The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) says it has begun investigation into a suspicious helicopter allegedly hovering over Lame-Burra Forest in Toro and Ningi local government areas of the State, Northeast Nigeria.
This follows a report by the Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir. The Governor drew attention to the presence of the helicopter on Tuesday when he received the newly posted Air Officer Commanding (AOC), NAF Special Operations in Bauchi, Air Vice Marshal Tajudeen Yusuf, at the Government House.
The forest, which stretches from Toro Local Government Area (LGA) to Ningi LGA, covers 205,900 hectares and shares boundaries with Kano, Kaduna and Jigawa States.
The Governor said intelligent security details available to him from the local areas indicated that a helicopter used to fly over the forest, a development that raised concern about the safety of the people living around the forest.
After listening to the Governor, Air Vice Marshal Yusuf said NAF was aware of the situation and investigations are ongoing with a view to intercepting the suspected helicopter.
Yusuf commended the State government for its concern on security in the State and called on the public to assist the command with useful information to enable it discharge its duties to them.
A worried Governor Bala had said that with the continuous sighting of the unknown jet, NAF officers and men should intensify air surveillance around the forest to forestall a breach in public safety, especially in the local populations bordering the large forest reserve and the entire people of the state.
The Governor assured the State government’s readiness to support NAF and other security agencies to consolidate the prevailing peace in the State.
He, therefore, called on NAF to intensify surveillance in the area with a view to identifying the suspected helicopter to guarantee the safety of life and property.
Last Saturday, Bala said the spate of kidnappings and other forms of insecurity in Toro LGA, one of the LGAs bordering the Lame-Burra Forest Reserve, has defied all possible solutions deployed to defeat criminals in the area.
He said criminals from some States of the troubled North West and North Central zones have found their way into the forest thereby wreaking havoc on Toro, Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Alkaleri councils of the State.
The Governor said, “Yes, we have paid attention to the issue of security because security in Bauchi is key and Toro local government is the place that is most disturbed by insecurity, not because of the geographical location of the area or because Toro people are criminals or they are harbouring criminals but because of the movement of criminals from the North West, from the North Central and even within the North East.
“So, it is an incubation centre. People moving into Toro going to Tafawa Balewa, Dass and Alkaleri. That is the movement. It is the only local government that is always defying solutions but we are doing more and we are going to do more.
“Of course, we have people coming to settle in the Lame Forest. I am calling on the local councils and the traditional rulers to open their eyes; to shine their eyes. We are not unwelcoming people coming or strangers but we don’t welcome criminals into our state.
“We don’t have to be selling the forest. The Lame-Burra is one of the largest in Nigeria but it is almost destroyed. Certainly, as a government, we are taking very stringent measures to make sure that this thing does not continue,” Bala said.