President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the repeated attacks by bandits on communities in Niger state and its environs and has ordered the Nigerian Air Force to deploy its fighter aircraft to check the menace.
The president gave the directive in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Sunday.
President Buhari described the repeated attacks which led to loss of several lives in the affected communities “as a disaster for the nation”.
He, therefore, authorized the deployment of air power to support troops and policemen deployed to the “difficult terrain,” to counter the menace of the attackers operating in the forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states.
In line with this directive, according to the presidential aide, the Nigerian Air Force is setting up refueling facilities at Minna, Niger state, to support the air operations.
Shehu revealed that relevant military authorities had assured the president that given the improved weather conditions, a major exercise to “visually acquire targets” and launch attacks would soon follow.
He said: ”President Buhari has received assurances that with the harmattan dust gradually easing its hold on the skies, fighter aircraft would this week join the efforts to provide effective air attacks against bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers that have been attacking remote communities around Dogon Gona forest in Niger State.”
He added that the Police Command in Niger had equally given assurances that ”the planned dedicated air raids to complement the police helicopter gunship operations remain the best approach given the lack of motorized roads in the areas constantly under attack”.
President Buhari commiserated with the government and people of Niger State over the attacks and loss of lives, and assured that affected communities would not be abandoned by the rest of the country