OrderPaperToday – The Nigerian Army has dismissed reports claiming 15 people were killed along Abuja-Kaduna road over the weekend.
On Sunday, a video circulated on social media showed travelers stranded on the Birnin-Gwari stretch of the major arterial road due to the activities of armed bandits who unleashed terror and mayhem on innocent citizens.
While some 15 persons were reportedly killed, others were kidnapped. The Abuja-Kaduna highway has become a den of bandits for some years, inflicting terror on travelers.
Giving a report on the incident on Monday, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Usman Mohammed, informed members of the Senate committee on Army about their intervention during an oversight to Army formations in Kaduna State
According to Mohammed, only two persons died and the two victims were a driver and a woman.
Also, he said the nine persons kidnapped have regained freedom.
He further stated that the military will use the forthcoming yuletide season to go after the bandits to destroy their camps.
Mohammed said: “We want to appreciate the support of your committee. We are succeeding because of your support. We need your support to keep succeeding. We are not unmindful of the security challenges.
“Right now, we have three operations going. There is one along the Abuja-Kaduna road. We are going after bandits during this Christmas period. We will flush them out. We have been seeing their recent hand along that road. We will keep doing our best.
“We always go after the bandits in their camps. We have dislodged them from their camps. On Sunday, only two persons were killed. Nine persons were kidnapped. We went after them and the kidnappers left their victims and ran away.
“It is false to say that 15 people were killed. That’s not true. We will keep dislodging them. We will redouble our efforts and ensure that they don’t have their way.”
Prior to the army’s reaction, the Chairman of the committee, Ali Ndume lamented over alarming security situation.
He expressed worry that the Nigerian Army have been overstretched since it started providing internal security across various states of the federation.
He said: “We are delighted to be here. We insisted on this oversight visit for some reasons. The Army is facing its own challenges. By our constitution, the Army isn’t supposed to be involved in civil security.
“But we have security challenges across every part of the country. The Army had to be drafted to provide internal security. Right now, the Army provides internal security in about 33 States in the country. We can’t sit in Abuja and talk.
“We need to see for ourselves. We are hoping that the Army will get back to its feet. As a country, we are known to have a formidable Army. But these days, we are worried.”
A member of the Senate committee, also a retired Army Colonel, Bulus Amos, urged soliders to disguise when carrying out their operations because locals could serve as informants in finding the bandits.
“Most people who are farmers, bike riders and villagers are informants. These bandits have informants everywhere. Soldiers need to go after them. If they meet them face to face, soldiers will finish them.
“Soldiers need to disguise and find a way to get the people to cooperate with them. These bandits live with us. They’re part of us and they live in communities. We need to do more,” he said.
Last week, Ndume had lamented the role of repentant boko haram terrorists reabsorbed into the society and kicked strongly against the practice while the war still ravages.