In a bid to confront the security challenges facing Northern Nigeria, some leaders of the region have founded a platform under the auspices of Abuja Roundtable, an independent, nonpartisan, non-governmental organisation (NGO).s
The northern stakeholders said the Abuja Roundtable would take an active interest in the resolution of the security crisis facing Northern Nigeria, as they will initiate new and support existing private citizen initiatives to complement the efforts of the three tiers of government.
Former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Tofa, while making this assertion yesterday at the group’s maiden meeting in Abuja, said the level of insecurity across Nigeria was worrisome, and its level in Northern Nigeria had reached existential proportions, threatening to render the region hostile to civilised existence.
In attendance were former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Yayale Ahmed; former governor of Kaduna State, Ramalan Yero; former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Bafarawa; former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatai Ahmed; former minister of information, Labaran Maku; former minister of interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau; former FCT minister, Aliyu Modibbo, former INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega; former chief of defence staff, General Martin Agwai; Senator Abdul Ningi, Hajiya Naja’atu Tijani and former minister of state for aviation, Dr. Idi Hong, amongst others.
Tofa, who spoke for the group, said to bring insecurity in Northern Nigeria under control, more and better collaboration among the states across the region and between the states and federal authorities was required.
He equally stated that there is also a need for more and better coordination among the military and security agencies and between them and the civilian population.
The elder statesman stressed that no effort should be spared to bring an end to the wanton death and destruction that have been unleashed on the region.
“We acknowledge the efforts of the relevant authorities at both the state and federal levels to deal with the difficult, complex, and evolving security situation but it is becoming clear daily that a lot more of these efforts is required.
“The pain, agony, and unwarranted suffering of ordinary people across the region have become completely unbearable as agriculture, education, commerce and the normal rhythm of life have been severely disrupted.
“However, the ultimate remedy to the state of insecurity in Northern Nigeria is a collective resolve by all Northern communities to live in peace with each other, in equity and justice, and quality investment by the three tiers of government, as well as the private sector in human capital, agriculture, healthcare and infrastructure, particularly power, transport and telecommunication.
“These investments are necessary for job creation to catch up with our rapid population growth. So, we will do whatever is necessary and possible to cooperate with the relevant authorities to restore security to the region,” he said.
Tofa listed the objectives of the Abuja Roundtable as: to foster genuine unity among the people of Northern Nigeria; to use unity as the platform to collectively address the challenges of insecurity and underdevelopment in the region; to move from unity within Northern Nigeria to unity among Nigerians.
He however noted that the members were fully aware that attaining the objectives will not be easy as the conditions and forces of division had taken root and had been left to fester unchecked over a long period.
“Abuja Roundtable envisions a united Northern Nigeria in which peace, prosperity, and development become the norm rather than the exception, in which the people are defined by the core values of love, honesty, hard work, contentment, sacrifice, humility, and good neighborliness.
“We are also hopeful that, as collective victims who have paid the price of division, our people have arrived at the realization that unity is required to resolve other challenges afflicting the region.
“Recent consultations with eminent political, traditional, and religious leaders across the North are encouraging. They reveal a strong desire to remove all obstacles to Northern unity and a commitment to overcome its challenges.
“We will widen and deepen these consultations in the coming weeks, months, and, if necessary, years to attain our objectives.
“The most urgent task, therefore, facing the people of Northern Nigeria is to overcome fear and suspicion, jettison unhealthy division and create consensus around common goals and aspirations,” he said.
PMB Meets With Security Chiefs Tomorrow
President Muhammadu Buhari will confer with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, tomorrow .
The president returned to Abuja on Friday after spending 18 days in London during which he attended an education summit and did health checks.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, who announced the meeting in a press statement, noted that the security forces had in the past few weeks taken the battle more robustly to insurgents, bandits and all other criminals troubling the country, forcing them to surrender in droves.
“The president will be brought up to speed on developments at the Thursday meeting, while plans to bring a decisive end to the challenges will be formulated,” he stated.
Army Veterans Have Major Roles In Tackling Insecurity – COAS
The chief of army staff (COAS), Lt-Gen Faruk Yahaya, has said veterans of the Nigerian Army had major roles to play toward tackling current security challenges in the country.
General Yahaya, who was represented by Maj-Gen Boniface Sinjen, the director of personnel services, Army Headquarters, Department of Administration (Army), stated this yesterday in Jos, Plateau State, at the opening of the 2021 Second Quarter Veterans Affairs Seminar/Workshop.
According to him, the veterans have the potential to support the Nigerian Army in combating all forms of insecurity in the country.
He explained that the workshop, with the theme, ”The Role of Nigerian Army Veterans in Nigeria’s National Security Architecture,” would afford the army the opportunity to tap from the avalanche of experience of the retired personnel.
“The importance of this seminar/workshop cannot be overemphasised, bearing in mind the special roles our retired/discharged colleagues play in the society, especially at a time like this when our nation is faced with diverse but surmountable security challenges.
“These challenges include activities of the Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), farmers/herdsmen clashes, banditry and kidnapping.
”I am particularly impressed with the selection of the theme for this workshop, which will provide a forum for us to tap into the wealth of experience of our veterans in tackling the issue of insecurity in Nigeria.
“This workshop is also aimed at broadening the knowledge of our veterans on their important roles in Nigerian national security.”
He added that the event underlined his desire to uplift the standard of both serving and retired/discharged personnel while they diligently perform the constitutional role of securing the nation.
“This combined effort of all persons, especially those of us in uniform, both serving and retired, in securing our nation is further encapsulated in my Vision for the Nigerian Army, which is to have a ‘Professional Nigerian Army Ready to Accomplish Assigned Missions within a Joint Environment in the Defence of Nigeria’.
