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Insecurity: Our nation is bleeding now — DEFENCE MINISTER

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Magashi…Says death of Chadian leader has security implications, FG beefing security in border areas

…Govt compiling report on political, religious, ethnic ‘opponents’

…Confirms arrest of Boko Haram sponsors in Kano

…Bandits attack Kaduna hospital, kidnap 2 nurses

…We have epidemic of kidnappings and abductions — NMA President

…Traditional ruler, 5 others killed in Benue

By Chioma Obinna, Peter Duru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Ibrahim Hassan

Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi, retd, said yesterday Nigeria is currently bleeding., following the state of insecurity in the country.

This came on a day bandits attacked the General Hospital in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, abducting two nurses on duty, barely 24 hours after bandits invaded Greenfield University in same Kaduna, killing a staff and and abducting 23 students.

This is even as a traditional ruler and five others were killed in three separate attacks on Benue communities by suspected herdsmen at Tse-Zoola village, Agan Makurdi Local Government Area, LGA, Odugbeho in Agatu LGA and Mbayer-Yandev in Guma LGA, all in Benue State.

Addressing State House correspondents at the presidential ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister also said government is compiling a comprehensive list of identified enemies of the country, although he refused to make clarifications on those on the list.

He said while incidents of domestic terrorism had reduced due to measures put in place by government, other problems arising from intolerance had heightened.

He cited the emergence of herders/farmers clashes, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB issues, banditry, among others, who he said see violence as a legitimate alternative.

He also confirmed that some individuals who fund Boko Haram had been arrested, particularly in Kano state, adding that some of them had contacted him for his intervention but he turned down their request, insisting that due process had to be followed.

Magashi said the military will not be deterred but will focus on eliminating all perceived threats and expressed the hope that this objective could be achieved with the deployment of new military assets that would soon arrive.

Our nation bleeding now — Magashi

With the myriad of problems facing the country, the Defence minister said: “Make no mistake about it, our nation is bleeding now. It is bleeding because of the self-interest and other primordial considerations underlying decisions, which quite a number of our elite; political, ethnic and religious, make so.

“Such elites are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs. The whole idea is to exploit the social division for their political gains and it is because of this divisiveness that Nigeria lacks a national consensus or common comprehensive understanding and the interpretation of what national security is.

“Example is Boko Haram, farmers/herders clashes, IPOB and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and concerns. All these can encourage groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.

“From here emerges a narrow vision of national identity and vision which threatens our country’s prospects of social cohesion and stability.

“This is why we are seeing the rise of self-help syndrome, often endorsed by states and local elites seeking violence as a legitimate alternative.

“The rise in vigilantism and identity-based militia, who claim to be working for the political and ethno-religious emancipation of their people, a.k.a resource control, secession and regional self-determination, define the potent threats to national security in our country.

“I would have loved to make a few comments because I will soon be addressing a press conference by three ministers; Minister of Police Affairs, Internal Affairs and myself.

“We have made a comprehensive brief as far as the security of this country is concerned and the methods we want to use in ensuring that we strategically and tactically get rid of all enemies of this country, be it religious enemies, ethnic enemies and all the political enemies of this country.

We’ve taken position on insecurity’

“We have made a comprehensive report or research on that and we have taken our position, which I don’t want to preempt here, but certainly we are coming back with that.

“What is important is that we are just trying to inform you of our impression and our concern as far as the security of this country is concerned.

“The latest is the burning of our soldiers, brutal murder of about 11 soldiers and one officer and the military is not taking kindly to that, let me just tell you this. I have been to Benue State Government, I have seen the governor and we have told him the blatant truth about the position of the military in this country.

“Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country and this country is governed by the rule of law and we have accepted democracy as a solution to the liberty of individuals in this country.

“We have been very firm, we have succeeded in reiterating to them what we actually want and we have got some answers that the weapons that were captured from the soldiers have been retrieved, at least we have nine of them out of 12 and the perpetrators have been captured and taken to the police for proper interrogation and subsequent prosecution.”

On killing of bandits

The Defence minister also commented on the killing all bandits as had been proposed by Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

Asked whether he shared the same sentiment with the Kaduna governor on killing any bandits wherever they were sighted, he said: “I don’t share that opinion. With my little experience as a lawyer for 37 years, I think I know the rule of law. I know how decisions are taken. Everybody is innocent till he’s found guilty.

“We’ll try to administer justice to all of them, but where we catch them with weapons, somebody trying to kill you, what do you do? Will you allow him to kill you before you make complaint? That area we will not compromise, anybody we pick using arms, we’ll deal with.

“If he fires one round, we’ll fire artillery weapons, lethal, so it can destroy the whole radius, not only himself, even his farm should be exterminated.”

Nigeria badly hit by Deby’s death

The minister said the Federal Government is beefing up security in the country, especially the border areas because of the political crisis in Chad.

He said: “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew problem was bound to be created among neighbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence. If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be problem.

“But thank God, a lot of military activities with the Chad, Niger, Cameroon, are in progress, so, in the name of Multi-National Joint Task Force, all these countries, including Chad, are contributing for the operation.

“What we hope is that very soon, we will find a secure situation for the continuation of this thing. We are beefing up security in our borders to ensure that no bandit comes into Nigeria after the killing of Chad President. All we have prayed is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad.

READ ALSO: Police arrest 7 suspected cattle rustlers, recover 273 livestock in Kaduna

“The problem of Chad is now going to be aggravated because we are not sure of the direction the country is going to face but I assure you that we are mindful of our borders, and we are mindful of the development, and politically, the government is putting its heads together to see how best it can restore the peace in that country.

