BY JONATHAN NDA-ISAIAH, Abuja
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor yesterday confirmed the death of the leader of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) jihadist group, Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
He spoke at the media briefing organised by the presidential communications team at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Recall that there were reports recently that the ISWAP leader may have been killed.
He said, “I can authoritatively confirm to you that Abu Musab is dead. As simple as that. He is dead and remains dead.”
He also dismissed insinuations of discriminatory engagement against the people of the South East. According to him, what one could find in the southeast is different from what is obtainable in the north.
The CDS also distanced the military from Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the Muslim cleric who had been leading negotiations with bandits, saying he does not work for the military.
He however added that the military would not prevent anyone from playing their part in the bid to tame the menace of insecurity in the country.
He also pointed out that what was not acceptable to the military will be when such persons work at cross purposes with the objectives of the security agencies.
He said while Nigerians have the right to pass their views to the government, they must not do so through the use of violence.
On the alarm raised by the Afenifere that terrorists are regrouping near Abuja, he said that report is not a true report.
He also said that the major operational areas of bandits were North West although some have relocated to North Central.
“They are essential, where they are. That is the reason why we are pursuing them. But more seriously, a larger number of the bandits remain in the northwest. Of course, a few who are having inroad into the north central, we are taking action, so that they do not spread beyond the known locations.
But let me tell you also that the threat as it were, whether terrorism, banditry, or any form of criminality, they are not confined to boundaries.
“And this is the reason why when we speak to issues that have to do with national security, it is placed in context with our neighbours, because, if all is well in our home and all is not well with our neighbour, then, of course, we can’t have peace. So, this is the reason why kineticism has become an approach in this regard. And for many of you who have been very close observers, I want you to know that there are greater interactions that we have with our neighbours and we do not also want to offset the good relations we have with our neighbours because it is from the enlightened self-interest perspective that we would do that.
“So, bandits’ location, they remain largely in the northwest and we are scaling up our operations to ensure that they are essentially addressed.”