THE Federal Government on Thursday said that the current Service Chiefs will deploy all necessary force to deal with terrorists and bandits terrorizing some parts of the country. National Security Adviser, NSA, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, (retd) stated this at the weekly presidential media briefing at the Council Chamber, State House, Abuja
He also ruled out the possibility of government negotiating with the criminals, saying that doing that will suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of government. He said the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens. He said: “While the government is not averse to talking, it must apply the necessary force because you can’t trust these people. “Government wants to use military assets to eliminate them but if along the line, they come out, good. It paints the picture of weakness, incapacity.” The NSA further declared that the federal government will not engage mercenaries in its fight against insurgents and other forms of insecurity in the country. While responding to a question on renewed calls by North-east governors on the federal government to engage foreign mercenaries in routing Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other insurgents’ enclaves, he said: “The President’s view and directive is that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the President has given a new lease of life to the Armed Forces.” He said the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens. According to him, “While government is not averse to talking with these entities, it also has to fully apply its weight. You can’t (negotiate) with people who are unreliable and who will continue to hurt society. We will apply the full weight of the government to deal with these criminals. “These are not people looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate, they’re just out to take calculated measures to inflict pain and violence on innocent people. We must deal with them the way they need to be dealt with. We will fully assert the government’s will. “We are also focusing on the associated dimensions of the banditry and terrorism: Illegal Drugs, the flow of small arms & light weapons, and Illegal mining in places like Zamfara. These are some of the scenarios fueling the violence, and we are already tackling them decisively.” The NSA also disclosed that between March and December 2020, the military successfully took out 2,403 insurgents in the North East. On why the government was silent on Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who has been calling on government to grant insurgents amnesty, Monguno, he has met and interacted with him briefly in Kaduna at the zonal town hall meeting with service chiefs but that he was still waiting for the cleric to come forth as he promised to help. He also said the recent changes made by President Buhari to the security architecture “gives us a ray of hope that things will be adjusted, so that whatever we do as regards securing Nigeria will be in conformity with the aspirations of the people.
On external support, the NSA said: “There’s a Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit, comprising US, UK, France working with us and our neighbors. They’ve been supporting us with intelligence. For us what’s most important is acting on the intelligence—that’s why we’re investing in equipment and assets.” On the new Service Chiefs, Monguno said, “The new direction of government is to come out with full force. Government will not allow itself to be blackmailed by any group or any individual who thinks he can hide under the surface and use proxies to deal a fatal blow on innocent people. ” That I want to assure you categorically and unequivocally, government is going to apply full weight to deal with these criminals until such a time that they vacate the shores of this country. ” In dealing with this issue, government realizes the tangential, auxiliary organizations to key in both the issue of drugs coming in and smuggling of arms and light weapons. ” As a result of what I said about delivering maximum force, the weight of our security organizations, does that obviate the need for us to use soft approach. “We are ready to dialogue with these people but for us, it’s not a priority. “We can’t be singing the same song everyday and these people are unreliable. They are ignoble, they are ready to undermine whatever agreement we have had, so, because of that, if the opportunity avails itself, of course, we will talk with responsible people from the side of those people. “I don’t even know how to categorize them because it’s not as if they are looking for something you can point a finger at, it’s not some kind of nationalistic situation, something you can actually identify and relate to. “These are just a murderous group of individuals who are keyed up on drugs and I don’t know what anybody wants to negotiate with these people. “And the people who have been negotiating with them in the first place, don’t you think they should actually, if there is that sincerity of purpose talk with the right people in government? So, for negotiations, it is there, we would see what happens if it happens.”