…Army kills 17 bandits, arrests 67 in Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba
…Locks down Borno-Yobe highways
…Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
The United Nations (UN) wednesday expressed worries over the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the North-east.
This is coming as the ‘Operation Wild Stroke’ of the Nigerian Army operating in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba States has said it has killed 17 bandits and arrested 67 others in the last eight months.
Also hundreds of thousands of travellers were in the early hours of yesterday stranded as soldiers blocked all major highways in and out of Yobe and Borno States.
The UN said since the resurgence of the attacks in November 2018, about 260 aid workers have been withdrawn, lamenting that this has affected their humanitarian service delivery in the troubled region.
A statement signed by the spokesperson of the UN in Nigeria, Samantha Newport, said, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, has expressed grave concern following an upsurge in violence in the country’s North-east, which has caused tens of thousands of innocent civilians to flee their homes.
The statement read that: “Clashes on December 26, 2018 between Nigerian Government forces and non-state armed groups in Baga town, on the shores of Lake Chad about 200 kilometres north of state capital, Maiduguri, triggered the massive displacement, with most women, men and children converging on already congested camps or sites for internally displaced people in Maiduguri or Monguno town.
“A subsequent attempted attack on Monguno on December 28, 2018 has exacerbated the situation, generating further displacement amid the uncertainty caused by the clashes.”
Newport quoting Kallon, who was said to have visited Monguno and Teachers Village camp for internally displaced people in Maiduguri, said: “The impact of the recent fighting on innocent civilians is devastating and has created a humanitarian tragedy.”
Kallon also said: “It is heart-wrenching to see so many of these people living in congested camps, or sleeping outside with no shelter. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict and the United Nations is extremely concerned about the impact that violence in North-east Nigeria, especially in Borno State, is having on civilians.”
The statement said: “More than 30,000 internally displaced people have arrived in Maiduguri, mainly from Baga, in recent weeks. The majority of these people have arrived since December 20, 2018, often after arduous journeys with young children. This includes an estimated 20,000 internally displaced people who have arrived in Teachers Village camp in Maiduguri, stretching the camp’s capacity beyond the limit.
“It is still unclear how many people are taking refuge in Monguno, but tens of thousands of people are in need of humanitarian assistance, notably shelter, food, water and sanitation.
The statement revealed that: “Some 260 aid workers have been withdrawn from three Local Government Areas – Monguno, Kala/Balge and Kukawa, which are affected by the conflict since November, affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people.”
It noted that: “This is the largest withdrawal of aid workers since the international humanitarian response scaled up in 2016. While aid workers have started to return to some areas to respond to the urgent, life-saving needs, the lack of a secure operating environment is preventing a return to normal humanitarian activities.”
Meanwhile, the ‘Operation Wild Stroke’ of the Nigerian Army operating in Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba States has said it has killed 17 bandits and arrested 67 others in the last eight months of its operation.
The Commander of the security operation, Major General Adeyemi Yekini, made the disclosure while addressing journalists in Lafia, Nasarawa State, yesterday.
The commander also presented 45 assorted weapons and 701 assorted ammunition recovered from Bassa militia camp in Zwere, Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State.
He said in the interest of peace and national development, the operation would give itself no rest until criminals were flushed out of the three states.
According to him, the troops killed 16 bandits, arrested 53 people and recovered 11 weapons and 50 rounds of ammunition in Benue State.
“In Nasarawa State, 48 weapons and 801 ammunition were recovered, in addition to arresting nine people and killing one bandit.
“In Taraba State, we recovered seven weapons, 35 ammunition and arrested five people with no bandit killed.
“Statistics put the total number of weapons recovered at 66, ammunition recovered at 886; the total number of people arrested is 67 and the total number of bandits killed is 17,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that there were clashes between Bassa and Egbura communities in Toto LGA, Nasarawa State, in 2018 which resulted to loss of lives and property.
In a related development, hundreds of thousands of travellers were in the early hours of yesterday stranded as soldiers blocked all major highways in and out of Yobe and Borno States.
Security sources disclosed that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole carried out the lockdown of highways to engage Boko Haram insurgents in the bush and avoid any collateral damage.
The development forced the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yobe State to suspend the signing of peace accord by political candidates.
The ceremony was billed for the commission’s premises in Damaturu, the state capital.
The Resident Electoral Commissioner Yobe State, Alhaji Ahmad Makama told reporters: “We woke up this morning to find out that there are some security challenges.
“The military has closed all the highways and roads leading to Damaturu and some of the delegates are coming from outside Damaturu.
“So, for that reason, we have agreed that it is wiser to postpone the programme to next week Thursday, January 17,” Makama explained.
The military has however, denied closure of the roads but admitted carrying out clearance operation to weed out Boko Haram insurgents.
Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, in a statement, said: “Our attention has been drawn to rumours that the Nigerian Army has closed Maiduguri-Damaturu road.
“This is not true. What is happening is an ongoing clearance and snap checks operations in the general area required to clear suspected Boko Haram terrorists along that road.
“The clearance operation is ultimately for the safety and security of motorists and other road users.
“Members of the public are please advised to cooperate and bear with the troops as they carry out these duties.”
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