Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja ordered the service chiefs and the acting Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to deal ruthlessly with armed bandits and kidnappers terrorising different parts of the country.
The president gave this marching order during a two-hour Security Council meeting that he presided over at the Presidential Villa.
Present at the meeting aside the acting IG, were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.
Others were the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Rufai; Director-General, Department of State Security Service (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd); and the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd).
Bandits have in recent times, laid siege to various parts of the country particularly Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kaduna States in North-western Nigeria, wreaking havoc and sending many to their early graves.
In the same vein, kidnappers have made living harrowing for many Nigerians especially those plying Kaduna-Abuja highway, Okene-Lokoja road, Benin-Ore expressway, among others, waylaying travellers, kidnapping them and subjecting their families to utter discomfort by demanding huge ransom.
However, Buhari who returned to Nigeria on Tuesday night from trips to Jordan and United Arab Emirates (UAE), convoked a security council meeting in the Presidential Villa over worsening security crises bedeviling various parts of the country and gave the heads of security agencies marching orders to ruthlessly deal with criminals tormenting the lives of innocent citizens.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Olonisakin said the meeting reviewed existing security strategy and simultaneously examined a new approach to be adopted in combating security challenges confronting the country.
According to him, such a review and examination bordered on strategy for tackling banditry, kidnap and other security challenges facing Nigeria, adding that the president ordered them to ruthlessly tackle the challenges with a sense of immediacy.
He said: "The security meeting we just had with Mr. President today (yesterday) is to review the strategy that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State especially and other places nationwide. And this review strategy is to address all the issues, including kidnapping, banditry and other associated issues confronting the nation and we are coming out with a revised strategy to handle those challenges.
"Yeah, the marching order is for us to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues that are bordering on our security are properly addressed."
Also briefing, the acting IGP said the menace of kidnapping on Abuja - Kaduna expressway had been effectively tackled, disclosing that several kidnappers had been arrested and the road is now safe for motorists.
According to him, the security patrol team that is on duty every 24 hours on the road has had bloody encounters with the kidnappers during which he said some of them had been injured and others arrested.
He said: "I want to assure Nigerians that Kaduna-Abuja roads are now safe. We have cleared the roads; we have arrested a lot of kidnappers and in confrontation with some of them, and some were fatally injured.
"So the road is cleared. Our patrol teams, the combined security services that are patrolling the road are constantly there 24 hours."
IG's submission that Abuja - Kaduna highway is now safe for motorists and commuters was the fallout of the launch of "Operation PUFF- ADDER" last week in the North-west region as a security strategy conceived to dislodge both bandits and kidnappers in the region.
The IG while briefing journalists on Sunday on federal government's decision to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and its environs on April 7, described "Operation PUFF- ADDER" as a combined security strategy aimed at reclaiming territories under the control of criminals.
According to him, the strategy involved raiding of the hide-outs of criminals, arresting perpetrators, bringing them to justice and as well recovering illegal weapons in circulation with the overall intention to guarantee the security of lives and property.
He said: "As part of sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to armed banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North-west in general, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other Security Services has commenced "Operation PUFF- ADDER" which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits.
"The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fueling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities.
"Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out."
House Summons President over Insecurity
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Thursday asked the president to appear before it and address Nigerians on the spate of insecurity across the country.
The lawmakers threatened that failure by the president to explain the issues they raised would confirm the opinion of Nigerians that the administration had failed in its responsibility to protect lives and property.
This demand was part of the resolutions passed at the plenary when the lawmakers unanimously adopted a motion moved by the member representing Gwer-East/Gwer-West Federal Constituency in Benue State, Mr. Mark Gbillah.
The motion was titled, 'Resurgence of the Incessant and Annual Massacre of Innocent Nigerians across the Country by Alleged Bandits and Killer Herdsmen, the Gradual Occupation of Affected Communities by these Attackers and the Lack of Adequate Rehabilitation and Relief Materials.'
Adopting the motion, which was not debated, the lawmakers resolved to "request that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces address the House and the entire nation within 48 hours."
According to the resolution, Buhari is expected to make a series of explanations to Nigerians.
They are, "His inability and the inability of his administration since inception to declare the killer herdsmen as terrorists to enable commensurate action against them by the Armed Forces.
"The inability of the Armed Forces under his watch to stop the recurring death of scores of innocent Nigerians annually from systemic attacks by killer herdsmen and alleged bandits, and the gradual occupation of the affected communities by these herdsmen despite countless assurances and statements by him, promising to stop these attacks."
Others are, "The inability of NEMA under his watch to immediately provide relief materials and rehabilitation of affected communities in line with their statutory mandate, in spite of the N10billion he announced had been provided in this regard and what immediate intervention his administration intends to provide to affected communities and how soon."
The lawmakers resolved that they would "conclude along with other Nigerians, if the president fails to respond to the aforementioned queries within 48 hours, that he and his administration are incapable of permanently curtailing the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by killer herdsmen and the occupation of their land, and have failed in their primary, constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria."
The lawmakers further resolved to constitute an ad hoc committee to interface with the Presidency regarding the queries.
They also resolved to engage with the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Chief of Defence Staff and other Service Chiefs; Chairman and Executive Vice-Chairman of NCC, and other stakeholders.