The Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai was recently in Benue State for an on-the-spot assessment tour of communities ravaged by Fulani herdsmen, after which he spoke to journalists. Our Correspondent, HEMBADOON ORSAR was there
What exactly will you say is the major challenge faced by the military in securing these communities and how can you overcome it?
The terrain is one great challenge, especially the issue of mobility, the issue of additional troops that we intend to deploy to provide security and confidence to the locals. The most important thing is that they should support the military in terms of provision of information that will help us in flushing out the bandits or criminal elements that are operating within the environment.
What should the state government do especially in supporting the efforts of the military?
There is need for more local government roads, more state government roads to be constructed apart from what the federal government is doing. So, it is very important that this issue is looked into so that we will be able to move rapidly or respond swiftly whenever there are security challenges in the area.
Can you tell us your assessment of the areas that you have visited with your men today?
Well, one very important thing that I have discovered is that the troops are well positioned and are performing their duties excellently well and they have already given the people the confidence for them to know that, yes, there is security and they can go back to their homes, this is very important.
We are increasing more troops to be deployed to cover the area. You know, that place is sort of where three states converge together, they have a common boundary that is Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba states. So, it’s very important for us to look at it and see how we can further reinforce the troops and the mobility on the water is also very critical which we are also looking into.
Already, there is a planning committee on the ground from the Defence Headquarters who are working on this and there are a lot of boats that have been brought in for deployment in the waters, so they should be rest assured the place will further be safe for them to go back and thank God it rained today and it’s a sign that better things are coming and they should go back to their farms and be rest assured there is security to be covered.
But like i said earlier, the overall security will depend on a number of factors, everybody coming to play his role and then both the state, especially the state and we the security agencies, the local governments have their role also to play in the provision of roads, provision of social amenities, they are quite fundamental so we hope they will look at it critically and see how they can improve the terrain in terms of movement, in the provision of roads. You saw how difficult it was when it rained for us to come out.
We went in smoothly although it is a rough road but coming out after the rain was something else, so, i think something by the state, by the local government could be done. And as i said earlier too, certain policies or certain laws need to be repealed or reviewed to give everybody a sense of belonging. I think that is very fundamental and if it is done, it will help us a lot to wade off some of these insecurities but one point is that there are so many intruding in of criminals in both sides. Both in the side of the herders and the locals.
We shouldn’t give them that chance to cause disharmony because the insecurity challenge we have on hand is enough. But by and large, security is every body’s responsibility, you press too have something to contribute to the overall security.
There is this fear in the minds of Benue people about the arrest of the Commandant of the Benue State Livestock Guard, Alh. Aliyu Teshaku based on what your people called intelligence report. One had anticipated that your men would rather go after the leaders of Miyeti Allah who openly announced they were going to attack Benue. Don’t you think this is a misplaced priority that your men have gone to arrest someone who openly proved his innocence when Mr. President visited Benue?
Investigation is still on, if we find anybody directly involved in any criminal activity, definitely, he will be arrested accordingly, so this is an investigation, arrest has been made by the appropriate agencies as well as any other group that is involved, definitely, if an investigation has any connection with them, we will definitely get across to the appropriate agencies to make the arrest.
So, it is an investigation based on intelligence if we have concrete intelligence on any other group, be rest assured we will take appropriate actions. What we are doing now is focus on the criminal elements who are on the ground who are causing havoc, that is what is happening.
There are instances where people appear in military uniforms, what will you say about that sir?
Well, we know these are criminal elements just one around Nasarawa State, around that Agatu across the other side. We have reports where these elements came out, attacked and burnt some houses in that regard.
Don’t forget that there are inter-tribal conflicts that are also fuelling these crises and we hope the relevant authorities, the relevant community leaders will come out and ensures that their youths, their indigenes don’t perpetrate this type of crime. The Civil Society also have a very important role to play but by and large, this is essentially a police role we are only supporting the police and the civil authorities but we will do our best.
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