Published on June 20, 2020
By ACHOR ABIMAJE, Blessing Bature Abuja and ISAIAH BENJAMIN Kaduna, Jos, Tarkaa David
Moved by the resurgence of killings and growing spate of insecurity in their domain, governors of the 19 Northern states have engaged the services of local vigilantes, hunters and community watch groups on intelligence gathering, rapid response and sustained surveillance in the region.
Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau States said already, the forum has set up a committee to commence the recruitment of hunters and community watch groups.
He noted that the engagement was part of the resolutions of the Northern governors on teleconference meeting held, on Thursday, over the security challenges in the region.
The committee headed by Lalong himself would also consult with traditional, religious and community leaders in the North, to strengthen their involvement in tackling security challenges.
He said a standing committee on security, headed by Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, was also set up to foster synergy between security agencies in the enforcement of security measures in the region.
In a statement issued by his director of press and public affairs, Dr Makut Macham, Lalong urged the Federal Government to closely look into the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement of persons, facilitating cross-border movement of herders from other countries into Nigeria, particularly in the North.
The chairman commended the security agencies in the country on their efforts in tackling.
He called for increased synergy to further enhance their operations.
The Forum chairman said the gesture would assist in putting an end to the activities of bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and other criminals.
It would also recommend the adoption of dialogue where necessary with measures by the military in handling various security challenges in the region.
He sympathised with victims of various attacks and other forms of criminality in the region and also appealed to groups affected for calm.
“The state governments and the federal government are working together to forestall reoccurrence,’’ Lalong stated.
He said efforts were being made toward addressing the humanitarian needs of the victims, urging the federal government to implement the Livestock Transformation Plan, which would assist in creating jobs among farmers and herders in the region and the country at large.
Military Bombs Terrorists Tactical Command Centre
Meanwhile, in continuation of its newly launched subsidiary, Operation Long Reach, the Nigerian military has destroyed Boko Haram’s tactical command centre, killing some of their fighters at Yuwe in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State.
The coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, said the operation carried by the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE was executed on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 after series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions observed significant presence of Boko Haram members in the settlement.
He said it was also established that a prominent compound with solar panel-mounted rooftop and a large tree in the middle with a nearby flag-mounted sentry post was being used by the Boko Haram terrorists to coordinate their operations in the area.
Enenche hinted that Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets dispatched by the ATF to take out the Command Centre took turns in attacking the location scoring accurate hits, leading to the destruction of the centre and surrounding structures as well as the neutralisation of several Boko Haram fighters.
Northern Elders Ask Youth Groups To Suspend Planned Protests
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has commended the peaceful protests by members of the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) over growing insecurity in the North, calling on them to suspend the marches and protests in the time being.
The idea, according to the elders, is explore additional avenues with other groups and individuals to sustain the momentum and keep the government on its toes.
A statement issued by the forum and signed by the director, publicity and advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, noted that the forum was aware that the CNG had commenced a planned series of peaceful marches in all parts of the North to invite attention to the dire state of security of lives and property in many communities in the North.
The forum noted that two of such marches held in Minna, Niger State and in Katsina, adding that after the protest in Katsina, the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the CNG, Nastura Ashir Shariff was invited to Abuja and detained for two days before he was released.
NEF stated: “The Forum and many well-meaning Nigerians had demanded that he be released or charged, and we wish to use this opportunity to appreciate all persons and groups who have intervened to deepen the rule of law and the rights of citizens to engage in peaceful protest.
“We recall that then General Muhammadu Buhari and leadership of the APC had exercised these same rights before his election as President. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that there are plans to disrupt these peaceful protests and subvert their objectives in some parts of the North.
“The goals of these subversives are to create a hostile environment that will worsen the state of insecurity in which our people live, and divert attention from their goal, which is basically to urge government to take firm and immediate steps to arrest the bleeding in the North.
Accordingly, NEF said it has engaged the CNG in discussions to prevent a subversion of its otherwise commendable efforts to organize peaceful marches and protests.
“We both took cognisance of some positive developments since the Minna and Katsina marches. President Muhammadu Buhari had appealed to people in Katsina to be patient as plans to clear the State of bandits are under way.
“After the marches, President Buhari dispatched a high-powered delegation to some states in the North West to meet with Governors and convey his concerns and plans to take firmer action against banditry, rustlers, kidnappers and rapists who have made lives of our people virtually valueless.
“Yesterday (Thursday) President Buhari met with Service Chiefs and expressed his disappointment at their records and performance, and directed them to do better to protect our communities.
“All these are evidence that the administration is taking note of the growing outrage from many quarters, particularly from the courage and the faith of members of the CNG that change comes only when we raise our voices and act against indifference and incompetence”.
