By; Sunday Ode, Abuja.
The Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali Wednesday alongside the Service and other security Chiefs and met with the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo where they briefed him and pledged loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Defence minister spoke on behalf of the service chiefs in an opening speech at the security briefing session to update Osinbajo on the security situation across the country.
He expressed appreciation to the current administration for their relentless support and continuous funding of the armed forces in the conduct of its operations.
He said this has no doubt impacted positively on the capacity of the armed forces and troops in fighting the Boko Haram terrorists in the North East and other security threats across the country.
“On behalf of the armed forces and other security agencies, we pledge our total commitment and loyalty to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
“The ongoing operation in the North East has recorded tremendous success and has led to restoration of normalcy in most parts of the affected areas. The current strategy being adopted involved the simultaneous conduct of consolidation and stabilisation cases so as to enable the civil authorities take lead role as quickly as possible.
“Our troops in conjunction with the vigilante groups successfully conducted clearance operations in villages and Boko Haram camps which led to the recovery of weapons and communication equipment as well as apprehension of many suspects. This is being supported by continuous aerial surveillance by the Nigerian Air Force so as to ensure that terrorists do not regroup” He said.
He added that several high profile Boko Haram commanders were arrested and over 20,000 persons mostly women and children held hostage by the terrorists were rescued.
He further explained that a number of the terrorists have surrendered to the Nigerian troops and currently, rehabilitation and deradicalisation process for this category of Boko Haram terrorists and other rescued persons is ongoing.
Also, the minister noted that the armed forces are currently providing medical support and basiC amenities such as food, clothing, water supply to most IDP camps in the North East.
Furthermore, he observed that several inter and intra roads and bridges that were impassable due to the security risks have been reopened and damaged ones reconstructed to enhance movement of people and goods in the North East.
He added that; “The Nigerian Army Small Arms Competition will be conducted by 7 Division at Sambisa Forest to consolidate the gains achieved so far and further sharpen the skills of our troops.
“In other to sustain the tempo of the counter insurgency operation in the North East, the present administration had recently procured modern equipment to enhance the combat effectiveness of our armed forces.
“Mine-resistance ambush patrol vehicles, one 20mm Motors and ammunition were being procured by the Nigerian Army. Also, some patrol boats and other platforms have been ordered by the Nigerian Navy for outpost at Lake Chad Basin while contract for helicopters from Russia for the Nigerian Air Force has been awarded and approval for addition four of MI 35 are being awaited.
“Additionally, 20 unmanned aerial vehicles from the United Arab Emirates have been procured by the Nigerian Air Force to support the operation in the North East.
The minister stated that the Buhari- led administration has also shown tremendous concern to the welfare of troops particularly in the North East through prompt payment of troops’ salaries and allowances as well as improvement in medical services.
He recalled that last week, they had a meeting with Ministers of Defence from the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin member countries, hosted by Nigeria. The countries include Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.
He continued “Memorandum of Understanding for the Multinational Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to fight Boko Haram terrorists was signed during the meeting. This was aimed at supporting the operations of the MJTF operation Gama Aiki II nicknamed Rawan kada in the North East
“With regards to the situation in Southern part of Kaduna State, peace talk is currently ongoing to address the current clashes between herdsmen and farmers in the communities. Recently, some religious leaders led by former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, were in Southern Kaduna to mediate between the herdsmen and farmers”.
As part of efforts to curtail this menace, he said the Nigerian Army is in the process of constructing a permanent barracks in Kafanchan. Also, the Nigerian Army is expected to conduct exercise Harbin kunama II in Southern Kaduna, Falgore Forest in Kano and the forest in Bauchi to flush out the criminal elements.
“The activities of cattle rustlers and armed bandits generally in the entire North West have been significantly reduced. Efforts and peace talks to put an end to this cattle rustling and armed banditry in communities in Zamfara and Katsina State have successfully resulted in the handover of various weapons to troops in the states.
“Bandits from an area in Zamfara State handed over 234 dane guns, 94 locally made pistols, 25 locally made revolvers, 17 locally made multi mural pistols, 10 locally made double barrel, 11 AK47 and five machine guns in addition to the ones collected in Katsina recently” he stated.
Those present at the session held inside the Presidential Villa, Abuja were the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibas Ibok; the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura; and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.