2023: "Nigerian Military Troops Kill 8,256, Arrest 6,978 Terrorists, Bandits, Destroy 1,374 Illegal Refining Sites, and Rescue 4,493 Kidnapped Hostages' - DHQ

The Nigerian Military on Friday has revealed the comprehensive report of the Joint Task Force Operational activities of troops for year 2023 and during the course of the year, troops neutralised Eight thousand two hundred fifty-Six (8,256) terrorists and bandits, arrested Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy Eight (6,978) terrorists, bandits and their collaborators, Four thousand Four Hundred and Ninety Three (4,493) kidnapped hostages were rescued while One thousand three hundred and Seventy four (1,374) illegal refining sites destroyed, and  a total of 105,510 fighters and their family members surrendered to troops while 9 Chibok girls were rescued in different locations across the Theatre.

Director, Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba made this known today 29th December 2023 at the end of year media briefing with Defence Correspondents at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

Giving the overview report on annual review of Joint Task Force Operational activities from January to December 2023 in the Geo-political zones, Maj. General Buba revealed that:

The security situation in the North East Zone remains relatively stable with the predominant security challenge being Boko Haram Terrorists/Islamic State West African Province terrorism. Despite the terrorists being substantially degraded by the military in conjunction with sister Services and security agencies, the terrorists have continued to conduct isolated attacks on civilian and military targets and also resorted to planting Improvised Explosive Devices to impede troop’s movement. Nevertheless, the military will not rest on its oars, but will continue to review Tactics, Techniques and Procedures to counter the terrorists. 

In the first half of 2023, troops consolidated on successes gained in 2022, by dominating the Joint Operations Area. During the period, Operation DESERT SANITY and Operation LAKE SANITY II, as well as Operation MOUNTAIN SANITY were conducted with the aim to further degrade the terrorists in their enclaves in SAMBISA Forest, TIMBUKTU Triangle, MANDARA Mountains and the Lake Chad Tumbus. 

These operations resulted in the neutralization of terrorist, the destruction of their camps as well as the capture of several vehicles, arms and ammunitions. Additionally, many hostages were rescued, while the freedom of action of the terrorist  was curtailed.  The terrorists fighting capability was degraded compelling them to surrender in droves. 

In the second half of the year, troops' doggedness reduced terrorist activities to ambushes against troops and the increased employment of Improvised Explosive Devices.  Thus, troops embarked on dismounted operations and farm protection patrols to clear proximate terrorists’ enclaves. 

Though the terrorist embarked on disruptive attacks. Troops decimated their fighting force to revived commercial activities, as well as the return of local authorities and Internally Displaced Persons to some localities. This has translated  to increase in farming activities in several Local Government Areas. 

Their fighting capacity of the terrorist is at low levels owing to ongoing military pressure by troops. Cumulatively, a total of 105,510 fighters and their family members surrendered to troops while 9 Chibok girls were rescued in different locations across the Theatre. 

Troops witnessed an evolving adoption of Improvised Explosive Device tactics by the terrorists. To this end, a total of 151 Improvised Explosive Device occurrences were recorded in the North East within the year. Among these incidences 30 were on own troops and 43 on civilians.  Troops detonated 78 Improvised Explosive Devices. Accordingly , there has been a remarkable improvement in the troop’s ability to defeat and destroy Improvised Explosive Devices planted by the terrorists which has reduced the fatalities on own troops.

Overall, during the course of the year, troops of Operation HADIN KAI neutralized 1,759, recovered 681 assorted weapons and 495,336 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 826 hostages among others.


The North-West Zone of the country witnessed threats from armed banditry, terrorists, kidnapping, and illegal levies due to large ungoverned spaces, forest reserves, and hills. Troops observed that the terrorists took advantage of the  porosity of northern border and remoteness of the North-West flashpoints that allowed them  to operate. 

Accordingly, the operational effectiveness of the North-West Theatre was reviewed and strengthened in the first half of 2023, with the deployment of additional formations, units, and Forward Operating Bases to boost manpower and seal gaps between deployments. Also, additional force multipliers and enablers such as Mine Resistance Ambush Protected vehicles, and other high-calibre weapons were injected to boost troops fighting power. 

Troops recorded successes based on the operational review. The terrorists then leveraged on their fluidity and knowledge of the terrain to operate. The situation caused the terrorist to switch tactics, thereby resorting to mass abduction of villagers and students to generate funds to continue their acts of terror. 

