Insecurity: Details of what Ribadu discussed with senators during emergency meeting emerge

Details of Tuesday’s closed-door meeting between National Security Adviser Nuhu Ribadu and senators on the country’s security issues have emerged.

Security leaders, Minister of Interior Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy Olawale Edun, and Minister of Police Affairs Ibrahim Geidam all attended the meeting, in addition to Mr Ribadu.

The conference, called by the MPs, lasted around nine hours behind closed doors.

According to meeting sources, the NSA delivered the main presentation, with security chiefs and ministries contributing to the conversation.

Mr Ribadu spoke on terrorism, numerous armed groups in the country, and the government’s efforts to address the situation.

Mr Ribadu stated that counter-terrorism measures in the North-east had resulted in a significant decrease in Boko Haram activities, with occurrences falling to an 8% low in the last six months. According to him, out of a total of 394 attacks in 2023, only 64 (16.24%) occurred under the Bola Tinubu administration.

He stated that this shows a dramatic decrease in similar instances under the new administration’s tenure, indicating potentially effective security measures or strategic adjustments in Nigeria’s response to terrorism and insurgency. He attributed this to intense military operations and infighting among insurgent organizations.

According to him, as a result of military pressure, insurgents are now relying more on softer strikes and IEDs against forces.

He said the government’s analysis indicates a strategic shift in ISWAP’s tactics throughout 2023, with 78 per cent of their attacks being defensive, while only 22 per cent were offensive. This suggests that the group is primarily engaging in actions to protect its positions or respond to military pressure, rather than initiating attacks. This change reflects the effectiveness of ongoing counter-terrorism strategies, altering the group’s operational capabilities and forcing them into a more defensive posture, he said.

Mr Ribadu thanked the Borno State Government for contributing to the successes of security agencies.

IPOB Agitations

Mr Ribadu said Nigeria has made substantial progress in curtailing attacks by IPOB and its different variants. Through a combination of kinetic (forceful) and non-kinetic (non-violent) measures, attacks in the South-east have been reduced by 75 per cent within six months, he said.

He said the significant decrease comes after a period during which over 164 police stations were destroyed by separatists during the last administration.

Today, not only is the process of rebuilding underway, but life is also gradually returning to normal. Sit-at-home order that was widely observed is now largely defeated, he said.

Recall that armed groups in the South-east regularly killed or kidnapped hundreds of people, including security officials. The government has blamed the secessionist group, IPOB, for the attacks although the group has denied responsibility, suggesting many other armed groups operate in the region.

The armed group had also ordered a sit-at-home every Monday in the region which residents observed mainly out of fear.

Addressing these separatist agitations requires a multifaceted approach, incorporating both immediate security measures and long-term strategies to tackle the root causes of such movements, Mr Ribadu said. Enhanced regional cooperation and international support are essential in curbing the spread and impact of these destabilizing forces, he added.

Banditry

The NSA said there has been a marked improvement in the security situation in the North-west and North-central. Banditry went down by 45 per cent in the second part of 2023, he said.

Many communities hitherto unable to farm have gone back to farm in the last farming season, he said.

Mr Ribadu said the government has secured the release of over 700 kidnap victims from their captors in the North-west.

“You can drive to Kaduna and Kano at night today. Most of the extreme violent kidnappers are eliminated,” he said.

Despite the NSA’s claims, bandits continue to attack communities in many North-west states at will.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how terrorists, earlier this week, killed 13 people, including two police officers, in separate attacks in northwestern Zamfara state. The attackers also abducted over 40 people.

Earlier on Sunday, nine residents of Kwabre in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara were killed by terrorists. On that same day, a commercial driver was lucky to escape death when marauding terrorists ambushed motorists on the Jibia-Batsari road in Katsina State.

In his presentation, Mr Ribadu said kidnapping and banditry, initially perceived as mere criminal activities, have evolved into significant economic crimes within Nigeria, signalling a distressing transformation like criminal behaviour. This evolution is a reflection of both changing opportunities for criminals and the dire socioeconomic conditions affecting vast segments of the population, he said.

Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs)
The NSA said security agencies recovered and destroyed over 5,000 military-grade rifles and intercepted over 20 gun-running networks in the last months.

He and the security chiefs harped on the need for good governance as a non-kinetic measure to resolve the security challenges.

The alarming rates of poverty and unemployment contribute substantially to the proliferation of violence and insecurity, Mr Ribadu said. The inability of some citizens to meet basic needs leads them to take up arms against the state, compounding security challenges, he added.

Senate President Godswill Akpabio, after the meeting, told journalists that the lawmakers were impressed with the efforts made to tackle the security situation and passed a vote of confidence on the security chiefs.

(PREMIUM TIMES)

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