Sequel to the official commencement of Operation SAHEL SANITY in July 2020 as part of activities of the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2020, at the Nigerian Army Special Super Camp IV Faskari in Katsina State, the Operation has in no small measure affected the economic life of the people of the North West zone of the country positively.
The operation was aimed at supporting Operation HADARIN DAJI to stem the tide of the activities of armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers, incessant killings and other sundry crimes in the zone. These acts of criminalities orchestrated by the bandits has been curbed and reduced to its lowest ebb, thanks to the relentless efforts of the troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY. There is no gainsaying that the hitherto crippled agricultural, social and economic lives of the people of this zone by bandit’s activities has been restored to normalcy.
The above assertion was corroborated during the visits of the Chairmen of the Committees on Army in the National Assembly, Executive Governors and a host of prominent Traditional Rulers from the North West zone of the country during their official visits to the Headquarters of Operation SAHEL SANITY at the Nigerian Army Special Super Camp IV Faskari Katsina State from 7-14 August 2020. During the visits, they lauded the efforts of the Nigerian Army in their quest to rout out all forms of criminality in the zone. They attested to the fact that normal life has indeed returned to the zone as farming, economic and social life of the people are being carried out without any form of hindrance and molestation by criminal elements.
The tremendous successes achieved since the operation started could not have been possible without the sacrifice, commitment and gallantry exhibited by the professional soldiers of the Nigerian Army, some of whom have paid the supreme price within the period under review. The gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY within this period carried out series of clearance operations, ambushes and other aggressive and confidence building patrols. Also farm and highway patrols were carried out within Sokoto, Katsina, Kaduna, Kebbi and Zamfara States thus boosting the confidence of the people in carrying out their daily activities.
These operations have most importantly led to the rescue of kidnapped victims, recovery of rustled cattle, arrest of suspected armed bandits and their collaborators, smashing of local and international illegal arms syndicates and illegal armed miners. Furthermore, there were recoveries of large cache of arms and ammunition as well as recovery of motorcycles and dislocation of bandit’s logistics network within the period.
So far, in all the operations conducted, 100 armed bandits were neutralized, a total of 3,984 cows, 1,627 sheep/rams and 3 Camels recovered, 148 suspected bandits and 315 illegal armed miners were arrested. Furthermore, large cache of arms and ammunition were recovered which include 43 AK47 Riffles, 1 GPMG and 100 Dane guns, 3,261 rounds of 7.62mm (special) and 151 live cartridges of ammunition. In all the search and rescue operations carried out, 107 kidnapped victims were rescued, 20 bandit’s informants and collaborators, 6 arms suppliers, 13 rustled cattle marketers and 32 bandit’s logistics suppliers were arrested. Also, a total of 81 bandit’s camps including the notorious Dangote Triangle and their logistics bases were destroyed by troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY. Relatedly 74 bandit’s attacks and 54 kidnap incidents were foiled by the troops.
In more broader view of the troops achievements, On 24 August 2020, following a distress call from locals,troops arrested a suspected bandit named Lawali Dairu at Yauni village in Safana LGA of Katsina State. The suspect invaded the village alongside one Ila Musa to kidnap a woman but met strong resistance from local vigilante group in the area. However, his accomplice escaped before troops arrived the village. During investigation, the suspect confessed being an associate of a bandit leader named Mallam Yau hibernating in Tsafe forest. Concerted effort to arrest his cohorts is ongoing.
In another development, on 25 August 2020, troops deployed at Faskari reacted to a distress call at Daudawa village about bandits attack. The gallant troops responded swiftly and pursued the fleeing bandits. In the process, the troops rescued 2 kidnapped victims and arrested one of the bandit while others escaped. The arrested bandit is undergoing interrogations.
Relatedly, on 26 August 2020, troops on fighting patrol encountered and rescued 6 persons wandering around Tungar-Kaduku Forest. Preliminary investigation revealed that they are natives of Damari village in Bakura LGA of Zamfara who were earlier kidnapped by suspected bandits in their village. They also revealed that their escape was possible due to intense pressure by troops presence and operational activities in the area. The rescued victims were immediately reunited with their families. Similarly, on same day troops deployed at FOB Bena arrested a suspected a bandit informant one Bello Abdulrahman around Mashaya – Anguwan Abuja area of Bena town. Preliminary investigation revealed that suspect was responsible for giving out information to bandits on troops movement and identifying persons to be kidnapped for ransom in Bena general area. Further investigation reveals that the suspect has strong connections with Rosha, Sadi Kaboru, Musa Dan Umoru and Dogo Gide who are notorious bandits in the area. The suspect is in own custody undergoing further interrogation.
