The Presidency defended yesterday its response to the killings across the country.
It gave a timeline of President Muhammadu Buhari’s activities to end it.
All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole said the party was concerned about the killings. He called on security agents to prove to Nigerians that they can defend them and ensure the safety of lives and properties.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) advised Nigerians to stop blaming President Buhari for the killings, saying: “Nigerian lawmakers should take the lion’s share of the blame, followed by the citizens and the media”.
It added that politicians, tribal bigots and a section of the media, which has been spreading wrong information about killings, should also take the blame.
Presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said: “A popular refrain from some quarters is that the President is not doing enough to combat the insecurity that has beleaguered the country in recent times.
“Lest that untruth begin to wear a garb of reality, let us consider some initiatives taken under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to rein in the security situation, particularly since January, 2018.
For January 2018, Adesina said: “Leadership of the police deployed in Benue State, after mass killings reportedly committed by herdsmen. This was followed by a fact-finding team led by the Minister of Interior, and deployment of Special Forces of the military to restore law and order.
“National Economic Council sets up 10-man committee on farmers/herdsmen clashes, headed by the Vice President.
“The 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, launched a special operation,Karamin Goro (Small Kolanut), in collaboration with the Air Force, Police, Department of State Services, and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC; to tackle kidnapping, robbery and cattle rustling in parts of Kaduna and Niger states (Minna-Birnin Gwari-Pandogari and Minna-Sarkin Pawa general areas).”
In February 2018, “the Nigerian Army commenced Exercise Ayem Akpatuma covering Benue, Taraba, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Niger states, in order to tackle kidnappings, herdsmen/farmers’ clashes, among others”.
“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) inducted its first indigenous operational Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),Tsaigumi. The newly-inducted UAV has day and night capability, an operational endurance in excess of 10 hours, a service ceiling of 15,000 feet and a mission radius of 100km, and is capable of being used for policing operations, disaster management, convoy protection, maritime patrol, pipeline, power line monitoring as well as mapping and border patrol duties.
“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) established 10 new Units as NAF had concluded plans to set up Quick Response Wings (QRWs) across Nasarawa State, in a bid to tackle the herders/farmers clashes plaguing some states within the axis.”
In March, Adesina said, the government took some steps, including President Buhari’s sympathy visits to states that had experienced wanton killings in the country.
“The Nigerian Army extended Exercise Ayem Akpatuma in Taraba State by two months.
“The committee set up by the National Economic Council on farmers/herdsmen clashes submits report, making far reaching recommendations for peace, including ranching in five states.
For April 2018, Adesina said the Air Force took delivery of a second batch of two brand new Mi-35N helicopter gunships to boost internal security. It deployed Special Forces to Zamfara State to combat criminality.
In May 2018, police inaugurated a Mobile Squadron in Takum, Taraba State, the Nigerian Air Force established three new Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Taraba, Nasarawa and Benue states, and deployed Special Forces personnel to these new bases. (Taraba State QRW is located in Nguroje; Nasarawa State QRW in Doma; and Benue State QRW in Agatu).
Also in May, “Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris ordered the deployment of 200 policemen, and 10 patrol vehicles to Birnin Gwari (Kaduna-Zamfara axis) to tackle armed banditry in the area.
“President Buhari approved the establishment of a new Battalion of the Nigerian Army, as well as a new Police Area Command, in Birnin Gwari LGA of Kaduna State, as part of measures to scale up the security response to the banditry affecting the area. Chief of Army Staff. Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai has since flagged off the new Battalion (2 Battalion Forward Operating Base, FOB) in Kanfanin Doka Village, Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State.
“The Defence Headquarters assembled a Special Military Intervention Force comprising more than 1,000 personnel, drawn from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Police, DSS and NSCDC, to respond to the security challenges in the North Central and North West. On May 8, 2018, the Force launched Operation WHIRL STROKE as a full-scale military operation to completely restore law, order and stability in the affected communities. The Whirl Stroke Operational Force Commander is Major General Adeyemi Yekini.
“Chief of Army Staff inducted a mix of 49 Toyota Land Cruisers and Innoson gun trucks at the HQ of the 133 Special Forces Battalion of the Nigerian Army at Azare to support the ongoing OPERATION LAST HOLD in Northern Borno.
“NAF launched newly-constructed accommodation for the 205 Combat Search and Rescue Group (CSARG) — established in 2017 to provide aid and operational assistance to wounded and distressed troops serving in combat units — in Kerang, Plateau State.
“The Air Task Force of NAF commenced Operation THUNDER STRIKE to attack selected locations of Boko Haram Terrorists in the North-East.
“The Nigerian Army commissioned its new Forward Operating Base in Epe, Lagos State.”
Adesina said in June 2018, the NAF deployed combat helicopters to its 207 Quick Response Group (QRG) in Gusau, Zamfara State to support the fight against armed banditry in the town and its environs.
President Buhari approved the establishment of Operation WHIRL STROKE II, for deployment in Zamfara and Kaduna states.
Securing the length and breadth of the country, he noted, is a continuing commitment.
“It is one of the key pledges of the Buhari administration, which it is carrying out night and day,” the spokesman stressed.
According to him, the security situation in the country in May 2015 when the administration came on board was in tatters.
Adesina added: “It pulled up its bootstraps, rolled up its sleeves, set to work, and the Boko Haram insurgency was beaten back. It was eventually degraded.
