Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says restructuring of the nation’s security architecture is the only means by which Nigerians can truly get the safety of lives and property that they so desire.
Speaking on Friday at the 2020 edition of the Sobo Sowemimo Annual Lecture organised by Abeokuta Club, Obasanjo noted that at this point, the destiny of the country is in the hands of every Nigerian.
At the event titled, “COVID-19 and the Nigeria security issues: The way forward” the elder statesmen urged Nigerians to put on their thinking caps in a bid to chart a new course for socioeconomic developments.
According to the former president, “federal security architecture as organised and operated by the present government cannot give any individual or group hope, let alone assurance of security within Nigeria.
“Our destiny is in our own hands. In reform and restructuring, security architecture, structure and arrangement must devolve more security responsibility on the community, local and state authorities.
“Unfortunately, I have recently observed from some writers on the security situation in the North, the feeling or attitude of ‘it serves them right’. We must not gloat at the difficulties or misfortune of others, rather we must emphathise.
“Wherever there is insecurity in Nigeria, it must be of concern to all of us. It should not be the attitude of ‘am alright Jack’ or ‘it serves them right’. I believe it should be ‘we are all in one bad boat and we must put all hands on deck to fix it’. Maybe now that we are all feeling the pinch, the collective fixing will be understood and be easy to accomplish”.
The former military leader urged Nigerians to take initiative and spearhead actions that will involve “governments and the governed”, leading to the devolution of the security architecture, and responsibility in subsidiarity.
The Air Component of the Operation Hadarin Daji has neutralised scores of armed bandits in Dutsen Asolo and Birnin Kogo areas of Katsina State as well as at Dogo Gede’s Camp in the Kwayanbana Forest area of Zamfara State.
This was disclosed in a statement issued on Wednesday by the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters Major General, John Enenche.
According to Enenche, the operation began on 20 June 2020, and so far, 10 locations have been attacked.
“The Operation, which was preceded by the massive deployment of additional air assets and ground support equipment by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to Katsina, is aimed at taking out armed bandits’ locations that were painstakingly selected, based on impeccable Human Intelligence (HUMINT) reports as well as series of Surveillance missions, in order to significantly degrade the armed bandits’ fighting capability before it could be brought to bear against friendly forces or innocent civilians,” the statement read.
“At Dutsen Asolo, NAF jets dispatched by the Air Component attacked the cave/hideout of the bandits, destroying the main entry point and neutralizing some fighters. Some surviving bandits, who were tracked escaping from the cave area were taken out in follow-on strikes.
“Also, on 21 June 2020, at the bandits’ enclave in the Kwayanbana Forest, an attack helicopter took out one of the bandits’ logistics huts, which was seen engulfed in flames. Similarly, at Birnin Kogo on 22 June 2020, some armed bandits, who fled their dwellings in the centre of the camp to nearby bushes on hearing the sound of the attack aircraft, were neutralized as the NAF fighter jets hit them at their hiding positions”.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was in Katsina to oversee the Operation, has commended the Air Component of Operation Hadarin Daji for their professionalism.
He urged them to remain resolute in the conduct of air strikes whilst continuing to provide close air support for ongoing ground operations in order to eradicate all armed bandits; thus accomplishing the directives of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) to restore normalcy in the North West and North Central Zones of the Country.
The Nigerian Air Force has deployed five additional aircraft to boost its fight against banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kaduna states.
The Chief of the Air staff, Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar, disclosed this on Tuesday when he supervised an area demarcated for the construction of taxiway, apron, hangar and aircraft shelters in Bakuru village, in the newly proposed NAF Central Flying School, Katsina State.
Abubakar also noted that the jets were deployed at the Umaru Musa ‘Yar’adua Airport, Katsina State.
The air assets included, among other things, Augusta 109 powered helicopter NAF, Surveillance aircraft, gunship helicopter, fighter and Alpha jets.
This brings the total number of the air assets to 10, currently operating in the ongoing operation, code-named Operation Wutan Daji, a subsidiary of Operation Hadarin Daji.
While stating that the force is determined to make it extremely difficult for the bandits to operate in the North-Western region of the country, Abubakar expressed satisfaction with the successes recorded so far in the fight against banditry.
