The chief of air staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar has said that the Nigerian Air Force will deploy some fighter aircraft to Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states to stop banditry, cattle rustling, and other crimes.
Abubakar, who disclosed stated this during his visits to the three states said the security situation in the region required a new response strategy to restore peace and orderliness.
He announced that the federal government had facilitated the acquisition of 18 new aircraft, with another 18 were being expected.
Abubakar also said 13 additional aircraft had been rehabilitated and made serviceable for operations.
He said the deployment of the aircraft would be extended to the 119 Forward Operation Base in Sokoto State to boost air operations in the zone.
“The air force in consonance with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies will continue to work round the clock to ensure security of lives and properties of the local population.
“We have come to critically appraise the security situation in order to determine what could be done to enhance NAF operations. The NAF will deploy platforms and equipment to enable the 119 FOB to conduct air operations from the Sultan Abubakar III Airport in support of the anti-banditry operations in the area.
“The air force has already commenced arrangements to provide fuel facilities similar to those already provided in Katsina and Zamfara. We are better positioned to more effectively and efficiently employ air power,” he said.
During the visits, the spokesman for NAF, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said in a statement that the CAS interacted with the governors of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina states on the security operations as well as inspected the Sultan Abubakar III Airport in Sokoto and other platforms.
“The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on December 26, visited Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States, for an on-the-spot assessment of the security situations. The CAS visited the governors and interacted with the Commanders, officers and men of Air Force Units.
“The CAS, who was accompanied by other senior officers from NAF headquarters, embarked on the visit to fashion new strategies for dealing with the emerging insecurity in states of the Northwest affected by banditry.
“The first port of call was Katsina, which hosts the Headquarters of the Air Task Force (HQ ATF) of Operation DIRAN MIKIYA (OPDM), where he was briefed by the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Samson Akpasa, as well as the ATF Commander Air Commodore Ayoola Jolasinmi, on the progress of anti-armed banditry operations in the Northwestern states, before proceeding to Gusau, Zamfara State.
“The CAS later interacted with the Commander and personnel of 119 FOB, as well as other senior officers in the state, where he encouraged them to intensify their efforts to ensure that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is not undermined in any way.
“He also appealed to the people of Sokoto to provide useful information that would help security agencies in their operations. Before departing Sokoto, Air Marshal Abubakar opened a water treatment plant at the NAF Base and inspected facilities at Sultan Abubakar III Airport, preparatory to the deployment of NAF aircraft to further boost air operations in the Northwest”.
He also said Abubakar had visited HQ ATF OPDM, which also served as the Air Component of Operation Sharan Daji (OPSD), and would visit the NAF 119 Forward Operating Base (119 FOB) Sokoto to upgrade facilities to enable the conduct of air operations from Sokoto, for enhanced NAF response capability in dealing more decisive blows on bandits.
Daramola added that the CAS assured the governors and residents that the NAF, in consonance with the Army and other security agencies, would continue to work round the clock to secure the people and their property.
Responding, the governor of Sokoto State, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, informed the CAS about the recent influx of some foreign fighters from Mali comprising Arab, Tuareg, Hausa and Fulani in Balle Village in the Gudu local government area of the state.
He also said the state was gradually coming under intense pressure as a result of the activities of bandits along the Sokoto-Zamfara boundary.
“There has been a recent influx of some foreign fighters from Mali comprising Arabs, Tuaregs, Hausas and Fulanis in Balle village in the Gudu local government area. We were able to deal with them in close coordination with heads of security agencies in the state along with the governor of Tahou Region, Niger Republic,” Tambuwal added.