Go after terrorists, eliminate them, Buhari orders security heads
• Why we have been unable to rescue Abuja-Kaduna train captives, President breaks silence
• Says he’s having sleepless nights over Nigeria’s insecurity
• Fish out soldiers working for terrorists, CDS charges commanders
• Service chiefs celebrate Eid-el-Fitr with troops in Borno
• Buhari, Erdogan exchange Eid greetings
President Muhammadu Buhari has again charged heads of military and other security agencies in the country to rise up to their responsibilities and go after terrorists troubling the nation and eliminate them. He gave the charge yesterday, after joining other Muslims to observe the Eid prayers at the Mambila Barracks Parade Ground, Abuja, in commemoration of Eid-el-Fitr.
President Buhari, while responding to questions after he returned to the Presidential Villa from the prayer ground, said his administration would continue to work to make the country safe for Nigerians, adding that it is the duty of security agencies to know terrorists’ hideouts.
President Buhari admitted having sleepless nights over the security situation in parts of the country. He, however, promised to spare no efforts in dealing decisively and mercilessly with the criminal gangs.
According to him, it is important to make the country safe, especially as the rains have started, noting that farmers must be assured of their safety as they return to the farms, thereby securing the country’s food production.
“Heads of the services: Army, navy, air force, the Inspector-General of Police and so on, are very much aware of the situation. It’s their duty to know where the terrorists are and eliminate them,” he said.
In the 2023 general elections, the President reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to a free, fair and transparent process. When asked who he would like to hand over power to, the President said: “The person that Nigerians elect.”
President Buhari, accompanied by some of his family members and personal aides, arrived at the prayer ground around 9:00 a.m. Others at the praying ground were members of the Federal Executive Council, security chiefs, heads of para-military organisations and government officials.
The two-raka’at prayer was led by the Chief Imam of the Barracks, Muhammad Dahey-Shuwa, who spoke on the significance and spiritual values of the just-concluded Ramadan fast.
The President had, throughout the period of Ramadan, joined the Muslim faithful at the State House Mosque in interpreting the Qur’an (Tafsir). He had also used his evenings to host guests from a cross-section of the country to Iftar (breaking of fast).
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja, said the President used the occasions to practise the values projected by Ramadan.
These, according to him, include the promotion of discipline and personal sacrifice, care, and love for the less fortunate, promotion of national unity and support for the Armed Forces as they strive to end terrorism and other crimes in the country.
Monday’s Eid prayer was the first time the President would observe the session outside the Presidential Villa since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago.
Dahey-Shuwa, in his sermon, also prayed for peace and stability in the country, calling on citizens to continue to pray and support the nation’s security agencies in their fight against terrorism and violent crimes across the country.
In his message during the Eid service, the Chief Imam of Mambila Barracks stressed the need for genuine repentance from sin by all, love for one another, forgiveness, tolerance and constant prayers to Allah as the weapon against all adversities of life.
The Imam was also emphatic that extra efforts must be made in obeying the commandments of Allah, exercising patience at all times for his sake, as well as maintaining the competition in good deeds for humanity, nature, cooperation and brotherhood.
Special prayers were offered for an end to the various challenges bedevilling the country, peaceful 2023 elections, as well as sustainable national unity, stability and prosperity.
MEANWHILE, President Buhari has said efforts were ongoing to ensure the safe return of captives being held by bandits who attacked the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28. He said he had directed security agencies and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to provide more regular and detailed information to families.
The President said the government would explore every opportunity to secure the captives alive and unhurt. The Nigerian leader gave the assurance when he received some FCT residents at the State House on Sallah homage yesterday.
He said: “Many families are in a state of fear and anxiety on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those taken away after the tragic bombing of the Abuja – Kaduna train. I have directed security agencies to ensure the quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping.
“I urge the railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute by minute engagement with the families of the captives. This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push the military to find a safe return to their families. My aim is to see all those in captivity safely rescued.”
President Buhari said the bandits “are just pushing their luck, but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed.”
He told the visitors that the enemies are using civilians as human shields, thereby, making it difficult to confront them directly.
According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, don’t respect the rules of engagement and could resort to harming hostages when attacked.
He said: “They don’t care about killing their hostages if they come under attack. It’s a delicate situation that requires wisdom, caution and also patience.
“Any rescue operation that results in the death of any hostage cannot be deemed a success. The government doesn’t want this kind of tragic outcome. It’s a complex situation that demands proper handling.
“The primary objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages safely, unharmed and alive. Let me make it clear, however, that defeating the terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need human intelligence which is necessary to frustrate terrorist plans.”
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lucky Irabor, also lamented that recent developments have shown that some Nigerian soldiers aid terrorists in their activities.
