other sundry crimes in the North-West since its commencement to date.
The Exercise Sahel Sanitu was flagged off by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, on 6 July 2020 as part of activities marking the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2020, with the aim of reinforcing the existing Operation Hadarin Daki to effectively flush out bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and other sundry criminals within the region.
“Since the flag off, the exercise which subsequently dovetailed into a real time operation, there is no doubt that significant improvements have been made in bringing peace and stability in the North-West region as evidenced in the massive resumption of socio-economic activities with little or no threats to lives and property.
“The gallant troops of Operation Sahel Sanity, within the period under review, carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes, farm and other aggressive confidence building patrols within Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states.
“These have led to the neutralisation of armed bandits, capture of large cache of arms and ammunition, destruction of bandits enclaves, arrest of bandits informants and their collaborators, recovery of rustled animals and most importantly rescue of hundreds of kidnapped victims from the clutches of the notorious bandits.
“In all the operations, conducted from 1 July to 31 December 2020, a total of 220 armed bandits were neutralised during combat with the gallant troops of Operation Sahel Sanity.
“Additionally, 73 AK 47 rifles, one GPMG and 194 dane guns were captured from the criminals. Equally, 5,032 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition, 568 rounds of 7.62 mm NATO ammunition and 156 live cartridges were also captured by the troops.
“Furthermore, 197 bandits’ camps and hideouts, including the notorious Dangote Triangle and several bandits’ logistics bases, were destroyed by troops of Operation Sahel Sanity.
“Also, 335 suspected bandits, 326 illegal miners, 147 bandits informants and collaborators, 14 bandits arms suppliers, 24 rustled cattle marketers and 46 bandits logistics suppliers were arrested.
“Similarly, a total of 7,761 cows, 1,867 sheep/rams and four camels were recovered and given back to the owners by troops within the period.
It is also heartwarming to note that, a total of 642 kidnapped victims were rescued by the valiant troops, and this include the rescued 344 students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara. Also within the period, the gallant troops successfully foiled 165 bandit attacks and 81 kidnap attempts,” the release stated.
The Nigerian Army Command attributed the successes achieved since the operation started to the sacrifice, commitment and gallantry exhibited by the professional soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
It also disclosed that some civil-military vooperation projects and activities were conducted to support some host communities within the operational area of Operation Sahel Sanity
These, according to the release, include distribution of palliatives to locals and renovations of medical facilities at Faskari and Kauran Namoda communities in Katsina and Zamfara states, respectively.
Others were the conduct of freeedical outreaches and distribution of palliatives to locals and flood victims at Koko-Besse and Bagudo Local Goverment Area of Kebbi State and payment of compensation to farmers whose farmlands were affected as a result of the ongoing operation and due to the expansion of the Special Army Super Camp IV Faskari in Katsina State.
“It is pertinent to note that a few setbacks were recorded as a result of engagements with bandits during the conduct of operations within the period under review.
“Such are the regrettable loss of two officers and four brave soldiers who paid the supreme price in the cause of defending the dignity of our people.
“After diligent review of the numerous successes achieved so far and the need to finally eliminate all the remnant security challenges within the region, the Chief of Army Staff, during his last visit to Special Army Super Camp IV Faskari on 21 December, 2020, extended the duration of Operation Sahel Sanity to last till March 2021 in order to consolidate on the gains so far achieved,” the release added.
During the visit, Buratai urged the troops not to rest on their oars but continue to sustain the tempo of the operation and dominate the entire region with confidence building patrols, ambushes and clearance operations until the remnant bandits and other criminal elements are completely eliminated from the region.
The Nigerian Army Command commended the troops of Operation Sahel Sanity for their sacrifices, successes and professionalism exhibited within the period of operation.
It also appreciated the people of the North-West zone for their cooperation in providing timely information leading to the success of the operations and also encouraged them to continue to avail the troops with actionable information that would aid the desired goal of the operation.