“Other security challenges are being tackled and will subsequently become history. Not doing enough, as some critics claim, is not part of the deal, nor is it reality, no, not by any stretch of the imagination. A lot is being done, and success is guaranteed,” he said.
Oshiomhole, speaking after the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) meeting yesterday, said Nigerians must come together with the same vigour they fought the Boko Haram insurgency to defeat the menace of herdsmen killings rather than attaching ethnic and religious sentiments to the killings.
He told the security agents to wake up to their responsibilities as no one will be satisfied with making explanations or try to explain away why we cannot secure human lives especially of a Nigerian citizen within the borders of Nigeria.
He said: “We have deliberated on the unfortunate incident that occurred in Sokoto state last week in which a number of innocent Nigerians were killed in cold blood by gunmen.
“We are worried about this and our preliminary investigations showed that those affected come from a part of the state that can be said to quite rural and probably a place where people don’t even have cattle. All they have is just their farm land.
“This killings, like other killings across the country is condemnable and the NWC condemn them in the strongest words possible, we believe that every Nigerian, regardless of his location has a right to life.
“We admit that the minimum obligation of government is to protect lives and property and we urge our security chiefs to do everything possible not only to arrest all those involved in this senseless killing, but to do everything possible to be seen to have the competence to protect lives and property.
“No one will be satisfied with making explanations or try to explain away why we cannot secure human lives especially of a Nigerian citizen within the borders of Nigeria.
“We want to strongly appeal to all Nigerians and the media should help us in this process. This is the only country that we have and so, we must do everything to give every Nigerian a sense of security regardless of his accident of birth place which some people refer to as ethnic origin or his choice of residence of religious belief.
“It is not helpful to national efforts of security lives and property if any Nigerian, including religious leaders and Media seeks to explain criminality in terms of religion or ethnic nationality. This is unhelpful in terms of our collective responsibility to work with security agencies to provide useful information that can lead to the arrest of criminals and also help them to preempt any plan by criminals to undermine our collective security.
“Those responsible for the wanton killings in Sokoto and those who are victims are of the same ethnic origin and unarguably of the same religious persuasion. It is the same thing in Zamfara state.
“It is not between one ethnic group or the other and so, if these criminals found themselves in other parts of the country as they have done from time to time, and their victims are of different ethnic origin, we should insist that we treat them for who they are, criminals that government has a duty to pursue and chase out of the territory of Nigeria and all those who are perpetuating crimes be brought to justice in accordance with the provisions of our laws.
“As a nation, we should all be united, not only in co democracy in this wanton killing, but also in helping government to do what it has to do compel security agents to live up to their mandate. It is clearly unhelpful and it bothers on divisive politics if we seek to disguise criminality either in religious terms or ethnic terms.
“Government has a duty to protect all citizens regardless of their religious belief. I ask the Media to help us to educate the people that it does not help the process of law enforcement if crime and criminality are identified in terms of their ethnic origin or their religion.
“But we are together as a party and Nigerians that this killings stand condemned and our security must do everything possible to convince Nigerians that under their leadership, we are safe and secured. They must continue to review their operational modalities in the light of emerging threats.
“The Buhari government is determined to do everything possible to secure the live and property of every Nigerian. That is one of the key objective that this government committed itself to. Unfortunately , as much as we have made progress, we cannot but commend the President and security agents in decimating Boko Haram.”
In a statement in Ibadan yesterday, quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) MURIC’s Director Prof. Ishaq Akintola, said “Nigerian lawmakers should take the lion share of the blame, followed by the citizens and the media.
“They should all accept their culpability in this peculiar mess instead of blaming the executive since the latter has done what is humanly possible within the law.’’
He said it was unfair to blame Buhari for Nigeria’s inability to stop killings because security was a collective responsibility, particularly the different arms of government.
“The executive, judiciary, legislature and the press as the fourth estate of the realm also has a vital role to play as well as the citizens.
“The legislature, instead of cooperating with the executive, is an open enemy even in a sensitive matter like the security of lives and property.
“As killings occur on a daily basis, Buhari made a move in April to procure more weapons to fight insecurity but the senate turned down the request.
“National Assembly made so much fuss about Buhari’s request for $1 billion from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, threatening to impeach him for approving its release without its consent.
“The same self-serving legislature delayed the budget for seven months just to get back at the executive and of course no money can be released before the Appropriation Act is signed into law.
“The national Assembly also declined to accede to Buhari’s request to approve the sum of $496 million for the procurement of Super Tucano aircraft from the United States.
“Yet Nigerians failed in their duty to question the right of their lawmakers to endanger their lives,’’ Akintola said.
Akintola said the recent revelation by Hon. Ahmed Maje that certain politicians sponsored killers and assassins who were trained in Israel has completely absolved President Buhari in the killings.
MURIC urged Nigerians to adopt a holistic approach to killings occurring in the country.
“Farmer-herder clashes are common everywhere, particularly in West Africa and Nigeria is not an isolated case but we are behaving as if Nigeria is an island.
“Take Ghana as an example. Earlier this year, cattle rustlers invaded farmlands in Ashanti, Volta, Brong Ahafo and the Eastern regions leading to killings and the destruction of farms.
“But Ghanaians did not crucify their president because of the clashes but solve the problem by establishing their first cattle ranch last week at Afram Plains in the eastern region. It plans to establish more in the Volta and Ashanti regions.
“It is time to face realities. We must borrow a leaf from Ghana. That country is as multi-religious and multi-cultural as Nigeria,’’ Akintola said.
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