The National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd.), on Tuesday quoted the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as directing the nation’s service chiefs to identify masterminds of banditry and kidnapping as well as the sponsors with a view to taking them out.
The NSA told State House correspondents that Buhari handed down the directive at a meeting he had with the service chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He quoted the President as saying that a situation where the armed forces are reactionary rather than being proactive will no longer be tolerated.
Buhari met the service chiefs ahead of his trip to London for routine medical check-up.
Monguno said, “On the issues of kidnapping and banditry, this menace still persists, especially in the North West and the North-Central zones.
“Mr President has been very emphatic. He has stated clearly that this problem must be brought to an end, but using the traditional methods that the armed forces have been trained to deploy.
“Mr President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that the first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits, kidnappers and take them out, in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation whereby bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tone and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reactionary rather than being proactive.
“He has also indicated his willingness to provide all the resources required by our own troops in order to put down these criminals. They must be brought down with all the ruthlessness that is required and whoever is working in collaboration with them will be brought to book.”
Monguno explained that Buhari decided to summon the emergency meeting with the security chiefs after separate meetings that he had with governors from the North West and North Central zones as well as the one he had with the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Kayode Fayemi, on security challenges.
He said the reports Buhari had received from service chiefs following their recent appointment exposed the need for him to look deeper into certain aspects that needed to be taken care of.
The NSA said while the President was impressed by the new service chiefs started their assignment with all the operational visits they have made to the theatre, Buhari is going to look into issues raised with the urgency they require.
According to him, the President also noted with delight that with the recent change of service chiefs, there is now a renewed vigour and willingness on the part of all the operational elements to work together.
He added, “The President has also declared that there will be no adjustment in whatever the National Security Council has already laid out until normalcy is restored.
“He is also aware of attempts by certain elements, working in cahoots with all kinds of people in and out of the country to continue to exploit the minefields, especially in Zamfara State.
“A ban has been placed on mining and that ban has to be enforced. People have to comply with whatever the President has laid out. Of course, we, in the intelligence domain are aware that there are individuals and groups who are planning to link up with all kinds of non-state actors in order to frustrate the efforts of government in implementing the ban on mining, as well as enforcing the no-fly-zone so that no rotary aircraft will land, drop whatever and pick up whatever. That has to be enforced.”
Monguno said the President had directed him to send out warning to those who think they can continue to behave in a manner that undermines national security.
He said some people engage in all kinds of underhanded, unscrupulous, mischievous and deceitful practices in conjunction with some unnamed people in government.
He said the government had been able to identify certain areas that are weak and those areas would be strengthened so that those who are engaging in such unscrupulous acts are fished out.
He added, “This is the directive from the President. I am to send a warning to those people who think they are in close proximity with those who have the instruments to make the space easy for criminals; those people who think they have some kind of authority, who are engaging in all kinds of hocus pocus in all kinds of jiggery-pokery or skulduggery, those people will be brought down to their knees.
“It is extremely important for these people. I am sending out a message to them, anybody who thinks he can continue to pull whatever resources he has at his disposal, to frustrate the efforts of the central government in bringing about peace and security will have himself to blame.”