Nigerians can end the spate of insecurity in the country by exposing the criminals living within them, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, said this yesterday.
He said citizens were not helping matters by only complaining about insecurity and accusing security agencies of not doing enough.
He said this yesterday in an interview with State House reporters after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the activities of the army in the North-Western part of the country.
Buratai said terrorism, banditry, insurgency, kidnapping and other security challenges would end when the citizens wanted them to end.
However, some experts spoken to last night said many Nigerians and community leaders are now afraid to divulge information to security agents because they ended up being killed.
Buratai’s comments came as 192 people were killed in different parts of the country within the last three months, including dozens of security personnel, according to Daily Trust tally.
President Buhari had on Thursday, June 18, 2020, reprimanded his service chiefs including Buratai that their “best was not enough” in containing the deteriorating security situation in the country.
Briefing State House reporters, the National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno, who briefed State House reporters, said, “Mr President expressed great concern over the declining security situation in the country. He is extremely unhappy about what is happening. He feels that even though the security agencies are doing their best, their best is not good enough for him and he wants an immediate reversal of the current trend and immediate reversal of our misfortunes in all their dimensions.
“Mr President also told us clearly, in no uncertain terms, that he and indeed the administration campaigned to power on the platform of three issues – fighting insecurity, overcoming our economic difficulties and dealing with the scourge of corruption.
“More so, he noted that it takes common sense for anyone to understand that without security, the pursuit of the other two will just be an exercise in futility.
“He, therefore, warned the security agencies to take into consideration the wider implication of the gradual descent of the security of the country. He is not going to accept any further escalation of the security situation,” Monguno said in June.
When State House correspondents asked him the way out of the insecurity bedevilling the country, Buratai said giving vital information about the whereabouts and movements of insurgents and bandits would help to contain the situation.
The army chief said what was needed was cooperation of all and not complaints as the bandits, terrorists and those constituting nuisance to the society were mainly Nigerians.
The chief of army staff said although securing the country was not an easy task, the army will continue to do its best in carrying out its task.
Buratai voiced optimism that normalcy would soon be restored to the affected areas.
While reacting to questions on the task given to them by Buhari and whether Nigeria could win this war, Buratai said: “These tasks are still ongoing and we will continue to deal with them. Securing our country is a task everybody knows, is to secure the country from any form of insecurity and in this case, you know the military task is very clear, to defend our country from external aggression, our territorial integrity and to come to the aid of civil authority of which we are doing.
“So, it is the same task that we should end or curtail or bring to the barest minimum the issue of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism and insurgency and we have been doing it for a long time. We are essentially supporting the police to ensure that our country is safe.
“As to whether banditry, terrorism and so on will end, I think it all depends. If Nigerians want it to end today, I can assure you it will end today if everybody joins hands because these bandits are not outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign land.
“These terrorists, 99 percent of them are Nigerians. These kidnappers I will say 100 percent of them are Nigerians. So, it is not just a military, security agency task to end the insecurity in this country. It is only when it goes bad that we are called in, but everybody has the responsibility to handle that. Some of the insecurities are as old as history itself and it all depends on what you are doing to contain or defeat it at a particular time. It is the totality of your effort that will determine the escalation or containment of the insecurity in the country.
“Terrorism is relatively new and insurgency, we have had that experience before and we contained it, just like the different crises we have had in different locations. We had the Maitatsine issue, few uprising in history we have contained them; the unfortunate civil war has come to an end.
“But if serious efforts are being made to contain the situation, I believe the right thing for any right thinking individual to do is to be hopeful and support the efforts of all the agencies that are involved in containing the situation.
“There are setbacks that can occur in such military operations or any security operations, but that does not mean inability to handle it, incompetence to handle it, as long as the efforts are there and are visible, the support of all and sundry will be required to address it squarely,” Buratai said.
Buratai added that if Nigerians kept complaining and accusing security agencies of incompetence, things would not improve.
“You are supposed to find solutions as something is being done on daily basis. I assure you that we will soon reach the end of the tunnel and we will see the light that will improve the security situation in all parts of the country,” he said.
He said the series of killings, kidnappings, cattle rustling and the threats to prevent the people from going to their farms this season had been addressed with the presence of troops in the North- West carrying out surveillance operations.
Buratai, while speaking on the motive behind his visit, said: “I am here to brief Mr President on the task he gave me and I have accomplished one aspect of the task and to brief him on our operations, especially Operations Sahel Sanity in the North West and of course the ongoing operations in North East and other security issues that pertains to the Nigerian Army actually.”
A serving security officer who spoke in confidence said security chiefs have ran out of ideas and urged Buhari to replace them.
The officer who had served in the North East, North East and North Central said though citizens’ participation was key to ending insecurity, Buhari should inject new blood to drive the process.
“The president had weeks ago through the NSA said he was fed up with excuses from the service, don’t you think what Buratai said today (yesterday) is another needless excuse?
“I can assure you that hundreds of Nigerians lost their lives after giving privileged information to security agents who in turn leaked the identity of the bandits to terrorists, kidnappers or bandits…So, we must call a spade a spade,” he said.
A security expert, Salihu Bakhari said the responsibility of ending insecurity lied on the table of the president.
“He has the final say as the commander-in-chief. He should compare what the security chiefs are telling him and the situation on ground and see if there is any progress. Bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and sundry criminals are on the rampage.
“They are on the rampage killing people at will and nobody can give you the actual number of people being killed every day. We are indeed at a crossroad,” he said.
A tally by the Daily Trust showed that at least 192 Nigerians including security agents and civilians were killed between May and the second week of July, 2020. The figure did not include killings not reported in the media.
The breakdown showed that 142 deaths were recorded through killings by Boko Haram terrorists within the time under review.
Also, 18 Nigerians were killed in secret cult related violence with 11 deaths recorded in May and seven in June.
Farmers-herders clashes claimed five people in May and 13 in June; while four people were killed in May, three in June and two in July as a result of excesses by security operatives.
Five Nigerians were reportedly killed due to jungle justice during the time under review.