Commander of Operation Safe Haven in Kaduna, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, says the military does not have enough manpower to tackle the violence in the southern part of the state.
Speaking with reporters after a security meeting presided over by Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, Okwokwo said the military is strategising on how to boost security.
The commander said more soldiers will be deployed in the area to tackle the “criminal elements” responsible for the killings and destruction in the area.
“What we have were attacks on some communities and reprisal attacks. You have Kataf youths, Fulani militias and the criminal elements of both sides,” Okonkwo said.
“Any incident is enough to spark off crisis in that area; there have been lingering disputes and animosities, banditry and cattle rustling there.
“We have reviewed our operations. We are going to close ranks. We are going to be more robust in the days to come. If one or two attacks took place, three were prevented. If you know the area very well, the communities are far and dispersed, they are several kilometres apart from each other. The terrain is difficult to access with vehicles.
“And we have limitation of manpower but of course you know that we are committed. But be that as it may, we are going to get more troops. We are strategising, we will deploy as much as possible to shorten our response time. Perhaps, we used to respond a bit late, but if we had not responded, we could have had more casualties.”
The commander called on communities in Southern Kaduna to embrace peace, adding that a conducive atmosphere will be created for them to meet, dialogue and resolve issues amicably.
Earlier, Nasir el-Rufai, the governor, said his administration has done everything within its constitutional powers to bring peace to the area.
‘’We answered the decades old demand for a permanent military base by working with the Federal Government to deploy a forward operating base of the Nigerian Army in Kafanchan,” he said.
“Our government purchased an estate to provide accommodation for a permanent mobile police squadron in the area. Also, deployed in area are troops from Operation Safe Haven and Nigerian Army Special Forces, complemented by two mobile police squadrons.”