By Temitope Ponle
Abuja – The Federal government has deployed drones in the fight against insurgency in the Northeast part of Nigeria.
The deployment followed the recent killing of some Nigerian soldiers fighting insurgency in the region who were ambushed by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The Nigerian delegation made the revelation in its Country report presented to the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja on Friday.
The report presented by Mr Sani Rano, also contained losses to the country from the incessant farmers/herders clashes.
He said that hundreds of thousands of Nigerians had been devastated by the clashes with many displaced.
The deployment of the drones followed an attack on the Nigerian forces in Borno by the insurgent group, an attack which led to the killing of no fewer than 44 soldiers, the report stated.
The delegation, in their report, informed the parliament that the insurgent group killed 44 soldiers in three military bases in Borno state: Metele, Gajiram and Mainok.
The report said that the country in reaction to the attack had deployed the drones to constantly survey the area, even as it had set up a multi-national joint task force to curb the menace.
“It is worth mentioning that Nigeria has constituted the Multi National Joint Taskforce (MNTF) made up of Chad, Benin, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria, in fighting Boko Haram.
“It is a multinational formation comprising of equipped units, mostly the military aimed at containing the ravages of terrorism and armed insurgency.
“Presently, drones are patrolling Nigeria’s borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon as instruments for intelligence collection.
“The Nigerian government is working closely with the Cameroonian government with the aim of negotiating efforts in enabling more Cameroon Boko Haram members to surrender,” the report said.
The report however stated that before the recent attacks on military bases, the Nigerian troops had made good progress in tackling insurgency and reopening towns previously seized by Boko Haram.
It said that Nigeria had gone into partnerships with other countries including the U.S. and UK, France, Germany, ECOWAS, AU and the UN which had led to the purchase of weapons including 12 Super Tucano Aircraft.
On the herders/farmers clashes, Rano stated that no fewer than 1,300 persons were killed in Nigeria.
The number according to the report was six times more than the number of persons that had been killed by Boko Haram as at the time of the report.
He said that apart from the loss of lives, Nigeria as a country was also losing billions of Naira on importation of food which would have been produced locally if there were no crisis.
“An independent report from the international crisis group cited 1,300 deaths in the region, due to the conflicts between herders and farmers.
“The ongoing conflict between farmers and cattle herders is costing Nigeria at least $16 billion in potential revenues annually,” he said.
Rano explained that clashes were due to accusations made by the farmers against herdsmen of failing to control their cattle and allowing them to damage their crops.
He said the herdsmen also accused the farmers of stealing and slaughtering their cattle, adding that the clashes that ensued led to the killing of many, including innocent bystanders.
The report noted that the Nigerian government had, however, taken steps to address the crisis and the senseless killings.
The Nigerian Army as well as the Police were said to have deployed intelligent and surveillance to avert any re-occurrence especially with the coming of the dry seasons when the herders would need to search for fresh pasture. (NAN)