An overhaul of the nation's security could be underway. Details emerged yesterday, following a closed-door meeting President Muhammadu Buhari had with Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara.Buhari, the day earlier, had visited Plateau State where alleged Fulani herdsmen massacred more than a hundred people on Sunday.
The emergency meeting was held at the President's official residence before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).The Guardian learnt the discussions were aimed at stopping the wanton killings in parts of the country.Move by President Buhari to reassess the security organ of Africa's most populated country will be watched with interest by the international community. Following the tragedy, the United States, in a statement by Department of State's spokesperson, Heather Nauert, had expressed "concern" over the "recent increase in armed violence against civilians," and called for "lasting solutions."
Briefing State House correspondents after the talks, Dogara said the President was mapping out a security plan. He, however, did not disclose any details.Condemning the Plateau killings, the Speaker said the proposed change would ensure such violence does not happen again.He said: "If you go to the northeast, you can see the level of devastation caused by Boko Haram. Everything resembling progress, from schools to hospitals to government institutions, everything has been pulled down. And we don't want a replication of this all over the country.
"The President has taken enough steps. These are security issues; they are not matters that you can discuss. But he has told us what he is doing; the reorganisation that he plans to put in place, to ensure that this doesn't happen (again)."Dogara advised Nigerians living in hotspots: "Peace must be taken as a project. It is something everyone must invest in. That is the only way we can live in a secure community and ensure that we progress as a country."
Briefing reporters earlier, Saraki said the meeting deliberated on strategies for ending the killings and preventing repeat."We met with the President and he explained how steps are being taken to forestall recurrence and restore sanity, because this is of great concern to him and to us also," he said.Later, yesterday, Saraki paid a visit to Plateau State to commiserate with the people, promising that Senate at its resumption next week would take a crucial decision on killings across the country.
But a group, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), insisted no overhaul would be complete without an immediate reconstitution of the top echelon of the country's security forces.
At a press conference, following an emergency meeting in Abuja, yesterday, the group declared: "The Nigerian government has serially breached its social contract with the people of the Middle Belt by its failure to protect their life and property. In very many cases, the circumstances surrounding the killings and destruction suggest complicity by the leadership of security and intelligence agencies."
According to MBF President Dr. Pogu Bitrus, "It is inconceivable that an attack of such magnitude requiring the kind of logistics involved could have been planned without any inkling by the intelligence agencies. It is absolutely impossible that for five hours the security agencies were ignorant of the attacks."The group called for the arrest of the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).MACBAN has in the past been accused of being behind similar attacks. Following the Plateau incident, the group stated that the perpetrators were on a mission to revenge the theft of cows.
In a statement, yesterday, the United Church of Christ in Nations, known as HEKAN, also called on Buhari to "urgently overhaul the entire nation's security outfit" over its failure to "curtail gruesome murders that have been going on unabated in many parts of this country."It urged the Federal Government: "Arrests should start with the Miyetti Allah leadership that has owned up to the attacks by its unguarded statement."Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised the alarm over planned attacks on Southern Kaduna communities and some states in the Middle Belt region.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, spokesman for CAN President Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, disclosed in a statement that places like Gumel, Dagwarga, Daddu, Mariri, Kagoro have been marked for attacks.He said: "In as much we have hints about the planned evil, we have the responsibility to alert the authorities, so that such situation can be averted. While we are prone to dismiss these planned attacks as products of the figments of imagination, we are constrained to call the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and other security agencies to be aware and take precautionary measures."
Spokesman of the association in the 19 northern states, Rev. Joseph Hayab, also reiterated the apprehension, saying: "We are only trying to alert Nigerians and the Federal Government over this inhuman and devilish plans by unpatriotic terrorists."