A former Head of State in Nigeria, Ibrahim Babangida, has expressed his support for the negotiations between the Federal Government and the Boko Haram terrorist group.
At a media parley on Monday in Minna, Niger State, organised to commemorate his 74th Birthday Anniversary, retired General Babangida said there was nothing wrong with the Federal Government reaching a peace deal with the Boko Haram insurgents.
He also commended the efforts by the present administration to tackle insurgency in the north-east and expressed confidence in the capacity of the Federal Government to win the war against terrorism.
Ready To Negotiate
On August 8, the Nigerian government said it was ready to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents if the true leaders of the group could be identified and properly represented.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, gave the government’s position at a dinner in Abuja.
He said the government could not afford to negotiate with anybody masquerading as the leader of the group and in the end, collect money from government fraudulently.
The government’s statement has generated mixed reactions from Nigerians, with some saying the government should not negotiate with a terrorist group, suggesting that security forces should tackle the group.
There have been counter-terrorism operations in the north-east for over five years, but the terrorist group of late resorted to suicide bombing, attacking soft targets.
During his campaign, President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to end insurgency as soon as possible if voted into office.
Since he became President, the terrorist group has killed over 1,000 persons in different attacks in north-east, north-central and north-wast regions.
Nigeria’s service chiefs appear to be taking the President’s matching orders to defeat Boko Haram within three months, with all the seriousness it requires.
To this end, the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Tukur Buratai and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar have arrived in Maiduguri for an assessment of the military operations against the insurgents.
The Inspector-General of Police and the National Security Adviser were also part of the visit.
The National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, said that their mission in Borno State was to reassess operational situations and hit the ground running.
The Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, who had a closed door session with the security delegation, also expressed optimism about the new drive towards the counter insurgency campaign.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, after decorating the officers whose appointments were announced two months ago, lamented the upsurge in the wave of the terror attacks in the north east, challenging the service chiefs not to fail Nigerians.
He charged them to be accountable for all men and equipment under their command, with the welfare of the troops uppermost in their minds.
The President also pledged to give them the needed support, while charging them to protect innocent civilians as well as respect the rights of combatants to earn the support of Nigerians and the international community.
On assumption of office on May 29, the President had ordered that the military’s command centre be moved to the troubled north east to ensure more effective prosecution of the anti-terrorism campaign.
In the mean time, the Nigerian Air Force has moved more of its platforms to the northeast to boost the military operations there.
The newly appointed Service Chiefs have been given three months to terminate the activities of Boko Haram in the country.
President Mohammadu Buhari gave this marching order after decorating the officers whose appointments were announced two months ago.
He charged them to be accountable for all men and equipment under their command, with the welfare of the troops uppermost in their minds.
The President also pledged to give them the needed support, while charging them to protect innocent civilians as well as respect the rights of combatants to earn the support of Nigerians and the International Community.
The Chief Staff Officer of the Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Bee Ibenwo, has urged officers of the Nigerian Navy to continue to maintain a high degree of loyalty and discipline in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities to Nigeria.
He gave the admonition in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, south-west Nigeria while representing the reviewing officer, Rear Admiral Jonathan Ango, at the 21st passing out parade of the 2014/2015 of the Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Abeokuta.
Addressing the young graduating students at the ceremony attended by the Alake of Egbaland, Service Chiefs in the state and other dignitaries, the Chief Staff Officer warned them against cultism, terrorism and other vices that may put the nation and their future in disrepute.
Rear Admiral Ibenwo also took off time to admonish men and officers of the Nigerian Navy to be loyal to the civil authorities and discharge their constitutional duties with utmost professionalism.
The party was moved to the parade ground where the out-going students put to test the military training they had acquired.
The 200 graduating students were, however, pulled out in a military version out of the school into the wider world to the admiration of parents, relatives and well wishers.
17 political parties have signed peace accord in Kogi State ahead of the forth coming general elections across the nation and in the bid to ensure violence free and credible election in the State.
The peace pact which, was organized by the State chapter of the Inter Party Accord Committee (IPAC), in collaboration with the Kogi State Police Command was to ensure a hitch free elections in Kogi State.
The State Chairman of the Inter Security Agencies and the Commissioner of Police, Mr Adeyemi Ogunjemilusi explained the essence of the gathering, as he warned those planning to subvert the electoral process in the State to favour them to desist from it in there own interest.
Speaking also at the occasion was the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) for Kogi State, Hussain Halilu Pai, who assured the political parties that the electoral umpire was ready to conduct a credible election.
According to him, the introduction of Smart Card Readers (SCR) and Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) is an improvement on the 2011 election.
The Chairman of the Inter-Party Advisory, Hon. Ibrahim Itodo also admonished political parties representatives.
Despite the expiration of emergency rule in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states, the Senate has gone into a closed door meeting with service chiefs to discuss the extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states.
The service chiefs present at the meeting are the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah and the Director General of the Department of State Security, Mr Ita Ekpenyong.
The Senate has been considering President Jonathan’s request for a further extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states.
The service chiefs were to brief the Senate last week Thursday but were unable to do so because of the security crises in the National Assembly.
