Nigeria: Buhari to Completely Rejig Security System - NSA

Nigerian soldiers (file photo).
5 August 2020

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday rose from a meeting with security chiefs in the country, with a resolve to effect a complete re-engineering of the nation's security architecture to tackle the high level of insecurity in Nigeria.

This came on a day the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, and President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, called on the Federal Government to put a stop to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons herders and bandits use to attack innocent citizens.

Meanwhile, governors were at press time last night, in a teleconference meeting with service chiefs over the same problem.

The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno, retd, who briefed State House correspondents at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after the meeting, attributed the escalation of banditry, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the North to twin issues of drug consumption and drug trafficking.

He said the President reaffirmed his last marching orders to the nation's security chiefs whose best effort he had at the June 18 meeting said was not good enough, reiterating that the security agencies must rejig their strategies.

According to him, the President ordered the service chiefs and heads of security agencies to overhaul their security strategies, bearing in mind that the federal government owes the citizenry a duty to guarantee the protection of lives and property.

He said that another issue discussed at the security meeting was that of banditry in the North West and the North Central zones where there are said to be illegal aliens working in the mining sector, collaborating with bandits and kidnappers.

He said: "The second issue, of course, is also tied intrinsically to that situation of banditry in the North West and North Central zones, where you have a lot of illegal aliens working just like what you see in the mining sector, illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers.

"Of course, there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies. Finally, Mr. President has also directed we must rejig our strategy both in terms of operations and intelligence to further prevent catastrophes.

"We must bear in mind that we owe a duty to the people that elected this government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation, all other things, such as revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed."

Asked if President Buhari gave the security heads marching orders, he said: "What he said today (yesterday) was virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time. Yes Mr. President said you are doing your best, as far as I'm concerned, but there's still a lot more to be done.

"I'm more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus. This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time, but I just want us to keep hope alive.

"I know how everybody feels, I know how Nigerians feel, definitely the President is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government and I believe in his sincerity, but again, since he's not an octopus, since he's not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfill the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society."

On the escalated killings of innocent people in Southern Kaduna, Monguno described the huge level of insecurity in the area as a political matter, adding that the state Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, had been having a discussion with the President over the matter.

He said: "Kaduna is again a political matter and I think the governor of Kaduna State has been talking with Mr President and I'm not privy to the final details."

Also speaking on the altercation between Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State and the military, he said: "Just like you have seen things on the social media here, again I don't know the final details of what happened, but I know that the governor will meet with Mr President to discuss whatever led to the incident and the debacle.

"What I know, however, is that in another 30 minutes from now, we are going to have a virtual meeting with the Governors' Forum.

"My name sake (Borno State Governor) has already told me that he's coming for the meeting, it's only after that meeting that I can really be able to understand the nitty gritty of what happened, but like you said, it's unfortunate and I believe we'll get over this issue."

The NSA also said he presented a memorandum of understanding to the council on the twin issues of drug consumption and drug trafficking which he said had assumed a dangerous and worrisome dimension.

He said: "I presented two memos. The first had to do with drug trafficking as well as drug addiction in Nigeria and the widespread use of these substances and the dangerous impact on our social and economic situation.

"Thereafter, I briefed on the security situation in the northwest and the north central, in terms of looking at the issue of kidnapping, banditry and brandied killing of innocent people.

"After I presented these two memos, the Chief of Defence Staff, Army Chief, Inspector General of Police, heads of the various intelligence agencies also gave synopsis each on the current security situation and what their various organizations and agencies are doing about these situations.

"But on the issues of drug trafficking and abuse of drugs, basically, what I told council was that this has taken on a worrisome dimension. Nigeria's perception on the drug trafficking index has changed from the status of a transit hub to a production centre.

'Between 2011 and 2019 approximately, 17 manufacturing laboratories of metal and metulin substances were located by the various security agencies and destroyed. That is a large number. At the same time, we have had increasing activities of illegal cultivators of Cannabis in Nigeria."

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, and the President, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, have called on the Federal Government to stop the proliferation of small arms and light weapons herders and bandits use to attack innocent citizens.

The duo, who jointly chair the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council, NIREC, made the call against the backdrop of the spike in killings and other security threats across the country.

A statement signed by NIREC's Executive Secretary, Prof. Cornelius Omonokhua, yesterday, quoted both clerics as condemning the unabated carnage on human lives.

They said: "We are constrained to call on the government to provide security for the Nigerian citizens. NIREC has always condemned the terror attacks on innocent citizens and the various criminal activities in the various parts of the country.

"We are worried that the threats and killings keep spreading. We condemn the carnage on human life, especially the recent killings of 76 people at Sabon Birni in Sokoto; a RuwanTofa Dansadua district in Zamfara; Zagon Kataf in Kaduna; Bethel Baptist Church Aguda-Dauruwan Kogi State and the attack on the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Babagana Umara Zulum at Baga.

"We further condemn absolutely, the political thuggery that threatens human life and peaceful coexistence.

"Likewise, during his traditional Sallah homage to the Governor of Borno State, the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi cried out: 'My people in Borno are no longer safe.'

"Consequently, the government must not allow insurgents run over Maiduguri since they have been throwing mortar there and killing people. This situation and the likes are of grave concern to NIREC.

"These attacks, certainly, indicate how serious the state of insecurity is in the nation. The unabated carnages leave the citizens in a state of complete despair as the attacks paralyse economic activities.

"We, therefore, constrain ourselves to call on the Government to take security as a top priority for every Nigerian.

"The governments must double up their efforts of securing the lives and property of the citizens. Above all, the security agents must fish out the criminals to face justice.

"The security agents must also mop up the arms and ammunition in the hands of criminals. The government must ensure a complete stop to the proliferation of all forms of weapons that criminals use to destroy life and property."

Similarly, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State, yesterday, vowed to end the senseless killings in the state by unknown gunmen.

Sule, who spoke at Government House, said the state could not continue to allow lives of innocent citizens be cut short criminal elements in the state.

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