Instead of the persistent calls for the sack of service chiefs due to the resurgence of attacks by insurgents and bandits in various parts of Nigeria, civil society organisations (CSOs) have appealed for mass support for the armed forces to address the security challenges facing the country.
The appeal came from several CSOs, which staged a massive solidarity rally for the security chiefs in Abuja and held separate press conferences to mobilise Nigerians to show understanding with the military heads as they intensify their crackdown on all criminal elements in the country.
The first set of CSOs under the aegis of the Conference of Civil Society Organisations for Peace, Security and National Development, held a rally at the Unity Fountain in Abuja while the second coalition, Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria (Civil Society Centre for Leadership and Followership) addressed a press conference at the secretariat of the Abuja Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
The conveners of the Conference of Civil Society Organisations for Peace, Security and National Development, Hon. Mike Msuaan and Comrade Adamu Kabir Matazu, said that their group comprises 90 CSOs, which have jointly rejected the calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs.
Msuaan and Matazu, who jointly addressed journalists after the rally, said that the removal of the service chiefs would erode the gains already made against the insurgents and other criminal gangs that are terrorising Nigerians.
The duo stated that those calling for the heads of the security chiefs based their position on career progression while others were ignorant on the gains that had been made in the last four years under the service chiefs.
Msuaan said that a cursory review of the ongoing military campaign against insurgency would reveal the dexterity deployed by the armed forces, especially the Nigerian Army in curbing insecurity in the Northeast zone and other parts of the country.
He said that “a lot has been achieved by this crop of service chiefs not just in taming the insurgents but also in restructuring the military architecture for enhanced performance. Today, our military is highly placed in the world. More than ever before, the Nigerian military has prioritised training and retraining of its officers and men in modern warfare. The welfare of the personnel has equally been given a boost as well as the procurement of equipment.
“For us, who have followed closely the trend in the fight against insurgency, we can categorically say that the military has performed beyond average. This is why we find it expedient to commend the military particularly the army and urged all patriotic Nigerians to rally round them for the overall good of the nation,” he said.
While admitting that the service chiefs had outlived their tenure, the CSOs said that “we must not be lost in the fact that in war times, even retired personnel could be recalled to serve. This is where reason has to prevail over primordial considerations. Nigeria is going through a trying period and as such, we cannot be talking about career progression of individuals but the survival of the country.”
Msuuan said that at present, cases of bomb explosions in worship places, markets and other strategic places had been checked and called on the National Assembly and other pressure groups that have prioritised career progression by demanding the sack of the military chiefs to do a review of the gains recorded in securing the country under the armed forces, and rescind their decision.
He noted that the insurgents seemed to have restrategised in view of their recent attacks but cautioned that a change in the leadership of the armed forces could be detrimental at this point, noting that the least expected of patriotic citizens at the moment is to show solidarity with the military.
The activist said: “We were all witnesses to the reaction that greeted the pronouncement by the federal government of plans to withdraw the military from the Northeast. The whole nation was unanimous on the need for the military to stay longer in the troubled region. This is a testimony that significant feat have been recorded in the fight against insurgency.
Similarly, the chairman of Conference of Civil Society of Nigeria (Civil Society Centre for Leadership and Followership), Dr. Adams Otakwu, said that “even if you change and replace a hundred service chiefs without strengthening the security infrastructure and addressing the challenges in a holistic manner, the insecurity situation will subsist.”
There have been relentless calls from several quarters, including the National Assembly on President Muhammadu to change the service chiefs because of the escalation of violent attacks by bandits and terrorists across the country.
However, Otakwu said that the federal government must redouble efforts to fix the economy and strengthen the security infrastructure in terms of military equipment, personnel, funding and strategic actions.
He remarked that internal security is basically the role of the police force, but said that the police are overstretched which led to the engagement of troops in what is otherwise known as “Military Aid to Civil Populace.”
“The theatre of operation is very vast, and has very poor roads and communication infrastructure, which greatly encumber the success of security operations, hence the need for equipment to put the military in top shape.”
He lambasted those making political capital out of the security challenges in the country, saying that “in Nigeria, owing to many years of poor leadership and followership, corruption and poor governance, our economy deteriorated and created huge unemployment. Despite efforts by the current government to ameliorate the situation, some jobless citizens still find a trade in terrorism, banditry and kidnapping that place a serious burden on internal security.
“In the midst of all these, innocent lives are being lost while some persons are busy politicising the situation, others are inciting the public and recently some began to call for the removal of service chiefs forgetting that they are individuals and even if you change and replace a hundred service chiefs without strengthening the security infrastructure and addressing the challenges in a holistic manner, the insecurity situation will subsist.”
He however stressed that Nigerians must acknowledge that security is a collective responsibility; the government, the military and all citizens must demonstrate more sincerity of purpose and commitment to ending this insecurity.
“There must be increased civil-military cooperation in the areas of intelligence gathering, identity information networking, lockdown surveillance and reward system for CSOs’ actors who achieve success in this cooperation like the whistleblowing policy,” he said.
Police Arrest 992 Suspected Criminals, Recover 60 Cars
The command’s spokesperson, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, who disclosed this yesterday, said that “in 2019 alone, the FCT Police Command arrested 992 dare-devil criminals. A breakdown of the figure showed that 210 are armed robbery suspects, 29 kidnapping suspects, 77 ‘one-chance’ robbery/fraudster suspects, 86 car theft suspects, 42 drug peddling suspects, and 35 suspected cultists while 513 suspects were arrested for petty theft and house breaking.”
He said that the exhibits recovered from them included 81 firearms, 118 live ammunition, 60 cars, cutlasses, daggers, knives, and housebreaking equipment, among others.
Manzah stated that “building on its successes for 2019, the command recently paraded 51 suspects arrested between December 27, 2019 and January 2020 for armed robbery, cultism, kidnapping, rape, culpable homicide, and impersonation. The exhibits paraded alongside the suspects are 10 firearms, 125 rounds of live ammunition, 12 cutlasses, one car, one tricycle, and 74 phones.
“The proactive efforts of the FCT Police Command and the gallantry displayed by its personnel foiled a major attempt by some dare-devil armed robbery suspects to rob a bank at Mpape on 28th December, 2019.
“The five suspects linked to the crime have been arrested, the investigation has also been concluded and the court has fixed 14th February, 2020 as the date for their arraignment at High Court 22 Wuse Zone 2,” he said.
The police spokesman, however, stated that some recent negative and exaggerated reports on insecurity in Abuja were aimed at belittling the laudable and obvious crime-fighting successes recorded by the command, in collaboration with well-meaning FCT residents, stressing that “it is imperative to set the records straight by informing the public that the FCT Police Command in its efforts to ensure the protection of life and property and render quality service delivery to the public, after wide consultation with leaders of thought and relevant stakeholders, drew up a policing plan, which guided its activities in 2019.
“The 2019 FCT Policing Plan, an initiative of the commissioner of police FCT, CP Bala Ciroma with support from the Nigeria Policing Plan (NPP) was designed to address the following crimes of concern, identified by the stakeholders: drug abuse, theft/housebreaking, ‘one chance’ robbery, armed robbery, car theft, kidnapping, cultism among others.
“Consequent upon the effort of the command, five suspects credibly identified to be secret informants to kidnappers were arrested in Abaji in 2019, lending great support to the feat attained in addressing kidnapping in that axis.
“Despite the tremendous breakthroughs which have resulted in the arrests of suspects, dislodging of hideouts used for kidnapping, ‘one chance’ robbery, and other criminal activities, the command will not rest on its oars until criminal elements are flushed out of the FCT,” Manzah said.