Text of Press Briefing by the Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier General John Agim on activities of Operation 777 in Plateau State
I am delighted to brief the press on the activities of Operation 777 being conducted by the combined forces of the military and other security agencies in Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) area of responsibility.
This operation is part of the Operation 777, which was launched on the 8 of October 2018 to re-jig our existing operations.
This became necessary in order to close gaps between our different operations and to avoid criminals and bandits escaping from one operation theatre to other places.
It is gratifying to note that OPSH has achieved the set objectives of Operation 777.
The relative peaceful security environment within the Joint Operation Area (JOA) could be attributed to the renewed vigour with which troops conduct assigned tasks.
There is an appreciable level of aggressive posture through the conduct of raid operations, cordon and search, fighting patrols, show of force leading to the arrest/detention of culprits thereby achieving effective domination of the JOA.
However, the 3 vexed issues of ethnicity, religion and political affinity create a general state of mistrust and animosity often times degenerating into clashes.
The insecurity that pervades the environment has also been shaped by acts of criminality due to the activities of cultists and other organized criminal groups.
Similarly, the communal crisis that occasioned the displacements of some communities in Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, Mangu, and Riyom Local Government Areas in Plateau State following the Jun 18 attack bears significant humanitarian and security concerns.
Just as the unfortunate ethno-religious crisis that occurred in Sep/Oct 18 also left scores of casualties including some students of University of Jos in its aftermath.
This ethno-religious dimension has further induced fear, apprehension and general state of insecurity across the entire JOA.
Most worrisome is also the political tension arising from the 10 Oct 18 LGA Elections conducted in 13 out of the 17 LGAs in the State.
The Local Elections were characterised by large scale protests and agitations in the aftermath of the announcement of results which could have snowballed into ethno-religion crisis but for the proactive measures adopted to contain the protests.
Another preventable development that shaped the security environment was the unfortunate killing of Maj Gen IM Alkali in Du District of Jos South LGA in Plateau State by suspected Berom militia which has further deepened the animosity between some affected communities.
This mutual suspicion has further heightened the level of antagonism between the 2 communities bearing the livelihood to snowball into violent conflict at the slightest spark.
Another dimension that shaped the security environment was the killing of the Agom Adara of Kachia Local Government Area in Kaduna State and subsequent sectarian disturbances which necessity HQ OPSH to put in measures to avoid spillover effect into Kafanchan as well as other areas within Southern Kaduna.
OPSH has successfully restored relative normalcy within Jos-Bukuru metropolis and stabilized other area especially in the hinterland through the DHQ Op 777 initiative.
The task ahead lies with dislodgement of identified threats in the southern boundary with Taraba State at Wase, Langtang North, Langtang South and Shendam LGAs where armed banditry and other militia groups are terrorising the local inhabitants.
Thus, the focus of HQ OPSH regarding successes attained is the total restoration of law and order that would provide an environment of peaceful co-existence as contained in the CDS’ Ops Directives.
The conduct of Op 777 under OPSH has led to the neutralizing of 10 criminals as well as the arrest of 55 individuals of various crimes ranging from Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, Cattle Rustling, Armed Banditry, Child Trafficking, Drug Peddling, Murder, Gun runners, Impersonation, Sara Suka and Cultist Activities.
The suspects arrested were profiled and interrogated, while some have been handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies for further actions, some others are still being interrogated.
A total of 26 suspects will be paraded before you this morning which investigation is ongoing.
In the cause of the operation 4 personnel of the Command were Wounded in Action.
The conduct of Op 777 under OPSH has also led to the recovery of some illegal arms and ammunition across its Area of Responsibility.
The recoveries include: 3 AK 47 rifles, 11 locally fabricated pistols, 7 locally fabricated rifles, 3 dane guns, 1 locally fabricated Sub machine gun, 3 Baretta pistols, 1025 rounds of assorted ammunitions, 17 cartridges, 3 magazines, 2 Bajaj motorcycles, 2 axes, 3 knives.
others are working tools accessories for arms fabrication, a military camouflage, Pullover and 2 boots, 2 cell phones, and a pair of military woodland camouflage.
As part of the Chief of Defence Staff directives, and to conform to the guidelines of Operation 777 OPSH simultaneously conducted CIMIC activities in pursuit of the fulfillment of the mandate as part of its non-kinetic line of operation.
Some of the non-kinetic activities conducted includes: free medical outreach programme and donation of relief materials to some communities in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps within the Area of Responsibility.
The high point of non-kinetic Operation conducted was the donation of various relief materials such as mattresses, blankets, pillows, mats, bags of rice, buckets, cooking oil and other essential commodities to the IDP camp located within the National Institutes of Mining and Geo-sciences in Anguldi, Jos on Friday 9 November 2018.
It is necessary to inform the general public that OPSH has establish an NGO known as Civil-Military Relief Initiative to partner with well meaning organization to promote peaceful co-existence amongst the citizens.
This NGO is meant to disabuse the negative mindset and project the goodwill of OPSH to the people as part of its CIMIC activities.
HQ OPSH had earlier composed a committee to assess the extent of destructions within deserted villages and the possibility of establishing Strike Force Bases as a prelude to encouraging IDPs to return to their ancestral homes.
The committee under took painstaking tour of 40 villages in which their findings categorized in to 3:
a. Villages that were abandoned out of fear of insecurity.
b. Villages that were attacked with some houses partially destroyed.
c. Villages that were attacked with some houses completely destroyed.
Essentially, OPSH will establish Forward Operation Bases in strategic locations to dominate the general area in order to give confidence to the inhabitants to return home.
OPSH is also concluding its contingency plan for the voluntary return of IDPs to their ancestral homes.
Experiences here in field have shown that some misguided youth are willing tools in the hands of some mischievous elites who use them to perpetrate the worst of heinous crimes on the Plateau.
The essence of harnessing the available potentials and energy within the youth population gives HQ OPSH the intuition to organize a youth summit on 19 Dec 18.
The Theme of the summit is tagged “Re-energizing the Plateau Youth for Positive Development of the Society” and it cut across all youth associations in the 17 LGA of Plateau State.
The Summit is aimed at sensitizing the youth population to re-focus their energy into productive ventures that will empower them to take onerous responsibilities of their tomorrow.
It will be a practical and interactive summit, to re-invigorate the inert potentials of the youths into constructive ideas in building a virile society.
OPSH strongly believes that the end product of the summit will enlighten the youths to have a changed mindset and also pick up the challenges of rebuilding strong and better relationship for peaceful co-existence on the plateau.
In its efforts, advocacy in line with non-kinetic approach to restore peace on the Plateau, OPSH regularly conducts peace building and security meeting with stakeholders to breach mistrust and animosity amongst different tribes and religious affiliations.
The essence of the meetings was to foster unity and peaceful co-existence within the OPSH Area of Responsibility.
The Operation SAFE HAVEN will want to reassure members of the general public of its determination to protect lives and property of all law abiding citizens.
The OPSH also wishes to reiterate on its mandate of renewed vigour and resolve to promote peace and to be decisive in responding to any act of criminality or acts inimical to the protection of law – abiding citizens.
It is also necessary to appeal to the Privilege Few in the society to adopt conciliatory tones in their utterances and avoid the spread of fake information that could cause societal harm.
Permit me at this point to commend the media for your cooperation and support to OPSH. Forc us to successfully combat criminality from Plateau, this support should be sustained.
Finally, let me reassure the general public that OPSH will continue to be professional in the discharge of our duties.
Law abiding citizens should continue to give timely information to security agencies for prompt action.
Acting Director Defence Information