According to him, in the last three days, close to 100 hours, so many locations of the Bandits have been identified, with 10 of their camps cleared.
“We have 10 aircraft that are operating so far, we have bought a substantial quantity of aviation fuel amounting to over 200,000 litres along with quite a number of personnel to ensure that communities are secured.
“We are working very closely with the Nigerian army, we are also conducting air interdiction operation codenamed operation Wutan Daji which is an air interdiction operation that takes the fight into the forest where most of the Bandits are.
“I want to appreciate the Katsina state Governor, Aminu Masari for giving us the land to construct taxiway, apron, hangar and aircraft shelters in the newly proposed NAF Central Flying School, Katsina.
“We also appreciate their Royal highnesses, the emirs of Katsina and Daura and citizens for giving us the intelligence without which we cannot fight the Bandits.
“We are very happy with the level of support and cooperation we get from the citizens of the Northwest,” Abubakar said.
On May, 22, the Nigerian Air Force deployed additional sixty Special Forces to complement the effort of the ongoing Hadarin Daji operation, to sweep out bandits and kidnappers terrorising innocent citizens of Katsina State.
The presidency has assured Nigerians that the nation’s armed forces are fully capable of dealing with the challenges of banditry and terrorism.
They, therefore, urged Nigerians to exercise more patience as the military takes appropriate steps to block gaps being exploited to unleash mayhem on innocent citizens.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu on Tuesday.
According to the statement, President Muhammadu Buhari, who has approved a joint military and police operation specifically targeted at combing Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states to rid the areas of bandits, assures that surveillance will be improved, with more night vision aircraft already deployed under “Operation Accord’’.
The operation is said to have been launched three weeks ago.
“Nigeria’s military has displayed its capabilities in the past and will show it again by dealing with the current challenges,” the President was quoted to have said.
He also sympathized with residents of Katsina State who may have been bereaved, injured or lost properties.
Meanwhile, the president warned that taking to the streets for protest could distract the military operations. He, therefore, urged “Katsina indigenes not to give up on the military who over the years have a strong track record of quelling crises once given enough time.
“The major forests in North-Western Nigeria have been identified as home to the bandits in the region. The operation will clear all these forests,’’ he said.
“Don’t go and tell the state police (that) community policing is about the Nigeria Police or Fulani herdsmen. It is how we on our own can partner with the police and other security agencies to ensure that security in Imo State (is improved),” he said.
Governor Uzodinma also called on residents of the state to cooperate with the security agencies by providing timely and useful information in curbing crimes in the state.
This follows the agreement between the governors of the southeast and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu on setting up a community policing structure in each state in the region.
The committee is composed up of leaders of security operatives, traditional and religious heads as well as women and youth leaders from various communities.
Human Rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Femi Falana, has called for maximum security in Edo and Ondo states.
Falana made this call on Wednesday during the Citizens’ Townhall on Voting Amidst COVID-19 ahead of the September 19 governorship elections in the two states.
He noted that the move is necessary in order to douse the tensions that may arise as campaigns will soon begin.
The senior lawyer argued that unlike the local council polls in Cross River and Benue States where the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swept all the seats, the governorship elections on September 19 will draw opposition parties participating in the exercise.
“You had a Local Government election in Cross River State and Benue State last Saturday, the opposition did not participate because the opposition would have wasted its funds by participating.
“In Cross River State, for instance, the 18 Chairmanship seats were won by the PDP while the 196 Councillorship seats were won by the ruling party.
“Ditto for Benue where 23 chairmanship seats were won by the PDP and of course the 276 councillorship seats were won by the ruling party, but it is going to be different in Ondo and Edo states where you are talking of opposition political parties slugging it out with the ruling political party.
“So tensions will be high, you will need maximum security to guarantee law and order in both states and then monitor some of the political leaders in those two states,” he said.
Falana also predicted a low turnout of voters on the Election Day, asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to provide facemasks to electorates who may not be able to afford it in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lagos State has taken new steps towards improving security in all communities across the state, with the inauguration of the State Community Policing Advisory Committee (SCPAC) and its operations arm, State Community Policing Committee (SCPC).