The forum further said it realised that, while there is still a long way to go, many Northerners are concerned that protests and marches do not become the only means of getting our leaders to do what is right.
NEF continued: “The Northern Elders Forum has counselled the CNG to suspend its marches and explore additional avenues with other groups and individuals to sustain the momentum and keep the government on its toes.
“We have also agreed that all groups in the North should be encouraged to raise their levels of vigilance and organization to demand that our elected leaders live up to their oath to secure Nigerians.
“As we await the outcome of their deliberation on this, we wish to draw the attention of President Buhari and all governments that neither the Forum nor the CNG represent a threat to them. We do, however, represent voices that need to be heard in our current circumstance in the North”.
FG Engages Space Agency In Deployment Of Technology Against Bandits, Insurgents
The federal government has asked the Defence Space Agency (DSA) to deploy technology in the fight against Insurgency and banditry.
Minister of Defence, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi (rtd), gave the yesterday charge in a message at the inauguration of projects at Defence Space Administration in Abuja.
He said the federal government was desirous of acquiring more space science technological assets to give the nations Armed Forces competitive edge in the global arena.
In a statement by the special assistant to the minister, Mohammed Abdulkadir, Magashi who was represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry of Defence, Sab’iu Zakari, described the cyber space as the fourth domain of warfare.
He reiterated that the uncompromising posture of President Muhammadu Buhari to transform the nations Armed Forces was anchored on three pillars of capacity building, restructuring and personnel welfare.
He said the realisation of President Buhari’s determination to improve the productivity of the Armed Forces informed the proper funding of the Defence Space Administration through budgetary allocations since 2015 to date.
“The Defence Minister challenged the leadership of the Defence Space Administration to deploy required Technological expertise to effectively support the ongoing anti banditry, counter-terrorism and anti-insurgency operations in parts of the country especially now that the federal government is strategizing and promoting synergy among various agencies and the tri-services to end the impunity of the bandits operating in parts of the country”, he said
The Chief of Defence Space Administration, Maj Gen Emmanuel George Whyte, said the DSA Act of 2016 empowers the management to pursue cyber security operations in line with its mandate.
Whyte while conducting the minister round the highly restricted operational centre in on-the-spot assessment of the technological space assets said the projects are targeted at creating a conducive working environment for the military and civilian personnel of the DSA.
The Defence Space Administration was established on 9th October, 2014 with a mission to support the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies with relevant space products and solution necessary for the conduct of operations in peace and wartime in line with the National Space policy and programmes.
Over 2m Persons Displaced In North East – UN
Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has said that persons of concern to the high commission include 2,045,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East out of which 1.8million are in the BAY states, 57,800 Cameroonian refugees in the South East, 2,340 urban refugees and 1,122 asylum seekers in Lagos, Ogun and Kano States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.
Representative of the UNHCR to Nigeria, Ms Chansa Kapaya, said over the past few years, there had been an escalation of conflict in the Lake Chad region with cross-border activities of Boko Haram.
This, she said, has caused the displacement of many Northeastern part of Nigeria and the far northern region of Cameroon, adding that consequently, 292,141 Nigerian refugees have sought asylum in Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
She further stated that refugees and the internally displaced persons (IDPs), through the support of UNHCR, NCFRMI, and other humanitarian organizations, are stepping up to make their actions count in their various communities by becoming entrepreneurs, engaging in the production of handbags, shoes, mats hand fans, keyholders and other useful items during this Covid19 crisis.
She said, “Some are also involved in the production of face masks for commercial purpose using locally available materials while others are making difference by teaching in schools either as employees or volunteer teachers in the refugee settlements.
“The World Refugee Day (WRD), UNHCR is appealing to everyone to help continue this global movement of solidarity and actions, everyone can make a difference, and everyone counts when it comes to promoting inclusion, respect, and dignity for all, including refugees, internally displaced and stateless people”.
On her part, minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, said Nigeria joined the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the Economic Committee of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Nigerian Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) to mark June 20 as the World Refugee Day (WRD) with the theme “Everyone can make a difference; every action counts”.
Farouq noted that the day was set aside to commemorate the plight, courage, and resilience of refugees who have fled their countries as a result of conflict and insurgencies, for reasons of race, nationality, membership of a particularly social group or having differing political opinions.
She further stated that the World Refugee Day (WRD) is also to draw the attention of world leaders, as well as non-government actors to refrain from actions, decisions and policies that escalate conflicts in the society and give rise to mass displacement.
She stated that the theme was apt and cannot be more relevant now that the world is being devastated by COVID-19 pandemic which has constrained the freedom of people in major cities across Nigeria and the measures put in place to contain the spread of the lethal virus.
“This has created untold hardship to the citizens and most especially the vulnerable population, including the Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The pandemic has presented an opportunity for the whole world to rethink the way we support Refugee communities”, the minister said.