Niger State Governor Abubakar Sani Bello has revealed that some politicians in government are aiding and abetting criminals engaged in kidnapping and banditry by providing information to them.
He, however, declared that his administration would not be intimidated by the bandits and their cohorts.
LEADERSHIP recalls that at a high point of the terror attacks during President Goodluck Jonathan's administration, he was quoted as saying that there were Boko Haram sympathisers in his government.
Governor Sani Bello, who stated this yesterday at the launch of special vigilante corps, stated that those in the corridors of power have been releasing strategic information to bandits in order to make money.
"There are politicians and others in government corridors who give out information to these criminals. Even when we hold meetings, a few moments later, the bandits will be saying the governor has said this and that. I cannot trust anybody anymore," he stated.
Apparently referring to the abduction of 136 pupils of Tanko Salihu Islamiyya School, Tegina, he said it was unfortunate that some people are eager to make money while children from ages of three to 11 are in captivity.
"They said I should bring money so that they can bring the children and I asked them, where will they find the children?"
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The governor said that the bandits have forced the people of the state to change their way of life and abandon their normal activities.
"They stopped our children from going to school, stopped us from travelling on our roads, stopped farmers from going to the farm and now they are trying to stop our children from going to Islamic school," he lamented.
He, however, said, "We will not be intimidated. We will not allow that to happen. We will continue to live our normal lives."
On the new security group, Governor Sani Bello said the state government was donating 10 operational vehicles and 20 motorcycles to the Special Vigilante Corps, who he urged to clear the miscreants that had been disturbing residents of Minna for months.
According to him, the new vigilante outfit will complement the manpower deficit in the conventional security agencies, even as he clarified that their area of responsibility is within Minna, the state capital and its environs, particularly to tackle the violent activities of youth gangs in the state capital.
Boko Haram Confirms Shekau's Death, Denounces ISWAP
Terrorists loyal to Abubakar Shekau's Jama'atu Ahlussunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad (JAS), otherwise known as Boko Haram, yesterday confirmed his death.
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) had, on May 19, this year, said that Shekau blew himself up after refusing to surrender following their invasion of his hideout.
The Boko Haram leader was said to have killed himself with a bomb when he observed that ISWAP fighters wanted to capture him alive.
ISWAP, which broke away from Shekau's Boko Haram faction in 2016, said it disagreed with the late extremist leader over his excessive use of force, especially on Muslims in areas under his influence.
According to ISWAP leader, Abu Musab Albarnawi, its fighters took their arms, travelled through the Sahara, got into Shekau's enclave, and engaged in a gun battle with his followers.
In a video obtained by journalists in Maiduguri, Boko Haram members led by one Bakura Sahalaba admitted to Shekau's death.
Sahalaba, who claimed that the faction of the late Shekau's terrorist group is still very much active, denounced ISWAP and insisted that it is not all over for his group.
Some of the weapons spotted with the Boko Haram fighters in the video are AKM(S)/type 56 pattern rifles, Romanian PM ME. 90 & PM MD. 63 rifles, Zastava M21S rifles (likely from Cameroon) and PK/type 80 pattern GPMGs.
PMB Seeks Synergy Among Sahel Countries
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has emphasised the need for countries in the West African sub-region and th ose in the Sahel to team up in order to better confront the security challenges.
The president spoke yesterday at the State House, Abuja, when he received the new special representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr Mahamat Saleh Annadif, a Chadian.
The president, in a statement by his media aide, Femi Adesina, said, "You are our neighbour. You have vast experience in matters affecting the Sahel, having served for five years in Mali. I hope you will get the countries to work together to confront the issues affecting them."
Describing the problems as "enormous," President Buhari noted that Boko Haram had exacted heavy toll in terms of lives and resources in Nigeria and some neighbouring countries, while Mali equally has a large swathe of the country occupied by militants.
"I hope under the auspices of UNOWAS, you will help get the problems sorted out. Most of them have to do with the instability in Libya, and it affects all of us," he added.
President Buhari pledged the assistance of Nigeria to the special representative, so that he could succeed in his assignment.
Mr Annadif said he was visiting shortly after his appointment because he recognised the crucial role of Nigeria in West Africa.
He said he was quite familiar with the problems of the Sahel region, and would depend on the help of Nigeria to succeed.
Reps Screen Chief Of Army Staff
The chief of army staff (COAS), Major General Faruk Yahaya yesterday told the House of Representatives Committees on Defence and Army that he was well-prepared for the new office given to him by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said with 36 years' experience as a military officer, he had enough experience to tackle the security challenges facing the country.
Major General Yahaya, who appeared before the joint committee of the House of Representatives for confirmation as the new COAS, said, "I joined the military 36 years ago. Therefore, I bring along with me 36 years of military experience, having joined the Nigerian Army in September 1985 as a member of Course 37 at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA). I have had experience commensurate with my career. So, I'm abreast with the security requirements of the country, and so on.
"I have been involved in several security operations. The challenges we are facing now, all are characterised by the areas I mentioned, where I have firsthand information and have commanded troops and I administered them in achieving what we've done.
"I am sure I have the requisite requirements, by the grace of God, to now provide my services in this Office of the Chief of Army Staff, if confirmed. What I am bringing is wealth of experience and commitment. So, I'm committed and determined to provide my best having known what is required to achieve results."
The COAS further noted that security is everybody's business as the job cannot be done by one person or institution alone, so the military would need the support of the people to overcome the security challenges.
"From experience this job cannot be done by any single service or entity. Indeed, the Army itself is a group work, not individual; that's why we are arranged in sections and companies and battalions and brigades.
"This job is collective, and as it was captured in the vision of the late chief of army staff and in my own mission, too. There is also mention of a joint environment in what we do, having realised that this job is not one service's job," he said.
Yahaya said fighting insecurity requires the collaboration of other agencies, services and stakeholders, adding that "we have always operated together. That is why you see the composition of a joint team made of the Army, Navy, Air Force and now the Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and the civil defence."
The chairman of the House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson, said the COAS' screening was unique, adding that the death of the immediate past COAS, Lt General Ibrahim Attahiru, prompted it, due to the very challenging time in the nation's history.
"Our nation has been besieged by several security issues, with banditry, militancy and self-secessionists stretching the military to the extreme," he said.