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, inaugurated members of the two committees at a ceremony held at the State House in Alausa, pointing out that the event marked a turning point in the government’s deliberate effort to re-strategise and rethink the security architecture using Community Policing Initiative as proposed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr. Muhammed Abubakar Adamu.
According to the governor, the initiative is long overdue and is aimed at addressing inadequacies of the current policing model, which he says has failed to engage members of local communities and neighbourhoods in knowledge sharing and intelligence gathering that could help in nipping crimes in the bud.
SCPAC, which is co-chaired by the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, and chairman of Council of Obas and Chiefs in Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, will be the custodian of the initiative and it is to maintain highest level of oversight on community policing in the State.
SPAC, on the other hand, will be responsible for managing and coordinating the state-level operations of the community policing programme, and it will, among other functions, help identify security threats in communities and work with the police and the Community Police Officers (CPOs) in evolving appropriate strategies for addressing them.
Sanwo-Olu said the community policing initiative was conceived and rolled out to achieve fundamental changes in the way the government responds to security matters and make security agencies proactive in discharging their statutory duties.
“Today is a particularly important and auspicious day for the good people of Lagos State. We are gathered here to take an important step in the implementation of a long-overdue policing reform effort – the Community Policing Initiative,” the governor said.
“In a democracy, the involvement of the people in all matters of governance, especially on issues that impact directly on their well-being is key to achieving good governance. One of the inadequacies of our current policing systems has been the inability to tap the knowledge and intelligence that exists at neighbourhood and community level.
“The work that the Police are expected to do becomes more difficult when they are expected to do it alone. No matter how well-resourced or technologically advanced a Police Force might be, there might be no progress without the trust and support of the communities in which they operate. Every citizen has a role to play in ensuring that the security architecture functions optimally.”
According to the governor, deploying technology and equipping the police with modern gadgets to fight crimes remains a novel idea that any government could introduce, but he added that such cannot be a substitute for mutual trust and cooperation between the police and members of their host communities.
He said a citizen-centric approach to tackling crime and criminality would take a lot of pressure off the police and allow them to focus energy and resources on issues that matter most.
The community policing model, Sanwo-Olu suggested, will give every community resident a strong sense of participation in governance and strengthen the social contract between the Government and citizens. He praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his unequivocal support for fundamental security reforms in Nigeria.
He said: “We are implementing this policing initiative with sole objective of creating a platform for citizens’ participation towards improving security in our communities. We want Lagos State to be a role model for the rest of the country in terms of how community policing should function. We want to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and confidence, one that engenders speedy resolution of issues as they arise.
“Community policing, in its ideal implementation, will take a lot of pressure off the Police Force and allow them to focus their energy and resources where it matters most. It will give citizens and residents a strong sense of participation in governance, and strengthen the social contract between the Government and the governed. A citizen-centric approach to tackling crime and criminality is a big plus for democratic practice and governance.”
The Governor charged members of the committees to discharge their tasks with patriotism, integrity and diligence, saying their membership was a “rare privilege” and an opportunity to serve Lagos and the nation.
“I urge you all to be bold and innovative in the work of developing and implementing the necessary operational guidelines and procedures that will promote and sustain mutual trust, respect and confidence between the people and security agencies, and make Lagos State a no-go area for all those who seek to undermine our security,” Sanwo-Olu said.
To further take the initiative down to neighbourhoods and draw more participation from residents at the grassroots, Sanwo-Olu said the state government would be constituting additional committees, which will include: Area Command Community Policing Advisory Committee, Local Government Community Policing Advisory Committee, and Divisional Community Policing Committee.
The governor also used the occasion to re-assure all security formations in the state of his administration’s commitment to support their activities by providing equipment and resources through the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF) and other interventions.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Training at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, Mr. David Folawiyo, who represented the IGP, said the nation had reached a point where the police must interface with community members in maintaining social order.
“It is a bottom-up approach that shifts focus on reactive law enforcement to proactive problem solving,” he said.
Other members of SCPAC include: Heads of security agencies in the State, representative of Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC), Apostle Kehinde Sowemimo, representative of the Lagos Muslim Community, Sheikh Sulaiman Abou-Nolla, representative of the Lagos chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Apostle Alexander Bamgbola, representatives of three senatorial districts in Lagos.
