By Dayo Johnson, Regional Editor, South-West, Clifford Ndujihe, Innocent Anaba, Henry Umoru, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Femi Bolaji, Marie-Therese Nanlong & Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
The Federal Government, yesterday, admitted that Nigerians are tired of the current security challenges facing the nation, and gravitating towards self-help.
The government also said that winning the war against terrorists will depend a lot on all citizens, including the civilian population, who are required to help the efforts of security, intelligence and armed agencies with useful information.
The National Security Adviser, NSA, Major-General Babagana Monguno, retd, stated these while speaking with newsmen after the National Security Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Monguno spoke as the deadly fire of insecurity raged in many parts of the country yesterday, with bandits killing no fewer than 20 persons in attacks on communities in Zamafara State. Also, six people were killed in a similar attack on a community in Plateau State.
On the same day, the ancient town of Owo, in Ondo State, boiled again, yesterday, with two security men shot during a failed attempt to kidnap two expatriates.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has declared its readiness to sanction the BBC and Trust TV over broadcasts that glorify terrorism and aid activities of terrorists in Nigeria.
The new President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Archbishop Daniel Okoh, who assumed office yesterday, urged President Buhari to do his best and curtail the raging insecurity inferno just as Chief Sunbo Onitiri, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP urged the Federal Government to seek foreign assistance.
These came as the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress, ADC, Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu, dismissed as self-serving, threats of some members of the National Assembly to impeach President Buhari if he did not resolve the insecurity problems in six weeks.
Gravitating towards self-help
The NSA said the worsening security situation may result in the citizenry gravitating towards self-help.
He, however, revealed that government is currently working on new strategies to curtail the worsening insecurity in the country in coming weeks.
He said the Security Council has agreed on new strategies to curtail the menace, assuring that there will be a renewed momentum against terrorism.
The NSA noted that Nigeria is in a difficult situation, saying the President is aware of the people’s concerns about the growing insecurity.
Monguno, who said yesterday’s meeting, the third in less than a month, was a follow-up on the one held last week, however, said fighting the sort of insecurity facing the country can only be successful when it is confronted with the ‘whole of society’ approach.
His words: “This meeting was convened by the President as a continuation of the meeting that took place last week, to discuss the technical issues and the tasks that were given to the various security agencies. The meeting deliberated on all those issues, after the briefing by the National Security Adviser, which is usually the procedure.
“Again, the Council has seen it necessary to inform the general public that fight in this type of asymmetric conflict is a collective effort; it’s not something that should be confined to only the security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. When we keep saying whole of society approach, whole of government approach, to get a whole of nation approach, what it means is that everybody has to partake in this enterprise.
“We are in a very difficult situation and Council understands. Mr. President understands people’s concerns about the growing insecurity, but I can assure you that there’s no straight, cut and dried method of dealing with this thing unless all of us embrace each other. I know people are wary, people are tired; people are beginning to gravitate to other places for self-help. The truth is that help is rooted in everyone working for the other person.
“The truth is that no country can ever overcome the difficulties of an asymmetric conflict by virtue of the fact that the enemy of the state is embedded within the population, within the wider society. It is true that the local people are averse, they’re scared, they’re worried and there’s no confidence. That is understandable. But without their support, without their cooperation in terms of giving information, it makes it very hard for the operational elements.”
‘Attack on Guards’ Brigade could have been averted’
On the reported attack on the Guards’ Brigade earlier in the week, Monguno contended that such an attack could have been averted had the civilian population been supporting the efforts of security agencies with required information.
He said: “A few days ago, troops of the Guards Brigade were ambushed and decimated. Had there been a collective effort by way of just snippets of information, we might have averted that incident. That is not to say that the responsibility is for those outside the security domain, it’s a collective responsibility.”
He, however, warned the media and the political elite to be sensitive in what they push out to the general public, noting that some media reports have the elements that can aggravate the already volatile situation, even as some comments coming from those considered to be leaders of thought are capable of harming the mood of society.
Need for caution in media reportage
“Council is also concerned about the nature of media reporting incidents, with regards to insecurity. It is important for the media to understand that certain reports being generated by the media either by the way or manner, in which they report, can also aggravate this delicate situation.
“So Council is urging the media to be very careful in whatever it reports, whatever gets out to the public space can have a debilitating effect on the population.