The Inspector General of Police is also expected to appear before the Senate at plenary to explain why the police invaded the National Assembly last week Thursday, using tear gas on Senators and Members of the House of Representatives.
The National Council of State expressed optimism on Tuesday of the safe return of the over 200 girls abducted from their dormitory in a school in Chibok, Borno State, by members of a terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Briefing Journalists after the meeting in Abuja, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Godswill Akpabio, said that the Council was happy with the efforts of the Security Forces as they push to rescue the abducted girls.
The meeting was attended by six ex-Head of State including former President Olusegun Obasanjo , past Ministers of Justices and Attorneys General, Leadership of the National Assembly, Service Chiefs, and some Governors of the 36 States of the Federation.
The council, according to Governor Akpabio, also expressed confidence that “there will not be casualties when the rescue operation is carried out.
President Goodluck Jonathan and the Army Chief briefed the council on the security situation and the security personnel’s efforts to rescue Chibok girls, who have been in the custody of the Boko Haram sect for over 85 days.
The National Council of State further called on Nigerians to be patient with security personnel because the issue of terrorism was new and that security personnel would adopt the best and meticulous approach towards dealing with it effectively.
The deployment is aimed at fast tracking the search and rescue operations of the girls though the government is still deploying more troops to Borno State as part of an effort to rescue the girls and end insurgency in the area.
The Boko Haram sect have carried out series of attacks on villages, school and churches in three major states in the region – Adamawa, Borno and Yola.
The House of Representatives has approved the request by President Goodluck Jonathan for an extension of emergency rule in the three north eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
The approval was granted after over two-hour closed door briefing by security chiefs and hours of deliberations by lawmakers.
Although some opposition lawmakers argued that the extension of emergency rule is not necessary in those states, others say it is necessary to give a legal backing to domesticate international treaties in the fight against terror in Nigeria with the force of law.
Addressing a news conference after the proceedings, spokesman of the House, Representative Zakari Mohammed, said the constitution is clear on what needs to be done in times such as this.
The lawmakers may have given the extension required by the executive after what they say was useful insight given by the service chiefs on the security situation in the affected areas.
They also realize the need to follow up the efforts put in by the military to see to the end of terrorism in these states.
An emergency meeting of Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has been scheduled for Tuesday, 22nd April, 2014 at the Niger State Governor’s Lodge, Jose Marti Crescent, Asokoro, Abuja at 4:00 p.m.
A statement made available to Channels Television said that the meeting was called out of concern to address the incessant attacks and systematic killings of innocent people going on in the region, which has become a source of embarrassment and great concern to the Forum.
The statement explained that the meeting would discuss the increasing incidences of clashes between Fulani herdsmen and local communities, as well as reckless massacre and kidnapping of people across the Northern States.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan has been in a meeting with members of the National Security Council in the Presidential Villa to review recent security events and developments in the country.
Those present at the meeting include Vice President Namadi Sambo, the Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen Aliyu Gusau, the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, the Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, the Director-General of the State Security Services and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Minister of Police Affairs, and the Minister for the Interior are also present at the meeting.
The meeting of the National Security Council would be followed by an enlarged meeting on security developments in the country to which President Jonathan has invited State Governors.
A Public Affairs Analyst, Emma Addo, on Friday said that the ambition of the new Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau, to have total control over the entire security apparatus of the nation would not work as the Nigerian Armed Forces Act and the National Defence Policy have defined his roles.
He also said that the ensuing power play between Gusau and the Service Chiefs was “normal” as “people are bound to want to flex muscles and lay the ground rules.”
Although, Mr. Addo, who was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, admitted that the new developments were not welcomed considering the security situation in the country, he, however, opined that “what has happened is normal” and would not affect the on-going battle against the Boko Haram insurgency.
Rumours that the Defence Minister had resigned filtered into the public domain following his absence at a Security Council meeting as a result of a disagreement with the Service Chiefs, which the Presidency debunked. Mr.Addo was of the opinion that the “the new minister is an old hand who we started hearing about from 1983 when General Buhari came to power. So, I think he has a long history”, adding that Gusau’s pedigree may have threatened the composure of the Service Chiefs.
Addo also mentioned that information in the public domain revealed that Gusau had asked the President to allow him be in charge of the entire Force just as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Coordinating Minister of Finance. However, “the military is a different ball game,” he added.
“There’s just no way it’s going to work out. If it works out for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it’s not going to work out for you.
“You see, the whole problem with this military thing is Gusau is course 3 and the new service chiefs and the CDS are course 21, 21, 23, 24. So from the word go, I think there was going to be problem.”
He went further to say “Gusau asking to be in total control of the Military is informed by one fact – that the North believes that they’ve not had a fair deal” in terms of position.
Addo also did not rule out the possibility of an attraction to personal gains as he suggested that Gusau may also want to reap the benefits of such influence, including the power to “vet appointments” and “vet contracts.”
Although the Minister In Charge of Defence oversees policy making, the CDS is in charge of the day to day affairs of the Force and the Service Chiefs, his subordinates. “If you look at all those put together, I am not too sure the military high commanders are wrong.”
Addo, however, allayed fears that the political struggle would affect the fight against the insurgents. “I think the military boys are doing their job and it’s the political aspect of it that’s playing out.”