The much awaited code-named “Operation Harbin Kunama II” – Scorpion Sting-, kick-starts Wednesday, about three days after the killings of 12 people on Easter Eve at a Church premise in Asso village, Gwong Chiefdom, Jema’a LGA, Kaduna state, by alleged armed Fulani herdsmen. The Nigerian Army begins the special military exercise in Southern Kaduna to checkmate the incessant killings and its attendant reprisals in the area.

Speaking at the event, the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, called on the people of the area to maintain the peace and avoid reprisal attacks. “I know it has been in the press and it has generated a lot of interest, but we are determined to shoulder the major responsibility of keeping the peace always and it is better to do this job than to leave it until it goes out of hand. God forbid,” Buratai said.

Mr. Buratai said the operation was to ensure security and safety of the people. He said that the first phase of Operation Harbin Kunama was conducted in parts of Kaduna and Zamfara States in 2016, adding that the operation, which is also to flush out bandits and cattle rustlers, will be extended to parts of Plateau, Kano and Bauchi states. The Army chief assured that the military would always assist civil authority to contain any crisis and stop it from escalating.

Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i, who graced the occasion, expressed happiness that two Army Forward Operation Bases were being established in Southern Kaduna in response to the agitation for such outfits in the last 20 years. The governor recalled that the crisis in that part of the state had dragged on for 37 years, adding that the most recent one began in May 2016. According to him, the crisis has attracted the highest attention because it had been given religious colouration.

Mr. el-Rufa’i, however, said with the conduct of operation Harbin Kunama II and establishment of two forward operation bases in Kafanchan and Kachia local government areas, the activities of armed criminals would be checkmated in the state. He vowed that the state government would not negotiate with sponsors and perpetrators of the crisis, but would identify; arrest and prosecute them.

Meanwhile, Kaduna state deputy governor, Arc. Bala Barnabas Bantex said their government has done a lot within the limited resources at their disposal to ensure peace in Southern Kaduna. Speaking at a town hall meeting with the theme: “The Impact and Implication of Terrorism and Ethno-Religious Crises to National Security Architecture,” held at New Choice Hall, Kafanchan, in Jema’a Local Government area of Kaduna State, he said:

“We hope this town hall meeting organised by the Nigerian Army will bring hope and lasting peace that we want in Southern Kaduna.

“To achieve this, we must avoid hate speeches. Some Politicians in Southern Kaduna have urged the people to defend themselves which I think is a wrong narrative.”

According to him,” In our own part as a government we are giving out huge amount of money in security that ought to have developed the roads, hospitals, schools and agriculture.”

While responding to questions on the closure of some tertiary institutions in southern part of Kaduna, Bantex said, “The government is working on an intelligence report,” adding, “we don’t want a situation where we will lose a single student just because of education.”