The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, on Monday launched Exercise Sahel Sanity and inducted 10 new locally made combat vehicles into operation to tackle banditry in the North West.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the official launch of the new exercise climaxed the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2020, taking place at Army Super Camp 4 in Faskari.
Buratai said the exercise was scheduled to run from July 6 to September 6
According to him, it is Nigerian Army’s response to the escalating security challenges bedevilling parts of the North West and the North Central geopolitical zones.
He said the exercise was expected to metamorphose into real-time operation, adding that it was designed to flush out armed bandits, terrorist groups and criminal elements in forests in the states.
He said: “As you are aware, the worrisome spate of armed banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other sundry crimes, have continued unabated particularly in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger States in the past two months.
“This continued intransigence of bandits and terrorist elements has led to wanton destruction of lives and property with significant destruction in socio-economic activities which is predominantly the occupation of the people of the region.
“It is against this backdrop that Ex-Sahel Sanity is being launched to mitigate the current spate of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other activities of criminal elements in these states.”
Buratai explained that the exercise would be conducted in conjunction with sister services: Police, Department of State Services and state authorities, to decisively get rid of banditry activities and restore peace in the regions.
He disclosed that good number of equipment, platforms and necessary logistic supports had been made available for the exercise, adding that troops would demonstrate empathy towards law abiding citizens.
According to him: “Be rest assured that as the Chief of Army Staff, I will continue to give you my full support and try to ensure total victory over criminal elements and terrorists.”
He urged the people to render their full support for the Nigerian army troops and other security agencies in areas of providing useful information on the activities of the bandits.
According to him, this will enable the security forces provide the needed security and an enabling environment for socio-economic activities to thrive.
“Additionally, Nigerian Army will also continue to support the non-kinetic efforts of the civil authority to combat criminal elements and reassure the nation of our commitment and determination to secure the country and protect lives and property of law abiding citizens,” he said.
Buratai stated that the locally manufactured Mines Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles being inducted into operations were the initiative of the 107 Equipment Support of the army in Maiduguri.
He said the vehicles emanated from the theatre of Operation Lafiya Dole and commended the efforts of the commanders for looking inward in their operational requirements.
According to him, the Nigerian Army is going to be self reliant internally through its efforts, adding that order had been placed for 20 more of the vehicles.
Earlier, the Commander, 107 Division Equipment Support, Maiduguri, Brigadier General Babatunde Alaya, said the MRAPs were conceptualised and designed to support the existing platforms.
Alaya said the vehicles were produced using local content, adding that the products had been tested and were battle ready.
He commended the COAS for giving the command the needed support and resources to embark on the project and come up with the vehicles within a short period of time.