The Nigerian Army said on Sunday that Thursday’s operation of the military in Kpaidna community in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger helped save the lives of millions of Nigerians.
Maj.-Gen. Adeniyi Oyebade, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigeria Army, Kaduna, made this known to newsmen in Minna after a fact-finding mission to the community.
He said: “If the weapons recovered in the community had found their way outside the state, a lot of lives would have been lost.
“The operation came about because of intelligence report about gunrunners, who have been bringing and selling crude and sophisticated weapons to robbery gangs, who have been terrorizing people.
“Our actions saved the lives of thousands in Niger state and millions in Nigeria.
“Imagine if those weapons we recovered had been allowed to spread across the state and the country, many people would have been maimed.’’
He said that although the lives of some soldiers were lost during the operation, the army would not be deterred and distracted in its resolve to rid the state and the country of criminal elements.
“In the course of the engagement, we lost one officer and 11 soldiers.
“Seven bandits were killed, 57 suspects arrested and two police personnel were killed in Minna on Saturday in connection with the incident.
“Several weapons – crude and sophisticated weapons – were recovered.
“Imagine the number of lives that would have been lost if those weapons had found their way to other communities,’’ he said.
The GOC said that the Nigeria military and security agents were working closely in their resolve to secure the country.
He said that the joint operation of the security agencies in the state would not stop until the suspects are arrested and brought to book.
According to Oyebade, some of the items recovered from the suspects are three AK 47 riffles, ten locally made AK 47 riffles, nine local made pistols, six revolvers, 45 dane guns, ten clubs and cudgels, 41 sets of bow and arrows and 20 daggers.
Other items recovered are ten Bajaj motorcycles, 15 catapults, four empty cases of ammunition and 41 cartridges.
Six operational vehicles of the army were destroyed in the incident.
NAN also recalls that the cordon-and-search operation, which initially involved the army and the air force, has been expanded to include the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Department of State Security.