…Says their best not good enough
…Tells them to justify their appointments
…As NSA decries lack of synergy among security heads
…Summons Niger, North West govs on insecurity
…Military not weak, has capacity to tackle terrorism, banditry – Defence Headquarters
By Kingsley Omonobi & Johnbosco Agbakwuru
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday read the riot act to service chiefs over terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes in the country, saying their efforts were not good enough.
The President, also at a closed-door meeting with the service chiefs at the Presidential Viila, warned them against poor performance, and asked them to justify their appointments, since he appointed them based on their past records.
Buhari spoke on a day the military claimed it had the capacity to deal with the nation’s insecurity problem, and that it was not overwhelmed by the problem.
He also called for synergy among the heads of different security agencies in order to tackle the myriads of security issues bedeviling the country.
President Buhari expressed his frustrations with the security situation in the country when he met with the Heads of security agencies at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The President’s outburst came on the heels of calls by different segments of the country, including the National Assembly, that the service chiefs be relieved of their positions to allow fresh hands to tackle the degenerating security situation in the country.
Recall that incessant attacks by bandits, kidnappers and terrorists in some states of the north, had compelled a group, under the umbrella of Coalition of Northern Group, CNG, to stage a protest in Katsina State, the home state of the President, within the week and even called for his resignation and that of the state governor, Aminu Masari.
Briefing State House correspondents after the security meeting presided over by the President, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, retd, said the President expressed dismay over the security situation in Nigeria.
He said: “A meeting was just concluded between Mr. President and heads of the security agencies, that is the operational heads consisting of Minister of Defence, the service chiefs and on the other hand, the intelligence components consisting of myself and the intelligence heads.
“Today’s (yesterday) meeting basically focused on recent developments. Mr. President has expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country.
“He is extremely unhappy about what is happening and he feels that, even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and wants and immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.
“Mr. President also told us in clear terms that he and indeed the administration campaigned to power on the platform of three issues, fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption.
“More so, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two will just be an exercise in futility.
“He, therefore, warns the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual decent of the security of this country, he is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation.
“He also stated, that no one was forced on him, he selected everyone individually based on what he felt their records had revealed and therefore, it is up to individual organisation to live up to expectations.
“Again, Mr. President has also said that, it is extremely important that we in the security agencies, must ensure that we justify the leadership by not disappointing the populace.”
The NSA, who was flanked by the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu, the Director-General of Department of State Service, DSS, Mr Yusuf Bichi and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, CDI Mohammed Usman, said that he raised the issue of unregistered SIM cards at the meeting.
Unregistered SIM cards
He said: “Now, added to this, is also another area which raises concern. It is the use of unregistered SIM cards (in the country). In my own brief, I dwelt on that issue and I raised concern that whatever we intend to achieve, we will not be able to get to the promised land unless we wrestle this issue of unrestrained acquisition of unregistered SIM cards.
“Mr. President has directed that I, as the National Security adviser should link up with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, to work out a blueprint to end irresponsible use of any SIM card.
“Again, my office is going to call on, certain governors starting with the governors of the north west zone including the governor of Niger State, to come over to Abuja, so that I meet with them and my colleagues in intelligence and security.
“Finally, it’s about the issue of lack of synergy within the security sector. This has to be addressed also and has left us in no doubt that unless we address this issue and form a single front, the convergence of efforts, the confluence of all ideas be they operational or intelligence, must be achieved so that we no longer if at all there was this notion that groups were working in silos or stockpiling , they desist from that with immediate effect.
“We must have a central platform to coordinate all the efforts, all operations and security. In the final analysis, Mr. President has said, everyone is doing his best but his best is not good enough, that should send a signal to all of us. But again, it is also incumbent on the wider Nigerian population, to key into whatever the security agencies are doing.
“I, the National security adviser, want to reassure Nigerians that each and every department or agency or component, will redouble its efforts and ensure that we reverse our dwindling fortunes for the betterment of this country in the remaining period they have in the life time of this administration.”
On security chiefs
Asked if there is any likelihood of changes in the leadership of the security team, he said it was a decision to be solely made by the President.
‘’These are issues that only the President can address. I am just an adviser. It is up to Mr President, he has the prerogative to make any change at whatever time he deems fit. Remember, he is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and he is the one ultimately who will take this kind of executive decision,’’ the NSA said.
On why he, as the NSA, who was supposed to coordinate the security agencies was finding it difficult to do so, he said there was a lot of flexibilities and overlapping in the handling of security issues.
He said: “There’s a lot of flexibilities, a lot of issues of overlapping and interlocking responsibilities. For the office of the National Security Adviser, its mandate remains the same as before.
“This again is a decision that only the President can streamline because as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he may deem it necessary to allocate certain tasks and responsibilities to certain organisations, even outside defence and security.”
Also present at the security meeting with the President were Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff. Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi and the Director General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Rufa’i.
It was reliably gathered that about three hours after the meeting, some of the security heads held another meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Meanwhile, following the increase in armed banditry and kidnapping attacks in the North which has resulted in daily killings and destruction of property and outrage being expressed by religious groups and concerned citizens, the military has declared that it was not weak or overwhelmed by the problem of insecurity in the country.
It, however, explained that bandits had developed the tactics of fleeing into settlements and villages, mingling with innocent human population as shield, knowing that land and air bombardments could not be carried out to avoid violating international law.
‘Military not weak’
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, who stated this at a briefing yesterday, said while the military and other security agencies were neutralizing the bandits in scores, there were still some soft target attacks as many of the children of the bandits were also bandits whose only means of livelihood right from childhood, had been proceeds of banditry.
He said: “Those saying or asking if the armed forces are overwhelmed over issues of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and other criminalities should know there are certain dynamics in play. Some people have suggested that we carry out Carpet bombing of the bandits. But if we do that, it becomes genocide.
“Instances abound when, after surveillance of their camps, aircraft are sent to bomb these camps and wipe out the bandits, but they flee into settlements, villages and farmlands where farmers are working and mingle with them. In such situations, you cannot bomb.
“The criminals have knowledge of laws of armed combat and international humanitarian laws. It is not that the military is weak. It is not that we don’t have the capacity. It is being mindful of collateral damage to innocent citizens and communities.’’