The Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Thursday, gave reasons why it will not speak on the shooting at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos State that left some #EndSARS protesters dead and others wounded.
It insisted that stating the military side of the incident may compromise the findings of the Commission of Enquiry constituted by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwolu.
The Lekki tollgate shooting, Tuesday night, has drawn widespread criticism from both world leaders, the International Community and Human Rights Organizations.
The Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, while fielding questions from Defence Correspondents, at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, said that the reports about soldiers shooting and killing protesters is mere allegation for now.
According to Eneche, who was reluctant to answer questions relating to the Lekki incident, urged Nigerians to remain calm and wait for the outcome of investigations by constituted panels.
In his words, “we are dealing with major operations, anything outside this is what is called Operation MENSA, I nmay not want to go too much into Operation MENSA because it is not a major operation. We have nine Operations and other subsidiary Operations which I have been directed to focus.
“Operation MENSA is strictly under the policy directive of the various states we have them all over the country and it is the oldest of all Operations. For this Operation you have the Military, Navy Air Force, Civil Defence and the Police put together. So these Operations are still standing and running and I am aware that the state governments are using them in all these capacities, that is internal security, the level we are now is internal security and that is why the Police proactively came out and then deployed all their Force package that are necessary to handle that so that is where we are. So if there was anything and if it is true, why am I saying if it is true because up to this morning, I even called analysts who have analyzed videos that were Photoshoped and put together, if not that I am not permitted, I would have forwarded it to you.
“The issue is not an operation that I can respond to. But I can tell you that it is an allegation for now, so let us not set the cart before the horse. If the matter was still open-ended I would have had I response for you but is is no longer open-ended, because immediately, not even up to five hours, before midnight the Governor of Lagos set up an Inquiry, so whatever we say now will not be fair to the Commission.
Meanwhile on update of military operatiins, Enenche, noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies have continued their major operations across the country with attendant successes, adding that various operations have progressed satisfactorily in all the theatres.
In the North West, he stated that “troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI have continued to record significant successes against the armed bandits in the North West zone of the country. The gallant troops have continued to exhibit continued resilience in the fight against armed banditry, cattle rustling and other sundry crimes in the zone.
“One of the feats recorded, troops repelled bandits attack at Rawayu village in Kurfi Local Government Area of Katsina State on 15 October 2020. In the course of the encounter, 4 armed bandits were neutralized while others escaped with gunshot wounds. In another encounter security operatives in conjunction with vigilantes neutralized one Abubakar Haruna, a suspected arms trafficker and recovered 600 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition along Tsakiya Road in Dutsinma Local Government Area of Katsina State.
“Relatedly, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI on 16 October 2020 arrested a suspected bandit collaborator at Sheme Junction in Bakori Local Government Area of Katsina State. Similarly, still on same 16 October, Forward Operating Base MAGAMI patrol team arrested 2 suspected bandits at Magami Market in Gusau Local Government Area of Zamfara State on their alleged involvement in an attack where one person was killed and 13 others were abducted on 21 September 2020”.
He continued that, “these successes recorded within the period are evident of the troop’s resolve, doggedness and determination to end the security challenges in the North-West zone. The general public is hereby encouraged to provide timely and actionable intelligence that will assist the troops in the operation”.
Meanwhile in the Northeast, he disclosed that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have remained resolute in the anti-terror war.
“In the North East zone of the country, troops of LAFIYA DOLE have remained resolute in their commitment to sustain the tempo in their operational activities. Between 15 and 21 October 2020, series of ground and air operations were conducted by the gallant troops.
“These include aggressive clearance operations, cordon and search operations, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions as well as artillery and aerial bombardments on terrorists’ hideouts at different locations in the theatre of operation. The cumulative operations of the troops with superior firepower have drastically denied the terrorists’ freedom of action and reduced their operational capabilities in the zone.
“Notably, on 16 October 2020, troops of Operation LAFIYA DOLE while on clearance operations encountered Boko Haram/ ISWAP at Sawa village in Nganzai Local Government Area of Borno State. During the encounter, 4 terrorists were neutralized while 4 AK47 rifles were recovered by the troops.
“As the Land Component conduct aggressive patrols and dominate the zone, the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE conducted series of air operations with a force package of Nigerian Air Force fighter jets and helicopter gunships as part of the activities of its subsidiary Operation WUTAR TABKI. Several air interdiction and surveillance missions were executed, revealing terrorists’ activities in various locations in the North East.
“This led to the destruction of terrorists’ hideouts and neutralization of scores of their fighters. On 15 October 2020, air strikes were executed on ISWAP elements’ locations with structures and logistics items, camouflaged under the dense vegetation at TudunWulgo and Tumbun Gini Villages on the fringes of Lake Chad in Borno State. The air strikes led to the neutralization of several ISWAP fighters and destruction of the identified structures with their logistics facilities.
“Similarly, on 18 October 2020, air interdiction missions executed by the Air Task Force led to the neutralization of scores of ISWAP members and destruction of their hideouts at Tsilala Village near Kaza in the Diwa general area of Borno State. In another development, sustained air strikes executed on 19 October 2020 by the Air Task Force, decimated several ISWAP training camps and their logistics storage facilities at Tumbun Barorowa, also on the fringes of the Lake Chad in Borno State”.
He maintained further that, “the downward trend in kinetics from the North East is an indication of own troops superior operational capabilities as well as cooperation from the populace. Thus, as the High Command of the Military appreciates the general public for their support, it further solicits their cooperation towards providing credible and timely information on terrorists’ activities to facilitate proactive engagements in our operations in the North East zone”.
On the North Central Zone, he revealed that, “the Armed Forces of Nigeria have continued to maintain the momentum of the fight against criminality through aggressive clearance patrols, ambushes and raids in the North Central Zone. These successful kinetic efforts were supported by Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activities in the form of stakeholders’ meetings amongst the various ethnic groups in the zone.
“Within the period under review, troops of operations WHIRL STROKE and SAFE HAVEN conducted several clearance operations at identified bandit’s camps. Notably, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE neutralized 2 armed bandits in Nasarawa State. The Joint Force while on patrol on 18 October 2020 around Kango and Adumata villages came in contact with a group of armed bandits leading to exchange of fire.
“The gallant troops overwhelmed the bandits thereby neutralizing 2 while others escaped with gunshots wounds. Troops also recovered one AK47 rifle, one locally made rifle, 6 AK47 magazines, 110 rounds of 7.62mm Special ammunition and assorted drugs.
“Furthermore, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE while on raid operations at River Yo-Yo and Tachar villages respectively had contact with armed bandits. Troops responded with superior fire power forcing the armed elements to flee into the surrounding bushes. The gallant troops engaged the bandits in hot pursuit following which 2 were neutralized.