Monday, 5th June 2023

Ooni meets Buhari, warns of war over security crisis

By Terhemba Daka, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja) and Seye Olumide (Lagos)
19 July 2019   |   4:37 am
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, hinted yesterday that war could break out in the country unless the worsening state of insecurity is curbed. The monarch gave the warning after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari (right) and Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja II at the State House, Abuja… yesterday. 

The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, hinted yesterday that war could break out in the country unless the worsening state of insecurity is curbed.

The monarch gave the warning after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He told reporters following the closed-door meeting that he was at the villa on behalf of traditional rulers “to speak to the president with a view to tackling the fragile security situation in the country.”

He said: “Everybody is beating the drums of war. We don’t want war. Who can stand war? We want something better for our youths. We had better use them for something good rather than shouting war and anarchy. We don’t want that.

“The issue of insecurity in the southwest is real. In the remote and rural areas of the southwest, most of the bushes are now occupied by strange people. We, therefore, decided to work with the government to fish them out.

“We told that to the president and he is on the same page with us. Politicians should be careful not to throw things out of proportion. We should make sure things are right. The president has given good directives to security chiefs including the Inspector General of Police to visit all traditional institutions in the southwest.”

The Ooni said care must be taken so that exuberant youths do not “take the laws into their hands and go into all those places and start killing and maiming. We don’t want that. The drums of war are resonating too much and we are very worried.

“We need more federal apparatus to defend ourselves and reinforcement from the Federal Government. We understand more than anybody. We don’t want war and we want to work with the government to bring peace.”

On the alleged stigmatisation of the Fulani, he noted: “We are not saying all Fulani are bad. It’s about the bad guys working under the name of Fulani. It is not about stigmatisation; it is about separating the corn from the chaff. A lot of them are mixed up with the good ones. We are not saying all Fulani are bad; it’s about the miscreants hiding under the name of Fulani.”

This came as Buhari blamed rising security challenges in Africa on illegal financial activities, even as he charged intelligence and security agencies to tighten the noose on illicit flows.

He stated this in a keynote address at the opening session of the 16th Conference of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA)

“Frankly, we may never know the true extent of the damage. Estimates, however, suggest that African countries lose over $60 billion annually due to illicit financial outflows, a staggering amount for a continent in dire need of development finance.”

The president also challenged the conference to put measures in place that would ensure terrorists and criminals are denied access to financial systems. According to him, “Criminals and their collaborators cheat the system through various practices, including trade mispricing, trade mis-invoicing, tax abuse, and evasion, as well as money laundering.

“Several unfair commercial agreements and illegal resource extraction by multinational companies, in cahoots with their local collaborators, also create routes for illicit financial outflows.”

In his remarks, the chairman of the African Union Commission, Musa Faki Mahamat, said terrorism and radicalisation sponsored by illicit flows continuously affect growth on the continent, while ethnicity and religious diversities have been exploited for political gains.

Represented by the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, he said the Internet has been used as a valid platform for recruitment of people into criminal activities, even as terrorists now use sophisticated technology like drones.

But former President Goodluck Jonathan was optimistic that insecurity, especially in Nigeria, would be contained.

At a book presentation and launch of the Nicholas Okoh Foundation in Abuja yesterday, Jonathan said he believed that “the challenges we are having now will be subdued. Political and traditional leaders are talking and I believe the country will get out of this level of insecurity.”

On the same issue, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nicholas Okoh, appealed to the government to act expeditiously. He also urged “individuals not to take security initiatives because if we take our own security initiative, the country will be destroyed. The people that have the constitutional responsibility to maintain security should do so and quickly too before things get out of hand.”

While proffering solutions, ex-military intelligence officer and presidential candidate of Grassroots Development Party of Nigeria (GDPN) in the 2019 general election, Dr. Davidson Isibor, stressed the need for government to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the conflicts in the country and situate them appropriately before taking any step to address them.

“We are not likely going to win the war, if we continue to politicise it, ascribe ethnic sentiments and trade accusations and counter-accusations. Rather, we should characterise the conflict and give it a name. We must know those behind it and how their activities are affecting our nation. If they are foreigners and illegal immigrants, then let’s understand the fact that Nigeria is being invaded and we are under war and it must be treated and handled as such and not politicised.

In this wise, we must all rise up as a nation and in unity to defend our fatherland from foreign invasion.”

Another retired military officer, Col. Tony Nyiam, urged Buhari to change the heads of the armed forces and address the frustration of other senior military officers over stalled promotion.

He said: “The staying put of the service chiefs is a breach of the armed forces or related military act, and a breach of the 1999 Constitution. The instance of repeatedly not abiding by the law, which the president is inclined to, undermines the rule of law. This is a major cause of tension and in turn, poses challenges to national security.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Samson Ayokunle, has challenged the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association to call the violent ones among them to order, saying this is the only way people could trust them again.

The association also urged Buhari to treat the letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo with all sense of responsibility considering the issues raised in it.

Obasanjo had earlier in the week warned that the nation could collapse unless insecurity is checkmated.

Speaking to journalists yesterday in Abuja, Ayokunle said nobody hated Fulani herdsmen until they began to kill everybody. “If there is an enemy of any Fulani man, the Fulani man created the enemy for himself. They have been living with us for many years in our communities. Our children married them. They married our children. But they became too violent and started carrying AK47s, killing people. Let them call their people to order and ensure that they remove the enmity they have created around the average Fulani person.”