“Equally, the political elite are also urged to take into account the consequences of utterances, especially from people who have established a reputation, people who are considered leaders of thought; people who are considered to have some kind of influence in society. Whatever goes out may be harmful, not just to the government, if that is the intention, which I doubt may not be a deliberate thing, but at the end of the day, it will affect the wider society,” he said.
The NSA said new strategies would soon be deployed by security agencies to tame the situation, saying: “Again, the members of the armed forces have also made a commitment that in the coming weeks, they’ve already started working on a new strategy to deal with these snippets of violence and they’ve given their word, their commitment to the President that there will be a change in momentum, regardless of the fact that there might be certain institutional limitations, which they face, but they’ve understood the enormity of the responsibilities that they have.”
Investigation of attack on Kuje prison
On investigations into the attack on Kuje Prison, Monguno said: “Council is in the process of winding up the special investigative panel on the Kuje incident and the idea is to come up with recommendations, hold those who are supposed to be held accountable for their deeds and to ensure that this type of thing never ever happens again in this country.”
The Security Council meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha; Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno, retd.
Also present were the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi; and the Minister of Defence, Major-General Bashir Magashi (retd).
Others were Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Awwal Gambo; Chief of Air Staff, Air-Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao; and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Samuel Adebayo; Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Baba Usman; Director-General of the Department of State Service, DSS, Yusuf Bichi; and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
20 dead as bandits sack Zamfara communities
As government maps out fresh strategies to curtail insecurity, 20 dead bodies were found around a stream, a day after suspected bandits attacked Yan-Kukoki and Danbanda communities in Gummi LGA, of Zamfara State.
One of the residents, who escaped the attack told The Cable that the bandits came on Wednesday morning and that their intention was to steal cows. The villagers ran into the bush when the bandits started shooting.
“People were running, and some fell into the stream, some were shot at. We didn’t know anything until we started seeing their bodies, and now we have counted 20,” the source said.
The residents said they had suspected the movement of the bandits around the area about a week ago.
One of the village heads, it was learned, had called the authorities at the LGA to report the suspicious movement of the bandits.
The bandits were said to have infiltrated the communities and carried out simultaneous attacks.
“They came in large numbers around 9am,” a resident of Yan-Kukoki said.
The bandits who were said to have used the Gummi-Sokoto road also operated in Danbanda, a village three kilometres away from Gummi town. Sources in the area said five people were abducted during the attack.
On the Gummi-Gusau road where the bandits also struck, sources said 10 people were abducted.
“In fact, they burnt some vehicles on this road,” one of the sources said.
As of yesterday morning, it was learned that soldiers were now on patrol in the area. “Yes, we have seen up to 10 army trucks coming in,” another source said.
Vanguard gathered that the bandits had just created an operational base in Birsawa forest, which is between Zamfara and Sokoto states.
“They have been in that forest for three days now, and I can tell you, they are still there,” the source said.
Muhammed Shehu, police spokesperson in the state, has, however dismissed the report. “It is not correct. Gummi is calm,” he said.
In the past months, the state has been terrorised by bandits who have killed hundreds of residents.
How herdsmen sacked 25 communities in Taraba — Lawmaker
Member representing Takum I Constituency in Taraba State House of Assembly, Mr. Garba Ajiya, yesterday said that 25 villages in his constituency have been sacked by suspected herdsmen.
At a briefing in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, Ajiya said the current situation in the area is bad owing to the displacement of people, adding that a misunderstanding between herdsmen and farmers in January has resulted in a full scale invasion and displacement of communities.
“In the last two days, Kpashimbe, Sabon-Gida Kpashimbe, Manya and Flash communities came under attack leaving two people dead and several others injured.
“Today, Tati, Gandum I &II, Muji 1 &II among several other communities along the Manya Takum road have been deserted, while the Fulani herders now graze their cows freely on displaced people’s farms.
“Thousands of people who have been forced out of their ancestral homes into Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, camps have forced the closure of Markam and Fadama Primary schools and are using the schools’ classes as shelter.
“The general situation in the area is terribly bad and I want to thank the churches that have taken in some of the IDPs as well as other spirited individuals who are now hosting thousands of other IDPs in relatively safe communities in Takum town and its environs.”
He however called on the state government to set up a commission of inquiry to find a lasting solution.
“While I commend the State government through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs for the relief materials that were moved from Jalingo this morning to Takum for the IDPs and the role of security agencies in ensuring an end to the attacks and killings, more actions still need to be done in addressing the humanitarian situation of the IDPs who are mostly women and children.
