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Nigeria is bleeding now ― Defence minister

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Chad: We are beefing up security at borders ― Defence minister

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Minister of Defence, Major Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd) Thursday said Nigeria is currently bleeding.

The Minister stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the presidential ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the presidential villa, Abuja.

He also said that the government was making a comprehensive compilation of the identified enemies of the country, although he refused to make clarifications on those on the list.

He said while incidents of domestic terrorism have reduced due to measures put in place by government, other problems arising from intolerance have 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 have been arrested particularly in Kano state, adding that some of them had contacted him for his intervention but he turned down their request as due process has to be followed.

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

With all the myriad of problems facing the country, the Minister said, “Make no mistake 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 it 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 different 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 prospect 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.

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

Continuing, he said, “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 political enemy, religious enemy, ethnic enemies and all the political enemies of this country.

“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 briefing, 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 the soldiers and one officer and the military is not taking kindly to that, let me just tell you this. I have been to the 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, they have been captured and taken to the police for proper interrogation and subsequent prosecution.”

Killing of bandits

The Defence Minister also commented on killing all bandits as has been proposed by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.

Asked whether he shares the same sentiment with the Kaduna governor on killing any bandits wherever they are 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.

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“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 make complaint? That area we will not compromise, anybody we pick using arms, we’ll deal with him.

“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 worst hit by Derby’s death

The Minister said the Nigerian government was beefing 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 know that problem is bound to be created among neighbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence. If there is security in Chad, there will be problem.

“But thank God, a lot of military activities with the Chadian, Niger, Cameroon, were all that concerned. So, in the name of multinational joint task force, all these countries including Chad are contributing countries for the operation.

“What we hope is that very soon, we will find a secure for the continuation of this thing.

“We are beefing up security in our borders to ensure that no bandits come 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.

“The problem of Chad is now going to be aggravated because we are not sure the direction in which that country is going to face but I assure you that we are mindful of borders, and we are mindful of the development, and politically, the government is putting its heads together to see how best they 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 Nigerians, I am sure they would to come bac, we must prepare for them and allow them to come in and refuse others to come because of the problems it will create.

“The issues of weapons and arms, chad is the buffer stopping all these infiltrations of weapons and the rest of it. Now, there is right from Libya down to Nigeria, is very easy now because of the absence of the influence of Chad in that root.

“We also have to take care of that and prepare our minds for 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 in the world over.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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