The Federal Government has described as worrisome the prevailing insecurity in the North East and parts of the federation, promising to tame the menace headlong.Briefing State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and heads of security agencies at the Presidential Villa yesterday, the Minister of Defence, Brig.-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd), stated that the gathering critically analysed the situation with a view to taking a more definite action.
No fewer than 19 people were reportedly killed in a terrorist attack in the early hours of Sunday at a village in the volatile region.The strike is the latest blow to government's efforts to defeat the deadly activities of the Boko Haram sect and the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) in that part of the nation.
"In the North East, we are having worrisome reports. We have looked into them critically and taken a decisive decision," the minister said.Dan-Ali explained that the meeting was a two-hour routine security briefing where the service chiefs update the president on the security situation in the country, especially in Benue, Delta, Niger and Zamfara states.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, said the meeting specifically reviewed the military's new activities in Benue, Zamfara, Taraba under the code-name of 'Operations Whirl Stroke' and 'Saradaji'.His words: "We gave the extent of successes in these operations and we are to continue in this line of action.
"All the operations were reviewed and relevant issues dealt with. And he (President Buhari) directed that we should continue to step up our game to ensure that the nation is safe for people to go about their daily activities."
The meeting, which began around 11.30 a.m., was Buhari's first major assignment since returning last Saturday from a 10-day working vacation in London, United Kingdom.He has, however, left for his hometown of Daura in Katsina State where he would observe the Muslim Eid-el-Kabir festival.
The president was saw off at about 3.06 p.m. by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, among other top government officials.However, the military Operation Whirl Stroke yesterday said troops killed 21 armed herdsmen in the last three weeks on the Gbajimba-Akor-Tomata axis of Guma council area of Benue State.
The Force Commander of OPWS, Maj.-Gen. Adeyemo Yekini, told newsmen in Makurdi that a group of 20 armed nomads on motorcycles heading towards Nasarawa was among the casualties.The Guardian had learnt at the weekend that bandits engaged the military in a two-hour gun duel where a soldier was killed and two others injured.
But Yekini, who was not too definite on the casualty figure, however noted that while the fighting was raging, an Mi35 helicopter providing air support for the troops sighted the herdsmen on motorcycles.
Also yesterday, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) tasked the military to adhere strictly to the rules of engagement and respect the rights of civilians even as it embarks on a training programme code-named Operation Python Dance III in the South East.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, the group made the call against the backdrop of the announcement by the General Officer Commanding 82 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Emmanuel Boman Kabuk, of the commencement of the military exercise anytime soon.
It argued that the proposed operation was "totally unnecessary because the South East does not have any major national security threat as much as the North East where the war on terror is raging."