President Muhammadu Buhari has officially launched Operation Harbin Kunama in Dansadau forest, Zamfara State, saying securing the country remains a top priority of his administration.
The exercise is aimed at flushing out armed bandits and cattle rustlers who have been terrorizing farming and herding communities in the state.
Dansadau Emirate in Maru local government area of the state is one of the areas hit hard by the activities of armed bandits and cattle rustlers.
In April 2014 more than 100 persons were killed by the bandits in Yargaladima, a village located 20 kilometres north of Dansadau town.
Buhari, who arrived at the venue of the event on board NAF helicopter alongside Governor Abdul Aziz Yari and other top government officials around 5pm, held a meeting with the service chiefs before he addressed the special forces deployed for the exercise.
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In his brief address to the special forces deployed to the forest, President Buhari said it was a long time since he saw a field exercise managed so well like the one in Dansadau.
He said even before elections, they identified security, economy and war against corruption as three important things for the country which are relevant and nobody had been able to disprove their appreciation of the situation.
Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, said the security situation in the country deteriorated in the past for lack of political will to tame the menace.
Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar said the troops would remain in the forest until all criminal elements were cleared.
Speaking to Daily Trust, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, said the operation was also very important to his state as the forest harbouring the criminals extended to eight local government areas of Katsina state directly.
He said the criminals had started fleeing the possible onslaught by the troops and security agents in his state had succeeded in arresting some of them.