The army chief explained that the Directorate of Veterans Affairs was recently established at the Army Headquarters to cater for the needs of the veterans.
He promised to continue to make their welfare a priority and called on them to support the army in its bid to end insecurity in the country.
In his welcome address, Maj-Gen Ibrahim Ali, the General Officer Commanding (GOC), 3 Division of the Nigerian Army, Rukuba, near Jos, described the event as unique.
Ali said the event would enable the army to get feedback from the veterans on their welfare, and hence prepare serving officers adequately for their retirement.
The GOC added that the workshop would also boost the confidence of the veterans and give them a sense of belonging, enhance their capacities and broaden their knowledge in contributing toward national security.
ISWAP In Disarray As More Terrorists Surrender
There has been reported disarray in the camps of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) following further surrender of another 219 terrorists and their family members to troops yesterday in Bama local government and Ajiri in Mafa local government area of Borno State.
It was reported that apprehension enveloped the camps of ISWAP, especially amongst its top-ranking commanders over the depleting strength of its members, which has drastically dwindled their overall fighting efficiency.
Confirming the development yesterday, Brig-General Onyema Nwachukwu, director of Army Public Relations, said ISWAP had, thereafter, resorted to social media propaganda to create deception and give the impression that it is still a strong and commanding entity.
Nwachukwu said: “Following the recent unprecedented and massive surrendering of Boko Haram terrorists in the Bama operational area on 2nd and 4th August, 2021 respectively, there has been confusion and severe apprehension in the camps of the Islamic State of West Africa Province.
“It is against this backdrop that the terrorist group opted for the use of propaganda via AMAQ Terrorists Media Wing with the aim to portray the group as if it is still a potent force in the North East.
“The current trend of apprehension in their camps was further aggravated by the recent alarming turnout of members of the terrorist group, who came out in droves with their families to lay down their arms and surrender to our own troops at Mafa local government area on 14th August, 2021.
“A total of 186 Boko Haram terrorists and their family members led by their Amir, Manye Aga, comprising 67 adult males, 54 adult females and 65 children surrendered to troops of Operation Hadin Kai at Forwarding Operational Base (FOB) Ajiri.
“Items recovered from the surrendered terrorists include several AK 47 rifles and magazines, a locally made pistol and eight locally fabricated daggers.
“Similarly, on 15th August, 2021, the Theatre took custody of additional Boko Haram fighters, comprising four adult males, 11 adult females and 18 children from Landanli, Azah, Ngaridua and Kondilla villages, who surrendered to troops of 151 Task Force Battalion, Banki Junction in Bama.
According to him, ISWAP is yet to come to terms with the reality of its current predicament, which has posed a serious negative impact on its prowess.
Zamfara College Students’ Abductors Demand N350m Ransom
Meanwhile, the kidnappers of the students and staff members of the College of Agriculture and Animal Science in Zamfara State have demanded N350 million ransom for their release.
The gunmen had on Sunday night invaded the institution in Bakura local government area of the state.
A police officer and three security officials were killed during the incident
According to the provost of the college, Alhaji Habibu Mainasara, the bandits called him to say they needed N350 million for the 20 people currently in their captivity.
“They said the money must be paid before they release the staff and students they kidnapped in my school,” he added.
‘Repentant’ Boko Haram Members Must Face Justice – ACF
The apex northern sociocultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said the principle of equity and justice should be brought to bear by subjecting repentant Boko Haram terrorists to trial like others attested for similar offences.
National chairman of the forum, Chief Audu Ogbe, while reacting to the increasing number of the terrorists surrendering apparently due to the increasing military onslaught against them, said the terrorist group had caused untold pain to Nigerians and should not be let go scot-free for merely surrendering.
In his reaction tagged ‘Repentant Boko Haram Terrorists and the Principle of Equity and Justice’ said, “We are currently witnessing large scale surrender of large numbers of Boko Haram Insurgents, among whom are bomb makers, commanders, arsorrists, rapists, and child snatchers.
“Do we have good reason to cheer and hope for an end to this decade-old insanity? Is “I am sorry” enough to bring relief to Nigerians and the thousands of dead and maimed? What of those victims bombed in the churches, mosques, schools, and markets? What of all the men and women in uniform murdered by them? Who can count the thousands of widows and orphans they have created?”
Chief Audu further asked “what is the difference between them and the Ighoho’s or ESN of Nigeria? None. So what do we do with them? Should we just embrace them and trust them wholesale? Are their motives informed by altruistic repentance? We seriously doubt,” he said.
“We join the governor of Borno, the Shehu of Borno, Senator Ndume and millions of Nigerians in pondering over this development and our simple advice is, bring them to trial,” he said.
Arm Yourselves, Masari Admonishes Citizens
Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State has called on the people in the areas prone to activities of bandits to acquire weapons and defend themselves.
The governor said it was morally wrong for people to submit meekly to bandits without any attempt to defend themselves, noting that security is everybody’s business.
According to him, it is the people’s meek submission that emboldens the bandits to continue with their heinous act with murderous frequency, adding that people must divorce their mind from the mistaken notion that security is the sole responsibility of the government.
Governor Masari stated this in Jibia town yesterday, when he visited to condole with the people over the death of ten people, crushed on Monday by the operative of the Nigerian Customs Service who was driving an official vehicle with reckless abandon.
He assured the people that government was perusing all the necessary legal steps to seek redress for the families of the deceased, as well as those who sustained various degrees of injuries.
He added that legal experts had already been consulted to advise on the way forward to ensure speedy (legal) resolution of the matter.
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