…Says the Army isn’t supposed to be involved in civil security
…Asks the Army to go after bandits and kidnappers in their various hideouts
By Henry Umoru
THE Senate Monday raised alarm that following its involvement in the provision of internal security across various states of the country, the Army has become overwhelmed and overstretched.
According to the Senate, the Army is at the moment facing its own challenges and by the nation’s constitution, the Army ought not to be involved in civil security.
Speaking on Monday in Kaduna during a visit to various Army formations in Kaduna State, as part of the annual oversight obligations of the Upper Chamber, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, All Progressives Congress, Borno South said that with the constitution, the Army should not be involved in internal security arrangements.
Ndume who was accompanied by four other Senators at a meeting with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Major General Usman Mohammed, stressed that the Army must be supported to enable it succeed, adding that the Army was currently operating in at least 33, out of 36 States of the country.
Ndume said, “The Army is overwhelmed. Imagine they operate in about 33 to 34 states across Nigeria. They’re very overstretched. They don’t have the number. The Army we used to know is very different from the Army of today. But we are hoping that things will get better.
“We are delighted to be here. We insisted on this oversight visit for some reasons. The Army is facing its own challenges. By our constitution, the Army isn’t supposed to be involved in civil security.
“But we have security challenges across every part of the country. The Army had to be drafted to provide internal security. Right now, the Army provides internal security in about 33 States in the country. We can’t sit in Abuja and talk.
“We need to see for ourselves. We are hoping that the Army will get back to its feet. As a country, we are known to have a formidable Army. But these days, we are worried.”
On the recent kidnappings along Kaduna-Abuja road, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army who urged the Army to go after bandits and kidnappers in their various hideouts, said, “In the last few months, we have had peace along the Kaduna-Abuja road. But on Sunday, what happened is worrisome. Along the Birni Gwari, the security situation is also alarming. Unfortunately, the Army doesn’t have the number needed to provide security.”
Earlier in his remarks, the GOC, General Mohammed who told the senators that contrary to media reports, only two persons were killed along Kaduna-Abuja road on Sunday and not 15, explained that the two victims were a driver and a woman.
The GOC who revealed that nine persons who were kidnapped by the bandits were freed on Sunday by soldiers, who immediately swung into action as soon as the attack happened, however promised to go after the armed bandits and Kidnappers during the Christmas period, adding that more camps belonging to bandits will be located and destroyed in the coming days.
General Mohammed said: “We want to appreciate the support of your committee. We are succeeding because of your support. We need your support to keep succeeding. We are not unmindful of the security challenges.
“Right now, we have three operations going. There is one along the Kaduna-Abuja road. We are going after bandits during this Christmas period. We will flush them out. We have been seeing their recent hand along that road. We will keep doing our best.
“We always go after the bandits in their camps. We have dislodged them from their camps. On Sunday, only two persons were killed. Nine persons were kidnapped. We went after them and the kidnappers left their victims and ran away.
“It is false to say that 15 people were killed. That’s not true. We will keep dislodging them. We will redouble our efforts and ensure that they don’t have their way.”
In his remarks, a member of the Senate Committee on Army who doubles as a retired Army Colonel, Senator Bulus Amos, APC, Gombe South who noted that many villagers and peasants in areas where bandits operate, often serve as informants, however urged the Division to be more tactical in its operations.
Senator Amos said, “Most people who are farmers, bike riders and villagers are informants. These bandits have informants everywhere. Soldiers need to go after them. If they meet them face to face, soldiers will finish them.
“Soldiers need to disguise and find a way to get the people to cooperate with them. These bandits live with us. They’re part of us and they live in communities. We need to do more.”