It will be recalled that on 22 Sep 23, bandits abducted 24 students of Federal University, GUSAU in ZAMFARA State out of which 14 were rescued by troops. Troops then  coordinated with school authorities across the zone to forge ways to ensure the safety of their students. Ever since, troops have been working assiduously to ensure safety of schools. 

Furthermore, troops observed that, the attacks and abductions of some persons in some isolated communities and towns by terrorist in the North-West zone could trigger an influx of Internally Displaced Persons to perceived safe areas with attendant humanitarian challenges. Troops also observed that the efforts by the terrorist to disrupt farming activities as well as imposition of levies on some villages before the farmers can access their farms, could result in food insecurity which would negatively impact socio-economic activities in the areas. Accordingly, troops emplaced contingencies towards supporting humanitarian relief operations and curb any insecurity as a result of the situation. 

Overall, during the course of the year, troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI neutralized 1,522, recovered 426 assorted weapons and 6,900 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 1,101 hostages among others.  While, troops of Operation WHIRL STROKE neutralized 977, recovered 198 assorted weapons and 1,666 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 571 hostages among others. 


The North Central Zone faced several security threats with the most prominent being armed banditry/terrorism characterized by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Notably, there were noticeable footprints of terrorist activities in the zone particularly in Kogi and Niger States while farmers-herders clashes were prevalent in Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Kwara States.  

The North Central region also experienced arms proliferation which served as the propellant for other criminal activities as a result of the ease of access to these arms stemming from the preponderance of illegal arms fabrication factories in Plateau and Kaduna States.

Troops observed that, numerous arms merchants operated, particularly from Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa States, supplying arms and ammunition to armed groups in their enclaves across the North-Central zone. These actions impacted the threat dynamics and disrupted  troop’s efforts in making the security situation appreciable.

Nevertheless, troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN and Operation WHIRL STROKE continued to dominate the zone with the right posture to defeat the threats.

In the first half of 2023, significant armed banditry and terrorist activities occurred in some Local Government Areas of Niger State, particularly in isolated communities and highways. The presence of potential hideouts and the constant relocation of armed bandits within the zone contributed to increased armed criminal activities. 

Equally, ethnic-based crises occasioned by persistent violent attacks and kidnappings were recorded in Plateau State. The ethno-religious volatility in the state defined the threat perception which is branded with cyclic violence between the locals and those of Hausa/Fulani extraction. The situation is prevalent in Barkin Ladi, Bokkos, Bassa, Riyom and Mangu LGAs.

Meanwhile, a significant feat was achieved through robust operational activities to stem the tide of the terrorists operating at the borders between Taraba, Plateau and adjoining areas in Bauchi State and parts of Southern Kaduna. Troops, non-kinetic efforts facilitated several peace initiatives between farmers and herders as well as indigenes and settlers.  The relentless efforts of troops in conjunction with other agencies checkmated illegal arms proliferation as many factories were dismantled and fabricators arrested. 

Until the recent killings n the Plateau during the Christmas, the highlighted measures visibly contributed to the relative peace in Plateau State, as well as the adjoining areas in Bauchi, Taraba and Kaduna States. Similarly, the activities of Operation WHIRL STROKE significantly checkmated armed banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States. 

The operations resulted in the arrest of several gunrunners, kidnappers, militiamen and other criminals as well as the recovery of caches of arms and ammunition. Unfortunately, it was discovered that some unscrupulous elements amongst troops were part of the illegal arms trading syndicates. While some have been arrested and adequately sanctioned, efforts are ongoing to rid the armed forces of other bad eggs.

The second half of the year witnessed conduct of kinetic and non-kinetic operations which significantly curtailed attacks between farmers and herders in Plateau State. Sadly, events turned gloomy with the attack on Bokkos LGA and some part of Barkin Ladi LGA on 23 December 2023. It should be noted that, Bokkos and Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State span about 2,315 Square Kilometres with over 350 villages, mostly dispersed. 

The distance between some of these villages and troops’ locations is over 90 kilometres and sometimes difficult to access because of the rugged terrain which are mostly inaccessible to vehicles.  Thus, affecting the reaction time to incidents, except when there is credible intelligence before the attack.

