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Noose tightens around service chiefs

The noose is tightening around the service chiefs as President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered the overhaul of the security apparatus to prevent further “catastrophe”…

The noose is tightening around the service chiefs as President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday ordered the overhaul of the security apparatus to prevent further “catastrophe” in the country.

He noted that citizens had lost confidence in the security sector and that something needed to be done.

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), quoted Buhari as saying this during the National Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

Monguno told State House reporters that the meeting discussed two memos on the problem of drug trafficking and addiction as well as the security situation in the North-West and North-Central geo-political zones.

To this effect, he said the president ordered an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus.

The NSA further stated that since the issues involved were operational, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, “is working on something” likely to give a new direction to the security agencies.

Monguno, who fielded questions on the president’s last marching order to service chiefs to buckle up, said, “Basically, these are operational matters that are best dealt with by the minister of defense.

“I know that there’s something that he’s working on, which has led to this meeting being delayed slightly. This meeting was actually supposed to take place before the Sallah holiday, but I think one or two things have come up that I don’t think I can explain, but I want you to be comfortable that something is being done, following that marching order.”

There have been calls for a rejig of the security apparatus with many stakeholders asking for the outright sack of the service chiefs due to deteriorating security conditions in the country.

Many security experts had in the recent past noted that the service chiefs might have run out of ideas on how to address the security problems bedevilling the country, saying there was a need for fresh ideas.

Only last Wednesday, the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, came under attack at Baga town in Kukawa Local Government Area of the state during a visit to the area, a development which elicited reactions from eminent persons including governors and the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai Elkanemi.

Speaking during a sallah homage to the governor, the Shehu of Borno said the state was no longer safe.

Also, the Nigerian Governors Forum led by Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi, lamented the situation saying, ‘‘It epitomised collective vulnerability and the fragility of the nation’s security architecture’’.

Responding to a question on Tuesday on the president’s anger about the declining security situation at the last meeting, Monguno said: “What he said today was virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time.

“Yes, Mr President said you are doing your best, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s still a lot more to be done. I’m more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus.

“This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time, but I just want us to keep hope alive.

“I know how everybody feels, I know how Nigerians feel, definitely, the president is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government and I believe in his sincerity, but again, since he’s not an octopus, since he’s not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfil the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society.”

Asked to provide an update on the altercation between Governor Zulum and the military, the NSA said: “Just like you have seen things on the social media here, again, I don’t know the final details of what happened, but I know that the governor will meet with Mr President to discuss whatever led to the incident and the debacle.

“It’s only after that meeting that I can really be able to understand the nitty-gritty of what happened, but like you said, it’s unfortunate and I believe we’ll get over this issue.”

The NSA also spoke on the violence in Southern Kaduna,  saying, “Kaduna is again a political matter and I think the governor of Kaduna State has been talking with Mr President and I’m not privy to the final details.”

Drugs fuelling insecurity

Earlier, the NSA had said that the reckless use of substances had been linked directly to insecurity the country was dealing with, stressing that violent crimes in Nigeria were propelled by the use of substances like tramadol, cocaine, opium, codeine, and cannabis sativa.

Monguno, who said the president had “decided that we must wrestle this problem”, said his office would work on a blueprint to address the matter through short, medium, and long term strategies.

He added that the issue of drug trafficking and abuse of drugs had taken a worrisome dimension since Nigeria changed from the status of a transit hub to a production centre.

He said the way innocent people were being killed showed that the terrorists, kidnappers, and bandits were “out of their minds”.

Monguno said: “I presented two memos. The first had to do with drug trafficking as well as drug addiction in Nigeria and the widespread use of these substances and the dangerous impact on our social, economic situation.

“Thereafter, I briefed on the security situation in the north-west and the north-central, in terms of looking at the issue of kidnapping, banditry and brandied killing of innocent people.

“After I presented these two memos, the Chief of Defence Staff, Army Chief, Inspector General of Police, heads of the various intelligence agencies also gave synopsis of each of the current security situation and what their various organisations and agencies were doing about these situations.

The NSA added: “There is hardly any violent crime today in Nigeria that is not propelled by the use of these hard substances and these hard substances have been coming in from all nooks and crannies.

“What is worrisome is that the report we have received from the chairman NDLEA showed that the number keeps increasing. Despite the closure of borders, we are still having to contend with the influx of these drugs.

‘‘Unless there is a collective, concerted effort to deal with this problem, it will only result in this country going down the bottomless pit of self-destruction. We don’t want that to happen and one of the ways of dealing with this issue is by using a whole of society approach in conjunction with the whole of government approach to achieve the whole of the nation approach.

“The second issue of course is also tied intrinsically to that situation of banditry in the north-west and north-central zones, where you have a lot of illegal aliens working just like what you see in the mining sector, illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers. Of course there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies’’.

Service chiefs should go—Expert

A security analyst, Dr. Ameachi Nwaokolo, said President Buhari should sack the service chiefs.

In a telephone interview with Daily Trust yesterday, Nwaokolo wondered if the president had signed a pact with the service chiefs.

He noted that, “If Nigerians have lost confidence in them, he should let them go, not politicising and making jest of an already serious situation.”

“In other countries, you bring in new people to renew the confidence lost. This has to do with lives and property that have been lost’’.

Also speaking, another security expert, Ben Okezie, said security is not politics and has its own strategy.

He blamed insecurity in the country on saboteurs within the military who he claimed were frustrating some of the strategies plans put in place by the current service chiefs.

‘Nigerians want action’

The Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Mr. Samson Itodo, said Nigerians want action and would want to see a president who considers the security and welfare of the people as paramount.

“We no longer feel secured, yet we have a government in place that claims to be combating insecurity. Why are the service chiefs still in office, knowing fully well that Nigerians have lost confidence in them? It appears the president has not lost confidence in them that is why he is reluctant to sack them,” Itodo said.

On his part, Dr. Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi, the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), said that it was highly contradictory for the president to admit that there was loss of confidence in the service chiefs, yet refuses to let them go.

‘‘What strategies are they going to change, when they have in fact exhausted all the goodwill of the people?. Public confidence is critical for the security sector because it is the same public that will share information with the agencies to enable them stop all acts of terrorism and criminality.

“It is sad that despite the loss of the lives of so many citizens, and the chronic state of insecurity, the president is declining to ease out the current service chiefs. It is time for officers with fresh ideas to come on board’’, he said.

Govs meet over attack on Zulum, others today

Meanwhile, the 14th Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) teleconference will today discuss what it called the rapidly degenerating security situation in the country.

An invitation sent out to governors by the Director General of the NGF, Mr Asishana Bayo Okauru, said the attack on Governor Zulum would be tabled for discussion.

The invitation, which was released yesterday by Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo, Head, Media and Public Affairs, NGF Secretariat, said it was in line with the security and policing swamp that the country had found itself.

The statement revealed that the state governors will also preview a webinar, which comes up on the 11th of August, driven through a partnership of the NGF and the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL) led by Professor Pat Utomi.

One such webinar which will come under the governors’ searchlight, the statement added, had taken place last month where the Governor of Lagos State Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu x-rayed “Insecurity and the challenges of governance and leadership in the new normal” as it affects his state.

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