…Says govt abhors criminals dictating the pace in fight against insecurity
…Vows to provide resources needed to put down criminals
…Police rescue kidnapped travellers in Kaduna, recover AK-49 rifle
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Ibrahim Wuyo
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, gave service chiefs the marching order to identify and take out sponsors, leaders of kidnappers and bandits terrorizing Nigerians, especially in the North.
He warned that his administration will not tolerate a situation where criminal elements continue to dictate the pace in the fight against insecurity.
The President’s warning came as men of Operation Puff Adder II attached to Kaduna State Police Command rescued eight travellers kidnapped on the Zaria-Kaduna highway on Monday, March 29, 2021, whie on their way to Delta State.
The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno, retd, who disclosed the President’s order while briefing State House correspondents at the end of his meeting with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said President Buhari told the service chiefs that he would no longer tolerate a situation where the nation’s security is reactionary, instead of being proactive.
The NSA added that President Buhari also insisted that all decisions approved at the National Security Council meeting last month, including a ban on mining activities in Zamfara as well as no-fly zone remained enforced until further notice to curb the rising insecurity in the state.
He said: “After meetings with governors of the North-West and North-Central zones, Mr. President decided to call an emergency meeting with heads of defence and security organisations.
“Prior to this meeting, he had also met with the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on issues directly linked to the state of insecurity in the nation.
“Today’s meeting was not a very long one but the President looked at certain issues that were presented to him in the last one week.
“Mr. President, in particular, emphasised that the comprehensive reports he has received from the Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs, following their recent appointment, has illuminated the need for him to look deeper into certain aspects that need to be taken care of.
“He is particularly inspired and impressed by the manner the new service chiefs have started their assignment, with all the operational visits they’ve made to the theatres, where they have been able to address the troops, look into their immediate needs and come up with immediate, medium and long term proposals.
“Mr. President is going to look into these things with the urgency they require, but he is particularly delighted that from what he has received from the Chief of Defence Staff, there is now a renewed vigour, there is now a willingness on the part of all the operational elements to work together, as well as work hand-in-hand with the intelligence organisations.
On kidnapping and banditry
“On the issue of kidnapping and banditry, this menace still persists, especially in the North-West and the North-Central zones. Mr. President has been very emphatic, he has stated very clearly that this problem must be brought to an end.
“Mr. President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that the first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits, kidnappers and take them out in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr. President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation where bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tone and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reactionary, rather than being proactive.”
Willingness to provide funds
“He has also indicated his willingness to provide all the resources required by our troops to put down these criminals. They must be brought down with all the ruthlessness that is required and whoever is working in collaboration with them will be brought to book.
“He has also declared that there will be no adjustment in whatever the National Security Council has already laid out until normalcy is restored.
Elements working with kidnappers
“He is also aware of attempts by certain elements, working in cahoots with all kinds of people in and out of the country, to continue exploiting the minefields, especially In Zamfara State.
“A ban has been placed on mining and that ban has to be enforced, people have to comply with whatever the President has laid out.
“Of course, we, in the intelligence domain, are aware that there are individuals and groups who are planning to link up with all kinds of non-state actors to frustrate the efforts of government in implementing the ban on mining, as well as enforcing the no-fly-zone so that no rotary aircraft will land, drop whatever and pick up whatever. That has to be enforced.”
The NSA lamented that some wealthy elements are sponsoring bandits and kidnappers to undermine the government and warned that the administration is closing in on such elements.
“I am also to send out a warning to those people who think they can continue to behave in a manner that undermines national security.
“Those people engag-ing in all kinds of under-handed, unscrupulous, mischievous and deceitful practices, people who are working with those that are in government, in particular, critical agencies of government should beware.
“We have been able to identify certain areas that are weak and these areas have to be strengthened so that these characters who are engaging in acts that you can describe as outright acts of brigandage, people who are behaving in a manner that portends a lot of danger to innocent lives, have to be fished out.
“This is the directive from the President. I am to send a warning to those people who think they’re in close proximity with those who have the instruments to make the space easy for criminals, those people who think they have some kind of authority, who are engaging in all kinds of hocus-pocus, jiggery-pokery or skullduggery, those people will be brought down to their knees.
“I am sending out a message to them that anybody who thinks he can continue to pool whatever resources he has at his disposal, to frustrate the efforts of the central government in bringing about peace and security will have himself to blame.
“The new service chiefs, as well as the intelligence community, and the constabulary forces have been given clear directives by the President to target those people who are the ones leading in creating chaos, disunity, and disharmony.”
Those in attendance included the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor who arrived at the State House shortly before 10.00 am; the Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo, and the Chief of Air Staff, Marshal Isiaka Amao.
Others are Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno; and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
8 kidnapped travellers rescued
Meanwhile, men of Operation Puff Adder II attached to Kaduna State police command,have rescued eight travellers who were kidnapped on Zaria-Kaduna highway on Monday.
Police Public Relations Officer, Kaduna State command, ASP Muhammed Jalige, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, said the Puff Adder operatives, while on routine patrol along Galidamawa/Kidandan area of Giwa Local Government Area, intercepted a group of armed bandits and some victims in their posse-ssion.
He said on sighting the operatives, the bandits took to their heels abandoning their victims and one AK-49 rifle.
The police scribe stated further: “In the process, eight victims were rescued unhurt, including a female.
“They include Bala Ibrahim, Ede Gloria (Ebonyi State); Japheth Sani, (Kebbi State); Kingsley Edgbue (Delta State); Anthony Okafor (Anambra State); Gabriel Agu (Anambra State); Chibuzo Nwokorie (Anambra State); and Ifenyi Samuel (Enugu State).
“The victims later stated that they were abducted along Zaria-Kaduna expressway aboard a luxurious bus on February 29, 202,1 en route Delta State. However, the victims are currently receiving medical attention in preparation for reunion with their respective families.”
Jalige said the operatives were in hot pursuit of the fleeing bandits, noting that “Kaduna Police command under the leadership of CP UM Muri is in appreciation of the gesture and robust support rendered by the Inspector General of Police for deploying men and resources to compliment the efforts of the command in tackling banditry in the state.”