“The over 120,000 IDPs are living in pathetic situations and lack access to health care, shelter, water and livelihood.
“The National Emergency Management Agency NEMA), and other local and international aid organizations should intervene in the IDPs situation in Takum, Ussa and Yangtu before the humanitarian situation in these areas get out of hand,” he said.
Bandits invade Plateau community, kill 6
In Plateau, bandits terrorizing some communities in Wase Local Council, have struck Pinau community of the area, killing no fewer than six people and carting away foodstuffs and other personal effects of fleeing villagers.
The community members said the bandits in their usual manner swooped on them on Wednesday afternoon, shooting as they advanced as the people scampered for safety.
Ishaku Yahaya said he had initially left Pinau for an engagement in Wase town and was just returning when he heard the commotion in the community and had to wait until all was calm, adding, “apart from those stray bullets met, some other people were injured as they were running to find hiding places.”
He stated that the casualty figure was low because many people were not home when the bandits arrived.
About five days ago, residents had raised concern over the withdrawal of security personnel from the area saying, such would increase the incidences of invasion. Already, residents in vulnerable communities are trooping to Wase town and other places they feel are safe, and farmlands are abandoned due to insecurity.
The spokesperson of Operation Safe Haven, OpSH, Major Ishaku Takwa, said troops have been sent to the area.
FG to take delivery of six attack helicopters from Turkey – Report
The federal government has reportedly procured six attack helicopters from Turkish Aerospace Industrry.
The helicopter, T129, has the capacity to perform well in hot temperatures and high altitudes.
According to Defense News, Temel Kotil, the General Manager of TAI, said the company will deliver a batch of six T129 attack helicopters.
Kotil did not mention the exact date the helicopters will be delivered to Nigeria. The development is coming amid rising insecurity in many parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Nigeria and Turkey have signed a series of bilateral agreements in the past few years.
In October 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari met Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his Turkish counterpart, at the state house in the FCT.
During the meeting, both leaders considered about 24 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding, MoUs.
In December 2021, Buhari sought the help of Turkey to defeat terrorism while speaking at the Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit in Istanbul.
This is not the first time the Buhari-led administration will be making efforts to procure military equipment to combat insurgency.
In October 2021, the federal government confirmed the delivery of all the 12 A-29 Super Tucano fighter jets expected from the United States.
Owo boils again, 2 security men shot in failed bid to kidnap expatriates
Barely seven weeks after terrorists attacked worshippers at Owo, in Ondo State, gunmen, yesterday, attacked the ancient town in a bid to abduct some expatriates working at the site of Craneburg Construction Company.
Last May, gunmen stormed the same construction company, killed two persons and abducted an expatriate, who is yet to be released.
Vanguard gathered that in the latest attack, two security men attached to the construction company, located at Folahami Junction, in the town, were shot in the failed kidnap attempt.
The security personnel injured during the shootout are Rifum Lawrence and Abraham Opara.
An eyewitness account said that the gunmen who stormed the construction site at about 10 pm on Wednesday, used dynamites to blow open the doors to the building housing the expatriates.
“On arrival at the construction site, the gunmen shot sporadically into the air and damaged the windscreen of the trailers at the construction site. They were repealed by the security men attached to the expatriates. It was during the shootout that they were wounded.
“Other security men in the company were able to escape with the expatriates during the heavy shooting.
Ondo governor, CP sue for calm
Meanwhile, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu has allayed the fear of the people of the state over another attack in Owo, coming seven weeks after the terrorists’ attack at the St Francis Catholic Church in the town.
Akeredolu, who said this during his visit to the attacked construction company with other heads of security agencies in the State, noted that the attack was not aimed to maim and kill.
“There was shooting but it was not anything near what we had during the June 5 attack at St Francis. This was not aimed to maim and kill” rather, he said the attack was “aimed at destroying some of their equipment and not to maim or kill anyone” assuring that his government would its best to ensure security in the state.
Speaking on the attack, the state police Commissioner, Oyeyemi Oyediran, sued for calm.
In a statement by the commands Spokesperson, Funmi Odunlami, the CP said that the shooting by the gunmen was promptly responded to by officers covering the jurisdiction
“At the scene, the officers met the duo of one Rifum Lawrence, aged 50 years, and Abraham Opara, aged 45 years old, with bullet wounds.
“They were immediately taken to the Federal Medical Centre in Owo where they were admitted and are currently in stable condition.