Furthermore, on 27 August 2020, troops of FOB Danjibga arrested a suspected bandit named Zayyanu Kaura at Danjibga market. During investigation, suspect confessed to be working for one Yakubu, a bandit leader who lives in Dutsen Kura forest. Suspect is in custody for further action while efforts are ongoing to apprehend his group leader.
Also on 28 August 2020, troops deployed at Mara laid ambush on suspected bandits who attempted to invade Gobirawa village but were repelled by combine effort of troops and local vigilante. During the ambush troops made contact with the armed bandits and engaged them with heavy volume of fire neutralizing 2 of the armed bandits in the process while others escaped with gunshot wounds as traces of blood were seen on their withdrawal route. During exploitation, troops also recovered one AK-47 Rifle and one Motorcycle from the fleeing bandits. Additionally, on same day troops of FOB Bagega while on fighting patrol around Tungar Makeri Village of Anka LGA of Zamfara state rescued 2 kidnapped victims who escaped from Gobirawa forest due to the activities of troops in the general area. The victims were immediately reunited with their families in Dahuwa and Sabon Birni villages.
Relatedly, on 28 August 2020, troops conducted a raid operation at some identified bandits hideouts at Gamji Village. During the operation, 6 suspects were apprehended while troops recovered 1 Dane Gun, 1 Motorcycle and 2 cutlasses from the suspects. On same day, troops deployed at Zakka acting on credible intelligence arrested 3 suspected armed bandits namely Sagar Garba, Hafisu Mato and Suleiman Sada. Suspects were identified by locals to be members of a syndicate terrorizing the general area. During preliminary investigation the suspects confessed their involvements in recent cattle rustling activities at Kwaya, Sabon Birni and Baure villages. All arrested suspects are undergoing investigation while effort is ongoing to apprehend other criminals in the general area.
On 30 August 2020, following credible information on bandits’ movement with 40 cattle rustled at Kwanar Maje area, the gallant troops quickly moved in and intercepted the bandits along Anka – Gummi road. However, on sighting the advancing troops from afar, the criminals abandoned the cattle and fled into the forest. All the rustled cattle were successfully recovered and handed back to the rightful owners. Similarly, on 31 August 2020, troops on patrol foiled another cattle rustling incident and recovered several cattle from suspected cattle rustlers that invaded Zango village in Jibia LGA of Katsina State. The criminals had earlier stormed the village and rustled rustled a large number of cattle belonging to the locals but the timely arrival of the troops reversed their heinous intent leading to abandoning their loot and fleeing into the forested area. All recovered animals were equally returned to their rightful owners.
In another development, on 1 September 2020, troops deployed at Faskari in Katsina State on routine patrol came in contact with some bandits in company of 2 women suspected to have been kidnapped. While troops closed in on the suspects, the bandits fled into a rocky area. Nevertheless, the resilient troops mounted a hot pursuit forcing them to abandon the 2 kidnapped women. The victims were safely rescued and reunited with their families. Relatedly, on 2 September 2020 troops on patrol around Mararaban Kawaye received information that armed bandits have kidnapped 3 commuters. The troops swiftly tracked the bandits through their withdrawal route and engaged them in a fire fight which forced the bandits to abandon the kidnapped victims and flee into the bush. Troops exploited the area and recovered one motorcycle abandoned by the fleeing bandits.
Relatedly, on 2 September 2020, resulting from the intensity of Operation SAHEL SANITY, a bandit leader name Sada willingly surrendered to troops at Forward Operation Base Dansadau and submitted 3 AK 47 rifles, one Sub Machine Gun and 2 Magazines. He is however being profiled for further necessary action by the Civil authority. Also, on 6 September 2020, troops conducting stop and search along Bingi road intercepted a suspected bandit name Isah Shehu. The suspect was arrested with camouflage uniform concealed in a bag. Information from his phone reveals that the suspect is a notorious bandit addressed as “Commander” by members of his group. He is currently in custody providing troops with vital information. Similarly, troops acting on reliable intelligence arrested one Abubakar Ibrahim, who is suspected to be an informant working for a wanted notorious bandit leader named Ado Alieru. The suspect admitted during interrogation that Mr Alieru bought him a motorbike which he uses in carrying out assignments for him.
