In the military operation, “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma,” in Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba States, 13 soldiers have been killed while seven others were seriously wounded. This was revealed in Abuja on Wednesday at a media briefing by Director, Defence Information, DDI, Brigadier General John Agim.
At the well-attended media briefing, Brig Gen Agim said a total of 182 suspects were arrested in Benue, Taraba and Kaduna States during “Exercise Ayem Akpatuma, which also extends to Niger State, by the Nigerian Army, while the military also had many of their equipment destroyed during the operation.
Soliciting for the cooperation of all Nigerians, particularly people at the theatres of military action to contain misguided activities of criminal elements in the country, Agim remarked that it is unfortunate that people generally think that fight to secure territorial integrity of Nigeria is that of the military and not Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Consequently, Agim admonished “civil authorities, at all levels, such as community chiefs, LGA chairmen and state governors to cooperate in their domains as they are often instrumental to the success of internal security operations”.
According to him, the need for cooperation by this group of leaders is underscored by the fact that they “provide information, synergy, support, and facilitate a conducive environment for military operations. And, they also assist in winning the minds and hearts of the people in support of the military”.
Giving the breakdown of arrests, the Gen Agim said 147 herdsmen, six cult members, five rustlers and six armed bandits were apprehended in Benue and 15 suspects in Taraba and at 1 Division of the Nigerian Army whose primary area of responsibility is Kaduna, 13 bandits were arrested during the period. “All the arrested suspects have been handed over to the Police for further action,’’ Agim further disclosed.
According to the DDI, the following weapons were particularly recovered in Benue, while the exercise lasted: one AK47 rifle, one FN rifle, three AK47 magazines and nine rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition.
And, Other recoveries in the state, he said were: 23 rounds 7.62mm Nato ammunition; 13 Dane guns; 38 machetes; several spear/axes and assorted charms. Also recovered in Benue, were 18 motorcycles and 15 cell phones.
As equally disclosed by Gen. Agim, four AK47 rifles; three magazines; 96 rounds of 7.62 special ammunition; eight rounds of 9mm ammunition and 19 locally made guns were recovered in Taraba. And, five locally made pistols; one shot gun and 27 live catridges; while 16 assorted arms were recovered in Kaduna.
Furthrmore, Agim said, “In operation LAFIYA DOLE, our troops have continued to record successes against Boko Haram Terrorists (THBs). So also are the Operation Awatse, Operation Delta Safe and Operation Safe Corridor.
It will be recalled that Exercise AYEM AKPATUMA by the Nigerian Military was conducted from February 15 to April 5, 2018 simultaneously in Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Taraba States.
As also revealed by Defence Headquarters’ spokesman, the duration of the military operation in Taraba has been extended to May 14, 2018 as a result of the prevailing security threats in the state.
In the Question and Answer section after his very straightforward and brief address, Gen. Agim established that there has always been internal cooperation between the three arms of the Nigeria military, this, he said, has been the reason for the successes recorded in the fight against insurgents in North-East Nigeria and all other areas of military operation for internal security of Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed democratic leadership of Nigeria.
However, he warned political leaders against politicizing military operations anywhere in Nigeria because of 2019 or for whatever political end as the fight to secure territorial integrity of the nation should be by all Nigerians.