Positive Identification: Middle-Belt group lauds Buhari, Nigerian Army over operation to sanitize region 

•President’s past 20 orders

Insecurity claims 23,134 lives in 31 months, 84,648 in 10 years

By Clifford Ndujihe

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, ordered security chiefs to go after bandits and terrorists in the country.

This is the 21st time the President is issuing such orders to heads of security agencies in the last 31 months. And this time, President Buhari said they must not rest until all Nigerians are at rest.

He gave the order at the National Security Council, NSC, meeting he presided over at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. At the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno, retd; Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Leo Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff; and Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba Alkali among others.

Briefing reporters on what transpired at the meeting, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said President Buhari appreciated the successes and gains recorded by all security chiefs, the security agencies and intelligence organizations on security situation nationwide after he received briefs from them but is of the belief that more must and should be done.

“The President said that we are not yet where we should be. That Nigerians deserve to live in peace. And that until we achieve that we will not rest… The council today took a firm decision on what to do and I can assure Nigerians that with the charge from the President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces today (Thursday), there will be an improved response to all forms of criminality in any part of Nigeria,” he said.

Given the security situation and what transpired after similar orders in the past, the question on the lips of some observers is whether or not the latest order will be carried out in full with direly needed results.

According to the Nigeria Security Tracker handled by the Council on Foreign Relations, which catalogues deaths due to violent incidents related to political, economic, and social grievances, no fewer than 23,134 Nigerians were killed between November 23, 2021 and April 2019 when President Buhari first ordered security agencies to be ruthless with bandits and criminals.

Between July 2011 and November 23, 2021, the death figure was 84,648.

Buhari’s past 19 orders

April 11, 2019: Deal ruthlessly with bandits

On April 11, 2019, President Buhari ordered the service chiefs and the acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to deal ruthlessly with armed bandits and kidnappers terrorising different parts of the country. “You must locate and smoke them out wherever they exist,” Buhari was quoted as saying.

The president gave this marching order during a two-hour Security Council meeting that he presided over at the Presidential Villa. Present at the meeting aside the acting IGP, were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.

Others were the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Rufai; Director-General, Department of State Security Service (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd); and the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali, retd.

April 12, 2019: Rout bandits terrorising Zamfara

On April 12t, 2019, President Buhari reportedly ordered security chiefs to rout bandits terrorising Zamfara State and its environs. He also charged them to tackle cases of kidnapping and other security challenges across the country. The then Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin said: “The president gave us a marching order to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues bordering on our security are properly addressed.”

August 2019: Be more spontaneous in tackling insecurity

In August 2019, Buhari tasked the military to be more spontaneous in restoring peace to the country, particularly states troubled by bandits.

The Commander in Chief of the country’s Armed Forces also ordered them not to spare bandits that have been killing, maiming and extorting innocent citizens.

September 11, 2019: Treat Boko Haram as bandits

On September 11, 2019, Buhari disclosed that the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East region of the country are the ones operating as bandits killing innocent citizens.

READ ALSO: 367 soldiers, 29 policemen killed in 2 years by Boko Haram, armed bandits – Report

Buhari said, “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands. That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such.”

April 4, 2020: Flush out bandits from forests

President Buhari ordered the Nigerian Army to join the Police to flush out bandits from forests around the country. Presidential Spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari gave the order following the killing of 22 people in Sokoto state during an attack by armed bandits, and the killing of 10 people in Bassa LGA of Plateau state.

May 17, 2020: Crackdown on kidnappers, bandits in Katsina

On May 17 May, 2020, Buhari ordered total crackdown and sweep away bandits and kidnappers perpetuating heinous crimes in Katsina state.

A statement from the Presidency read: “A major proactive operation by Special Forces, whose details are being kept secret, is now in progress to replace the reactive strikes against insurgent camps. To give a full effect to the exercise, a planning team is already in the state selecting targets and making preparations for the execution of the “unprecedented” operation.

However, in December 2020, schoolchildren were abducted from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara town, Katsina State by a group of gunmen. This was at a time when the president was on a private visit to his Daura hometown, which is less than 150 km from the scene of the incident.

November 2020: Armed forces empowered to combat insecurity

In November 2020, President Buhari, while condemning the killing of no fewer than 43 farmers by Boko Haram, in the town of Zabarmari, less than 20 km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, noted that the Federal Government had given the armed forces the support to tackle insecurity in the country.

President Buharistated he had given all the needed support to the armed forces “to take all necessary steps to protect the country’s population and its territory.”

January 22, 2021: End banditry in Zamfara

On January 22, 2021, President Buhari directed the country’s security agencies to intensify their efforts to end the scourge of banditry in the North-western state of Zamfara following a resurgence of criminal activities.

“President Buhari issued the directive to the National Security Adviser, to ensure that there is a clear pathway to ending the resurgent banditry in Zamfara State, which has continued to cost lives and the displacement of thousands of families from their towns and villages,” a statement from the presidency said.

February 25, 2021: Deal with criminals as criminals

On February 25, 2021, President Buhari assured Nigerians that his government would continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens. The president stressed that “criminals are criminals and must be dealt with accordingly without resulting to ethnic profiling.”

March 2, 2021: Recover all areas occupied by insurgents, bandits, kidnappers

On March 2, 2021, the President ordered the nation’s security chiefs to recover all areas being occupied by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers across the country.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, told State House correspondents that the president gave the order during the National Security Council meeting.

