Abuja — Obviously embarrassed by public anger over armed banditry in Zamfara and other states in the North-west, the federal government yesterday ordered all foreigners engaged in mining in the affected states to quit within 48 hours.
Addressing journalists in the State House, Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, said anybody who engaged in mining activities in the states henceforth, would have his licence revoked.
The acting IG was flanked at the press conference by the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari; Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; and Director General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Abubakar.
Adamu, who said security agents were on top of the security crisis in the region, appealed for cooperation from traditional rulers and residents of the affected communities.
He decried the use of social media to spread fake news over the development and appealed to citizens to exercise restraint.
Adamu added that the decision to stop mining activities in flash point areas in the North-west was dictated by intelligence, which he said established a link between bandits and miners.
"In the face of intelligence report that has clearly established a strong and glaring nexus between the activities of armed bandits and illicit miners, with both mutually re-enforcing each other, the Federal Government of Nigeria has directed [that] mining activities in Zamfara and other affected states are hereby suspended with immediate effect," he said adding: "Consequently, any mining operator who engages in mining activities in the affected locations henceforth will have his licence revoked [and] all foreigners operating in the mining fields should close and leave within 48 hours."
Adamu explained that the recent launch of "Operation Puff Adder," by the police in conjunction with the military was a full blown offensive against banditry in the North-west.
According to him, the operation was launched with the aim of reclaiming every territory under the control of bandits, flushing out the culprits and consequently bringing them to book.
He expressed the commitment of security operatives to security of lives and property until normalcy is restored.
"Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out," he said.
NAF Fighter Planes Kill 25 Bandits in Air Strikes
Meanwhile, Nigerian Air Force fighter planes have bombarded a logistics base of the bandits at Ajia Wonaka in Zamfara State, killing dozens of them.
An update provided by NAF spokesman, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, said the air strikes followed intelligence reports that the bandits were using a compound within Ajia as a logistics store.
He stated: "The Air Task Force (ATF) for Operation Diran Mikiya has successfully destroyed an armed bandits' logistics base at Ajia and neutralised dozens of armed bandits at Ajia and Wonaka in Birnin Magaji Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State.
"The operation was executed sequel to human intelligence reports indicating that the armed bandits were using a compound within Ajia as a logistics store to support their operations.
"Consequently, the ATF dispatched a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Alpha Jet, supported by an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform, to attack the compound scoring accurate strikes on the target and causing it to erupt into flames, which engulfed the structures and resulted in the neutralisation of some of the bandits.
"Few survivors, seen fleeing the vicinity of the target area, were taken out in follow-on attacks while others, who managed to escape the area, were tracked to Wonaka and equally neutralised. Independent human intelligence sources subsequently confirmed that more than 25 armed bandits were neutralised in the attacks on the two locations.
"The NAF, working in close coordination with sister services and other security agencies, will sustain its operations to neutralise the armed bandits and deny them freedom of action in the North-west."