Again, Buhari orders service chiefs to tackle banditry, insurgency
• Demands increased surveillance, patrol on Abuja-Kaduna highway
• Directs them to provide adequate security during Yuletide
• Hails Nigerian’s emergence as VP Interpol Africa
• Declares Anambra guber poll free and fair, says 2023 not threatened
• We’re afraid, worried over security threats on Abuja-Kaduna highway – Kaduna Reps caucus
Bothered by intractable security problems all over the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, for the umpteenth time, gave marching orders to the security chiefs to go after insurgents, bandits and terrorists, at the meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), saying they must not rest until all Nigerians sleep with their eyes closed.
The President also ordered security agencies to intensify surveillance and patrol activities along the Abuja-Kaduna Road. Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the meeting.
The meeting availed the President of fresh insights into security developments across the country. The government is fighting different wars, contending with ISWAP and Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast, bandits in the Northwest and North Central, as well as separatist groups in the Southeast and Southwest to contend with.
In attendance were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.) and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor.
Also at the meeting were the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, and wife of ADC to the President, Dr Hindatu Bashir.
Aregbesola said the President expressed happiness over the free and fair gubernatorial election held in Anambra State, which saw the emergence of the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Charles Soludo, as governor-elect and the roles played by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). He reassured me that nothing would threaten the 2023 general elections.
According to him, “the police and other security agencies had been mobilised to intensify surveillance, patrol and pursuit of criminals. And it is not only about Abuja-Kaduna highway.
“Yes, Abuja-Kaduna belt was discussed specifically, but we appreciate the fact that we are in the season of festivity. So, all agencies are committed to providing security for Nigeria and the maintenance of law and order.
“They have been ordered to improve their activities, intensify surveillance and minimise, if not eliminate, any threat to law and order anywhere in Nigeria.”
Asked if the military or the police will be taking the lead, the Minister said the police are the lead agency on internal security: “Therefore, maintenance of law and order will start with the police and then extend to all the other security agencies.”
Quizzed on the issue of bandits collecting ransom, taking over and administering some areas in the country, he said specific orders have been given to all our security agencies, adding that Nigerians should expect to see an improved response to all those challenging the sovereignty of Nigeria in whatever form.
“The council today took a firm decision on what to be done and I can assure Nigerians that with the charge from the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces today, there will be an improved response to all forms of criminality in any part of Nigeria.
“The armed forces of Nigeria and other security agencies, intelligence organisations must not rest on their oars, as we are making progress in our effort to eliminate insurgency, banditry, kidnapping for ransom, and all the other criminalities because Nigerians deserve to live in peace,” he affirmed.
Asked what will be different since the President had given several charges in the past but the insecurity persists, Aregbesola said: “What I know is that for as long as there’s life, we must not rest until our objective of making Nigeria safe for Nigerians is made possible.
“So, I am convinced that with the renewed charge to our security agencies, from the military to the police, intelligence organisations and all other security forces, certainly Nigerians will feel and live better going forward.”
Giving details about the issues discussed at the meeting, the Minister said that Buhari, while commending INEC and the security agencies for ensuring a safe governorship election in Anambra, charged them not to rest on their oars as the country is still being ravaged by criminal and terrorist activities.
“While appreciating the successes and gains made by all the security agencies from the armed forces to the police and other intelligence organisations, as well as sister security agencies, he believes that more must still and should still be done.
“But he commended all of them for the progress we are recording on all fronts. The President was particularly happy with the fact that a free and fair election was made possible by the INEC and our security agencies.
“He was quite happy that the combination of INEC and the security agencies, from the military to the police and all the other agencies made that possible with the support of the people of Anambra and the government of Anambra. And we all saw the outcome,” he said.
Speaking further, the Minister said the council was briefed about the election of a Nigerian, AIG Garba Umaru, the Head of INTERPOL National Central Bureau, who emerged out of four other candidates as the Vice President (Africa) and Executive Committee Member of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL).
He said: “This means that a Nigerian today represents the 54 African nations at the Interpol level. The election took place today, a couple of hours ago. And he emerged as the vice president of Interpol in Africa.”
Before the commencement of the meeting, the President with the assistance of Vice President Osinbajo, decorated his Aide-De-Camp, Lt Col Yusuf Dodo, with his new red neck rank of Colonel.
MEANWHILE, members of the House of Representatives from Kaduna State have raised the alarm over security threats, kidnappings and killings along the Abuja-Kaduna highway. Speaking under the aegis of the Kaduna caucus at a press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, the lawmakers said the situation was frightening.
Garba Datti, who read the text of their address, called on the security agencies to deploy personnel on the roads to tackle the menace.
“The state of insecurity in Nigeria has been a matter of grave concern to all well-meaning patriots for several years now and this has come in form of militancy, insurgency and banditry, among others. This state of insecurity has severely affected travel on Nigerian roads as Nigerians have either opted to remain where they are or opt for means of transportation that are outside their means or convenience.
“Not so long ago, there were concerning incessant incidents of banditry along the Abuja-Kaduna highway and measures were taken that appeared to have minimised the threat on that stretch of road. It was hoped that that would be the beginning of the end of the challenge of insecurity on our roads as it affected the entire country. Sadly, this has not been the case.
“Instead, the phenomenon of banditry has steadily and increasingly found its way back to the Abuja-Kaduna highway.
“In the last five days, it has reached its deplorable and lamentable peak as a spate of attacks, killings, abductions, kidnappings and robberies has engulfed the Abuja-Kaduna highway resulting in a crisis of frightening and calamitous proportions.
“On Sunday, November 21, in the most publicised but certainly not the only one of such daring attacks over the last few days, a retired Director of Protocol of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and a governorship aspirant in Zamfara State, Hamidu Sagir, was brutally killed while other yet-to-be ascertained number of commuters were abducted in terrifying circumstances.
“This seemingly underestimated onslaught on our individual, collective and national security has continued unabated in spite of its seeming predictability. It is obvious that this should not be the case.
“The Abuja-Kaduna highway is the critical gateway between the North and the South of Nigeria and the major link road to the Northwest and Northeast as well as to many neighbouring countries. Indeed, the Abuja Kaduna highway is the key outlet for the transportation of persons, goods and services across Nigeria and this is evident in the extraordinary traffic on it round the clock.
“For these and other reasons that cannot be accommodated in this statement, it is imperative that the security state of the Abuja-Kaduna Highway must be restored at once.
“We must caution that the situation on the highways, particularly the Abuja-Kaduna highway, if not immediately rectified, spells doom for the economy and social life of Nigerians contrary to section 15(1) of the Constitution, which mandates the Nigerian state to provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout Nigeria as well as section 41(1), which guarantees the right to freedom of movement throughout Nigeria to every Nigerian.”