According to him, no sovereign nation will allow a group of non-state actors to bring it down to its knees and render the state in a state of panic, apprehension, mistrust and disorder.

“Therefore, both the defence and intelligence organisations have been charged that while we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into state failure. And with effect from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, by kidnappers and other scoundrels of scallywags.

“In doing so, I’ve also asked all the intelligence agencies to collapse all their efforts on one platform, so that with the convergence of efforts, we will be able to give the required intelligence to the operational elements of government.’’

March 11, 2021: Shoot-on-sight illegal possessors AK-47

On March 11, 2021, President Buhari gave security chiefs marching orders to go harder on criminals, including to shoot anyone found illegally with AK-47.

The President spoke at a meeting with the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria at the State House, co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi.

The meeting was attended by security chiefs including the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the Director-General of Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.

The President, who apprised the meeting with efforts by the government to improve the security situation in the country, said his administration has recorded appreciable successes in the North-East and South-South parts of the country.

“But what surprises me is what is happening now in the North West where the same people, with the same culture are killing each other, taking their livestock and burning properties. As a result of that, we had a four-hour meeting of the National Security Council attended by the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Service Chiefs, Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector-General of Police and others and we gave clear instructions.

“One thing that got to the press which I read myself was that anyone with an AK-47 will be shot.

“This is because AK-47 is supposed to be registered and it is only given to security officials.’’

March 30, 31, 2021: Take out bandits,kidnappers, their sponsors

On March 31 2021, Buhari ordered the country’s security chiefs to identify and crush bandits, kidnappers, their local collaborators and sponsors to restore confidence in the society.

This was during a meeting with the security chiefs at the State House, Abuja, before leaving for a medical check-up in the UK.

The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, said the president warned that his administration would no longer accept a situation where bandits, kidnappers and other criminal elements are dictating the pace in the fight against insecurity in the country while the security agencies remained reactionary.

May 13, 2021: Deploy all manpower to deal with bandits

On May 13, 2021, Buhari pledged that his administration would deploy every available manpower in dealing with bandits to prevent them from wreaking havoc on farms and food production in the coming planting season.

Addressing newsmen at the State House, Abuja shortly after observing the Eid-el-Fitri prayers, the President said, “The law enforcement agencies are working hard to regain confidence against bandits so that we can go back to the land.’’

June 1, 2021: Be harder on those bent on destroying Nigeria

On June 1, 2021, Buhari also promised that his government will get “harder” on those hell-bent on destroying Nigeria, promising that those wanting to destroy his government would receive the shock of their lives as his administration would do everything possible to ensure they fail.

June 10, 2021: Treat bandits in language they understand

On June 10, 2021, President Buhari ordered the Military to treat bandits in ‘the language they understand’ and “be ruthless” against bandits terrorising the North-West region of the country.

During an interview with Arise TV, Buhari said: “Problem in the North-West; you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages. Like I said , we are going to treat them in the language they understand. We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks’ time there will be a difference.”

June 17, 2021: Make insurgents, bandits feel ferocity of Nigeria’s firepower

During a visit to Borno State on June 17, 2021, Buhari promised to visit insurgents and bandits the ferocity of the nation’s fire-power and the weight of the resolve to allow for peace and security.

Addressing men and officers of the Armed Forces in Maiduguri, during the visit to assess the security situation of the country and to commission some projects, the President said: “By pooling together, the collective resources and comparative advantages of the Armed Forces and other security agencies, we hope the enemy will now feel the ferocity of our fire power and the weight of our resolve.”

He charged the men of the Armed Forces to continue the great work of defending the nation, saying: “We should not allow our adversaries the opportunity or breathing space to challenge or undermine our national interests and core values. The defence and security agencies should be rest assured of the Federal Government’s unalloyed commitment to winning the battle against terror and criminality.”

July 10, 2021: Crush all bandits now

On July 10, 2021, the President condemned the incessant attacks and killings being perpetrated by bandits in Zamfara, Kaduna and others states in the North and urged the military to crush the criminals

The President in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, asked the military to respond to the bandits in a language that the bandits understand.

August 19, 2021: I won’t exit office a failure, Buhari tells security Chief

President Buhari, on August 19, 2021, ordered heads of security agencies in the country to address the alarming insecurity in the country, saying he was not prepared to exit office as a failure.

He spoke at a meeting of the National Security Council held at the Presidential Villa Abuja Thursday.

Addressing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd), quoted the president as saying he would make fresh changes in the country’s security architecture, if necessary, to turn things around in the various theatres of operation in the ongoing war against insecurity.

September 7, 2021: End selective abductions, killings

On September 7, 2021, Buhari ordered security chiefs to end selective abductions, killings in North-East, and North-Central.

He charged security chiefs to devise tactics to solve the country’s security challenges, especially the spate of abductions and killings in the North-West and North-Central.

The President gave the marching order just as bandits struck on September 5 and 6, 2021 in Katsina and Kaduna states, abducting 26 persons, including women and children.

The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, revealed this while speaking to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Buhari.

According to Alkali, the President also directed security chiefs to intensify their efforts to restore security across the country to enable citizens to go about their normal lives.

September 29, 2021: End violence being unleashed on Nigerians

President Buhari on September 29, 2021, enjoined security agencies and leaders of thought to work harder to bring an end to the violence being unleashed on innocent Nigerians.

He expressed sadness over the gruesome killing of Dr Chike Akunyili, widower of the late Director-General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dora Akunyili, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.

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