Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that as far as Libya remains unstable, illegal arms and ammunition will continue to flow into Nigeria and other countries in the Sahel region, stating that the closure of Nigeria's land borders for almost one year did not stop the inflow of arms and ammunition into the country.
The president expressed concern about security in Nigeria and the Sahel during a meeting yesterday at the State House, Abuja, with the outgoing Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas.
Also yesterday, North-west governors met in Abuja over the rising insecurity in the zone even as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, charged states to evolve mechanisms for securing forest reserves, which fall under their purview, and have been turned into bandits' enclaves.
Establishing a link between the ongoing insecurity in the Sahel and Libya, Buhari said the late President Muammar Gadaffi held a firm grip on power in Libya for 42 years by recruiting armed guards from different countries, who then escaped with their arms when the Libyan strongman was killed.
He said: "The armed guards didn't learn any other skill than to shoot and kill. So, they are a problem all over the Sahel countries today.
"We closed our land borders here for more than a year, but arms and ammunition continued to flow illegally. As far as Libya remains unstable, so will the problem remain.
"We have to cope with the problems of development, as we can't play hop, step and jump. But we will eventually overcome those problems."
Buhari while describing Chambas, who spent many years in Nigeria in different capacities, from ECOWAS to UN, as "more of a Nigerian than anything else," wished him well in his future endeavours.
Chambas thanked the president "for personal support I received from you, and from Nigeria as a country," adding that the country will continue to play a leadership role on the continent.
On terrorism and violent extremism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin area, Chambas said Nigeria was playing a yeoman's role, particularly in supporting the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF).
In an interview with ARISE NEWS Channel, THISDAY broadcast arm, Buhari had in January 2019 blamed Gaddafi's henchmen for terrorism in Nigeria.
According to him, the bandits who escaped from Libya after the death of their leader in 2011 took to terrorism, with Nigeria and some other African countries bearing the brunt.
Gaddafi, who led Libya for decades, was killed on October 20, 2011, during the Battle of Sirte.
"The Nigerian cattle herder use to carry nothing more than a stick, but these are people with AK-47 and people refuse to reflect on the demise of Gaddafi.
"Gaddafi for 43 years in Libya, at some stage, he decided to recruit people from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, from the Central African Republic and these young chaps are not taught to be bricklayers, electricians, plumbers or any trade but to shoot and kill.
"So, when the opposition in Libya succeeded in killing him, they arrested some and they did what they did to them. The rest escaped with their weapons and we encounter some of them in the North-east and they are all over the place now organising attacks," Buhari said in the exclusive interview with ARISE NEWS Channel.
Also while speaking with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in April 2018, Buhari had said arms Gaddafi provided to his supporters had filtered into Nigeria and were being used to fuel killings in the North-central.
"The problem is even older than us," Buhari said of killings.
"It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.
"These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram," Buhari had said.
North-west Govs Meet over Insecurity
Katsina State Governor and Chairman of the North-west Governors' Forum, Alhaji Aminu Masari, yesterday met with governors of the North-west zone, including the Niger State Governor, Mr. Abubakar Bello, over the increased banditry in the region.
Masari, during the meeting held in Abuja was upbeat that the insecurity in the North-west will be subdued.
The governor, in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle said they had fruitful discussions and deliberations on the best ways to combat insecurity.
He added that the deliberations would be forwarded to appropriate quarters for further action.
"I hosted governors of the North-west zone and that of Niger State.
"We had fruitful discussions and deliberations on the best ways we believe the insecurity being faced in the states will be subdued.
"These deliberations will be forwarded to appropriate quarters for further action," Masari said.
Masari, on a live TV programme on Wednesday had stated that Nigeria had become economically attractive to kidnappers and bandits within the Sahel region.
SGF Asks States to Secure Forest Reserves
The SGF, Boss Mustapha, has charged states to evolve a mechanism for securing forest reserves, which fall under their purview
Mustapha, at the first quarter, 2021 meeting of the Forum of the SGF and Secretaries to State Governments (SSGs) in Abuja, said the federal government on its part would strengthen the capacity of the National Parks Service to protect Nigeria's 17 national parks against criminal gangs.
"We all know that these criminal elements have turned our hitherto pristine forest reserves into an operational base and hideouts from which most of their activities are launched and sustained.
"Of course, we would still need our forests and other protected areas for the services they provide, especially as foreign exchange-earners, sources of job creation, guaranteeing the availability of soil nutrients and water for food security, serving as carbon sinks for addressing climate change and providing a clement environment for healthy living.
"Therefore, the challenge is for governments at the state-level to put in place processes and mechanisms that were hitherto operational for maintaining sustainably managed forests, as all forests in the country belong to state governments.
"In a similar vein, the federal government will continue to strengthen the National Parks Service to ensure that all the previous seven national parks and the ten new ones created remain inviolate for use by criminal elements," Mustapha stated.
He said Nigeria had been confronted with an inexplicable escalation of violence resulting in insecurity nationwide.
According to him, the development not only serves as a drain on national resources but creates a climate of uncertainty and challenges the ability of the nation to provide the atmosphere for its citizens for daily living.
"Governments at all levels have been doing their utmost to address these challenges. However, its persistence calls for approaches that are more than the conventional and normal to involve all arms of government, all apparatus of government and most importantly those that have a relationship directly with the rural communities and the citizenry," he said.
He also acknowledged that the theme for the meeting 'The Role of Secretaries to the State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture' reflects the need for the forum to ensure that all machinery of government work together to resolve security challenges.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms. Sadiya Farouk, who spoke on 'Strengthening National Poverty Eradication Strategy,' said the ministry had established the National Social Register (NSR) aimed at capturing in detail, the data on all poor and vulnerable citizens in the country.
"So far, nearly 30 million individuals have been registered nationwide. To ensure that all stakeholders are carried along, the ministry has commenced the socialisation programme of the NSR to ensure that all MDAs recognise the need to harmonise, cooperate and mine the NSR for their project's effectiveness. Already the NSR has been successfully socialised among the federal ministers and the international development partners," she said.