Membership of SPAC include: representative of the Commissioner of Police, DCP Etim Oqua Efiom; representative of traditional institution, Oba Momodu Ashafa; Muslim community, Bashorun Sikiru Alabi; CAN representative, Bishop Stephen Adegbite; PCRC representative, Prince Yemi Adenowo; representative of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Mrs. Blessing Abiri; representative of the Lagos chapter of the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Mr. Lookman Aminu; representative of people living with disabilities, Hon. Israel Akiode, representative of the Nigeria Bar Association, Prince Dele Oloke, and representative of the Lagos chapter of National Council of Women Societies, Alhaja Sikirat Agoro.
Security operatives in Zamfara State have arrested no fewer than 251 illegal miners in three local government areas of the state.
According to the spokesman of the Zamfara State police command, Mohammed Shehu, a joint team of Soldiers, police and the Department of State Security Services had on May 21, 2020, raided the mining sites in Anka, Bukkuyum and Gummi local government areas, following intelligence information about the activities of the illegal miners which included 250 Nigerians and one Burkinabe national.
Exhibits recovered from them included 12 pumping machines, 29 motorcycles, Chemicals for making gold and Unrefined Gold sifting materials.
The police spokesman also disclosed that all the suspects have confessed to the offence and will be arraigned before the court of competent jurisdiction whenever the court resumes sitting.
He also warned that until and unless the Federal Government lifts the ban on mining activities, anybody who goes against the norms will be arrested and severely dealt with according to the law of the land.
Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule has donated vehicles and other items to the Nigerian army in the state.
The governor noted that the move is part of the efforts made by his administration to boost the security situation in the state.
Governor Sule also reiterated the state government’s commitment to facilitate the take-off of the recently established army camps in Nasarawa and Toto local government areas of the state.
He also assured the security agencies of his administration’s support, pledging to wipe out criminal elements from Nasarawa State.
“This is a time that we are faced with the challenge of COVID-19 globally. The statement we are trying to make here is to state that in spite of all the challenges of COVID-19 and all the issues that we are facing in the state, we are not shying away from one of our major responsibilities – the security of our state.
“We have to say thank you for coming out to provide some of these simple supportive materials and this is not the end of it. I assure you that we will continue to support you as well as all the other security agencies that we have continued to do all the time so that this state is rid of criminal elements by the grace of God,” he said.
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, says there is no going back on the planned creation of regional security outfit in the south-south.
Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, governor Okowa said regardless of some criticisms trailing the move, he and his colleagues will not be deterred by some negative comments.
According to him, the governors decided to create the outfit to address the security challenges facing the region for the overall good of the people.
“The fact is that whatever you do, even when you mean the best for our state and the best for this nation, you always have a statement of people turning it into politics and some people will want to criticise you.
“But as governors, ours is to do things in the best interests of the states and in the best interest in the larger majority of the people. We cannot stop people from playing politics out of whatever we do.
“We are not going to be deterred by the criticisms of some group of people. We are elected as governors to do the best we can to secure our people and to bring development to our people,” he stated.
Speaking further, the Delta State helmsman noted that the regional governors do not need to seek permission from anybody or group before carrying out their constitutional responsibility.
He believes that following a joint meeting, there is an urgent “need to share a security approach. There is a need to support the security agencies – the police, military with the civilian outfit so that collaboratively, we can truly become more efficient.”
Okowa’s comment comes shortly after the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA) warned the South-South governors against establishing a regional security outfit.
In a statement, the group accused the governors of having an ulterior political motive behind the move for the outfit.
The Commission, according to the governors, will harmonise policies that would drive the economic cooperation and integration and set member states on a path for rapid economic growth and development.
Similarly, the governors called on the Federal Government to deduct the thirteen per cent derivation from the source before allocation to states.
“And we need to stress that in any allocation that is being done, 13 per cent derivation must first be taken out of the funds that come from oil revenue before the rest of the funds is shared out,” Okowa said.
On the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the governors called for a meeting of health commissioners in the region to map out preventive measures.