Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday ordered the country’s airforce to begin the bombardment of bandits and other criminal groups terrorising communities in forested areas in the three states of Niger, Kaduna and Zamfara, a presidency statement announced.
Buhari described the repeated attacks leading to the losses of several lives in the communities “as a disaster for the nation,” his spokesman, Garba Shehu said in the statement commiserating with those killed in Niger state on Saturday.
He authorized the deployment of air power to support troops and policemen deployed to the “difficult terrain,” to counter the menace of the attackers operating “in the forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states,” Shehu said.
While Niger state is in the North Central part of the country and the largest in terms of landmass in Nigeria, the remaining two are states located in the Northwest region that have for over five years been attacked by bandits and cattle rustlers including President Buhari’s homestate of Katsina, in the same region.
“President Buhari has received assurances that with the harmattan dust gradually easing its hold on the skies, fighter aircraft would this week join the efforts to provide effective air attacks against bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers that have been attacking remote communities around Dogon Gona forest in Niger State,” the presidency statement said.
The presidency said in line with the directive, the Nigerian Air Force was setting up refueling facilities at Minna, Niger State to support the aircraft operations, giving assurances that given the improved weather conditions, a major exercise to “visually acquire targets” and launch attacks will soon follow.
The government said the Police in Niger state had equally given assurances that “the planned dedicated air raids to complement the police helicopter gunship operations remain the best approach given the lack of motorized roads in the areas constantly under attack.”
President Buhari commiserated with the “government and people of Niger State following the attacks and the loss of lives that followed, and assures that victim communities in the state will not be abandoned by the rest of the country.”
Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mohammed Sani-Musa had on Saturday disclosed that armed bandits invaded five villages of Kudodo, Galapai, Dnakpala, Makera and Dnalagwa, killing raping and abducting dozens in the Shiroro local government area of the state.
The senator in a statement said the bandits who were in their numbers attacked the villages in the early hours of Saturday.
“In what seemed like coordinated attacks, adjoining villages like Amale, Tunga and Adunu in Paikoro local government area of the state were not spared, as the bandits left on their heels more deaths, destruction and abduction,” the Senator added.
While recalling that he had earlier cried out to President Muhammadu Buhari over the spate of the killings in his constituency, the Senator said the situation in his constituency is becoming helpless, “as the bandits wreak unimaginable havoc on the people with no security succour in sight”.
Sani-Musa said “my people are under siege, innocent families have been displaced, killed, raped, kidnapped and community members straddled in a state of despair.
The National Assembly is set to resume from its six weeks recess for the yuletide and federal lawmakers within the affected states are set to table the issue of the constant killings of their people before the parliament for debate.
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