By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has solicited greater synergy between the Governments of Nigeria and Niger Republic in monitoring the border areas to deny the armed bandits safe havens.
Sultan Abubakar stated this when he received the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar in Sokoto on Saturday.
Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Airforce, in a statement on Saturday, said Abubakar was in Sokoto on an operational visit to assess the security situation with a view to fashioning new strategies for dealing with the recent rise in banditry activities in the State.
The statement said the Sultan commended the CAS for his swift response to the recent tragic loss of lives in Sabon Birnin LGA, by not only deploying air assets and additional personnel but also coming personally to assess the situation for himself.
“He observed that this clear show of commitment would undoubtedly give hope to the people of Sokoto and assure them that, not only is Mr President concerned about their situation, he is also taking decisive steps to deal with the issue.
“He noted that it was evident that as a result of the onslaught on the bandits in Katsina and Zamfara States, some of them had relocated to Sokoto to begin to wreak havoc in the State. He therefore highlighted the need for a coordinated approach to ensure that the bandits are denied freedom of movement from one State to another.
“Sultan Abubakar promised that the entire people of the State would continue to cooperate with the NAF and other security agencies by providing intelligence that would enhance their operations. He equally made an appeal to the Federal Government for the provision of more aircraft and equipment to the Armed Forces to enable it more effectively execute its constitutional roles.
The CAS expressed sadness over the recent unfortunate killing of innocent citizens by armed bandits in Communities under Sabon Birnin Local Government Area (LGA) of the State.
“The CAS disclosed that his presence in Sokoto State was also at the instance of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, who had directed, through the Chief of Defence Staff, that a massive offensive operation be undertaken against armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other criminal elements across States in the North West and North Central Zones of the Country, including Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger, Kogi, Kaduna and Nasarawa, among others. Air Marshal Abubakar said the NAF had therefore deployed air assets and activated operational plans, in concert with sister Services, to ensure that territories within the affected areas are secured, to keep the people and their properties safe. He however appealed for the provision of useful and timely intelligence that would enable effective and efficient operations to bring the criminal acts and wanton killings being perpetrated in Sokoto State and its environs to a decisive end.
The statement said the CAS held a closed door meeting with the Executive Governor of the State, Honourable Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, where he assured them that the NAF, operating in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies, would continue to work tirelessly to rid the State of the activities of armed bandits.
“The CAS also received operational briefings from the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command (AOC TAC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Olusegun Philip, as well as the Commander 119 Composite Group (119 CG) Sokoto, Group Captain Garba Bello. He equally inspected fuel and other logistics facilities at the Saad Abubakar III Airport, Sokoto, where some NAF surveillance and attack aircraft have already been deployed to support the renewed offensive against the bandits.
The CAS was accompanied on the operational visit by the NAF Chief of Training and Operations, AVM James Gwani; Chief of Aircraft Engineering, AVM Musibau Olatunji, and the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, AVM Charles Owho, as well as Directors and other senior officers from Headquarters NAF.