The Nigerian Army says it has deployed fresh strategies including the use of drones, in efforts to combat banditry currently ravaging parts of the north-west zone of the country.
Speaking on Thursday in Katsina when he paid a courtesy visit on Governor Aminu, Bello Masari, at the Government House, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 8 Division of the Nigerian Army, Sokoto, Brigadier-Gen. Abdulkarim Oladapo Otiki said that the development was part of the initiatives to enforce a recent directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The 8 Division covers Sokoto, Katsina, Zamfara and Kebbi states.
“Beyond the drones, there are other battle enhancers being introduced and that means that we no longer do things the way we used to do them,” he said.
According to him, the application of new technology has also made it possible for the military authorities at the Army headquarters to monitor the soldiers fighting the bandits at the war front.
The GOC said: “With the introduction of modern technology, combined with the lion-heart of our able soldiers, we are bound to see a change soon.
“The old saying that we are re-strategizing or re-jigging will no longer apply, based on the presidential security directive that has just been released as a result of a meeting of the northern governors which culminated in a briefing to the President and Commander– in Chief.”
Moreover, according to him, soldiers are also being deployed to farms in the area, to protect farmers as they go about their lawful duties.
Otiki said: “With the crop of officers we have now in the Katsina Brigade and support from the 8 Division, we assure you that very soon you will go to bed with your two eyes closed.
“The coming of the Army Headquarters elements has also introduced technology into our fighting efficiency as they have established what we call video conferencing which will take the fighting closer to the higher authorities by those fighting the battle.
“Communication gap has been reduced to the barest minimum and the bureaucracy associated with demand and supply of logistics has been cut short.
“We now have seamless communication between us and the Army Headquarters. They now have the opportunity of seeing live coverage and reportage of what is going on in Katsina, Zamfara and the other parts of the North-West, where the military is currently engaging the bandits.
“The Army headquarters elements have equally introduced the use of drones which will further make our activities more efficient within the theatre.
“And, we are going to stand by the farmers, no matter how remote their location, deep into the hinterland is; we will provide security for them.
“These are the new dynamics we have introduced to the security architecture of the north-western states. Where civilian populace stays to carry out their daily activities, our men will patrol the farm areas and other commercial activities.
“If they go out in the morning, we are there and as they return in the evening, we are there.”
In his response, Masari said that members of communities within the operational base of the bandits would cooperate with the military and other security agencies fighting the hoodlums especially in providing the needed information concerning the terrain.
“We appreciate the response of the military and other security agencies to our outcry when banditry here in Katsina took a different dimension from what we used to know.
“The military cannot do it alone as they need information from the local population because you are dealing with bandits in their territory which may be alien to the military.
“The people who live within the communities are willing to support the military to provide security.
“We are aware that the reason for our existence as a government is to protect the lives and property of the people. Without the people, we have nothing and we have nothing to govern. Our priority is to save lives
“To that extent, the state government is willing and ready to spend what it can to do which starts with the protection of their means of livelihood.
“This is part of the challenges of nation-building. I hope we will come out of the challenges successfully so that we will be able to move our nation forward,” Masari said.