The Nigerian Army has launched one-month special operations in Kaduna state to stop the incessant killings by suspected herdsmen in southern part of the North Western state.
Speaking at the launch of the operation on Wednesday, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said that the special military exercise code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama II” – Scorpion Sting-, is to checkmate farmers/herdsmen and ethno-religious crises in the area.
Buratai noted that the operation, which is also to flush out bandits and cattle rustlers, will be extended to parts of Plateau, Kano and Bauchi states.
He called on the people of the area to maintain the peace and avoid reprisal attacks.
The Army Chief said the operation was to ensure security and safety of the people.
According to him, the first phase of Operation Harbin Kunama was conducted in parts of Kaduna and Zamfara States in 2016.
Buratai also assured that the military would always assist civil authority to contain any crisis and stop it from escalating.
Also speaking, the Governor of the state, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, expressed satisfaction that two Army Forward Operation Bases were being established in Southern Kaduna in response to the agitation for such outfits in last 20 years.
El-Rufai recalled that the crisis in that part of the state had dragged on for 37 years, adding that the most recent one began in May 2016.
He noted that the crisis has attracted the highest attention because it had been given religious colouration.
The governor however, said “with the conduct of operation Harbin Kunama II and establishment of two forward operation bases in Kafanchan and Kachia local government areas, the activities of armed criminals would be checkmated in the state”.
Speaking further, El-Rufai vowed that the state government would not negotiate with sponsors and perpetrators of the crisis, but would identify arrest and prosecute them.
He stressed that this was one of the three steps the state had adopted to put an end to the crisis.
He said: “The others were military operations and the process to make the people embrace peace.
“We therefore, call on traditional and religious leaders in the state to play leading roles in that regard.”
The three-decade-old crisis mostly occurred in Kaura, Kafanchan and Zango-Kataf Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.