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Insurgency, banditry: FG promises full force to rout out criminals

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“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”

The Federal Government may have foreclosed negotiation with insurgents and other murderous group of individuals in the country as it vowed to pounce down on them.

“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.

“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 not obviate the need for us to use soft approach,” the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno, said in Abuja on Thursday.

He spoke at the weekly State House briefing inaugurated last week at the Council Chamber, State House.

On possible dialogue with the bandits as being suggested in some quarters, he said: “We are ready to dialogue with these people but for us, it is 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.

“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 is not as if they are looking for something you can point a finger at; it is 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 to talk with the right people in government?

“So for negotiations, it is there, we would see what happens if it happens.”

Monguno stressed: “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 said henceforth all necessary force would be deployed to deal with the terrorists and bandits across the country.

He said the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens.

On the possibility of using mercenaries in the fight against terror and insecurity, Monguno was dismissive of it, saying mercenaries will not be engaged.

“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 declared.

He said the government would not succumb to blackmail and the use of criminals by proxies to harass innocent citizens.

“These are not people looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate, they are 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 and 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 recalled that between March and December 2020, the military successfully took out 2,403 insurgents in the North East.

On the government’s silence on Sheik Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who advocated amnesty for the insurgents, Monguno, said he was still waiting for the cleric to come forward to discuss the promised to help.

“I met and interacted with him briefly in Kaduna at the zonal town hall meeting with service chiefs.”

On the appointments of new service chiefs, he 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.”

Monguno, however, expressed the optimism about the security assistance being given by some countries.

“There is a Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit, comprising US, UK, France working with us and our neighbours.

“They have been supporting us with intelligence. For us what is most important is acting on the intelligence.

“That is why we are investing in equipment and assets,” the NSA said.

 

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