By G9ija

President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled Made-in-Nigeria Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to aid the military’s counter-terrorism and related operations nationwide.

The facilities, named Ezugwu MRAP, were produced by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), an indigenous firm for the Nigerian Army, and launched by the president at the opening of the 2019 Chief of Army Staff Annual Conference yesterday in Kaduna.

Speaking at the event, Buhari praised the efforts of the armed forces in routing terrorists and combating insurgency in the ongoing operations in the North East.

He pledged that his administration would continue to support the military to achieve its goals in addition to prioritising their welfare and that of their families.

On the Ezugwu MRAP, which will be mass-produced by DICON, the president said: ‘’I note the collaborative efforts of the Command Engineering Depot with relevant indigenous organisations to promote local content towards developing our military-industrial complex.

‘’I am glad that the production of Ezugwu Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles which I am unveiling today (yesterday) will join the infantry patrol vehicles that were earlier produced as testimony that our efforts are yielding positive results.

‘’Additionally, your efforts in terms of capacity building, training and conduct of exercises are quite commendable.”

He went on: ‘’I am aware that there are ongoing field exercises such as Atilogwu, UDO 1, Exercise Akpatuma 2 and Exercise Crocodile Smile 4 among other civil-military cooperation activities.

‘’These are impressive efforts geared at enhancing the operational efficiency of the army as well as facilitating a conducive security environment for social and economic activities to thrive.”

The president also paid tributes to military personnel who had paid the supreme sacrifice in defending the sovereignty of the country.

He urged the soldiers to abide by the ethics, ethos and code of conduct of the military while ensuring that human rights and international humanitarian laws are promoted and respected during operations.

Reaffirming his administration’s resolve to ensure the security and safety of law-abiding citizens, Buhari stated: “This is a commitment we have made and will continue to keep.’’

He lauded efforts of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, in transforming the Nigerian Army.

“He has keyed into the Federal Government’s Change Agenda and I particularly commend his thrust in the critical areas such as innovative and inventive approach to produce military hardware, infrastructure development, restructuring and reorganisation among others with significant results particularly in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations and other operations across the country,” he added.

Later, the president inaugurated the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna.

The medical facility was upgraded to a Level 4 United Nations hospital to cater for the medical needs of the military and civilian population in the country.

In his goodwill message, Governor Nasir El-Rufai said Kaduna was privileged to play host to several military formations, units, schools and establishments, adding that this was beneficial in fostering synergy between the military and the civilians.