Banditry: Arewa Group drums support for Army’s Operation Sahel Sanity

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…. expresses confidence in COAS Buratai’s decisive leadership

The Arewa Youth Security Network (AYSN) has called on Nigerians to support the Nigerian Army’s recently launched Operation Sahel Sanity, labelling it as a success already. 

In a statement signed by Secretary-Gerneral, Comrade JImoh Jibrin, on Tuesday, the Northern group also expressed confidence in the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai for the initiative which neutralized over 100 bandits  within seven days.  

As part of efforts to end banditary and other crimes in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger States, Lt. Gen. Buratai flagged off the latest military operation last week in Faskari, Katsina State. 

Addressing troops at Special Army Super Camp IV in Faskari, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin, on Monday, commended the exercise, optimistic that “banditry would soon be a thing of the past”. 

And according to AYSN, like in terrorism, the armed forces have again stepped up to this challenge with aplomb. 

While commending the military for their sacrifices and proactive, the Arewa group called on Nigerians, especially leaders of thought, political leaders and religious institutions and the local communities to join hands with the army to tackle this menace. 

On their part, the group, however, urged the troops not to relent in their efforts especially now that they are recording tremendous progress against the bandits. 

Read full statement below:

It is with great pleasure that we at the AYSN welcome the recently launched operation Sahel Sanity by the Chief of Army Staff. It is indeed a welcome development that has started yielding positive fruits.

The idea behind operation Sahel Sanity is to rid the North West zone of banditry, cattle rustling and other forms of criminality bedevilling that region. In the short time this operation was launched part of the successes recorded is the rescue of several kidnap victims, neutralization of some armed bandits, recovery of arms and ammunitions plus recovery of over 700 cattle and  hundreds of sheep.

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This success may look somewhat insignificant to those of us living in the cities like Abuja and Lagos, however to those on ground in the local communities, who have had their kidnapped relatives returned and their stolen cattle returned to them. Locals who now have confidence to return to their farms this is quite significant to them.

For a better appreciation of what the military is dealing with here, it is important that we quickly visit the genesis of this problem. The effect of climate change on the world is not only environmental but also economical. What we are witnessing now are the effects of climate change on the world that scientist predicted and warned about several years ago but unfortunately it appeared the world did not really heed the advice.

Due to climate change desert encroachment has continued to increase especially up north in the Sahel region. The contention for land between Pastoralist and farmers has become more intense as fertile land continues to decrease due to desertification. Nigeria has had its fair share of conflicts between farmers and pastoralist.

Unfortunately the conflict between farmers and herders kept getting more complicated due to several factors amongst them, greater human use of land for non-agricultural purposes, consistent shift in human and livestock population.

In the last decade since the war against Boko Haram started in the north east, there has been an international dimension to the once purely rural communal clashes amongst pastoralist and farmers. Since the military in the last 5 years started making profound progress against Boko Haram/ISWAP. Many of the fighters have fled to other parts of the country especially the north western part of the country.

What started at first as cattle rustling, quickly graduated to full time banditry, kidnappings and other forms of criminality. As the army was making progress in the north east. Many of the terrorists fled with heavy weapons and ammunitions to join their fellow in the forest of the North West, from there on. It wasn’t the same communal conflict anymore.

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It is important we understand this background in order to appreciate the enormity of the task and how well our military has done.

Most of these problems are mainly socio economic problems that, had they been properly managed by previous governments and policy makers , we would not require military intervention today. Unfortunately as it is now, seems all is now left for the military to clear the mess.

As it was with the Boko Haram issue, our great men and women of the Nigerian armed forces have stepped up again to this challenge. They have now made the eradication of banditry and all sorts of criminality in the North West a task that must be done.

Whilst we commend the military for their sacrifices and proactive effort in setting up the operation Sahel sanity, it is important to call on all Nigerians, especially leaders of thought, political leaders and religious institutions to join hands with the Nigerian army to tackle this menace once and for all.

It is time the people of the north irrespective of political or religious affiliations to come together and give full support to the army to tackle this issue finally. The army needs the support of the communities to share information of activities of bandits in their localities. The military requires support of the communities in exposing those shielding and supporting the activities of these criminals.

Without the support of the local communities it will be a herculean task to win the battle against these criminal. Let us in the north now rally round the army and support them to execute the order of President Muhammadu Buhari to end banditry and all forms of criminality in the North West zone within a matter of days. All hands must now be on deck to make this task achievable within the envisaged time limit.

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We not unaware that some enemies of the President who are envious of his laudable achievements  in many sectors in the country are unhappy and may want to continue to sponsor terrorist and criminals to destabilize the region , hoping to dent the image of our President. Our consolation is in the fact that we know that Nigerians are wiser and can see through their evil machinations.

We call on the army not to relent in their efforts especially now that they are recording tremendous progress against the bandits. We want to use this opportunity to commend the Chief of Army Staff Lt Gen TY Buratai for the great initiative of setting up super camps. It is a noble concept that has yielded great results including the neutralizing of over 100 bandits in the North West within the first few weeks of set up.

From this we can see that the military is fully ready and united in the fight against banditry in the North West. It is time for all citizens of the region to come together and support the efforts of the military so that life can return to normal in this areas because without security of lives and property we cannot be talking about any We call on the army not to relent in their efforts especially now that they are recording tremendous progress against the bandits of progress or development.

God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

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