No fewer than 100 unrepentant bandits were killed by the joint forces of Operation Hadarin Daji in Zamfara and parts of Katsina State between December 2019 and January 2020, the Acting Force Information Officer, Captain Ayobami Oni-Orisan, has said.
Oni-Orisan made the disclosure in a statement made available to journalists in Gusau on Saturday.
He said the troops comprising personnel of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Airforce, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services and other security agencies conducted several clearance operations to smoke out and neutralise the recalcitrant bandits from their enclaves.
“So far, OPHD troops have flushed out bandits hibernating around Tashar Kuturu, Dankalgo, Gobirawa junction, Bagega, Kawaye, Duhuwa, Sabon-Birni, Dankurmi, Dangulbi, Hayin Bawa, Zango, Unguwar Shanu, Tundu Mali, Magazu, Mayanchi and Gando forest, in Anka, Talata Mafara, Tsafe, Maru and Bukkuyum Local Government areas of Zamfara.
“Additionally, OPHD ground troops backed by the fighter jets of the Air Component also cleared Shinfida in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, neutralising several bandits in the process,” he said.
The information officer said the renewed use of force against the bandits followed their refusal to embrace the peace process introduced by Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara about six months ago as well as the recent upsurge of the bandits in the affected areas.
He said during the operations, 10 kidnap victims were rescued, while 500 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition 23 Motorbikes, 15 AK 47 rifles, four General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG), one PKM Machine Gun, one Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) bomb, one Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) tube, 11 fully loaded magazines, 600 rustled cows and 300 rustled sheep were recovered.
He further said that during the clearance operations, the troops in collaboration with the Defence Forces of Niger Republic apprehended a high profile gunrunner, popularly known as “Kunene”who was responsible for the inflow of arms, ammunition and other dangerous weapons into the region.
In addition, Oni-Orisan said, the troops also apprehended three suspected bandits; Abubakar Kiri Koloma, Abubakar Ibrahim and Haruna Alhaji Yaro, as well as two notorious drug dealers; Kabiru Abubakar Isah and Hamisu Dan-kwanba at various locations in Zamfara during the period.
He said all the suspects had been profiled and handed over to the relevant security agencies for further investigation and prosecution.
He said that the Force Commander and Acting General Officer Commanding (GOC) 8 Division, Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Aminu Bande, reassured the people of Zamfara and all other neighboring states of their safety.
The information officer urged members of the public to continue supporting the operation by providing timely and credible information to OPHD troops through the dedicated emergency telephone numbers earlier provided for prompt and efficient action.
He said the Force Commander also warned the recalcitrant bandits and their cohorts to immediately lay down their arms and embrace the ongoing peace process or face full military action.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there has been a gradual return of the bandits in some parts of the state recently, after a very large number of them had embraced the peace process initiated by the Governor.