The Defence headquarters on Sunday disclosed that troops prosecuting clearance operations for Operation 777 in Kogi State have arrested 20 notorious criminals terrorizing the state, amongst them, a wanted kidnapping kingpin at Itobe.
DHQ at a briefing by the Acting Director of Defence Ingormation, Brigadier General John Agim also disclosed that troops foiled several attempts by gangs to kidnap persons in the state and deny the gangs space to operate.m
Agim speaking in Lokoja said,’I am happy to be in your midst this morning on the occasion of press briefing on the activities of Clearance Operation in Kogi State which is being conducted by the combined forces of the military and other security agencies.
“This is my maiden Media chat since the inauguration of Clearance Operation which is now operating under the auspices of Operation 777.
“Operation 777 was launched on 8 October 2018 by Defence Headquarters to re-jig our existing operations all over the country in order to close gaps between them, and to avoid criminals and bandits escaping from one operation theatre to other.
“Clearance Operation has significantly achieved the set objectives for which Op 777 was set up.
Prior to the launch of Op 777 there was a large scale security threats in Kogi State.
” These included armed robbery, insurgent activities, boundary disputes, cattle rustling, political thuggery, cultism and kidnapping among others.
“The security threats had led to loss of lives, destruction of properties and disruption of socio-economic activities.
“The 3 senatorial areas of the State have their own peculiar nature of crime.
“The Eastern Senatorial District witnessed large scale destruction of lives and properties occasioned by ethnic rivalry, Western Senatorial District had incessant kidnappings and herdsmen/farmers clashes while Central Senatorial Zone was faced with assassination and kidnappings.
“With the commencement of Op 777 the troops put up offensive posture and embarked on series of operations that denied the hoodlums and criminals freedom of actions within the JOA.
“Kogi State is strategic to the security and socio-economic calculation of Nigeria because it is a gateway between the northern and southern part of Nigeria.
“It also shares boundaries with nine states and FCT, as such, the state is susceptible to spill over effect of violence and other diverse influences from these contiguous states.
“There are 8 operation sectors within the JOA and each sector covers 2 to 3 LGAs.
“Each sector has established Sector Headquarters and 2 sub-sectors for administrative expediency.
“There are also 3 Senatorial zones in Kogi state; Kogi Central, East and West. For effective coordination of this exercise, all sectors were collapsed and a Battalion established in each of the senatorial zones, while a Brigade HQs is located at Central zone which oversees the Battalions.
“91 Brigade located at Irepene, 911 Battalion at Odo Ape and 912 Battalion at Oku Obayin, while 913 Battalion is at Bassa.
“In addition, the troops of Clearance Operation provide security to Key Points and Vulnerable Points such as Geregu Power Plant, Dangote Cement Factory Obajana and 2 strategic bridges at Jamata and Itobe.
“There are also escort duties on daily bases for high profile personalities plying routes within JOA.
“Troops also provide assistance to NEMA officials as well as monitoring distribution of relief materials at IDP Camps within the State.
“Through the renew vigor and determination of the troops in this special operation, relative peace have been restored and hence, the troops dominate the operating environment, thereby creating safe and conducive atmosphere for socio-economic activities to thrive.
“Local traders, motorists, travelers and residents of villages/settlements in these general areas are now conducting their business unmolested.
“The relative peace and security being witnessed was made possible through joint operations and synergy of efforts by the security agencies and cooperative posture of the State Government, locals and other well meaning citizens of Kogi State.
“It is noteworthy to mention that the intensity of offensive operation across the state has led to the recovering of some illegal arms and ammunition across the Clearance Operation’s JOA.
“These included: 7 Locally fabricated guns, 1 AK47 Rifle, 2 Magazines, and 45 Rounds of Assorted ammunition.
“During the period under review, 20 notorious criminals were arrested, which included Mr Eleme Salihu, the kidnapper kingpin at Itobe in Ofu LGA of the State.
“The troops also foiled several kidnapping attempts and intensified continuous confidence building through patrols, show of force, blocking operations, as well as cordon and search.
“This strategy has yielded positive results with arrest of high profile suspects and recovering of weapons.
” Clearance Op also deters activities of illegal bunkering through routine patrols of pipelines within the JOA.
While assuring members of the general public of ‘our determination’ to protect lives and properties of law abiding citizens, Agim urged members of the public to be security conscious and desist from any act that could breach peace and security.
“Youths should shun political thuggery, violent crimes, banditry and cultism.
He commended the media for the cooperation and support to Clearance Operation noting that this support should be sustained in order to achieve a crime-free society and state.
He pledgef that ‘our troops’ will continue to be professional in the discharge of their duties and called on law abiding citizens to endeavour to give timely information to security agencies for prompt action.
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