President Muhammadu Buhari has charged the military and security agencies not to give any breathing space to terrorists and other criminals in various parts of the country.
The president spoke yesterday during his official visit to personnel of the armed forces and security agencies involved in Operation HADIN KAI at the Maimalari Cantonment, in Maiduguri, Borno State.
“We should not allow our adversaries the opportunity or breathing space to challenge or undermine our national interests and core values. The defence and security agencies should rest assured of the federal government’s unalloyed commitment to winning the battle against terror and criminality,” he said.
President Buhari told the military and security personnel that the war against terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals must be concluded and peace restored to all the affected areas, adding that his administration will continue the relentless effort to fully restore peace to the state, the North East region and the country as a whole.
He said Nigeria owed a debt of gratitude to military men and women and other security agencies currently tackling security challenges in the country, particularly those who paid the supreme price, even as he assured their family members that the government will continue to support all the loved ones.
“I am delighted to be with you this afternoon, to address you on this special occasion of my official visit to Borno State. I want to seize this opportunity to put it on record that our nation will forever be indebted to you, for your patriotic commitment to the defence of our fatherland against insurgency and criminality.
“I therefore commend you, and remember all the personnel who have paid the supreme sacrifice in ensuring that Nigeria remains an indivisible and secure entity.
“As I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of our fallen heroes and pray for the souls of the departed, I want to assure you that my administration will spare no effort or resources to ensure that the widows and children of our fallen heroes, who paid the supreme price in defence of our beloved country, are well cared for,” he said.
The president, in a statement by presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, further said wounded comrades will get the best medical attention towards their full recovery.
“While acknowledging your collective efforts at decimating and degrading the terrorists and reaffirming the inviolable sovereignty of our nation, I also wish to extol your steadfastness and untiring efforts in the face of the difficulties you experience in the Theatres of Operation.
“Your collective efforts have resulted in the relative peace being enjoyed in the region today. Under my watch, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have been provided a firm strategy and clear sense of direction to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
Buhari commended the military and security agencies for the synergy that has translated into successes in restoring peace and order.
“I am particularly happy to note the increasing understanding and cooperation within the military, as well as the inter-agency cooperation in the fight against the terrorists and other criminal elements in the North East.
“The outcome of this synergy is evidenced by the successes recorded in the ongoing Operation TURA TAKAIBANGO which has so far degraded the insurgents’ capabilities in the Timbuktu Triangle, Sambisa Forest and the Lake Chad Region. I am therefore pleased to acknowledge that the military and other security agencies, including civilian stakeholders, are adhering to the true spirit of Operation HADIN KAI, which implies jointness, synergy and cooperation.
“By pooling together the collective resources and comparative advantages of the Armed Forces and other security agencies, we hope the enemy will now feel the ferocity of our firepower and the weight of our resolve,” the president said.
In addition to the efforts of the Armed Forces and security agencies, his administration, the president said, is developing a strategy for post-war reconstruction and peace building.
Buhari assured citizens of the federal government’s commitment to fighting terrorism to the end, and ensuring that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return to continue their normal lives.
While appraising the security situation and commissioning some development projects, he commended Governor Babagana Umara Zulum for his resilience and relentless efforts in rebuilding the state.
He attributed recent successes recorded by the military against insurgents and terrorists at Dikwa, Damboa and Gwoza to careful planning, infusion of new equipment and other war materials as well as quality military leadership.
“I am very happy to be here in Borno State once again. I consider Maiduguri and Borno State to be my home since this is the place where I cut my administrative and political teeth, when I first arrived in here as military governor 46 years ago.
“While I am happy to return home, I am not happy that this visit is not a normal, peacetime home-coming. I am here today, first and foremost, to appraise the security situation in Borno State and the North East region in order to move full speed ahead and conclude the work of restoring permanent peace to the region.
“The attacks launched by cowardly terrorists against military and civilian targets last month and in previous months were a pointer to us that the work of defeating insurgency and terrorism and of restoring permanent peace to this region is not yet over.
“We will not rest until all the millions of Internally Displaced Persons are able to return and resettle in their homes and rebuild their shattered lives,” he said.
He noted that his military commanders and personnel were personally familiar with the challenge of insurgency and that he expects them “to bring this wealth of personal experience to bear as we move to end this scourge once and for all.”
The president also acknowledged the efforts of non-military persons in confronting the terrorists.
“No doubt, these successes owe a lot to the role played by volunteers of the Civilian JTF, hunters and vigilantes. These good people include women who are making huge sacrifices and patriotic contributions to our peace-restoration efforts,” he said, assuring them and their loved ones that the sacrifices will not be in vain
The president said the late President Idris Deby of Chad played a major role in the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad region, urging his successors to work hard in restoring democracy to the country and supporting the processes of bringing peace to the region.
Buhari said the recent appointment of Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, an illustrious son of Borno State, as Special Envoy to Chad and the Lake Chad Basin was intended to accelerate the restoration of democratic stability in Chad Republic and enhance cooperation among all the countries of the Lake Chad Basin.
“Let me also assure the people of Borno and the North East that we have taken decisive measures to safeguard IDPs and refugees who recently returned from Cameroon and Niger Republic. They are engaged in the task of rebuilding their communities after more than a decade of war and terrorism.
“It was part of these measures that I gave approval for the Federal Government to build 10,000 resettlement homes in Borno State. 4,000 of these homes have already been completed. Furthermore, I approved for constant release of food intervention by Nigerian Customs Service and the North East Development Commission in order to support displaced persons.
“I have directed these agencies to sustain and deepen this support. I also wish to specially commend His Excellency Governor Babagana Umara Zulum for his tireless efforts in directly supervising the distribution of food and economic empowerment to IDPs in all Local Government Areas,” President Buhari said.
