By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah
To forestall an influx of refugees, arms and armed bandits into the country, the Federal Government has beefed up security around Nigeria’s borders with Chad following the death of President Idriss Deby.
Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) disclosed this to State House correspondents at the special weekly briefing organised by the presidential communication team.
Deby died on Monday after he was injured by rebel soldiers in Chad.
According to the Defence Minister, the death of the Chadian leader may escalate insecurity in the country.
He said: “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we know 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.
“But thank God, a lot of military activities with the Chadian, Niger, Cameroon, were all that concerned. So, in the name of multinational joint taskforce, all these countries including Chad are contributory-countries for the operation. What we hope is that very soon, we will find a secure for the continuation of this thing.
“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.
“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 development, and politically, the government is putting its heads together to see how best they can restore the peace in that country.
“So, security wise, 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.
“The issues of weapons and arms, Chad is the buffer stopping all these infiltration of weapons and the rest of it. Now, there is right from Libya down to Nigeria, is very easy now because of the absence of the influence of Chad in that root.
“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, and get on moving as a democratic society as expected by international organisations in the world over.
He also said the current attack on police formations in the southeast part of the country is an affront on Nigeria’s security architecture and warned that such would no longer be tolerated.
He also said the killers of 12 soldiers in Benue State will be brought to book saying: “Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country.”
The Minister added that nine of 12 weapons belonging to the slain soldiers have been recovered, and arrests were being made.
He also lamented the state of insecurity in the country, adding that the nation was 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 quite a number of our elite; political, ethnic and religious, make it so. 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. e.g Boko Haram, farmers/herders clashes, IPOB and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and different concerns.
“All these can encourage groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
“From here emerges a narrow vision of national identity and vision which threatens our country’s prospect of social cohesion and stability.
“This is why we’re seeing the rise of self-help syndrome, often endorsed by states and local elite seeking violence as a legitimate alternative.
“The rise in vigilantalism and identity-based militia, who claim to be working for the political and ethno-religious emancipation of their people, a.k.a. resource control, secession and regionals self-determination, define the potent threats to the national security in our country.”
According to him, government has come up with a comprehensive report on the identified enemies and had taken a position, which he said he would not want to preempt.
The Minister further argued that he does not agree with the position that all bandits should be killed.
He explained that every person is presumed innocent according to the provision of the law until found guilty.
Magashi, however, said that any bandit found in the forests with an Ak-47 rifle will be immediately gunned down in compliance with a presidential directive