The police on Friday announced the commencement of a new operation to check banditry and kidnapping.
Inspector-General Mohammed Adamu said ‘Operation Puff Adder’ will tackle violent crimes, especially banditry and kidnapping in Kogi, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara.
The Abuja-Kaduna Highway, which has witnessed several kidnappings in recent days, will also see massive deployment of personnel as part of the operation, police said.
Mr Adamu said the armed forces and the State Security Services are also expected to contribute “well-trained, well-equipped and well-motivated personnel” towards the exercise.
Mr Adamu launched the exercise in Katari Bishin District, Abuja – Kaduna Expressway, where cases of kidnapping were reported throughout this week.
Dozens of motorists were feared kidnapped in a string of ambushes, including the one that held the travellers to a standstill on Monday.
On Tuesday, travellers were attacked at the same portion of the dual carriageway, during which a top Nigerian Meteorological Agency official was seized.
Many of those kidnapped in both Monday and Tuesday’s attacks had not been freed as of Friday night, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.
On Thursday, the convoy of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna ran into an active kidnapping operation along the highway. Mr el-Rufai’s office said in a statement the governor’s security detail help thwart the attack.
Public support needed
Mr Adamu said the police understood the severity of the crisis, but might not be able to successfully curb it without the support of locals.
“No Police Agency anywhere in the world, no matter how well-trained, equipped or motivated, can solely achieve its community security and safety mandate without the support of the community,” the police chief according to a Friday night statement by police spokesperson, Frank Mba.
He asked road users to be patient when they come in contact with officers deployed in the operation, saying that they should anticipate search of vehicles and passengers by uniformed men.
Mr Adamu launched ‘Operation Puff Adder’ barely four days after the Nigerian Army deployed its personnel for the phase three of ‘Operation Harbin Kunama’ to tackle bandits in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto.
The police did not explain how long the exercise would last. Mr Mba did not return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for clarification Friday night.
It was also unclear whether the police’s exercise would run in parallel with others already underway, especially ‘Operation Sharan Daji’ that was launched last year to combat bandits in Zamfara and other parts of the North-west.
Although the operation has been led by the military since its launch, the police also regularly contribute personnel, and recorded personnel casualties alongside the Nigerian Army.