Meanwhile, the Police Commissioner has led investigative operatives and officers of the Explosive Ordinance Department (EOD) — Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) also known as Anti-Bomb Squad to the scene for an on-the-spot assessment.
Oyediran said that the Anti-Bomb squad has confirmed that an Improvised Explosive Device, IED, was used to burst a tractor’s tyre at the scene of crime.
He urged the “people of the state to be calm as the affected area has been cordoned and investigation has commenced to unravel the mystery behind the incident.
Reacting to the attack, Special Adviser to the Ondo State Governor on Security Matters who doubles as the state commander of Amotekun, Chief Àdetunji Adeleye, said “I am just leaving the scene now where I went to assess the situation and I realized that the two security men on ground were injured by the attackers.
Archbishop Okoh takes over as CAN President, charges Buhari to tackle insecurity
Meanwhile, the General Assembly of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has formally validated the election of Archbishop Daniel Okoh as the new president of the religious body.
His recommendation by an Electoral College set up to screen and suggest candidates for the office of the President and Vice-President, respectively, as presented by the blocs that have rights of nomination was in line with the provisions of the 2021 CAN constitution as amended.
Okoh, the General Superintendent of Christ Holy Church International, emerged the new leader on Thursday, after getting 100 per cent votes of all 259 delegates who participated in the 12th General Assembly. He is expected to serve a single five-year term.
In his acceptance speech, Archbishop Okoh charged President Buhari to quell the rising insecurity in the country.
While thanking the President for his efforts to combat terrorism and banditry so far, he said: “I would like to appeal to His Excellency to end the blood-letting, kidnapping and general insecurity in all the geo-political zones of the country. I believe that government can do more to secure the lives and property given all the modern technology within its reach.”
Okoh also noted the need for CAN to respond appropriately to national issues, and assured that the apex Christian body would continue to participate actively and effectively in nation-building.
“We are coming in at the time that all of us in the Christian Faith, believe that some sections of political leaders are not sensitive to the diverse nature of our population when certain decisions are being made.
“Many Christians feel and have the genuine fear that there is a deliberate plan to remove the Christian faith from the scheme of things and make us second-class citizens in our own country – genuine fear borne out of the recent happenings in our polity i.e. the same-faith ticket in one of the major political parties in Nigeria despite the caution raised by CAN since two years ago.
“Whatever happens, no matter how many times our sensibilities are insulted, we must resolve to make a positive impact on the political, economic and social systems of our dear nation,”he said.
FG to sanction BBC, Trust TV over terrorism glorification
As parts of efforts to curtain insecurity, the Federal Government has said it would sanction the BBC and Trust TV for airing respective documentaries glorifying and fueling terrorism, banditry in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in an interview with newsmen in Abuja, yesterday.
Mohammed said the Federal Government was aware of the unprofessional documentary by the BBC, Africa Eye, where interviews were granted to bandit warlords and terror gangs, thereby promoting terror in the country.
He condemned the BBC for not upholding the same standards and tenets as they would have done in the UK.
The minister also condemned Trust TV, owned by Media Trust Ltd. for using its platform to grant interview to a bandit kingpin, Shehu Rekeb, thereby promoting activities of terrorists.
According to him, both platforms by their actions, have become accomplices to terrorists and bandits in the name of reporting.
The minister said the appropriate regulatory body was already looking at the infractions and appropriate sanctions would be meted to both platforms.
“There is a regulatory body regulating broadcasting, which is the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and they are also aware of these two incidents. They are looking at which part of the Broadcasting Code that has been violated by the BBC and Trust TV.
“Media is the oxygen that terrorists and bandits use to breathe. When otherwise reputable platforms like BBC can give their platform to terrorists showing their faces as if they are Nollywood stars, it is unfortunate.
“I want to assure them that they will not get away with it, appropriate sanctions will be meted to both the BBC and the Trust TV,” he said.
The minister said the fact that the BBC was a foreign medium and not under NBC regulations, notwithstanding, sanctions will be meted to the medium. “Let me assure you that they will not get away with the naked glorification of terrorism and banditry in Nigeria.
“If they are not registered in Nigeria and they are only sending their signals to Nigeria, we will ask them to stop sending the signals.
“I know that during the IRA days, the BBC will not dare do what they are doing now in Nigeria.
“It is because there is a country called Nigeria that they are operating here,” he said.
The minister reiterated that the government would not tolerate any attempt by any media organisation to use its platform to set the country on fire.
