President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend ordered the deployment of air fighter aircraft to support the efforts of troops and policemen combating the activities of bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers terrorising remote communities around Dogon Gona forest in Niger State.
The deployment, the presidency disclosed last night, will take-off this week as the harmattan dust gradually eases off in the sky, to provide effective air attacks against the activities of the criminals.
According to a statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, Buhari described repeated attacks which have claimed several lives in the communities “as a disaster for the nation.”
Consequently, he said he was authorising the deployment of air power to support troops and policemen deployed to the “difficult terrain,” to counter the menace of the attackers operating in the forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara States.
“In line with this directive, the Nigerian Air Force is setting up refuelling facilities at Minna, Niger State to support the aircraft operations, giving assurances that given the improved weather conditions, a major exercise to ‘visually acquire targets’ and launch attacks will soon follow,” the statement said.
The statement said the Niger State Police Command had equally given assurances that the planned dedicated air raids to complement the police helicopter gunship operations remained the best approach in view of lack of motorised roads in the areas constantly under attack.
Buhari commiserated with the government and people of Niger State over the attacks and consequent loss of lives, assuring them that victim communities in the state would not be abandoned by the rest of the country.
Rising attacks on some parts of Niger State by armed bandits had received the attention of the presidency, which had invited some stakeholders led by the state governor, Alhaji Sani Bello, to a meeting tomorrow to discuss the security challenges in the state.
The presidency was said to have responded to the Save Our Soul (SOS) message sent to President Muhammadu Buhari over the attack by Senator Mohammed Musa representing Niger East Senatorial District where the killings took place on Saturday morning.
Others invited to the meeting scheduled for the State House, Aso Rock, include all the 13 lawmakers representing Niger State in the National Assembly who are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).