In a bid to change strategy against terrorists, bandits and other criminals in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered immediate reengineering of the nation’s security apparatus.
National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), disclosed this to State House correspondents after a Security Council meeting presided over by President Buhari at the presidential villa.
Monguno said at the security meeting, President Buhari directed the security chiefs to rejig their strategy, both in terms of operations and intelligence, to further prevent catastrophe in the country.
“We must bear in mind that we owe a duty to the people that elected this government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation all other things such as revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed,” the NSA stated.
According to him, the president restated his earlier stance that the security chiefs need to do more to stem the tide of insecurity in the country.
He said, “What he (Buhari) said today was virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time. Yes, Mr President said ‘you are doing your best, as far as I’m concerned, but there’s still a lot more to be done. I’m more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus. This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time, but I just want us to keep hope alive’.
“I know how everybody feels, I know how Nigerians feel. Definitely the President is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government. I believe in his sincerity, but again, since he is not an octopus, since he’s not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfill the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society”.
The NSA also disclosed that the security chiefs attributed the rising insecurity in the country to drug abuse.
Stating that drug abuse has taken a worrisome dimension, the NSA said Nigeria’s perception on the drug trafficking index has changed from the status of a transit hub to a production centre.
He noted that there is a nexus between the reckless use of these substances and the insecurity confronting the nation.
He stated: “But on the issues of drug trafficking and abuse of drugs, basically, what I told council was that this has taken a worrisome dimension. Nigeria’s perception on the drug trafficking index has changed from the status of a transit hub to a production centre.
“Between 2011 and 2019, approximately 17 manufacturing laboratories of metal and metulin substances were located by the various security agencies and destroyed. That is a large number. At the same time we have had increasing activities of illegal cultivators of Cannabis in Nigeria.
“These people basically use extremely large space of arable land to cultivate this illegal substance, employing militia men to protect their farms and also their storage facilities”.
The NSA noted that there was hardly any violent crime in Nigeria that is not propelled by the use of hard substances, adding that the hard substances had been coming in from all nooks and crannies.
He continued: “What is worrisome is that the report we have received from the chairman NDLEA shows that the number keeps increasing. Despite the closure of borders we still have to contain with the influx of these drugs.
“The problem here is that the reckless use of these substances is directly linked to the insecurity we are confronted with. Unless there is a collective, concerted effort to deal with this problem, it will only result in this country going down the bottomless pit of self-destruction.
“We don’t want that to happen and one of the ways of dealing with this issue is by using a whole of society approach in conjunction with the whole of government approach to achieve the whole of the nation approach.
“Again the problem is that dealing with such an issue as the proliferation of drugs is not as easy as it looks even for the most developed country, because it is not a one sided affair.
“You have a minimum of three parties operating at the same time: the drug peddler (the supper fly), the consumer (the junkie) and that person in the centre who has been entrusted with denying these drugs access into the country.
“It is important to note that if there is a compromise then things become tedious and problematic. So what we did was to invite the chairman of NDLEA based on his report that all security agencies are studying. The president has resolved that we must wrestle this problem.
“This problem is directly linked. If you look at the criminality, the colouration of each crime, especially kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, it is not the killing of the people but the way people are killed, goes to show one thing. It is extremely abnormal, inhuman and these acts can only be perpetrated by people who are out of their mind.
Monguno further said the security and intelligence arm have been able to discover that there are certain drugs of choice that have saturated the entire landscape of the country.
He listed the drugs to include opiums, cocaine, tramadol pertamines and cannabis sativa.
He added: “The popular drug of choice is tramadol. It is easily acquired. Tramadol has been the drug of choice for terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. And if we don’t address it, we are going to be immersed in great problem by virtue of the fact that he who resides in the town, urban or rural area must be able to collaborate with agents of government in revealing these abnormalities.
“I know it has not been easy; there has been a gradual loss of confidence over the years and the president is determined to restore confidence. So, for the issue of drugs, it is basically related to every form of violent crime in which these criminals, just at the touch of a button, give bent to homicidal instincts and go on a murderous rampage killing people.
“The office of the National Security Adviser in conjunction with other security agencies will work on a blueprint in a short, medium and a long term to address this matter”.
He further explained that the second issue is intrinsically tied to banditry in the Northwest and North Central zones where he said illegal aliens in the mining sector were conniving with bandits and kidnappers to unleash terror in the country.
“You have a lot of illegal aliens working just like what you see in the mining sector; illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers. Of course there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies,” he stated.
Also present at the meeting were Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; chief of staff to the president, Professor Ibrahim Gambari and secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha.
Others are Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas.
Also present were the Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Adamu; director-general of Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi and the director-general of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i.
Some of the ministers present were the Attorney-general of the Federation and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dingyadi and minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada.