By Ejike Ejike, Abuja; ISAIAH BENJAMIN, NONYE EKWENUGO, Kaduna; Osa Okhomina, Yenagoa and ABDULLAHI YAKUBU, Kano
The presidency said yesterday that thousands of herdsmen are being tried and convicted across the country for illegal activities.
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said there was no substance to the accusation that President Muhammadu Buhari is not doing anything on the herdsmen menace.
He said, “I hope that the police will take responsibility and publish the full list of Fulani herders who are undergoing trial in various states, particularly in Benue State.
“Trials are going on, convictions are being made and the President cannot be complicit in the kind of things that are being said of him.”
He also said the president was fully aware of the country’s security situation and was working to ensure the safety of lives and properties.
Shehu explained: “The president is more than concerned about the ongoing situation and he is fully conscious of the fact that it is the responsibility of his government to work with all Nigerians to secure lives and stop the ongoing crises, whether they are kidnapping or ethnic hatred and violence. He condemns it.
“It is for community leaders – local, traditional, and elected – to work with the President. The country’s military, as we speak, is overstretched because they are active in at least 34 of the 36 states of the federation, including the FCT.
“The Air Force, the police, they are recruiting, day and night; people are being trained in special operations and are being sent to the forest”.
Earlier on the TV show, Senate minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, had accused President Buhari of treating criminal Fulani herdsmen with kid
“The President needs to come out and say I do not support these types of actions, these criminal elements,” Abaribe said.
PMB Determined To End All Forms of Insecurity – NSA
Meanwhile, the national security adviser (NSA) Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) has said President Buhari was fully committed to bringing an end to all forms insecurity in the country.
He called on all Nigerians to complement the efforts of the federal government towards ending the menace of insecurity.
Moguno who said a lot of lives had been lost as a result of the insecurity added that there are people outside trying to undermine efforts of government in addressing the security challenges with outlaws and irresponsible people going about inflicting crisis and pains, which must also end.
The NSA spoke yesterday at a town hall meeting in Kadun, the first of its kind in the ongoing security meetings in the six geo-political zones by the Service Chiefs and other stakeholders organised by the office of the NSA.
Monguno hinted that the town hall meeting slated for the North-West geopolitical zone would be reconvened on a later date.
Earlier in his remarks on behalf of the Service Chiefs, the Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Lucky Irabor, said the Service Chiefs were not resting on their oars, adding that with their coming on board, some re-organisations are being undertaken to change the tide of insecurity in the country.
“There are reports that are not completely true while some are true, but let me say that the federal government is not sleeping in terms of securing the country, we are working to ensure that there is a difference. Data is being collated to enable us change the tide and working together to enhance security,” the CDS said.
For their parts, the chairman of the Northern States’ Governors Forum (NSGF) and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, and the chairman, Northwest Governors Forum, Aminu Masari, commended the initiative of the NSA for commencing the town hall security meeting from the North West region which has suffered deplorable condition of security.
They both concluded that the meeting postponed till a later date signifies that the Federal Government was serious with issues of insecurity in the country.
In their remarks, the Emir of Zazzau, Ahmed Nuhu Bamalli and Sheihk Ahmad Gumi also commended the initiative of the NSA towards addressing insecurity in the country.
Also in attendance were the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Attairu, Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Ishiaka Amao, representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Gambo Irabor, representative of the director-general of DSS, representative of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and representative of the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Governors of Kaduna, Kebbi, Katsina, Jigawa, Sokoto and Zamfara States were on ground for the meeting before it was eventually postponed.
Security Agencies Need Superior Weapons – el-Rufai
On his part, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai yesterday said security agencies in the country need superior weapons to fight insecurity and not prayers.
The governor stated this during the town hall meeting organised by the office of the NSA aimed at improving information and intelligence gathering in the country.
Governor el-Rufai who thanked the service chiefs for their commitment to ending insecurity, he, however, expressed hope that the meeting will come up with a roadmap to end the security challenges in the country.
He said, “This town hall meeting is not complete without other stakeholders because of the short notice. So, we agreed that this north-west be reconvened in the next two weeks. The date will be announced by the NSA and COAS.”
North-West Governors Are United, Ganduje Tells el-Rufai
Meanwhile, Kano State governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has said that there was mutual cooperation and understanding between all the governors in the Northwestern part of the country as they work in unison.
Ganduje was reacting to a recent statement credited to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, in which he accused the North-West governors of lack of cooperation among themselves over the nagging security issues in the region.
“I have not seen where this lack of cooperation as insinuated by Governor Nasir el-Rufai emanated. In fact even security operatives have once advised us to adopt a strategy between Kaduna, Bauchi and Kano States, that the states should send their representatives so that we can sit and discuss the threat posed by Falgore Forest and see how we can stop criminals from entering the Forest.
“I talked to the Kaduna and Bauchi State governors and they both sent in their representatives to represent them. We talked on issues like supporting the agenda with money and we all unanimously contributed funds and the project was successfully executed,” he said.
Ganduje wondered how Governor el-Rufai reached the conclusion of lack of cooperation among the governors of the North West states.
Criminals Should Not Be Allowed To Reap From Growing Tension – NEF
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has urged Nigerians not to allow criminal elements reap from the current tension in the country, saying the citizens must come together in unity.
According to the northern elders, some divisive elements were capitalising on the current tension to cause crisis, even as the called on Nigerians not to fall for the divisive antics.
A statement issued by NEF’s director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, yesterday stated: “The fight against armed criminals must be pursued on all fronts and with a lot more seriousness. The criminal must not reap from the suspicions and fears which his activities also generate.
