Following the death of Chadian President Idriss Deby and the attendant socio-political crisis, the Federal Government says it has beefed up security around its borders, particularly with Chad.
Sensing that insecurity may further escalate in the beleaguered country which Deby had ruled for more than 30 years, the government said it had ordered security agencies to check influx of bandits and refugees into the country.
The Defence Minister Bashir Magashi, a retired major-general, disclosed this in a chat with State House correspondents on Thursday in Abuja at the weekly ministerial briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team.
He said: “If there is no security in Chad there will be a lot of trouble for all neighbouring countries. But thankfully, we have a lot of ongoing military cooperation, through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), which we expect to continue. We remain mindful of our borders and developments in Chad.
“When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew that problem is bound to be replicated among neighbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence.
“If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be a lot of problems. But thank God, we have a lot of military activities with the Chadian, Niger Cameroon, we have all that military concern.
“So in the name of that multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), all these countries, including Chad, are contributing countries for the operation. What we hope that very soon, we will find a secure way of the continuation of the activities we’re supposed to be doing.
“The problem is now going to be aggravated. Because we are not sure the direction in which that country is going to face.
“But I assure you that we are mindful of our borders, we are mindful of the development, and politically, the government is putting heads together to see how best they can restore the peace in that country.
“So security-wise, we are beefing up all borders to ensure that refugees did not flow into a country. Even Nigerians there I’m sure some of them would like to come back.
“We have to make ready. Let us prepare for them and not allow them to come in and use others to come because of the problems that they will create.”
On the issue of weapons and armament, Magashi said the government was scared stiff.
“We are also afraid that. Before now, Chad has been the one stopping most of these infiltration of weapons and the rest of it. Now, that is free for all right from Libya down to Nigeria. It is very easy now because the absence of the influence of Chad in that route.
“So we also have to take care of that. I think we are on top of the situation. All we are praying is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad and get in a more corrective society as respected by international organisations,” the minister said.
Magashi described the current attacks on police formations in the Southeast as an affront on Nigeria’s security architecture, warning that it would no longer be tolerated.
He vowed that the killers of 12 soldiers in Benue State would be brought to book soon.
“Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country. Nine of the 12 weapons belonging to the murdered soldiers have been recovered, and arrests are being made,” Magashi said.