Kaduna — Nigerian Army wednesday launched an operation tagged: 'Operation Harbin Kunama II' to tackle the menace of herdsmen in the southern part of Kaduna State.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the past five years by herdsmen while property estimated at billions of naira were destroyed.
The federal government, had in December last year, deployed troops and the police to the area to stop the mayhem, but the killings have continued with the recent one that claimed 12 lives in Asso village last Saturday.
Speaking at the event which held in Kafanchan, the headquarters of Jama'a Local Government Area, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said there would no longer be any hiding place for armed bandits in the state.
Buratai said the aim of the exercise is to ensure that southern Kaduna area is kept safe.
"I know it has been in the press and it has generated a lot of interest. But we are determined to shoulder the major responsibility of keeping the peace always and it is better to do this job than to leave it until it goes out of hand. God forbid," he said.
According to him, the exercise is a remarkable experience to the one that took place last year, adding that "I have seen confidence in all the officials that have briefed us and I have seen improvements in their understanding of the environment."
He said the army would continue to coordinate its activities to ensure that communities understand each other so as to provide the needed security and the right atmosphere for economic and social activities to thrive.
Also speaking, the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, said he was delighted by the effort of the Chief of Army Staff to launch the operation.
"This operation is very important because this problem in Southern Kaduna has attracted high levels of attention not just because of the gravity of the situation here, I think there are more serious crisis in other parts of the country, but this one has been given religious and ethnic coloration," the he said.
He expressed confidence that with the operation, the bandits that have been attacking farmers will finally be neutralised so that farming activities will resume as the rains approaches.
El-Rufai said the state government adopted a three-step plan to end the crisis.
"The first step is what you are seeing today, to stabilise the place by ensuring that the presence of security to protect lives and property and then to target areas of hideouts for the bandits and flush them out. Our hope is that, with the completion of these operations, we will relax the curfew.
"The second step which we have started concurrently is to arrest perpetrators of these crimes, whether it is those that write hate speech or go to churches and mosques and encourage others to kill or supply arms to young people and drug them so that they can kill, we have been monitoring them and we will be arresting and prosecuting them.
"This is what has been missing in this part of the state in the last 37 years, people have gotten away with murder and that has inculcated a culture of impunity, by God's grace we are going to change that because some people would be prosecuted for what is happening here.
"Everyone one that we lay our hands on would be brought before a judge," the governor said.