On the night of 23 December 2023, over 100 Marauding armed militants herders suspected to be mercenaries carried out a series of unprovoked attacks from multiple fronts on Kambarpeli village in Bokkos LGA of Plateau State while the locals were asleep. The militants  unleashed mayhem on the villagers before arrival of troops to the location.

Similarly, on 24 December 2023, at about 1900 hrs, troops received a total of 36 distress calls from diverse locations simultaneously. The distress calls reported a series of coordinated attacks by armed militant herders on isolated villages in Bokkos and part of Barkin Ladi LGAs of Plateau State. Troops responded to the calls and were able to intervene in 19 villages forcing the militants to withdraw. Unfortunately, the havoc had been committed before troops arrived the other villages.

Overall, during the course of the year, troops of Operation SAFE HAVEN neutralized 2,094, recovered 664 assorted weapons and 7,357 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 630 hostages among others.

Likewise, troops of Operation WHIRL PUNCH neutralized 874, recovered 300 assorted weapons and 1,731 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 533 hostages among others.


The South West Geo-political Zone has remained largely calm. Within the year, the zone has witnessed cases of armed robbery, illegal arms trafficking, kidnappings and farmers-herders clashes. It also witnessed violent protests orchestrated by the Central Bank of Nigeria Naira Redesign Policy and fuel scarcity. Illegal oil bunkering was also a challenge, particularly in Ikorodu, Atlas Cove, Badagry and Ogere.

Additionally, troops deployed to address reports of the migration of terrorists from the North East and North West into the South West Zone, particularly to OSUN State. Accordingly, troops sustained operations in the Old Oyo National Park and KAINJI Lake National Park to curb the influx of terrorist from Kogi and Niger States. 

Cybercrimes and drug peddling contributed to the threat picture in the SW Zone. However, the armed forces through joint efforts with other agencies, local authorities and increased public cooperation in sharing vital information, significantly doused these criminal activities in the zone. Meanwhile, the conduct of Operations AWATSE and MESA significantly stabilized the SW region.  


The predominant security threats in the South East Zone remains the nefarious activities of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra Eastern Security Network, which has increased its employment of Improvised Explosive Devices, known as “OGBUNIGWE”. The secessionists carry out attacks on civilians and security personnel as well as impose illegal sit-at-home orders. 

Furthermore, they preyed on lightly manned checkpoints and outposts to kill security personnel and cart away weapons for their terror activities. Troops unlocked the strategy of the group which led to the injection of additional manpower, military platforms and combat equipment in the area. 

Accordingly, troops operstions largely curtail the activities of the extremist group through a series of intelligence-based operations to dislocate their influential organizers and fighters. This stance has forced the extremist to relocate to the hinterlands to evade the troops’ onslaught. 

In the second half of the year, the activities of the group took on another dimension with the employment of surveillance cameras along the routes to their camps and increased employment of Improvised Explosive Devices. The violent extremist then embarked on apropaganda antics to sway gullible citizens for relevance. Notwithstanding, troops are on their trail and gaining the cooperation of stakeholders.

Overall, during the course of the year, troops of Operation UDO KA neutralized 464, recovered 684 assorted weapons and 5,825 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 518 hostages among others.


The security situation in the South-South Zone has remained fluid and characterized by cultism, kidnapping, youth restiveness and robbery. The militancy in the South-South zone has mutated into pipeline vandalism and oil theft.  

Notably, oil theft in the region continues to afford criminals the resources to fund their operations whilst constituting huge economic losses to the nation.  Relatedly, pipeline vandalism has continued to pose environmental hazards which are affecting the socioeconomic settings of the area. 

Similarly, there are attempts by Indigenous People of Biafra/Eastern Security Network to extend its reach into the region with the hope of extending dominance and relevance. Consequently, the re-invigorated Joint Task Force (South-South) Operation DELTA SAFE has stepped up offensives to clamp down on illegal oil bunkering and its associated criminal activities.

The second half of 2023 witnessed a noticeable decrease in illegal bunkering activities, which was attested to and commended by the NNPC senior management team. Furthermore, the operationalization of Forward Operating Bases SOBE and BIASE in Edo and Cross Rivers States helped to check criminal activities in the area.

Overall, during the course of the year, troops of Operation DELTA SAFE neutralized 874 suspected oil theft, recovered 300 assorted weapons and 1,731 assorted ammunition. Troops also rescued 533 hostages among others.

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