“Northern Elders Forum is constrained to invite the nation’s attention to the dangers of sustained attempts to raise tensions and create fears among Nigerians until, presumably, they lead to major crisis involving groups and regions in the country. In the last few weeks, the Forum has led many responsible groups and individuals to appeal for restraint and respect for the law in the way we engineer developments that cause tensions, or react to them.
“Now the nation is facing imminent threats from persons who are bent on pushing all of us nearer to disaster, to help them achieve their nefarious goals.
“The Forum particularly notes that continuing narratives and threats, including comments from seemingly responsible Nigerians and even elected officials who swore to protect the rights of all citizens and the survival of the country, are raising fears and passions that could make it easy to break more laws of the land and pitch citizens against each other.
“There are efforts to create multiple sources of falsehood in videos and other inflammatory materials in the media clearly targeted at inciting people to act violently against each other. Allegations of planned or actual genocide are being made with reckless abandon, and even the international community is being lobbied in futile efforts to sell the fiction that some groups are intent on mass extermination of other groups. The latest communication by the Yoruba Council of Elders to the United Nations is an example of lamentable desperation of some groups to erode our security and integrity as a country and it is more regrettable that it is the handiwork of so-called elders who should forfeit all rights to that honour,” the statement said.
The elders added that they were committed to working to retrieve the country from the dangerous cliff where it has been placed by irresponsible people, many of them in positions of responsibility.
NEF said, “We have plans to meet with governors in the North and South to improve responsible collaboration and synergy, and we intend to visit communities where we have influence to lower tensions and provide assurances and comfort. We repeat our demands that Fulani who have broken no laws must be protected from abuse wherever they are. We ask all governments to identify criminals among the Fulani and subject them to the laws of the land.
“Similarly, we demand the cessation of threats and attacks by local ethnic defenders on Fulani communities. People who have broken the law by attacking and harassing Fulani for just being Fulani must be brought to book. We encourage all law-abiding herders to stay put and seek protection, and if they cannot be protected, to relocate to safer areas in the country.
“We urge northern governors to prepare to receive law-abiding Fulani herders who may be compelled to re-locate. We urge all northerners to assure Nigerians from other parts of the country that they are safe and welcome to continue to stay in the north.
“The Forum repeats: it is not a crime to be member of any ethnic group, and no one has the right to attempt to expel any Nigerian from places where they live lawfully.
“The Forum advises President Muhammadu Buhari and Governors to consult and explore measures that will lower tensions and assure all Nigerians that we live in a country where laws have meanings, and all citizens have equal rights to live under secure environments”.
IGP Deploys Intervention Forces To Oyo
In order to bolster security in Oyo State days after bloody riot in Ibadan, the state capital city, the Inspector-general of police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, has ordered the immediate deployment of police intervention and stabilisation forces to the state.
The deployment of the forces would help reclaim the public space, reinforce security and bolster public confidence in the areas affected by the recent crisis in the state.
The deployments, consisting largely of intelligence and operational assets of the Force, include four units of the Police Mobile Force (PMF), seasoned operatives from the Force Intelligence Bureau and one operational/surveillance police helicopter from the police air-wing department.
Force PRO, CP Frank Mba, said the intervention force was charged with the responsibility of reinforcing and stabilising security in the state, preventing further breakdown of law and order, protecting lives and properties and ultimately enhancing public safety and general security in the state.
Mba also said the intervention force is being coordinated by a deputy inspector-general of police, DIG David Folawiyo, who is expected to mobilize all relevant stakeholders towards achieving the mandate of the squad.
The statement added: “The IGP assured that the Force is committed to the safety of lives and properties of the citizens in the country. He calls on the citizens and residents of Oyo state and other Nigerians to embrace peace and cooperate with the police and the security community as they redouble their efforts in ensuring that sustainable peace and security are restored to the affected areas.”
Desperate Politicians Behind Rising Tension – Jonathan
Also speaking on the spate of insecurity in some parts of the country, former President Goodluck Jonathan took a swipe at Nigerian politicians over the rising cases of insecurity, ethnic feud and killings, declaring that their intense struggle for political power was responsible for the tension and division in the country.
Jonathan asked politicians to stop playing politics as if democracy is a military coup d’état that usually ends in bloodshed and lifetime enmity between the winners and the losers.
The former president who was speaking in Yenagoa during a dinner organised in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Governor Douye Diri in office, said politicians in Nigeria must learn not to play politics like a military coup.
He said, “Those of us in politics, we should learn to play politics as politics not a war. And at the end of any political process, let us all come together and support whoever, by divine intervention, God has made victorious. And I always support.
“If you look at leadership globally, you will notice there are three ways of taking over leadership. One of them is monarchy where the king is the leader of Government. In such case, the crown Prince is known in advance. At the time of succession, you know the next King and you are usually waiting for the King to die.
“In Nigeria, what we know and have witnessed at the National level is Government through Military coup. And in Military Coup, those with weapons or guns stage a coup. The assumption is that they want to kill others to assume power. And of course if they fail, the incumbent will kill all those who plotted the coup. And at the end of the day, in Military coup, if you succeed or not, both parties (incumbent and coup plotters) become lifetime enemies and stay as enemies till death.
“A military takeover is not known to law. It is not recognized by the constitution. But the democratic process is recognized by law and known to the constitution. And it is the best approach. We, the modern politicians, should not play politics as if we are participating in a coup d’état .And at the end of the political process, we expect that both losers and winners come together. We should learn to carry everyone along. And the losers should know that they do not ferment trouble.
“The greatest cause of our present security issues is the contestation for power as if they are participating in a coup d’état. The idea should be that our country must change and politicians must not participate in the political process as if it is a civil war”.