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FG’s 2020 troops withdrawal: Governors urge stay of action amid threats of ISWAP

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Worried by the Federal Government’s decision to withdraw troops from the Northeast and some parts of the North in 2020, some governors have urged the government to have a rethink and stay action.

The governors include Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Darius Ishaku of Taraba State and their counterpart in Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle.

The governors spoke against the backdrop of fresh threats by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) now working in collaboration with Boko Haram.

Persecondnews recalls that last week, ISWAP circulated a video online where they beheaded 10 Christians on Christmas Day.

Tthe Federal Government had on Monday (Dec. 30) announced that as from 2020 it will begin a phased withdrawal of the military operations in the zone.

The decision was reached at a Security meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.

After a decade-long operations, the military authorities and the government announced that they had routed or degraded the Boko Haram terrorists.

The government, however, said the withdrawal of troops will be done after an “assessment” to determine areas where peace has returned to enable civil authorities assume full control of security.

Civil authority – police and civil defence will assume their responsibility in the affected areas “since the terrorists have been degraded.”

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who spoke with State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, explained that the withdrawal was to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression and respond adequately to “emerging threats.”

Commenting on the Federal Government’s decision, the Benue Governor Ortom appealed to Buhari not to withdraw troops code-named Operation Whirl Stroke deployed in the state.

Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke were deployed in the state in 2018 in the wake of the herdsmen attacks.

Ortom, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, appealed for an extension of the presence of the troops to allow the displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.

“Our position is an appeal to Mr President. He had done Benue well by deploying Operation Whirl Stroke to help tame the menace of herdsmen at the time Benue needed intervention.

“We appeal to the President to extend the life-span of the troops at least by a year to enable our people at the IDPs camps to resettle in their ancestral homes.’’

On its part, Zamfara State Government said it opposed the plan to withdraw its troops from some areas in 2020.

Gov. Bello Matawalle said the police alone cannot cope with the security challenges in the country.

“Although we are able to reduce banditry in our state through dialogue and reconciliation, we still want the military to be in our midst in case of any unforeseen circumstance,’’ said the governor, who spoke through Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran.

He noted that the military’s Operation ‘Hadarin Daji’ had contributed immensely to the restoration of peace in many parts of the state.

For Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri Fintri of Adamawa, he wants troops reinforcement in Northeast.

He said he supported the latest decision of the Federal Government to withdrawal troops in “less volatile areas’’ to the epicentre of the insurgency.

“The latest decision by the government will help assist the military to take the fight to the insurgents. Our immediate thinking would have been that the decision would have been well-thought-out before it is implemented.

“If the whole idea is to shore up the military in the North-East which is the real theatre of war, it will be welcome. The states in the North- East covering Adamawa, Borno and Yobe should see troops reinforcement rather than withdrawal because of the volatility of the region.”

Taraba State Government described the troops withdrawal as premature.

According to the Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku, the Federal Government should reconsider its stand.

“First of all, we are grateful for the good job they have done recently, especially since they intervened in the crisis in Southern Taraba and some other places in the state.

“Their presence has been very helpful. It has calmed down the crisis and we have been able to achieve relative peace as a result of their presence. For that reason, we are very grateful.

“But we believe that the withdrawal is premature because although there is relative peace now, there is a need for that peace to be sustained and their presence will go a long way in helping the sustenance of peace that has been achieved so far,’’ he said.

But the Plateau State Government described the move as a welcome development.

The withdrawal will rekindle the confidence of the citizens that peace had returned to Plateau State about 10 years after troops under “Operation Safe Haven’’ were deployed in the state, according to the  Commissioner for Information, Mr Dan Manjang.

“I think the decision of the Federal Government to begin the military pullout from volatile spots is a welcome development because I believe that they must have done some assessments of the situation in those areas to warrant such decision.

“For us in Plateau, it is our desire that troops from “Operation Safe Haven’’ go back to the barracks because no state will desire that soldiers will be guiding it all the time.

“ As it is, we are doing well as a state,” he said.

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