By Stephen Adeleye
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said army authorities had approved the establishment of a ‘Special Forces Battalion’ Barracks to be located in Okene, Kogi.
Buratai disclosed this on Friday to journalists in Okene after inspecting the proposed site of the new barracks at Okene Secondary School in Okene Local Government Area.
Represented by Maj.-Gen. Ademo Salihu, Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Minna, Buratai said that the new barracks would enhance security of lives and property in Kogi.
He named it ”109 Special Forces Battalion” Barracks, Okene, and said that its establishment was prompted by the strategic importance of Kogi in Nigeria, “being the gateway between the North and the Southern part of the country”.
”So, the Federal Government considers it very appropriate to locate the barracks in Okene in order to ensure the security of the people of this important corridor.
”We all know the importance of security in the development of any nation. If we get the security right, every other thing will fall in place.
”We have done our assessment; we have gone round to a couple of places, and usually there are numbers of consideration such as technical and tactical, that will determine what the location should be.
”We have looked at the facilities and infrastructure of those places, we will go back to army headquarters and our experts will write the final report, and the army headquarters will take the final decision.
”Approval for the barracks has been granted already and what we are here for is just to put effect to that approval. So, you can be assured that it will be as soon as possible,” he said.
In his remarks, Kogi Governor, Yahaya Bello, extolled the Army for the gesture and commended its efforts in keeping Kogi peaceful.
He said that his government was security conscious and had won many awards in security.
”We recognise every of your effort and we are so pleased with the Nigerian army. We are open to a lot of good opportunities as a confluence state, but not criminal act.
”We trust you so much, and anytime we call upon you for any security menace, you are always there to answer the state and you bring calmness to the situation,” he said.
Bello, who was represented by Secretary to the State Government, Dr Afolashade Arike, said that the relationship between the state government and the army was cordial, adding that the government also supported army in some ways.
”We are ready to collaborate with you to make sure that we have a peaceful Kogi that every investor will be proud to come, where we will continually sleep with our two eyes closed.
”We are looking forward to all your efforts in bringing 100 per cent security to Kogi,” he said.
When asked if the existing school in the proposed site would be closed down, the governor said that the barracks would not disrupt normal operations of the school.
”Even, setting up a barracks around the school is a form of security for the children. The lives of the children are also very important to us as a government.
”The school will be there, and the army will have their own adjustment and it will not in any way affect the normal running of the school,” he said.
Earlier, the COAS and his entourage had visited the palace of Ohinoyi of Ebira Land, Dr Ado Ibrahim, who also commended the army for the gesture and promised his total support.