President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria last evening rattled security and intelligence chiefs with queries on why it is has been so easy for terrorists to have access to the arms they use despite the closure of the country’s land borders.
President Buhari was speaking at a meeting with members of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) and the security council at the State House, Abuja.
The meeting, which is sequel to the one held with the North East Governors’ Forum (NEGF), was mostly virtual, as most of the participating governors are linking via video call
Speaking at a virtual meeting with State Governors and heads of security agencies coordinated from the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, the president asked “These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?”
The meeting ended with a call for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits, while field commanders would take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
The President dispelled commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the Northeast had far more weapons and money than government soldiers, emphasising that what is left of the rebels are “mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.”
“The services have resources; yes, they need more, and mobility, and are doing their best, but there is a need for better gathering and interpretation of intelligence. Our intelligence-gathering must be improved.”
President Buhari also told the Governors of the expected arrival of shipment of military weapons and aircraft from Jordan, China and the United States, but again asked for patience on the part of the public because the new weapons and aircraft must be manned by trained fighters and pilots who must first receive appropriate training.
President Buhari also paid glowing tributes to neighbouring countries for their surpport in the war against terrorism.
“They are cooperating with us. On Boko Haram, we are making progress with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon,” he said while restating that intelligence-gathering must improve to be able to track small arms in the Northwest, North Central and the Northeast States.
. Physically present at the virtual meeting are the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd); the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; the service chiefs and the various heads of other security agencies. Other attendees including the governors joined virtually.