‘Operation 777’ the Special Security exercise inaugurated by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Abayomi Olonisakin to re-energize ongoing military operations across the country has resulted in troops eliminating 35 criminal elements, arresting 96 suspects while 2 soldiers died in action.
The special operation which was launched by the CDS on the 8 of October, 2018, also recorded 2 soldiers missing in action and the AK 47 rifle of one of the soldiers also missing in action.
Additionally, the Defence headquarters has ordered the arrest and detention of two soldiers of ‘Operation 777’who were involved in an altercation with a Bank Security Staff of Diamond Bank in Jos, which subsequently led to the death of the security staff.
Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim while briefing journalists on ongoing operations, noted that an investigation of what led to the fracas has commenced noting that if the soldiers are found culpable, the will face a military court martial.
His words, “The resilience of troops deployed for combined operations and internal security operations in conjunction with other security agencies have continued to curtail the freedom of action of insurgency, militancy and criminal gangs.
“The spate of herdsmen/farmers crisis and armed banditry in some parts of the country has been greatly reduced.
“Likewise, cases of illegal bunkering and other forms of criminality in the Niger Delta are being tackled headlong. Hence, operation 777 is designed to consolidate on the achievements of the existing operations”.
Noting that ‘Operations 777’ which commenced on 10 October 2018, is running concurrently, Agim said, “The Operation is also geared towards enhancing a conducive and stable environment for socio-economic activities and the safety of Nigerians, as well as preventing bandits and outlaws from escaping to other peaceful areas.
“Consequently, the operation is expected to raise the confidence of the public in the affected states, particularly, the IDPs to return back to their homes.
“The activities of troops are being conducted simultaneously in all the operations areas. It is focused on identifying and destroying armed bandits and other persons bearing arms against the Nigerian State.
“It is also to eliminate armed gangs and adversaries as well as conducting cordon and search operations to retrieve illegal arms and ammunitions.
“Furthermore, the operations will actively engage and sensitize the locals and the general public to cooperate with the military.
“In the last 2 weeks that we embarked on ‘Operation 777’ several achievements have been recorded. Across the various operations, large number of arms, ammunitions and other dangerous weapons were recovered. Many suspects were arrested in the process and many neutralized in armed encounter with troops.
“In Benue State for instance, ‘Operation 777’ has located the camp of one notorious criminal and cult leader by name Gana. We were able to neutralize more than 15 of his gang members including his wife. Gana managed to escape, but our troops are on his trail.
“Sequel to this, many of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have started returning home. The Chairman, Logo Local Government Area confirmed that 27,000 out of 34,000 IDPs at Anyiin IDP Camp have returned home.
“During the period under review, our gallant troops neutralized 35 Criminals and a total of 98 suspected bandits/criminals were arrested and they are undergoing investigation and shall be handed over to the police for prosecution.
“The weapons seized include 5 AK 47 Rifles, 20 Bows and arrows, 113 units of 7.62mm live ammunition, 20 live cartridges and 4 rifle magazines.
“Within the period also, 419 rustled cattle were recovered, 405 sheep and 101 goats were recovered and handed over to the various states committees established to return the animals to the rightful owners.
“In the operation around the maritime areas, a total of 398 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil was recovered, 67, 000 litres of illegally refined AGO, 126 reservoirs, 34 illegal refineries, 27 wooden boats and quantity 101 of 100 litres drums of premium motor spirit (pms) were recovered and destroyed.
“Regrettably, during these operations, the military suffered some casualties. Two soldiers were killed in action (KIA), two wounded in action. Equally, 2 soldiers were missing in action while one AK 47 rifle is missing in action”.
Continuing, Agim said, “On the 22 October 2018 at about 3pm at Diamond Bank along Ahmadu Bello way, Jos, there was an unfortunate and avoidable altercation between some military personnel and the bank private guards, which resulted to the death of one bank security guard, Mr Linus Edogan and some others wounded.
“The DHQ has requested for full investigation into the matter and anyone found guilty would be punished according to the military extant law. We commiserate with the family of the victim and the bank management”.
It will be recall that some of the ongoing operations under the Defence headquarters are ‘Operation Whirl Punch’, which is an operation established to fight banditry and armed robbery along Abuja-Kaduna road and Birnin Gwari area in Kaduna State.
“Operation Delta Safe’ which is established to curb oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and militancy activities in the Niger Delta region.
“Operation Awatse’ which is designed to confront the challenges of illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the area between the Atlas Cove and Mosimi Depot in Lagos and Ogun states. The operation has brought sanity within the affected states.
“Operation Safe Haven’ set up primarily to maintain peace in Plateau state. The operation was later expanded to cover some part of Bauchi and Kaduna States.
“Operation Sharan Daji’, which was established to fight against cattle rustling and banditry activities within the North West which include; Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi states.
“Clearance Operations’ created to checkmate the activities of kidnappers, armed robbery and other form of criminalities within the North Central, especially Kogi State.
“Operation Whirl Stroke’ which was established to curtail the escalating spate of herdsmen/farmers conflict as well as armed banditry in parts of Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States.”
On media relations, Brigadier General Agim said, “In this ongoing Operation, we welcome the full cooperation of the Media in the area of sensitization and enlightenment campaign towards the success of the whole exercise.
“As a major stakeholder in the Nigeria project, the military and the media should work together towards a conducive environment for peaceful and crime-free society elections.”