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We’re happy world is with Nigeria against terrorism, Buhari tells UN chief

By Terhemba Daka (Abuja), Njadvara Musa (Maiduguri) and Rotimi Agboluaje (Ibadan)
05 May 2022   |   4:18 am
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Abuja, said Nigeria remains grateful to the United Nations (UN) and some world leaders for their steadfast partnership in fighting terrorism, adding that the spotlight on Russia and Ukraine could easily distract from other pertinent global challenges.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, delivers a speech after laying a wreath at the United Nations house in Abuja in honour of victims of the 2011 bombing attack at the UN House, in Abuja on May 4, 2022. Kola Sulaimon / AFP

• Guterres lays wreath for 2011 UN bomb blast victims
• UN to support reintegration of 50,000 repentant terrorists in Borno
• Your trip a charade without visiting theatres of criminality in Northwest, Akintoye tells Guterres
• 60,000 killed in Northern Nigeria due to insecurity, says CDD

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, in Abuja, said Nigeria remains grateful to the United Nations (UN) and some world leaders for their steadfast partnership in fighting terrorism, adding that the spotlight on Russia and Ukraine could easily distract from other pertinent global challenges.

President Buhari, who received the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, at the Presidential Villa, noted that the country and the African continent were already concerned that the attention on Russia and Ukraine would crowd out other issues.

The President said terrorism remains a threat to global peace, security and progress, with many already killed, while millions had been displaced by the insurgents. “When we assumed office, the Northeast was the major security problem we inherited in 2015, but we have been able to make people understand that you cannot kill people and shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great!).”

President Buhari told the UN scribe that the government had started a gradual, but steady process of resettlement and reintegration where citizens get encouraged to return to their farms, businesses and other pursuits in life.

In his remark, the UN scribe, who was in Borno State on Tuesday, said what he saw was a departure from the pictures of hopelessness and despair painted, adding that ‘people exuded hope.’

“Yesterday, I visited Maiduguri, where the United Nations is supporting the internally displaced. I was deeply moved by their stories and struggles. These include, the struggles with hunger, with the World Food Programme projecting 4.1 million people in the Northeast of Nigeria to be food insecured in the upcoming lean season.”

Guterres said the United Nations had called for an additional $351 million as part of the overall $1.1 billion for the humanitarian response plan for Nigeria.

“But despite all they have seen and endured, the people I met remain hopeful and committed to returning to their communities and resuming their lives. To that end, I welcome the establishment of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Returns and Resettlement of Displaced Persons in the Northeast.

The UN chief said discussions with President Buhari also touched on laying groundwork to ensure peaceful and democratic elections next year – and the full participation of Nigeria’s women and young people.

Guterres left the Presidential Villa for the UN House, where he said the body would never forget its staff killed in the August 2011 bombing in Abuja during a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of the bomb blast victims.

On August 26, 2011, a car bombing at the UN building led to the death of more than 20 persons, including 12 UN staff.

Guterres described the deceased as ‘unsung heroes’ who will continue to be an inspiration “as we carry their vital mission forward more than 10 years on.

“August 26, 2011 is a date that is burnt into the collective memory of the UN family. On that tragic date, an appalling terrorist attack on the UN House left 23 UN employees and civilians dead, and more than 60 injured,” he said.

“Those staff members who lost their lives were unsung heroes who proudly served Nigeria through our organisation’s work. They worked for organisations that continue to support Nigerians – UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNODC. But they are also mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters and cherished friends. All but one were Nigerian nationals and today, we mark their tragic death from that dark day. We will never forget them.”

He thanked the Federal Government for renovating the UN building, adding that the UN stands in solidarity with the victims’ families as well as Nigerians who face terror attacks in their communities.

SPEAKING earlier in Borno State, Guterres pledged to support the disarmament, de-radicalisation and reintegration (DDR) of repentant Boko Haram terrorists into Borno communities. He also called for the safe and ‘dignified’ return of people displaced by conflict, as authorities close camps and urge people to go back to their communities.

According to Governor Babagana Zulum, over 50,500 combatant and non-combatant terrorists have surrendered along with their families since 2021. The counter-terrorism operations have recently led to the massive surrender of insurgents from Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad region.

The UN Secretary-General, who yesterday, led a high-powered delegation to the repentant terrorists and the Gubio Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Maiduguri, said: “You’ve put in place an effective and efficient mechanism of fighting the terrorists including the closure of camps and return of IDPs to communities.”

There are over 33,000 IDPs in the camp, displaced from 10 Local Government Areas of Gubio, Gwoza, Magumeri, Nganzai, Kaga, Marte and four others.

He noted that investing in the livelihoods of victims of insurgency and reintegration of repentant Boko Haram terrorists remain the only way to end the war.

He, therefore, called on the international community to support the state government in addressing the humanitarian needs of IDPs and returnees.

More than 40,000 people have been killed and around 2.2 million people displaced by over a decade of fighting in the Northeast between the military and Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

BUT a Yoruba self-determination nationalist and leader of Ilana Omo Oodua Worldwide, Prof. Banji Akintoye, yesterday, challenged the visiting UN chief to make his fact-finding visit to Nigeria meaningful, impactful and worth the while by seeing facts on the ground.

In a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists by his Communications Manager, Mr. Maxwell Adeleye, the Yoruba leader said Guterres must resist attempts by the administration to pull the wool over his eyes, sell him dummies and lead him by the nose in the wrong direction.

The History professor said: “The UN chief is being shielded from the truth and reality on the ground. He has been diverted from the theatres of atrocious bestiality of killers, murderers, Fulani terrorists, herders and kidnappers that the Buhari administration has treated with kid gloves.”

Akintoye lamented that the coming of the UN scribe to Nigeria, which would have been used to get first-hand information of the time-bomb that the Nigerian situation truly is, did not achieve much.

AT least, 60,000 people have been killed in 18 Northern states in the last 10 years due to insecurity, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) has said.

According to a new report by CDD titled ‘Multiple Nodes, Common Cause: National Stocktake of Contemporary Insecurity and State Responses in Nigeria,’ in the Northwestern states of Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara, about 14,000 people lost their lives between 2011 and 2021.

The report, which also measured conflict-related casualties in the North Central states of Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), revealed that around 11,000 people were killed in the period under review while about 35,000 people were killed in Northeast states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe.