The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, on Friday, inaugurated a Helipad at Katari village along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway to strengthen the Nigerian Air Force response to security challenges in the area.
Katari general area has been a notorious base of bandits and kidnappers who terrorised motorists plying the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.
“It’s paramount for our surveillance aircraft to utilise this platform with a view to have easy access to fuelling without necessarily extending their flight to either Kaduna or Abuja axis,” Abubakar said.
The Air Chief, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command, Kaduna, Air Vice Marshal Musa Mukhtar, said the helipad was crucial to ending security challenges along Kaduna-Abuja Expressway and its environs.
He said: “It is generally known that before now, plying this highway has been a nightmare to motorists because of the persistent attacks by bandits and kidnappers.
“It is out of the wisdom of the Chief of Defence Staff that originated the idea of deploying NAF Special Forces to compliment the initial deployment initiated by the Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police and Civil Defence as well as Defence Intelligence Operations.
“With the joining of the NAF Special Forces, I deem it necessary to establish a helipad so that it will give greater endurance for helicopters operating within Kaduna and Abuja as they refuel here.
“I am also pleased to state that with the establishment of this formation, we are gradually moving to the threshold of total destruction of kidnapping cells and banditry within Kaduna State and environs.”
The Air Chief said that in the last four months, there has been no incident of kidnapping along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway.
Abubakar said: “Our air offensive in the ongoing military campaign in Zamfara and Birnin Gwari have so far greatly contributed to the achievements of the Nigerian Military offensive against banditry.
“However, this is not the time to relent.
“We have to continue fighting until all the local communities are free to live their normal lives.
“That is why we deemed it imperative to deploy Special Force and Air support for both surveillance and striking.
“It is our duty to protect the lives and properties of law abiding citizens, it is also part of our mandate to frustrate the effort of bandits and kidnappers from terrorising the locals.”
Abubakar appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari’s overwhelming support to the Air Force and challenged the personnel to give their all in the fight against security challenges.
He said: “It is therefore our collective responsibility to sanitise our major roads for commuters and liberate the locals from the fear of armed robbery, kidnapping and bandits attacks.
“Our loyalty and service to the nation must always be our motivation.”
Earlier, the Commander Operation Officer, Air Training Command, Air Commander Nnaemeka Ilo, said the inauguration of the helipad would strengthen the ongoing Operation Thunder Strike and boost the morale of personnel in confronting contemporary threats to National Security.
Also, the Chairman of Kachia Local Government, Peter, Agite appreciated the efforts of the NAF and the military in dealing with criminals elements in the area.
Agite appealed to the locals to support the military by providing useful information on the movement of criminals in the locality for prompt action.