Despite the huge budgetary allocations for security infractions, Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence told President Muhammadu Buhari that the military needs more equipment to tackle security challenges in the country.
This is even as Abdulrahman Dambazzau, the Minister of Interior, Thursday, tasked security agencies on intelligence gathering, listing poor welfare, inadequate logistics and indiscipline as factors responsible for the inability of security men to contain the killings across the country.
Dan-Ali also assured the President that the military, through Operation Delta Safe, would continue to sustain its operations against illegal activities in the Niger Delta with resultant reduction in illegal oil bunkering, militancy and pipeline vandalism.
This was contained in a brief the Minister presented to the National Security Council on security situation in the country at the President office, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Thursday.
The meeting was presided over by President Buhari before he travelled to Bauchi State for a senatorial bye-election.
Recall that $1 billion (about N359 billion) was approved by the National Economic Council, NEC, in December 2017 to fight Boko Haram and other security challenges in the country.
This money had generated controversy in the National Assembly and even some Peoples Democratic Party, governors kicked against the removal of the money from the Excess Crude Account.
Present at the security meeting with the President were the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok-Eta Ibas, Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongonu, the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, the Chief of Defence Intelligence and the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari
Dan-Ali in the brief he presented at the meeting, which was signed by the Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Defence, Colonel Tukur Gusau, said: “In view of the engagement of troops in various internal security operations across the country the Honourable Minister requested for provision of more equipment for the Armed Forces in order to sustain the tempo in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges across the country.
“In order to forestall future security incidences in Zamfara, Sokoto and Birnin-Gwari axis Operation Sharan Daji has been extended to cover up to the fringes of Niger border.
“The operation has recently been reinforced with more troops from the Nigerian Armed Forces, Nigeria Police and Department of State Services and is supported by the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnisance Wing of 207 Quick Response Group of the Nigerian Air Force.
“The joint operation has successfully arrested some suspected armed bandits and recovered arms and ammunition. Similarly, in order to checkmate the criminal activities along Abuja-Kaduna highway, security agencies have been directed to increase patrols along the axis to address cases of attacks and kidnappings.
“There was a review of Operation Safe Haven leading to appointment of a new Commander in the North Central. The Minister also reiterate the need for the deployment of the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps in all areas liberated by the military in the North-East in order to consolidate on the gains of military operations as well as to enable the military push forward in its clearance operations.
“In the South-South, the Minister of Defence informed the council that Operation Delta Safe has sustained its operations against illegal activities in the Niger Delta, with resultant reduction in illegal oil bunkering, militancy and pipeline vandalism.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau, Thursday tasked security agencies on intelligence gathering to stem the tide of killings across Nigeria.
In a keynote address delivered at an emergency internal security summit in Abuja, Dambazau said: “There are indications that some of these threats are politically motivated from within the country; some are induced from the outside of the country by those who are not comfortable with Nigeria’s potentials; while others are as a result of outright criminal acts or violent extremism or both.
”Whatever the source of these threats, security agencies must articulate their plans to contain, control and prevent them. These threats not only undermine democracy, but also slow down our development and growth, thereby impacting on the peace, security and stability of our dear nation.”
According to him, security agencies are faced with poor logistics, including weapons and ammunition to tackle insecurity.
He added: “there is also a general problem of command and control, indiscipline, poor attitude to duty, and poor welfare among the personnel of the security agencies in the field which ultimately impacts negatively on operational efficiency and corporate image of our services.
“There are many challenges contributing to insecurity and impeding optimum performance of security agencies. I will mention a few of them. Notably, there is poor logistics, including weapons and ammunition.
“So much has been happening in terms of criminal violence, specifically rural banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, communal violence, herders-farmers conflict, etc, and of course the number of victims has been increasing. It is the responsibility of government to protect the lives and property of its citizens, and we are the very people entrusted with that responsibility by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Of course. we all know that successes have been achieved regarding the degrading and dismantling the activities and structures of Boko Harem in the country, especially in the North East. But we also know that part of the frustration is that the leadership of this terrorist group has been unleashing suicide missions using particularly the girl-child against soft targets. We are also aware that post-conflict peace-building is of greater challenge, especially as regards rehabilitation and resettlement of the displaced persons, who are mostly women and children.
“The success of our post-conflict peace building efforts will largely depend on our ability to coordinate and execute reconstruction, rehabilitation, resettlement and reconciliation efforts, including de-radicalization and counter-narrative programmes.
“The take off point for tackling insecurity in Nigeria is intelligence; actionable intelligence for that matter. We are not dealing with conventional threats, but peculiar threats that are laced with terrorism, sabotage, and efforts to manipulate our society’s fault lines of religion and ethnicity.
“Currently, there are very large swathes of ungoverned forests that are inter-connected, covering Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina, Niger, Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States serving as sanctuaries for armed bandits and violent criminals.
”Over time, these bandits and other violent groups have perfected a pattern of launching indiscriminate attacks on hitherto peaceful communities killing, maiming, abducting, raping and traumatizing scores of defenceless citizens under several guises.
”The areas worst hit by these attacks include Birnin Gwari and the adjoining communities, southern parts of Kaduna, large parts of Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa states. In the last few years, the entire Zamfara state has been reduced to a killing field to our collective shame.
“Other adjoining states such as Katsina, Kogi and Sokoto states have experienced similar carnage from armed bandits. A few other sanctuaries exist, albeit to a lesser degree, across the geopolitical zones from whence criminal organizations unleash violence on hapless citizens in isolated communities and unsuspecting commuters of our vast national road networks.
”Particularly, Abuja-Kaduna road and Jos-Riyom axis have acquired notoriety for wanton premeditated killings of innocent wayfarers. This situation is exacerbated by the inability of vulnerable communities to promptly call for help in the event of attacks.”
Representative of the Minister of Defence, Brig. Gen. Umar Ibrahim, advised security operatives to remain neutral in the discharge of their mandate.
“This emergency meeting has been long overdue. The truth has been said and it is left for all the security agencies to wear our thinking caps, go back to the drawing board and do what we are expected to do.’
Representative of the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Vice Marshal Olusoji Awomodu, said the military was doing a lot and now at the peak of the situation.
“We will continue to do our best. It has been very tough but I can assure you as military men we are ready and always ready to put our lives on the line to ensure that everything is peaceful in this country,” he said.