•Effects massive deployment of air assets
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is set to build an apron, hangar and aircraft shelters at the Umaru Musa Yar’adua International Airport Katsina, which serves as the Headquarters of the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji against armed bandits terrorising the state and parts of North West.
This is coming against the backdrop of the recent massive deployment of air assets and ground support equipment to reinforce internal security operations against armed bandits, cattle rustlers, kidnappers and other criminal elements in the North West and North Central parts of the Country.
The NAF Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, in a statement on Tuesday, said the aircraft shelters would ensure that aircraft deployed for operations in the North West Theatre, with their delicate onboard avionics and electrical instruments, are not unduly exposed to the harsh effects of weather.
Similarly, Daramola said, the hangar would provide a more conducive environment for the conduct of maintenance activities thereby reducing the need to fly aircraft outside of the operational area for the conduct of repair works.
Speaking shortly after inspecting the project site, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who has been in Katsina since 20 June 2020, to oversee the progress of the new subsidiary air interdiction Operation, codenamed Wutan Daji, stated that the facilities being emplaced would no doubt enhance the NAF’s operations in dealing with armed bandits and other criminal elements in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna and surrounding States.
Abubakar stated that the construction work would be executed through ‘direct labour’ by NAF Engineers from the Directorate of Services, noting that some of the materials, including the frames for the aircraft shelters, had been relocated using NAF C-130H aircraft from another NAF unit, where they were not being used. He added that the new facilities would also form part of the infrastructure for the NAF Central Flying School, once fully activated.
Speaking on his assessment of the conduct of Operation Wutan Daji, Air Marshal Abubakar stated that he was satisfied with the progress so far made.
“With 10 surveillance and attack aircraft deployed, we have flown over 100 hours in about 60 sorties since the Operation began three days ago. In all, we have conducted 13 air interdiction missions that have taken out 10 armed bandits locations with scores of the bandits killed and some of their leaders neutralized. We are already getting positive feedback on the tremendous results of the air strikes. You will get more details soon”, he said.
The CAS added that the Operation Hadarin Daji Air Component had also continued to provide close air support for the Land Component’s clearance operations within the Theatre; emphasizing that the overall objective was to employ all means available to deal decisively with the armed bandits so that they have no breathing space and can no longer terrorize innocent citizens.
While expressing his gratitude to the Governor of Katsina State, Hon. Aminu Bello Masari, for allocating the land for use by the NAF, the CAS equally appreciated the Emirs of Katsina and Daura as well as the good people of Katsina State for their support to the Service, especially in the provision of useful information. He emphasized that the fight against banditry was a collective responsibility that required the cooperation of all well-meaning Nigerians.
The CAS, who was conducted on the inspection by the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command, Air Vice Marshal Charles Ohwo, and the NAF Director of Services, Group Captain Abdullahi Abubakar, was accompanied on the visit by Branch Chiefs and Directors from Headquarters NAF as well as other senior NAF officers.