By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah
Political developments in neighbouring Republic of Chad following the death of Idriss Deby may aggravate Nigeria’s security challenges due to its porous borders.
Consequently, the federal government has moved to forestall the influx of illegal arms and gunmen posing as refugees into Nigeria by beefing up security around its borders with Chad.
Former Chadian President Idriss Deby died earlier this week from bullet wounds he sustained while in a battle against rebels in the northern part of the country.
Minister of Defence Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.) told State House correspondents yesterday in Abuja that Chad under the late Deby acted as a buffer to check the inflow of illegal arms and ammunition into Nigeria from Libya.
According to him, the death of the Chadian leader may escalate insecurity in Nigeria as criminals could take advantage of the uncertainty in Chad as the moment to infiltrate Nigeria’s borders.
Magashi said, “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian president, we knew that problem is bound to be created among neighbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence. If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be problem.
“The problem of Chad is now going to be aggravated because we are not sure the direction in which that country is going to face, but I assure you that we are mindful of borders, and we are mindful of the developments and, politically, the governments is putting its heads together to see how best they can restore the peace in that country.
“The issues of weapons and arms, Chad is the buffer stopping all these infiltration of weapons and the rest of it.
Now (movement of arms) right from Libya down to Nigeria is very easy now because of the absence of the influence of Chad in that route.
“So, security-wise we are beefing up security in our borders to ensure that no bandits come into Nigeria after the killing of Chad President. All we have prayed is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad.
“We are beefing up all our borders to ensure that refugees do not flow into our country. Even Nigerians, I am sure they would want to come back; we must prepare for them and allow them to come in and refuse others to come because of the problems it will create.
“We also have to take care of that and prepare our minds to it. I think we are on top of the situation, all we are praying is that all African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad.”
He also said the current attacks on police formations in the southeast is an affront to Nigeria’s security architecture and warned that such would no longer be tolerated.
The defence minister further stated that the killers of 12 soldiers in Benue State would be brought to book, saying: “Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country,” even as he noted that nine of 12 weapons belonging to the murdered soldiers had been recovered, and that arrests are being made.
He also lamented the state of insecurity in the country, adding that the nation is bleeding.
He said: “Make no mistakes that our nation is bleeding now. It is bleeding because of the self-interest and other primordial considerations underlying decisions, which is quite common with a number of our elite. Such elite are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs.
“The whole idea is to exploit the social division for their political gains and it is because of this divisiveness that Nigeria lacks a national consensus or common comprehensive understanding and the interpretation of what national security is.”
The minister further argued that he did not agree with the position that all bandits be killed, saying every person is innocent according to the provisions of the law until found guilty.
He, however, said that any bandit found in the forests with an Ak-47 rifle will be immediately gunned down in compliance with the presidential directive.