The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, has announced the extension of Exercise Sahel Sanity to March 2021 to completely knock out bandits from the North West.
Exercise Sahel Sanity is a realtime military operation inaugurated by Buratai in July to decisively deal with the menace of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other criminal activities in Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States.
Buratai disclosed this while briefing newsmen during operational visit to the Special Army Super Camp 1V Faskari in Katsina State on Monday.
He said Nigerian army had been able to stabilise the security situation in the North West since the commencement of Ex Sahel Sanity in July and that the exercise was initially planned to terminate by the end of 2020, adding that the troops had displayed high level of professionalism, loyalty and commitment.
“As you all know, we initially had the conception to run it for just a month or two but because of the exigencies of the situation, we extended to end of this year. The situation determines our line of action and having accessed the level of successes, we realised that if we call off the exercise at this point, there is likelihood of resurgence because the bandits and other criminals are determined”.
According to him, they may lie low for now and then come up when they see that troops have withdrawn.
“We understand the situation and surely we are proceeding again to see how this exercise will be sustained further to the next three months that is from January to March 2021. This is the plan but if things stabilise before March 2021, we are likely to call it off but for now, we are going on to the first quarter of next year. We hope to reinforce this exercise in terms of personnel and equipment and we will ensure that we carry this important task to its logical conclusion”.
The COAS said the military had made tremendous progress through the exercise, adding that the high point of their success was the rescue of the abducted students of Government Science Secondary School Kankara, Katsina State.
He commended all the services and other security agencies in the fight against banditry in the zone, saying the security agencies would not give room for enemies to destabilise the peace and security of the country.
He gave assurance that the military would continue to deal with the criminals mercilessly through collaboration with other security agencies and communities to ensure timely intelligence sharing and timely reaction to threats.
According to him, everybody has a responsibility to ensure that the activities of the criminals are checkmated because there must be timely information sharing from the community, the police and the last point is the military.
“It is not strictly a military task but more of civil police and civil authority task and this must be very well known to those that have that responsibility. The civil authorities have their own responsibility because kidnapping in towns and villages does not require military action. First, it requires the civil populace to see how they would alert the police quickly and when the police access the situation and they require our help then the military comes in. At every level of insecurity there are various levels of response from the community, the police and the last resort is the military. This is the line of collaboration we want to see from now till the end of the year and beyond”.
Buratai also called on government at all levels to ensure that school premises are safe and regulate movement of pupils and students from one place to the other.
He said such regulations would make the work of the police easy, adding that there must be community responsibilities and communal checks and balances.
He gave assurance that army would continue to maintain seamless working relationship with the services as well as the police and Department of State Services.
“The Nigerian army will also continue with its civil-military activities to support the communities through awareness and ensure that we reach them through medical outreach, provision of educational facilities and even teach in some of the schools. We will see how we can engage the Nigerian Army Corps of Educational to see how we will support the schools to further make sure that there is sufficient security”.