The Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai in Gusau on Thursday said that intelligence reports indicated that many cattle rustlers and bandits were already fleeing the forest in Gusau. Buratai made the disclosure during activities to mark the Army Day celebration in Gusau.
“We have also got the report that many of the criminals are already on the run in the forest.
“We understand that they are trying to escape from the ongoing operation but this will not deter us from going on with the operations,” he said.
He noted that the Army would sustain the offensive against the criminals until all known enclaves in the forest were cleared.
The Army chief assured the people of the state and residents of the entire North-West that the present efforts would address the security challenge in the region.
On his part, Gov. Abdulaziz Yari said local vigilantes and members of some border communities in the state had reported seeing some of the criminals escaping from the Dansadau forest.
He said some of the bandits had informed the communities that they were fleeing their enclaves in the forest with plans to return in the future.
Yari said there was a need for the military to establish a unit near the troubled communities to forestall a re-occurrence of the attacks on communities by the criminals.
“We have received reports from our people in the border towns and villages about the mass movement of the criminals.
“Many of them are reported to have escaped to villages across the border outside Nigeria for fear of the Army.
“Our worry is that they may return after the soldiers leave, they indeed wrote to the communities that they were leaving to return after the military operation.
“The solution, therefore, is for the Federal Government to establish an Army unit in the state to deter these criminals from returning,” he said.
He commended the efforts put on ground so far to address the menace of cattle rustling and armed banditry.
Yari said the state had lost so much to the activities of both rustlers and armed bandits in the state.
Scores of bandits and cattle rustlers have been arrested by the Army in recent operations in the North-West.
Thousands of cattle have also been recovered in different operations by security agencies in the region.