By: Kate Obi/Kaduna
1 Division Nigerian Army troops of Operation 777 and Operation Whirl Punch has neutralized notorious bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers while several assorted sophisticated arms, ammunition and large herds of cattle were recovered from the bandits.
The Acting Director Defense Information, Brigadier-General John Agim made the disclosure during a press briefing on the activities of operation 777 on Monday, 19th November, 2018, at the Headquarters 1 Division Nigerian Army Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria.
According to him, a total of 18 AK-47 rifles, 2 pistols, 3 mobile phones, 1 Motorola, large cache’ of ammunition and 32 Motorcycles were recovered, adding that the troops also recovered over 331 cows from rustlers in Birnin Gwari area and 132 cows in Birnin Yero areas respectively.
Brigadier General Agim said along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway, 49 cows and 42 sheep were recovered, pointing out that all the recovered animals have been handed over to their screened and profiled owners.
Additionally, the Acting Director of Defense Information opined that a total of 31 persons comprise 18 children and 13 adults were rescued from kidnappers within the Area of Operation, 5 bandits, 2 informants were arrested and are currently assisting the security agencies in ongoing investigation.
He informed that unfortunately 2 soldiers were wounded and are currently receiving treatment at military hospital in Kaduna while two civilian vigilante assisting troops in the operation were also killed in action by bandit’s fire.
“Through these special operations, relative peace has been restored and hence, the troops dominate the operating environment, thereby creating safe and conducive atmosphere for socio-economic activities to thrive.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this briefing on activities of the Operation WHIRL PUNCH being conducted by the troops of 1 Division Nigerian Army (NA). This operation is part of the Operation 777, which is being conducted and coordinated simultaneously nationwide under the auspices of the Defence Headquarters.
“Prior to the launch of Op 777, terrorists and criminals devised different means of evading ongoing operations in different theatres of operations. However, since the commencement of Op 777 on 8 October 2018, significant and modest operational successes have been recorded across the nation.
“Under Operation WHIRL PUNCH, 1 Division NA is tasked to provide security and restore normalcy along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway and Birnin Gwari and its environs as well as Niger State, which were hitherto devastated by the activities of bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers and cattle rustlers.
“It is evident that, now the local traders, motorists, residents of villages/settlements in these general areas are conducting their businesses mostly unmolested.
“The returned of relative peace and security was made possible through joint operations and synergy of efforts by the security agencies and cooperative posture of the locals and vigilante’ groups.
“Let me also address a recent allegation of killing 74 cows belonging to Fulanis at Riyawa in Sabon Birni area. The Riyawa general area has been notorious as a den of bandits, cattle rustlers and kidnappers. Severally, troops had encounters with the bandits who use the difficult terrain and knowledge of the ground to escape.
“On 17 November 2018, based on intelligence, troops conducted a raid on bandits camps in the area. The bandits were alerted by their dogs. The observed current practice of the bandits is to use their cows as shield to escape while firing at troops. This was the case on 17 November 2018 which was not a deliberate act by the troops to kill the cows.
“Gentlemen of the Press, our troops were recently deployed to restore and maintain peace in the recent Kaduna crisis, the proactive deployment, was applauded for its critical impact on preventing spread of crisis beyond Kaduna State.
“It is equally important to state that, as part of 1 Division’s Community Engagement Programmes (CEP) during Operation 777, medical outreach programme was carried out in Sayen Lemu Village in Zaria LGA. Worthy to mention also is the renovation of 2 blocks of class rooms recently in Sayen Lemu Village. As part of the CEP also, the troops in Kidandan area of Giwa LGA, Kaduna State now escort farmers to enable them harvest their crops. This is coming in the aftermath of recent bandits attacking and killing farmers in their farms in the general area” He stressed.
Brigadier General Agim however assured the law abiding citizens that the Armed Forces and other security agencies will continue to ensure the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians.
He maintained that Operation 777 is designed to consolidate on the achievement of the existing operations to enhance the safety and promote socio-economic activities of Nigerians as the Amry continue to solicit the support and cooperation of the media towards successful conduct of the Operation 777.