The air force said on Wednesday that Nigeria’s army will employ all available weaponry to eliminate the armed groups responsible for the country’s growing instability, amid worries that the crisis, if left unchecked, may affect a general election in February.
Nigeria now experiences attacks by Islamist rebels practically every day, along with kidnappings for ransom and the killing of people in the northwest.
However, the militants have carried out many strikes outside of their northeastern stronghold, sparking worries that their networks may be expanding to other regions of the nation.
According to a statement issued by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Wednesday, Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, the commander of the NAF, informed commanders at a meeting on Tuesday that the security environment “remains fluid and uncertain” due to armed groups traveling between northern states.
“Show no mercy and ensure they employ maximum firepower against terrorists posing security threats in the country,” Amao urged operational commanders.
The government branded bandits as terrorists earlier this year, but the military reaction has been patchy, in part because its resources are focused on insurgents. The bandits are now largely free to roam as a result.
The Nigerian government, according to President Muhammadu Buhari, has granted security forces “full freedom to deal with, and bring to an end, this madness,” late on Tuesday.
Buhari spoke following a series of attacks last weekend by gunmen in three northern states that left dozens of people dead.
Days after local reports of an attack at a checkpoint nearby the capital, the Nigerian police said on Tuesday that it has deployed more personnel to strengthen security in the area around Abuja.
Nigerians will elect a new leader in February to replace Buhari, who is unable to run for reelection after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the constitution. Security will be a key topic in that election.
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