23 August 2017

Nigeria: End Threats to Nigeria's Unity, Buhari Orders Security Chiefs

Photo: The Guardian
President Muhammadu Buhari (right); presiding over a security meeting with service chiefs: Chief of Defence Staff, Lt General Abayomi Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadique at the State House, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security chiefs to end all threats to national security and protect Nigeria's unity.

He gave the order yesterday at a meeting with members of the National Security Council at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.

It was his first security council meeting in the last three months as he had been away in London on medical vacation.

In the intervening period, Nigeria's unity was tested to the limit with IPOB stepping up its campaign for a sovereign state of Biafra.

In response, a group of youths from the north gave the Ibos October 1 deadline to leave the region.

These, in addition to ethnic clashes and kidnappings, heightened tensions. Then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, in July spent two weeks holding peace meetings with regional leaders to douse tension in the country.

In a national broadcast after his return President Buhari said Nigeria's unity was settled and non-negotiable.

At yesterday's meeting with defence and other security chiefs, the president asked them take steps to end all threats and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.

At the meeting, which lasted three hours, Buhari instructed the security chiefs to carry out to the letter, his pronouncement in the nationwide broadcast on Monday that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable.

Addressing State House reporters after the meeting, Chief of Defence Staff Abayomi Olonishakin, said they spent three hours updating Buhari on "all security issues around the country, within the country and outside the country where our troops are."

He said the threats they were directed to tackle include terrorism, kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers clashes and the Indigenous People of Biafria (IPOB) agitation for secession.

"Of course, we have just updated him because he is aware of what's been happening. He has been receiving regular briefings from the acting president and he has also been going through the print media and electronic media to follow the happenings in the country."

The defence chief said the president directed them after the meeting on some areas they should look at in order to enhance their operations in the country.

On whether Buhari raised any question on the IPOB's secret service, Olonishakin said: "The issues of security, every security threat, all security threats were treated one after the other ranging from terrorism to kidnapping, herdsmen/farmers clash, to IPOB issue were all treated. Comments were made as to what to do as regards those issues."

Asked if forces would be mobilised to the southeast, he said: "Every security, like I said, has been treated and we are going to enhance our operations in all the areas we need to do that.

"Like I said, he has given the necessary directives which will be carried out by the military and the security agencies.

On whether Buhari was worried about the activities of Boko Haram in the northeast, Olonishakin said: "On the Boko Haram issue, you all know it is an asymmetric warfare. It's not that the Boko Haram have stepped up their game, it's just the issue of suicide bombing that has been the problem and of course, we're also working with the security agencies and the intelligence agencies to make sure that we address that menace."

The meeting was attended by Defence Minister Mansur Dan-Ali; National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno; Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, Chief of Air Staff, Abubakar Sadique; Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris; Director-General,Department of State Security, Lawal Daura and a representative of the Chief of Naval Staff.

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