THE Defence Headquarters (DHQ) said yesterday that about 80 bandits have been neutralised by troops of “Operations Hadarin Daji” and “Thunder Strike” in the Northwest zone.
It added that 29 others were arrested with 2,973 rustled cattle recovered and handed over to their owners.
Director of Defence Information Col. Onyema Nwachukwu also said over 50 kidnapped victims were rescued from kidnappers operating in the forests and on the Kaduna-Abuja highways.
Also, arms and ammunition were recovered from the bandits and kidnappers.
Briefing reporters on the successes of the operations in the past two months, Col. Nwachukwu said notwithstanding the peace efforts of the Zamfara State government to bring the bandits to the roundtable for negotiation and ceasefire, the military and other security agencies involved in the operations had the mandate to restore total peace to the area.
He said while the military would not stand down its operations, it would leave the Zamfara State government to continue with its peace efforts.
Asked on the update regarding the General Officer Commanding the 8 Division, Nigerian Army , Sokoto, he said investigations have been launched into the matters relating to the alleged disappearance of some soldiers attached to his division.
Five soldiers attached to the division, who were on escort duty were alleged to have absconded with about N400 million and abandoned the military vehicles on which they were travelling as well as their weapons along the Sokoto/Katsina Highway.
The soldiers were alleged to have been detailed on escort duty for a VIP, who had huge cash with him.
Col. Nwachukwu said: “Investigation is going-on on the matter and the outcome will be made public. I will not like to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation.”
He added: “This reorganisation is already yielding results as the joint troops of Operations Hadarin Daji have recorded several significant achievements in the theatre of operations.
“Since inception, troops of OPHD have recorded strings of successes against the criminals, including a daring rescue operation in which troops neutralised 54 armed bandits in an encounter in fortified enclaves in Moriki, Madada and Dumburum forests in Zamfara State. Several assorted firearms were also recovered from the bandits.
“It will suffice to mention that in the last two months, since the commencement of the joint operations, the gallant troops of Operations Hadarin Daji have in series of successful encounters rescued over 50 kidnapped victims and neutralised about 78 armed bandits from various fortified enclaves in Zamfara and contiguous states.
“The troops have also recovered 39 firearms, which include 16 AK 47 three semi-automatic rifles, three pistols and 2,437 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.
“Additionally, over 25 suspected armed bandits have been arrested and recovered 14 motorcycles used by them. The bandits are currently undergoing preliminary investigations, after which they will be handed over to appropriate prosecuting agencies.
“On the realisation that bandits were generating financial resources through cattle-rustling to fund their criminality, troops of OPHD also embarked on anti-cattle rustling operations, which led to the interception and stalling of cattle-rustling activities. This culminated in the recovery of 2,278 cows, which have been duly returned to their respective owners.” (The Nation)