Worried by the incessant attacks in Southern part of Kaduna State which kept reoccurring in the last 37 years,the Nigerian Army has launched ‘Operation Harbin Kunama II’ to rid the area of armed bandits which so far killed many and destroyed properties. MSUE AZA, who observed the arsenal of weaponry and troops deployed to the area, reports that tough time awaits notorious terrorists hiding in the beautiful hills and valleys of the region and neighbouring states to commit crimes.
The armed bandits terrorizing some parts of Southern Kaduna will definitely face tough time in days to come. Some of the armed gang may either surrender, be killed or flee the area and allow residents to live in peace.
Though, experts predicted the end of the long aged Southern Kaduna circle of crisis but expressed sadness over the political,ethnic and religious narratives employed by both to score points,while innocent people are been unjustly killed.
Keen observers of the events,argued that peace is possible in the area when all put aside differences and hatred by both parties and agree to live in peace.
Recently, the Chief of Army Staff, apart from establishing a military battalion in the area to enhance internal security also launched the ‘Operation Harbin Kunama II’ in Southern Kaduna. Recall that,the first operation was launched in Dansadau forest,Zamfara State by President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016 to end the activities of bandits in that state which killed many.
LEADERSHIP Sunday, observed that, the troops were seen camping with their heavy fighting equipment at the Zunuruk ,Kaura council area Camp in preparation to launch major offensives against the armed bandits hiding on the mountains and inside forests of Southern Kaduna terrorising the locals for years.
The Kaduna State government and Nigerian Army have already declared war and provided logistics to flush out insurgents in the Southern part of State.
Speaking during the flagged off of ‘Operation Harbin Kunama II’ in Zunuruk,Kaura near Kafanchan, witnessed by top security commanders and traditional rulers, Kaduna State Governor,Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, commended the Army for the operation saying farmers will go back and farm in the coming rainy season:” Am happy that with this operation we are confident that the bandits that have been attacking our farmers will finally be neutralized. The time for raining season to enable our farmers to go back to farm for this we are very grateful to the Nigerian Armed forces”
The governor, explained that, his administration would continue to provide the necessary support to the security agencies to preserve peace and to also prosecute all those involved in any crime.
el-rufai, also appealed to people to live in peace with one another,adding that residents must embrace peaceful coexistence
el-rufai said: “If God wanted us to be one ethnic group,he would have made us one. Peace is a choice. People must choose to live in peace for peace to exist”
Violence can only end when people decide that violence does not work.Somalia has been at war for decades but war is not yet over. People must understand that why the chief of Army Staff and his officers are ready to flush out the bandits we must be ready to tolerate one another. My appeal as always is that let us recognize our common humanity.
Refer any dispute or criminality incident to law enforcement agencies because if everyone choose to take laws into their hands there can be no peace” El-Rufai said.
The governor noted: “Am delighted by the effort of the Chief of Army Staff to launch this operation. This operation is very important because this problem in Southern Kaduna has attracted high levels of attention not just because of the gravity of the situation here, I think there are more serious crisis in other parts of the country, but this one has been given religious and ethnic coloration”
He explained further:”The Chief of defense staff has visited here to have first hand appreciation of the situation, the Chief of Army Staff has visited two or three times, the Inspector General of Police personally came here, so I think there is a very fair appreciation of the situation as well as the efforts by some people to make it look more serious than it is.
“This problem that we are confident will be solved with this first step, is a problem that has been going on for 37 years. So don’t make any mistakes about it, it is unlike any other communal clash in Nigeria. There is non that has lasted this longer, it is not like the problem in Jos which is barely 10 years old, this is 37 years old and it requires both tactical and strategic response to get rid of”
The Kaduna State Government has adopted a three step plan to end this crisis. The first step is what you are seeing today, to stabilize the place by ensuring that the presence of security to protect life and property and then to target areas of hideouts for the bandits and flush them out. Our hope is that with the completion of these operations we will relax the curfew”
El-rufai stressed:”The second step which we have started concurrently is to arrest perpetrators of these crimes, whether it is those that write hate speech or go to churches and Mosques and encourage others to kill or supply arms to young people and drug them so that they can kill, we have been monitoring them and we will be arresting and prosecuting them”
This is what has been missing in this part of the state in the last 37 years, people have gotten away with murder and that has inculcated a culture of impunity, by God’s grace we are going to change that because some people would be prosecuted for what is happening here. Everyone one that we lay our hands on would be brought before a judge” he said.
In his remarks,the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, said there would no longer be any hiding place for armed bandits in Southern Kaduna and the state in general.
Buratai, who reiterated the commitment of the officers and men in tackling challenges of insecurity in the entire nation said operation Harbin Kunama II would tame the persistent attacks on communities in the affected areas Southern Kaduna.
The Army chief charged officers and men to comb the Southern Kaduna hills and valleys to flush out bandits attacking residents.
Buratai, said further that, the army has been training its officers to be more professional to understand the basis of field operations.
COAS, urged his men to strictly observe human rights which he said is key to their operations, adding that their rules of engagement is human rights compliant.
According to him:”This operation is essentially on a fictitious scenario in the Republic of Kakaki. This exercise is a remarkable experience to what we had last year. I have seen confidence in all the officers that have briefed us and I have seen improvements in their understanding of the environment”
Buratai noted that: “It is all about keeping our society safe as part of internal security responsibility by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We are much aware of what is happening in Southern Kaduna,the various communal clashes,the farmers/herders clash,we are training our officers to be more professional to understand the basis of our field operations”
“The operation will last for one month. The troops will go into the nooks and crannies of this area, the hills and valleys to flush out all the criminals,bandits and cattle rustlers including kidnappers.” the Chief of Army Staff said.
” I know it has been in the press and generated a lot interest. But we are determined to shoulder the major responsibility of keeping the peace always and it is better to do this job than to leave it until it goes out of hand. God forbid” Buratai said.
Meanwhile, one of the Zunuruk residents,Mathias Samuel, told LEADERSHIP Sunday that, they believe with the kinds of military weapons and troops seen they will live in peace and continue their farming activities:” We are happy to host this military operations. Our community is a peace loving area and we will continue to support the military by reporting suspicious movement of strangers in our domain. We have been living together in peace with one another and we will continue in that spirit” he said.
Another resident in the area,Akwat Jeremiah, commended the Federal and state governments for their tireless efforts to restore peace in the Southern Kaduna communities:” To me, I am calling on all to give peace a chance. Government has been doing alot and is our responsibility too to live in peace with one another irrespective of tribe,political and religious affiliation. We have suffered alot and now that the government has listened to us and sent military for our protection against bandits,we must on our own part accept to live in peace”
Mrs Mary Eze, an Igbo trader near Kafanchan, while lamenting the lost of business activities in the area to incessant attacks advised:” At a point I and my family were contemplating of relocating to Kaduna town but now there is confidence for us to stay. I have spent 15 years here doing my business,i only traveled to Eastern Nigeria and come back. This crisis has really affected our businesses. People don’t have money to patronize us again. Secondly,we are not safe. We are always at sleep with only one eye closed. My advice is for all of us to live in peace” she said.