Furthermore, on 6 September 2020, troops on patrol responded to a distress call over a kidnap activity at an estate along Dandume road as they quickly mobilized to the area, however, the suspects who were believed to have been hinted through their informants abandoned 9 kidnapped victims and fled the area before the troops arrival. On same day, troops on patrol arrested one Ibrahim Sule at Koha village under Batsari LGA of Katsina State. Suspect was identified by locals to be a member of a syndicate terrorizing the general area and is currently undergoing interrogation in custdy. Also, on 7 September 2020, troops at Forward Operation Base Kekuwuje while on routine patrol arrested 2 suspected bandits. The arrest was made following credible intelligence that the suspects are members of a bandit group terrorizing the area. Items recovered from them include the sum of One Million Five Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand Five Hundred and Fifty Naira (N1,565,550.00) suspected to be acquired from one of their criminal activities, one Motorcycle, 2 mobile phones and cloths concealed in a bag. The Suspects confessed during interogation to be involved in selling rustled cattle for bandits.
In another development, on 8 September 2020, troops deployed at Daki Takwas intercepted and arrested 17 armed Yansakai members on 7 motorcycles at Danmarke village in Bukkuyum LGA of Zamfara State. Preliminary investigation revealed that suspects are from Maga in Kebbi State. Items recovered from them include 12 locally fabricated Dane guns, 7 motorcycles and assorted charms. Suspects are in custody undergoing further interrogations. Relatedly, on 9 September 2020, troops on patrol rescued 14 persons kidnapped by suspected bandits along Dutsinma-Yantumaki road. The victims who were travelling along the route in a commercial vehicle ran into the bandits who diverted their vehicle in an attempt to take them hostage. However, following prompt information by eyewitness, troops quickly mobilized and pursuit the bandits forcing them to abandon the vehicle laden with passengers. All 14 victims were safely rescued.
Linked to that, on 10 September 2020, troops acting on actionable intelligence arrested one illegal arms supplier named Usman Ibrahim from Ryom in Barkin Ladi LGA of Plateau State. The suspect was arrested with 890 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition carefully concealed in his vehicle. Other items recovered from him include, 1 Jack knife, 1 Pistol Grip, a Nigerian Police ID card and the sum of Two Million Two Hundred and Thirty Naira (#2,230,000). Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect is a major illegal arms dealer supplying bandits in the North-West.
Furthermore, on 10 September 2020, troops conducting clearance operation at Shekewa general area destroyed several bandits camps and arrested 3 suspected bandits named Adamu Musa, Hassan Bello and Rabiu Salisu, also one bandit was neutralized while trying to escape on a motorcycle. Additionally, on 11 September 2020, troops responding to distress call foiled an attempt by bandits to attack and loot locals at Magami village. On arrival to the village, the bandits engaged the troops but the resilient troops responded with superior fire power forcing the bandits to flee in disarray. During exploitation, one suspected bandit named Abubakar Umaru was apprehended. Furthermore, on 11 September 2020, following information from locals, troops arrested one Yahaya Abubakar identified to be a bandit collaborator at Ungwan Kardorako village. The suspect is in custody undergoing interrogations. Relatedly, troops while on patrol came in contact with suspected bandits along Bindim-Magami road, troops instinctively pursued the criminals forcing them to abandon 3 kidnapped victims as they managed to escape into the nearby bush.
Additionally, on 12 September 2020, troops conducting stop and search operation in Gusau, Zamfara State based on reliable intelligence arrested one male and one female suspects namely Kabiru Dauda and Hafsat Musa with 9 parcels containing substances suspected to be Cannabis and other illicit hard drugs. Preliminary investigation revealed that suspects are suppliers of hard drugs to bandits. Similarly, troops acting on credible intelligence arrested a wanted suspected bandit named Usman Gorjo at Ungwar Alhaji Danbuzu and a suspected bandit informant named Isah Bala at Daudawa village. Suspects were arrested in connection with the killing of the head of Daudawa vigilante group recently.
The gallant troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY have continued to dominate all the volatile areas with confidence building patrols, ambushes and clearance operations to deny the bandits and other criminal elements freedom of action.
Consequently, the troops of Operation SAHEL SANITY are hereby commended for their gallantry, sacrifices, successes and the professionalism exhibited within the short period of Operation. They are also urged not to rest on their oars but build on the achievements recorded so far. The people of the North West zone of the country are also appreciated for their cooperation in providing credible information for the success of the operation. They are also encouraged to continue to avail the troops with actionable information that would aid the desired goal of the operation. They are further reassured of the Nigerian Army’s commitment to restore total peace in the zone and indeed the whole country.
ABBA katsina is a veteran journalist, who work with BBC world service ( Hausa) for so many years.