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… Defence Minister cries out, says Nigeria is now bleeding

… Blames it on elite’s selfishness based on political, ethnic, religious interests

… Says bandits, herders/farmers clash, IPOB, others now see violence as lawful option

… Confirms arrest of Boko Haram sponsors in Kano; others being profiled nationwide

DEFENCE Minister, Major General Bashir Magashi (rtd) yesterday took a hard look at the rising cases of violent crimes across the country and came to the conclusion that the country is now bleeding. Addressing correspondents at the Presidential Ministerial Briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Magashi said: “Make no mistakes that our nation is bleeding now. It is bleeding because of the self-interest and other primordial considerations underlying decisions, which quite a number of our elites; political, ethnic and religious make it so.

Regretting that such elites are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs, he said while incidents of domestic terrorism have reduced due to the measures put in place by the government, other problems arising from intolerance have heightened. He cited the emergence of herders/ farmers clashes, IPOB issues, banditry among others, who he said now see violence as a legitimate alternative.

“The whole idea is to exploit the social division for their political gains and it is because of this divisiveness that Nigeria lacks a national consensus or common comprehensive understanding and the interpretation of what national security is. “For example Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, farmers/ herders clashes, IPOB and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and different concerns. “All these can encourage groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative, from here emerges a narrow vision of national identity and vision which threatens our country’s prospect of social cohesion and stability.

“This is why we are seeing the rise of self-help syndrome, often endorsed by states and local elites seeking violence as a legitimate alternative. “The rise in vigilantism and identity-based militia, who claim to be working for the political and ethnoreligious emancipation of their people such as resource control, secession and regional self-determination, define the potent threats to the national security in our country,” the minister declared. According to him, the government has come up with a comprehensive report on the identified enemies and taken a position, which he said he did not want to preempt.

“We have made a comprehensive brief as far as the security of this country is concerned and the methods we want to use in ensuring that we strategically and tactically get rid of all enemies of this country, be it political enemies, religious enemies, ethnic enemies and all the political enemies of this country. “What is important is that briefing, we are just trying to inform you of our impression and our concern as far as the security of this country is concerned”, he explained.

While saying that stern action would be taken against those who killed some soldiers in Benue state recently, the minister added: “The latest is the burning of our soldiers, brutal murder of about 11 soldiers and one officer and the military is not taking kindly to that. “Let me just tell you this. I have been to the Benue State government; I have seen the governor and we have told him the blatant truth about the position of the military in this country.

“Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country and this country is governed by the rule of law and we have accepted democracy as a solution to the liberty of individuals in this country. “We have been very firm, we have succeeded in reiterating to them what we actually want and we have got some answers that the weapons that were captured from the soldiers have been retrieved, at least we have nine of them out of 12 and the perpetrators, they have been captured and taken to the police for proper interrogation and subsequent prosecution”, he added.

Speaking further, Magashi said the military would not be deterred but focused on eliminating all perceived threats as he expressed the hope that this objective could be achieved with the deployment of new military assets that would soon arrive. He also confirmed that some individuals who fund Boko Haram have been arrested particularly in Kano state disclosing that following the killing of President Idris Deby of Chad, Nigeria has beefed up security around the borders to forestall the influx of undesirable elements and refugees.

“We are beefing up security in our borders to ensure that no bandits come into Nigeria after the killing of Chad president. All we have prayed is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad. “The problem of Chad 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 borders, and we are mindful of the development, and politically, the government is putting its heads together to see how best they can restore the peace in that country,” he further disclosed.


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