Banditry: NAF Boss Tours North-West Preparatory to Air Operations

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, 26 December 2018, visited Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States to carry out on-the-spot assessment of the security situation in the 3 States. During the visits, the CAS paid courtesy calls on the State Governors and interacted with the Commanders, officers and men of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Units in the States.

The CAS, who was accompanied by other senior officers from Headquarters NAF, embarked on the visit with a view to fashioning new strategies for dealing with the emerging security threats in States of the Northwest affected by the menace of armed banditry.

The first port of call was Katsina, which hosts the Headquarters of the Air Task Force (HQ ATF) of Operation DIRAN MIKIYA (OPDM), where the CAS was briefed by the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Samson Akpasa, as well as the ATF Commander, Air Commodore Ayoola Jolasinmi, on the progress of anti-armed banditry operations in the Northwestern States, before proceeding to Gusau, Zamfara State.

The visit to Zamfara State began with a courtesy call on the Acting Governor of the State, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Alhaji Sanusi Rikiji, at Government House Gusau, where the CAS commiserated with the families of those killed in recent attacks as well as the government and entire people of Zamfara State.

He stated that he was there to assess the situation in the State with a view to evolving strategies and emplacing more effective structures and air assets in support of the operations to deal with the threat.

He reported that he had visited HQ ATF OPDM which also served as the Air Component of Operation SHARAN DAJI (OPSD) and would also visit the NAF 119 Forward Operating Base (119 FOB) Sokoto with a view to upgrading facilities there to enable the conduct of air operations from Sokoto, for enhanced NAF response capability in dealing more decisive blows on the armed bandits.

He thanked the government and people of Zamfara State for their support to the NAF and other security agencies but requested for the provision of relevant information that would help in improving the effectiveness of security operations.

The CAS assured the Governor and residents of the State that the NAF, in consonance with the Nigerian Army (NA) and other security agencies, would continue to work round the clock to ensure security of lives and properties of the local population.

In his response, the Acting Governor expressed appreciation for the CAS’ visit noting that the security agencies had been doing their best to curtail the activities of the armed bandits in the State, especially since the commencement of OPDM and the recent Operation 777 under OPSD.

He noted however that it appeared the armed bandits were reacting to the tremendous successes of these operations by launching a fresh wave of attacks against innocent civilians. He said, as a result, killings and kidnappings had become daily affairs. He therefore welcomed and appreciated the show of concern by President Muhammadu Buhari. He said the State Government would support all actions that would be taken to restore peace and stability.

The Governor equally condoled the CAS over the death of NAF personnel who had paid the supreme price in the course of discharging their duties within the State. The visit to Zamfara ended at the 207 Quick Response Group (207 QRG) Gusau, where the CAS interacted with the Commander and personnel of the Group as well as other senior officers.

The CAS and his entourage then proceeded to Sokoto where he paid a courtesy call on the Executive Governor of the State, the Right Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, at Government House Sokoto. The CAS briefed the Governor that he was in the State to critically appraise the security situation in order to determine what could be done to enhance NAF operations.

He disclosed that the NAF would upgrade its facilities with a view to deploying platforms and equipment to enable the 119 FOB begin to conduct air operations from the Sultan Abubakar III Airport, in support of the anti-banditry operations in the area. He said the NAF had already commenced arrangements to provide fuel facilities similar to those already provided in Katsina and Gusau. Air Marshal Abubakar highlighted that the Service was now better positioned to more effectively and efficiently employ air power because the Federal Government had facilitated the acquisition of 18 brand new aircraft, with another 18 being expected, whilst also facilitating the reactivation of 13 erstwhile unserviceable ones within the last 3 years.

In his response, the Sokoto State Governor while welcoming the CAS to the State, said his Government had been doing it’s best to maintain peace in the State but was gradually coming under intense pressure as a result of the activities of armed bandits along the Sokoto-Zamfara boundary.

He also highlighted the recent influx of some foreign fighters from Mali comprising Arabs, Tuaregs, Hausas and Fulanis in Balle Village of Gudu Local Government Area, which he said had been dealt with, in close coordination with the heads of security agencies in the State along with the Governor of Tahou Region of Niger Republic. He thanked the Federal Government for the efforts of the NAF, NA and other security agencies in ensuring peace in the State and pledged continued support to the various units.

The Governor equally expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for the immense show of concern to the people of the State.

The CAS later interacted with the Commander and personnel of 119 FOB as well as other senior officers in the State, where he encouraged them to intensify their efforts in order to ensure that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is not undermined in any way.

He also appealed to the good people of Sokoto State to provide useful information that would help security agencies in their operations. Before departing Sokoto, Air Marshal Abubakar commissioned a newly completed water treatment plant at NAF Base Sokoto. He was also conducted on an inspection tour of facilities at Sultan Abubakar III Airport, by the Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, AVM Oladayo Amao, preparatory to the massive deployment of NAF aircraft to further boost air operations in the Northwest.

Air Commodore
Director of Public Relations and Information
Nigerian Air Force