Indications emerged yesterday that the federal government has decided to fully deploy military force in dealing with the brigands believed to be behind the killings in parts of the country, especially as they border on the crisis involving herdsmen.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the role of bandits and suspected mercenaries in what has become known as herdsmen/ farmer clashes and violence may have provoked the need for a fresh approach to dealing with the crisis.
According to informed sources close to the Working Group formed recently by the National Economic Council (NEC), the settled view in official circles is that the reported killings and violence recorded are the work of bandits and mercenaries since in many cases the herdsmen are often well-known in the communities where their cattle normally graze.
An authoritative source disclosed that this is one of the outcomes of the Working Group formed less than two weeks ago by NEC and chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with 9 governors as members.
The source who did not want his name in print said the decision followed government's "renewed bid to end the impunity that has marked the activities of the bandits resulting in several deaths and maiming especially the recent case of Benue State".
Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganguje, who read out highlights and decisions of the NEC to journalists alongside his Ebonyi counterpart, David Umahi, after the Council meeting had said the Working Group "will work in accordance with the President's commitment to ensuring that all perpetrators of violence are brought to book".
The highlights also noted that the Working Group which consists of the governors of Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Ebonyi and Oyo States actually commenced its work with a meeting presided over by the Osinbajo immediately after NEC at the presidential villa.
Our source disclosed that at the end of the Working Group meeting last week, "it was clear a major turning point had been reached in the management of the crisis and sufficient consensus recorded on the need to stop the impunity by engaging the military in a more decisive manner".
Keen observers of polity posit that the crisis also require a political solution considering the religious and ethnic tones that could easily become further exacerbated and possibly worsen the situation if proper and timely care is not taken.
To this effect, analysts contend that even with some critical opinions on the composition of the Working Group, the idea of gathering together governors across the country, including the states where the crisis have been intense to collaborate actively among themselves and with the federal government to address the situation had become sacrosanct.
Our source said, "Indeed one of the firm outcomes of the Working Group's meeting was the expressed readiness of the FG to locate and identify the bandits who perpetrate the killings and the violence, and using all necessary means including military involvement to flush them out of their hideouts in forests across the country as a definite move to secure the life and property of Nigerian citizens.
"The Working Group has also resolved to work with the FG to strengthen law enforcement and all security & intelligence agencies in the country so they can coordinate better in dealing with, checkmating, and preventing the crisis from further escalation".
On how to permanently address the basis of the herdsmen/farmers clashes, the source said the Working Group have taken the view that every state should by a rigorous consultative process with all stakeholders design its own solutions.
"The federal government will not impose any solution on any State. The vice president assured all that the federal government would certainly not imposed its ideas on the states and noted that fears being expressed on cattle colonies are misplaced", the source who was at the meeting disclosed.
Another authoritative source also confirmed that the military has already been engaged and would soon begin to implement decisive military steps to tackle the situation.
"Also the Nigerian Police and other security and military agencies have been asked to recruit more rank and file to tighten security in the troubled spots and in the country generally", he added.
New NIA DG Competent, Presidency Insists
Meanwhile, the presidency insisted yesterday that the new Director-General for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, is competent enough to do the job.
In a statement by the special adviser media, Femi Adesina, the presidency noted with dismay that a lot of half-truths, misinformation, and outright falsehood had attended the Abubakar's appointment.
The presidential spokesman faulted what he described as some of such unfounded stories, including that Abubakar had retired from the services of NIA as an assistant director because he failed promotion examinations twice, and had to quit, willy-nilly.
Adesina listed other claims to include that Abubakar is married to a Moroccan and so cannot hold such sensitive security position as well as the one that he was born and bred in Chad and holds dual nationality.
According to him, while these entire allegations had been widely disseminated on the social and some mainstream media, it is now necessary to set the facts straight with the formal assumption of office by Abubakar.
He said, "The new NIA DG retired from Foreign Service as Deputy Director (not Assistant Director) and three times during his career, had won Merit Award for competence and meritorious service. Failing promotion examination can only exist in the fecund minds of fiction writers. His last position before the new appointment was as Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Affairs where again he quietly proved himself.
"Abubakar's parents hailed from Katsina State, and had settled in Chad at a point in their lifetime. The new DG did his primary school in Ndjamena (then Fort-Lamy), but returned to Nigeria for his secondary and University education. He never at any time held Chadian nationality.
"Mr Abubakar's only wife hails from Katsina State, indeed, from the same community as the husband. The story of being married to a Moroccan can only be tale by moonlight, concocted by people who love a fib.
"The President appointed the new DG because he had worked closely with him in the past two years, and sincerely believes that he would add value to the NIA".