FG Considers Establishment of Military Task Force to Checkmate Bandits.
**Defence Minister Call for Suspension of Grazing Law.
By Kingsley Omonobi
Abuja – Against the backdrop of severe security challenges facing the nation particularly herdsmen killings and kidnapping by bandits, Defence Minister, Mansur Muhammad Dan Ali has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the establishment of a Special Security Task Force for Zamfara and Birnin Gwari axis.
Mansur Dan Ali also said there was to reduce tension in Benue and Taraba States by suspending the implementation of the Anti-Open Grazing Law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders.
The minister who made the recommendations at the Security Council meeting held at the State House in Abuja on Tuesday disclosed that the special security outfit will be similar to Operation Safe Haven in Jos.
The minister also disclosed that in continuation of military operations to clear Boko Haram insurgents from the Lake Chad Basin area, the Multinational Joint Task Force has rescued 296 hostages from the terrorists hideouts in Lake Chad fringes.
A statement by Colonel Tukur Gusau, Spokesman of the Defence Minister entitled ‘Minister of Defence Intervention at the Security Council Meeting held at the state House, Abuja on 5th June 2018’ said, “The minister drew the attention of the council to the incessant killings and kidnappings by armed bandits and criminal activities across the North West which is becoming alarming and worrisome
“He mentioned the Abuja-Kaduna expressway as a source of concern as there were still recorded incidences of kidnappings within the period under review.
“He also stated that the upsurge in incidents of security concern in Zamfara state is quite disturbing and calls for more robust approach to tackling the threat.
“The situation is characterized with killings and kidnappings by armed bandits and criminal elements predominantly in Anka, Maru, Kaura Namoda and Talata Mafara LGAs of the state.
“In the North Central, the incidents of herdsmen-farmers clashes in Benue and Taraba states have reduced considerably. Several arrests have been made in connection with the killings and destruction of properties by own troops in conjunction with other security agencies.
“While in the North East, the Boko Haram terrorist’s activities have been contained as there is significant improvement in security situation in the zone.
“The Nigerian Army has launched ‘Operation Last Hold’ to flush out the insurgents from their hideouts in the Lake Child Basin and free the communities to enable IDPs to return to their homes. The operation is to last till end of August 20, 2018.
“Similarly, the MNJTF is currently engaged in Operation to dislodge Boko Haram terrorists in the fringes between Niger Republic and Nigeria. The Task Force has so far dislodged the insurgents from Arege, Kangarwa, Metele and few other Islands on the Lake Chad.
“So far, 296 persons have been rescued and are undergoing profiling. The number is envisaged to increase as troops intensify clearance operations.
“In the South-South and South West, the situation of illegal oil bunkering, militancy, pipeline vandalism is on a decline in Niger delta following the effort of the federal government to engage stakeholders in dialogue.
“Similarly, Operation Awatse has continued to dislodge militants and pipeline vandals from Arepo and other areas in Lagos and Ogun states.
“The council was also informed by the minister that the United States conveyed to the government of Nigeria information about the implementation of countering America’s Adversaries through sanctions Acts Section 231.
“It is pertinent to state that the award of contract for the procurement of the Mi-35 helicopters was completed before the act was signed into law in August 2017.
“In conclusion, the minister suggested to the council the need for Defence Headquarters to launch a Joint Task Force operation similar to Operation Safe Haven in Jos to cover Zamfara and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna state with headquarters in Gusau, Zamfara state.
“The need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the anti-open grazing law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders.
“The urgent need for the Nigerian Police and DSS to prosecute all the suspects arrested in the states.
“The need to hasten the establishment of a National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria.
“The need to engage diplomatic channels to ensure US sanctions does not affect Nigeria.”