In furtherance of its aggressive efforts to rid the North West and North Central States of armed banditry and other forms of criminality through timely employment of Air Power and air mobility of forces for swift response, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 12 June 2020, commissioned a Helipad at Katari Village in Kachia Local Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State. The Helipad, along with its refueling facilities, was constructed by the NAF, in collaboration with the Kaduna State Government, to give the helicopter platforms operating along Abuja-Kaduna Highway and environs added endurance for efficient mission accomplishment. Today’s commissioning is coming up 24 hours after the commissioning of infrastructural facilities at 271 NAF Detachment Birnin Gwari for the well-being of personnel in the forefront of prosecuting the war against banditry in the area.
While commissioning the newly constructed Helipad, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Air Training Command (AOC ATC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Musa Muktar, disclosed that the Helipad was considered a necessary requirement for extending the NAF’s reach to enhance its Air Power projection in the North West and North Central Zones. He noted that this would add impetus to the Defence Headquarters (DHQ)-led joint Operation THUNDER STRIKE and afford greater flexibility for all agencies involved, as the helicopters would no longer need to return to either Abuja or Kaduna before refueling. The CAS stated further that the location of the landing facility was also carefully selected to complement the efforts of troops’ deployment thereby intensifying the provision of security to the locals and motorists.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar noted that, since the establishment of the Operation THUNDER STRIKE, over 4 months ago, the activities of kidnappers and bandits along Abuja-Kaduna Highway had reduced significantly. He stated that, with the establishment of the Helipad, the NAF was even better positioned to more effectively deal with kidnappers and armed robbers along the Kaduna-Abuja Highway as well as any other form of criminality within Kaduna State and its environs, working in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies. He similarly observed that the NAF’s air offensives in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Niger States, amongst others, had continued to add value to the current efforts at addressing insecurity issues in the North West and North Central Zones of the Country.
The CAS expressed the NAF's profound gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for his unflinching support to the Service towards the achievement of its desired Air Power goals. This support, he noted, was an indication that the whole Nation stands by the NAF and other security agencies in the fight against terrorism and other forms of criminality. “Much as we have sacrificed, the Service remains propelled by the goodwill of the support of all well-meaning Nigerians, to do more in securing our Nation. We must therefore continue to give our best at all times”, he added. While appreciating the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, for his constant support to the NAF’s operations, the CAS also commended the efforts of the AOC, officers, airmen and airwomen of ATC in ongoing operations in the Command’s Area of Responsibility.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Command Operations Officer ATC, Air Commodore Nnaemeka Ilo, stated that the new Helipad, whilst serving as a base for Sector 2 of Operation THUNDER STRIKE, would undoubtedly further boost the efforts in tackling insecurity in the area. He noted that the collective efforts of the Air and Ground Components of Operation THUNDER STRIKE, facilitated by the provision of timely intelligence from the public, had yielded tangible results thereby enabling safe passage of motorists along the Abuja-Kaduna Highway. “Since the inception of this Operation, our troops have succeeded in frustrating the efforts of the criminal elements. We are now adopting a new strategy of taking the fight to their various camps and not waiting for them to come to the main road before striking”, he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman Kachia LGA, Honourable Peter Agite, while commending the NAF leadership for its efforts in fighting insecurity, stated that the Helipad would go a long way in addressing security challenges not only along the Abuja-Kaduna-Kachia axis but also other parts of Kaduna State. He therefore called on all members of the affected communities to cooperate with the NAF and other security agencies by provide useful and timely information.
Also present at the event were the Commander Operation THUNDER STRIKE, Principal Staff Officers of ATC as well as Traditional Rulers and Community Leaders of Katari and surrounding Communities.