On electricity supply, President Buhari said the administration will continue to make concerted efforts towards guaranteeing energy security to all populace across the nation and Maiduguri will not be left out.
The president said Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had been directed to expedite the delivery of 50MW power plant in order to ensure the prompt restoration of electricity to Maiduguri and its environs.
“One episode we will never forget in our lives was last year’s cowardly attack on defenceless rice farmers in Zabarmari community. I have directed the Theatre Command of Operation HADIN KAI and other security agencies to work out modalities, together with Borno State Government and associations of farmers, on ways to improve safe access by farmers to their farms, forests and fishing grounds.
“I have also directed the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to accord special support by deploying more agro rangers, through collaboration with Borno State Government, to secure additional farmlands. I highly commend the Borno State Government for its initiative in deploying the agro rangers. We will extend to it our full support,” he added.
The president said Governor Zulum’s effort at providing facilities that directly impact the livelihood of people, particularly building educational and health institutions, and constructing roads deserved applause.
“I have gone round to commission some of the capital projects executed by Governor Zulum in two years. I am very happy with what I saw. The Vocational Training Institute at Muna, in particular, is a very dynamic answer to skills acquisition and job creation efforts. Such an effort will ensure that, in future, there will be no store of unemployed young minds for terrorists and insurgents to recruit from.
“I was exceedingly happy to commission very laudable capital projects executed at the Borno State University. It is the best answer that the decade-long effort of insurgents to disrupt and destroy modern education in this region has come to naught. I have directed the Federal Ministry of Health to liaise with Borno State Government and accord the needed support to the ongoing construction of Borno State University Teaching Hospital in the areas of equipment and personnel.
The president also commended the Shehu of Borno, other monarchs, elders and religious leaders in the state for their very exemplary leadership, patience, determination and wisdom during this past decade when their land was ravaged by insurgency and terrorism.
“I will never forget in my life that during my career as a politician, Borno State is where I got the highest percentage of votes, more than 90 percent! The least I can do for you is to continue the relentless effort to fully restore peace to this state, the North East region and the country as a whole,” he added.
In his remarks, Governor Zulum thanked the President for the relative peace enjoyed in the State, buoyed by the heavy presence of military and security men who have been engaging the terrorists.
“We have witnessed gradual return of peace to Borno State and it is our sincere hope that insurgency will soon be brought to an end,” he said.
The governor, who said he had already spent 750 days in office, appreciated the president for various developmental interventions, including infrastructure, particularly the approval of 10,000 units of housing for IDPs of which 4,000 had been completed.
Over 150 suspected bandits on about 100 yesterday attacked Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC), Birnin-Yauri, in Yauri local government area of Kebbi State.
They killed a policeman and abducted five teachers including the vice principal, Student Affairs, chief security officer and a large number of SS1 and SS11 students of the college to whisked them off toward the forest.
An SS11 student, who survived the attack but spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the incident to our correspondent in a telephone interview.
According to her, the abductors forced themselves into the college’s premises at about noon and carried out their operation for about two hours after battling with a combined team of policemen attached to the college during one cop was killed.
She said the SS1 and SS11 students were writing mock examinations in their respective classes when suddenly the bandits came into their classes and forced them to board their vehicles and motorcycles
”On seeing what was happening, other students and staff ran helter skelter out of the school. They shot two students in our presence; they are receiving medical attention at a hospital in Yauri,” she said.
In a press statement issued to newsmen in Birnin Kebbi shortly by the state commissioner of police, Mr Adeleke Aeyinka, who condemned the act, also stated that a combined team of policemen were stationed at the college to fight the bandits which resulted in the death of their colleague.
He called on people in the state to always help the command with useful information about strange persons and movements.
He noted that the command had since sent additional combined teams into the forest to get rids of the abductors.
The member of the House of Representatives from Shanga/ Yauri/ Ngaski federal constituency of Kebbi State, Dr Yusuf Tanko Sununu has condemned the attack on Federal Government Girls College in Birnin-Yauri, Kebbi State and the subsequent abduction of some teachers and students by suspected bandits.
Sununu urged the federal government to urgently intervene in the matter even as he expressed sadness over the incident raised the alarm over the worsening state of insecurity in his constituency.
The lawmaker, while addressing journalists at the National Assembly, lamented that children no longer go to school and farmers no longer go to the farm due to the heightened state of insecurity in the area.
“A week ago, we had another calamity when bandits, as mentioned by eyewitnesses, numbering about 250 to 300, each with AK-47 rifle and using very strong motorcycles, came into my constituency. They had a field day and operated for more than eight hours, going house to house, room to room, collecting money, handsets, motorcycles, and cattle. That led to a massive influx of internally displaced persons into the headquarters of the Emirate in the town of Yauri,” he said.
According to Sununu, the bandits had, after carrying out an earlier attack, threatened to return, which they did by attacking the school yesterday.
“However we were able to convince people and they started going back to their respective areas. But they (bandits) left a message that they would be coming back. Taking it seriously, some people refused to go back and in the early hours of today (yesterday), they repeated what they had done earlier and they came into the constituency, sometime around 10.30am or thereabout.
“They were able to have access after a strong fight with some security guards – police that are guarding the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri – and they made an inroad into the school. They succeeded in kidnapping some teachers and an unaccounted number of students. Some of the students and security men are currently receiving care at the General Hospital, Yauri, following gunshot injuries.
“This is cause for concern and as a representative of the people, I have to come here and make a call on the federal government to look at Yauri’s position with its neighbouring Niger State. It has direct access to Zamfara State and the west of Yauri is the back of River Niger. We fear that their major target is to enter Yauri. Now we are calling on the federal government to provide adequate security,” he stated.