In a letter dated April 4 and addressed to commanders of various operations, he decried the development, expressing worry over its immediate and potential implications.
The defence chief highlighted the arrest of a soldier by a covert Intelligence Team ‘for conniving with a confirmed terrorist informant known as Babagana Kura in Bama Local Government Area of Borno State, saying there were several other instances.
“Recent happenings in various TOOs reveal an increase in cases of aiding and abetting by personnel. This development was revealed in different reports of arrests of military personnel within a short period of time. It would be recalled that a soldier was arrested by a covert Intelligence Team for conniving with a confirmed terrorist informant known as Babagana Kura.
“Similarly, another soldier was arrested with 162 rounds of 7.62mm (special), 60 rounds of 7.62mm NATO and IEDD making materials concealed in his travelling bag without a valid ID card. The arrests of this personnel are indicative of insider action that has continued to aid the adversary, pertinently with immediate or potential impact on operations.
“In view of the foregoing, I am directed to respectfully request Commanders of various operations in the country to educate their personnel on the implications of collaborating with the enemy and take appropriate actions that would forestall such incidents. Please accept the assurances and esteemed regards of the CDS.”
THE Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Faruk Yahaya and Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Isiaka Amao, yesterday, celebrated Eid-el-Fitr by hosting troops of ‘Operation Hadin’ to a luncheon in Maiduguri, Borno State.
Yahaya said the Sallah gift he expected from the troops was to neutralise more terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other violent criminals. “I urge you all not to relent but to go with all vigour, more determination and more aggressiveness. We shall all be ruthless with terrorists and kidnappers.”
While noting that security challenge was not peculiar to Nigeria, the COAS assured that the troops on the ground in various theatres of operations across the country were equal to the task of containing the situation.
He lauded the support the military was getting from the President and Commander in Chief and assured the military’s loyalty and commitment to professionalism.
Yahaya paid respect to military personnel that paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight to keep the nation safe, pledging that their families will not be neglected. He also assured those who sustained injuries in the fight for proper medical care.
Also speaking, the Chief of Air Staff said the luncheon was to appreciate the efforts of the troops and boost their morale.
Amao, who lauded the synergy between the military and other security agencies in the fight against terrorism, said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) remained committed to providing the needed support to sustain the onslaught on terrorists.
“It is heartwarming to note the huge successes from both Operation Desert Sanity and Lake Sanity. Hopefully, sanity will soon be restored in Sambisa, Mandara Mountains, Timbuktu Triangle and Lake Chad region.”
In his remarks, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno, represented by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Umar Kadafur, lauded the service chiefs for always keeping in touch with the troops to boost their morale.
EARLIER, President Buhari, yesterday, exchanged Eid greetings with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the course of which they discussed bilateral relations and matters of global interest.
During their phone call, which was initiated by the Turkish leader, Presidents Buhari and Erdogan also covered a range of issues pertaining to the ongoing discussions between the two countries on the supply and local manufacture of military equipment as well as matters of strategic cooperation.
President Buhari used the opportunity to especially thank his Turkish counterpart for his commitment and support to Nigeria in the ongoing war against terrorism.
He also received Eid greetings from former Nigerian Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who congratulated him on witnessing the Sallah following 30 days of fasting. He prayed for peace, unity and progress in the country.
President Buhari urged Nigerians to create a hostile environment for criminals hiding in communities, admonishing that “by protecting criminals from exposure, you are endangering your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of exposure by the people.”
The President said a stronger synergy between security agencies and communities will make a huge difference in defeating banditry and terrorism in the country.
He allayed fears that bandits will grow to yet another big challenge as faced by the Boko Haram threat, assuring that the administration will not allow such to happen.
“This administration has allocated huge resources to improving the capacity of our security forces by timely giving them adequate equipment and improving the welfare of personnel to boost their morale.
“Abuja has witnessed remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past, terrorists had made it almost impossible to conduct our normal lives. Road barricades had overrun the capital city and people had to pray in fear because of the anxiety of terrorist attacks. No place in FCT was beyond the terrorist, not the United Nations building, nor the Police Headquarters.
“But today, the situation is no longer so. We have significantly weakened and crippled the capabilities of the Boko Haram terrorists so much that they no longer have the ability to seize and occupy any Nigerian territory without being repelled by our gallant troops.
“Of course, we can’t say that the terrorists are one hundred percent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to seize our territory. This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary for finally defeating them. The rate at which the terrorists are giving up their weapons and surrendering to our troops is a significant and welcome development,” he told FCT residents.
The President commended the FCT Minister, Mohammed Musa Bello, for diligently ensuring the capital city stays safe and attractive while thanking the FCT residents for visiting the Presidential Villa. He added that the welfare of the people of Abuja and all Nigerians remains paramount.