Reps join senators, threaten Buhari with impeachment
Meantime, impeachment moves against President Buhari by the Senate over his failure to address the continued insecurity challenges in the country gathered momentum, yesterday, as members of the PDP in the House of Representatives threw their weight behind the upper chamber.
According to the House of Representatives members, if nothing changed at the expiration of the six-week ultimatum given to President Buhari to resolve the problem of insecurity in Nigeria, they would be forced to issue an impeachment notice on the President. They also vowed to immediately commence the gathering of signatures from members to remove Buhari from office.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja at a joint meeting of the PDP Senate and House of Representatives Caucuses, the Minority leader of the Lower Chamber, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, Aniocha/ Oshimili Federal Constituency, Delta State, warned the Presidency that when the process of the Impeachment of President Buhari commences, it would then realise that “we as lawmakers are not confused and also that we are not minority of minorities,” adding that it would also know that it is not a laughable matter.
The meeting, which took place at hearing room 1, White House, Senate Wing, was chaired by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda, PDP, FCT, had in attendance PDP lawmakers from both the lower and upper chambers of the National Assembly.
Presidential Spokesperson, Mr. Femi Adesina, had said on Wednesday described the impeachment threat as laughable, adding that senators who threatened to impeach President Buhari over rising insecurity were “the minority of minorities,” who were wasting their time.
Elumelu who took a swipe at the Buhari led government said that Nigeria at the moment is at standstill, with everything crippled, adding that people can no longer travel because of kidnapping, people can no longer fly because of lack of Aviation fuel, private schools are closed down, farmers can no longer go to the farms for insecurity, among other very difficult issues in the country.
“Let me make it clear. Those who are thinking that it is only the issue of PDP or the minority caucus, no. Many of our colleagues under the bipartisanship are affected. Many of them are affected. So, they may not be speaking but we may be speaking for them. I heard somebody this morning saying it is a laughable attempt to want do that. Perhaps, when the action starts, the person will find out that it’s not a laughable action. It’s real and we will not stand to allow this nation collapse.
“We think that it is high time, the insecurity of this nation is addressed. And of course, we also have the issue of oil theft which has risen, now making it difficult for us to earn income from oil revenue. And these and many others are the reasons we are joining our colleagues in the Senate to ask Mr. President to address the insecurity of this nation within 6 and 8 weeks. Otherwise, we will find the constitutional means to ensure that we serve him an impeachment notice.”
NASS impeachment threats against Buhari self-serving, says Kachikwu
However, ADC presidential candidate, Mr. Dumebi Kachikwu, on Thursday, described impeachment threats against President Buhari by members of the National Assembly as self-serving.
Kachikwu in a statement by his media office in Abuja, said before Buhari should heed the call of the National Assembly to resign, the leadership of both chambers (Senate and House of Representatives) must resign first.
He said his position has become imperative because the “National Assembly is complicit in the failure of government in the country” which has resulted in the deteriorating security situation.
“I was very amused to hear some Senators and members from the lower house call for the President to be impeached. This is a self-serving call. The same people who have refused to do their jobs in the last three years have just woken up to realize that the President should be impeached.
“What exactly has happened today that is different from what has been happening since President Buhari was sworn-in seven years ago for the first term and three years ago for the second term? Are the attacks today any different? Are the deaths less or more meaningful?
“Is there any life worth more than the other? Are they reacting now because Abuja is threatened?
“The National Assembly is complicit in the failure of this government so they should ask their leadership to resign before calling on President Buhari to resign.”
Seek foreign help urgently to tackle insecurity— Onitiri urges APC govt
Also, Activist and critic, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, has called on the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government to seek foreign help urgently to tackle insecurity and save lives and property of innocent Nigerians, which has now been seriously endangered.
Onitiri said this became very imperative to enable Nigerians live in peace, progress and harmony.
He also called on the government to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in order to tackle the problem with all the seriousness it deserved.
Onitiri said the problems of insecurity, corruption and economic degradation have overwhelmed the APC Federal Government, and the only option was to urgently seek foreign assistance.
He said: “No doubt, this APC administration has failed Nigerians woefully and has nothing more to further offer the nation than to seek help and prepare for early general election.
“Bandits and terrorists have overwhelmed this administration, kidnapping, killings, maiming innocent Nigerians, collecting outrageous random from their families with audacity as if we don’t have any government in place has become the order of the day.”