Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Magashi, retd, said yesterday Nigeria is currently bleeding., following the state of insecurity in the country.
This came on a day bandits attacked the General Hospital in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State, abducting two nurses on duty, barely 24 hours after bandits invaded Greenfield University in same Kaduna, killing a staff and and abducting 23 students.
This is even as a traditional ruler and five others were killed in three separate attacks on Benue communities by suspected herdsmen at Tse-Zoola village, Agan Makurdi Local Government Area, LGA, Odugbeho in Agatu LGA and Mbayer-Yandev in Guma LGA, all in Benue State.
Addressing State House correspondents at the presidential ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communication Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister also said government is compiling a comprehensive list of identified enemies of the country, although he refused to make clarifications on those on the list.
He said while incidents of domestic terrorism had reduced due to measures put in place by government, other problems arising from intolerance had heightened.
He cited the emergence of herders/farmers clashes, the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB issues, banditry, among others, who he said see violence as a legitimate alternative.
He also confirmed that some individuals who fund Boko Haram had been arrested, particularly in Kano state, adding that some of them had contacted him for his intervention but he turned down their request, insisting that due process had to be followed.
Magashi said the military will not be deterred but will focus on eliminating all perceived threats and expressed the hope that this objective could be achieved with the deployment of new military assets that would soon arrive.
Our nation bleeding now — Magashi
With the myriad of problems facing the country, the Defence minister said: “Make no mistake about it, 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 elite; political, ethnic and religious, make so.
“Such elites are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs. 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.
“Example is Boko Haram, farmers/herders clashes, IPOB and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and 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 prospects 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 ethno-religious emancipation of their people, a.k.a resource control, secession and regional self-determination, define the potent threats to national security in our country.
“I would have loved to make a few comments because I will soon be addressing a press conference by three ministers; Minister of Police Affairs, Internal Affairs and myself.
“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 religious enemies, ethnic enemies and all the political enemies of this country.
‘We’ve taken position on insecurity’
“We have made a comprehensive report or research on that and we have taken our position, which I don’t want to preempt here, but certainly we are coming back with that.
“What is important is that we are just trying to inform you of our impression and our concern as far as the security of this country is concerned.
“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 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 have been captured and taken to the police for proper interrogation and subsequent prosecution.”
On killing of bandits
The Defence minister also commented on the killing all bandits as had been proposed by Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
Asked whether he shared the same sentiment with the Kaduna governor on killing any bandits wherever they were sighted, he said: “I don’t share that opinion. With my little experience as a lawyer for 37 years, I think I know the rule of law. I know how decisions are taken. Everybody is innocent till he’s found guilty.
“We’ll try to administer justice to all of them, but where we catch them with weapons, somebody trying to kill you, what do you do? Will you allow him to kill you before you make complaint? That area we will not compromise, anybody we pick using arms, we’ll deal with.
“If he fires one round, we’ll fire artillery weapons, lethal, so it can destroy the whole radius, not only himself, even his farm should be exterminated.”
Nigeria badly hit by Deby’s death
The minister said the Federal Government is beefing up security in the country, especially the border areas because of the political crisis in Chad.
He said: “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew problem was bound to be created among neighbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence. If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be problem.
“But thank God, a lot of military activities with the Chad, Niger, Cameroon, are in progress, so, in the name of Multi-National Joint Task Force, all these countries, including Chad, are contributing for the operation.
“What we hope is that very soon, we will find a secure situation for the continuation of this thing. We are beefing up security in our borders to ensure that no bandit comes 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.