By Mohammed Dikko
Shortly after bandits attacked communities in Northwest Nigeria in June, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General TY Buratai, responded quickly by assuring the people of the region, especially, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States, that he will soon be there to ensure that the madness of the bandits is put in proper check.
Within days that the army chief made the promise, he moved to the Northwest and launched series of operations there with large contingent of military personnel sent to the area who were able to track and apprehend and take out lare number of the terrorists.
Troops wasted no time in pursuing and overtaking many of the bandits leaving many of them dead while several others were arrested.
In the series of operations to flush the bandits, many victims of kidnap were rescued while hundreds members of various communities that were fleeing from their homes returned.
The action of the army chief proved not only prompt but quite effective.
The response of the military to a similar assault that occurred in the Northeast at about the same time was no less effective.
Boko Haram terrorists had struck at a community in Gubio local government of Borno State within the same period when the Chief of Army Staff had gone to Abuja to brief the President on the success of the military operations since he relocated to the zone and killed many.
immediately the Nigerian Army received reports of the attack, it vowed to track, capture or eliminate all the terrorists, bandits and their collaborators and also launched operations I the area and went after the insurgents, destroying their camps, weapons and taking out many of them, such that many of the terrorists involved in the attack were neutralised.
The army also went ahead to consolidate its grip in the Northeast by making it difficult for the terrorists to attack communities at will.
Few days ago, troops of the Nigerian Army stationed in Damasak, Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State, repelled attacks by Boko Haram insurgents who swarmed the area at about 2:30 pm and overpowered them in a battle which lasted for over two hours.
The insurgents had arrived in about 13 gun trucks and one gulf car and attempted to attack the military location from different angles by trying to envelope their camp, but soldiers reportedly beat them to it as the blood thirsty insurgents were seen by residents fleeing in disarray.
Residents were to report that several dead bodies of the terrorists littered the ground in the area after the operation.
The ground operation was followed by another one by the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE which obliterated a Boko Haram Terrorists’ (BHTs’) meeting venue, along with other structures, and killed several of their fighters at Mainyakare on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
Official figures say the military has eliminated about 2,000 number of terrorists and bandits in the North in the last three months.
The figure is made up of over 1600 in the Northeast, and 392 bandits in the North West and North Central regions.
It is such quick actions by the military that have endeared it to the people as security experts say this was the element that was missing in the past administrations.
In an emotion laden piece written by recently by a resident of Biu in Borno State, the writer said the people of the Northeast say they cannot afford not like the army chief considering his usual quick response to attacks, well planned strategies and effective tactics that has sent insurgents fleeing from their communities.
He said states like Taraba, Gombe, Bauchi and even Adamawa have since put the horrors of the insurgents behind them and are living normal lives all thanks to the efforts of troops while only those communities close to the borders in Borno and Yobe States suffer occasional attacks.
He said, “These days, when movement of insurgents are sighted in the region, the people are not alarmed as they know that they will definitely be crushed by the ever ready troops in the area.
“This is why Buratai is highly loved and respected in the region. He has given the people their lives back.”
In Kaduna, a group of youths at a press conference also commended the military for what it has done and is doing in the Northwest.
The group said, “when the military came, the level of crime and sheer banditry dropped drastically.
“The Kaduna-Abuja expressway regained its verve and people travelled almost at anytime of the day that they wished without fear of molestation and attack.
“Even in theaters of banditry like Birnin-Gwari, the people began to heave sighs of relief as the threat to their lives began to disappear.”
It is such testimonies that have made people especially those in areas affected by the activities of terrorists and bandits to continue to hail President Muhammadu Buhari and the military high command.
*Dikko wrote this piece from Katsina.