“So, security wise, we are beefing up all our borders to ensure that refugees do not flow into our country. Even for Nigerians (I am sure they will  come back), we must prepare and allow them to come in and refuse others to come because of the problems it will create.

“On the issues of weapons and arms, Chad is the buffer stopping all these infiltration of weapons and the rest of it.

“We also have to take care of that and prepare our minds to it. I think we are on top of the situation, all we are praying is that all African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad, and get on moving as a democratic society as expected by international organisation the world over.”

Bandits invade Kaduna hospital, abduct 2 nurses

Meanwhile, bandits yesterday invaded General Hospital, Idom, in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and abducted two nurses on duty.

The attack came barely 24 hours after bandits raided Greenfield University, a private institution, killing a staff and abducting 23 students.

Confirming the attack,Chairman of Kajuru Local Government Area, Cafra Casino, called on the people to remain calm, saying investigation had commenced into the incident.

Dr. Shingyu Shamnom, Medical Director of the hospital, told journalists that the gunmen, wielding dangerous weapons, gained access to the hospital through the fence.

According to him, the gunmen forcibly gained entry into the hospital, shot sporadically and whisked away two nurses on night duty who came out and identified themselves as medical workers .

“We were in our homes until a call was put through to us that it was kidnappers who invaded the hospital, only to discover that two of the nurses on night duty had been taken away by the bandits.

“The kidnappers went away with the phone of one of the staff who we thought was also kidnapped but he later returned,” he said.

We have epidemic ‘kidnapping and abduction’ — NMA

Reacting to the attack on the hospital, the President, Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Prof Innocent Ujah, who said they were worried  about the spate of kidnapping in the country, called for research to determine the factors responsible for the increase.

“We have said this before, that we are all concerned, even if the victims were not nurses and are messengers on the road. We are all concerned. I am the president of medical doctors but we are worried because of the needless harm people are suffering as a result of kidnapping in the country.

“It is not a good thing to abduct anybody.  Apart from the anxiety which can lead to hypertension, it is also infringing on someone’s right. It is like one is in prison without an offence.

“It is something we think should be prevented and stopped so that people don’t go through needless harm as a result of kidnapping and adoption.

“It requires research to determine the major reasons people are being kidnapped or adopted.   We have not seen any report so far, whatever we have is speculative.   I think we should go into details of factors responsible for these kidnapping which has not been there before.  What we have now is what we call epidemic kidnapping and abduction,” he said.

Traditional ruler, 5 others killed in Benue

Also yesterday, a traditional ruler and five others were reportedly killed in three separate attacks on Benue communities by suspected herdsmen at Tse-Zoola village, Agan, in Makurdi Local Government Area’ Odugbeho in Agatu LGA and Mbayer-Yandev in Guma LGA.

Confirming the attack on Mbayer-Yandev, Guma LGA Chairman, Caleb Aba, said the incident occurred  at about 8pm on Wednesday.

“It happened  at about 8pm, though my attention was drawn to the incident  at 9pm.  Herdsmen invaded Mbayer-Yandev, Council Ward, killing two persons and injuring three others who have been moved to Benue State University Teaching Hospital, BSUTH, for treatment,” he said.

Similarly, the councilor representing Odugbeho Ward and Deputy Leader, Agatu Legislative Council, Mr. Julius Abu, who confirmed the attack and murder of two persons in his constituency by armed herders, condemned the killing, saying it was unprovoked.

The Deputy Leader said those killed by the marauding herdsmen were Joseph Babayo and Simon Idewu who were from Odugbeho and Ayila communities respectively.

He said they were killed along Odugbeho road, and appealed for deployment of military personnel to the area to check the killings and mounting tension in area area .

He also told Vanguard that residents were fleeing the area for fear of more invasion and attacks by the armed herdsmen.

“We have appeal to our people to remain calm and avoid the temptation of taking the laws into their hands. We have confidence in the capability of the state government to tackle the challenge,” the lawmaker said.

Meanwhile residents of Tse-Zoola village, Agan in Makurdi Local Government Area, LGA, of the state also lost their paramount ruler, Zaki Hyacinth Ajon, and a middle-aged man, Benjamin Anakula to the marauding herdsmen who invaded the area yesterday.

Governor Samuel Ortom, who ran into the pandemonium in the community while on his way from an engagement outside Makurdi town, appealed for calm, assuring that government would do everything to ensure their safety.

Narrating their ordeal to the governor, the oldest man in the community, Elder Aho Zoola, said: “The militia herdsmen, without any provocation, attacked our village    around 2am  when the people were deeply asleep, and killed Zaki Hyacinth Ajon and Benjamin Anakula.”

The governor asked if they had engaged in cattle rustling in the past, Elder Aho said “we have never had any issues with herdsmen.  Even when their herds graze on our crops, we watch helplessly because we do not want any problems but despite our disposition, they still came and killed our Zaki and our son.”

Gov Ortom cancels birthday fanfare

Following the killings, Governor Ortom has cancelled all fanfare slated by individuals and groups to mark his 60th birthday today in show of solidarity and concern for victims of the renewed herdsmen attacks on communities in the state in the last few day.

A statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Terver Akase, issued yesterday in Makurdi, read: “Governor Samuel Ortom will be 60  on April    23, 2021. Traditionally, drums would have been rolled out to celebrate the diamond age. But Governor Ortom has chosen to make it low key.

“He (Governor) will meet with widows, orphans and people with disabilities tomorrow (today). On Saturday, the governor will visit IDP camps, and on Sunday go to church to thank God.’’

Vanguard News Nigeria

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