It is time to take decisive action against banditry and kidnapping in the country, the National Security Council decided on Tuesday.
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered a total war on bandits, kidnappers and insurgents.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan also urged Chief of Defence Staff Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor and Service Chiefs to take the battle to bandits, who are continuously breaching the security of the country and its people.
Lawan spoke after the Senate cleared the military chiefs, following their appointment by the President.
National Security Adviser Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, who announced the President’s directive after the security meeting, also said the President had declared Zamfara State a no-fly-zone with immediate effect, in response to recent security challenges in the state.
He said the President ordered the security chiefs to recover all areas under the occupation of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers across the country.
According to Wikipedia, a no-fly zone, “also known as a no-flight zone (NFZ), or air exclusion zone (AEZ), is a territory or area established by a military power over which certain aircraft are not permitted to fly…Aircraft that violate a no-fly zone may be shot down.”
The President also approved the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in the state, until further notice, as part of efforts to curb rising insecurity.
Monguno said the intelligence and security communities had been mandated to go after all non-state actors, whose activities had been fuelling chaos and place them under surveillance.
According to him: “The President has approved, based on our recommendation, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara State with immediate effect, until further notice.
“He has directed the Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country.
“He has also approved that Zamfara State be declared a no-fly-zone with immediate effect.
“Now all non-state actors that have been causing problems for innocent people, not just in Zamfara State or the Northwest zone, but also the Northeast and other parts of the country in the Southsouth, have been placed under surveillance by the intelligence agencies; we’ve had a lot of reports coming in; collusion with people from all walks of life.”
The President, he added, had ordered the intelligence and other law enforcement outfits in the country to go after persons of interest on the nation’s security watchlist.
He said: “I can assure you there’s quite a handful of people on our watch list. They will be trailed, they will be routed out and they’ll be brought to book.
“They’ll be prosecuted and they’ll be made an example of, and anybody who wants to use this situation to blackmail the government should also think.”
Referencing the recent eviction of herders from forest reserves in Ondo and the anti-criminal herder sentiment across some states, the government warned against ethnic profiling.
Monguno said: “We are not going to be blackmailed. The government has the responsibility to assert its will. Citizens can reside wherever they want to reside. Anybody who is a criminal should be brought to book.
“The president has also warned against ethnic profiling. We have (had) enough of chaos. Any individual that thinks he can cause disunity should have a rethink.”
At a separate event, Lawan charged the new Chief of Defence Staff and service chiefs to take the fight to bandits and insurgents.
He spoke during plenary after the upper chamber confirmed the service chiefs’ appointment.
He said: “We are in a very serious situation. The security situation must be improved, and the buck is now going to stop on their tables as far as operations are concerned.”
Similarly, former Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki urged President Buhari to involve opposition parties, international friends and other critical stakeholders in finding a lasting solution to the security challenges.
He spoke with newsmen shortly after a two-hour closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
According to him, the security problems facing Nigeria are beyond what the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) or the President could surmount unassisted.
Saraki, who is the Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Reconciliation and Strategic Committee, was accompanied by former governors, Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Ibrahim Shehu Sema (Katsina) and former Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Mulikat Akande Adeola.
He said: “This is a huge problem that cannot be left to just the government and the ruling party; I think this is the time the opposition, the ruling party, our international friends, all of us must come together on the round table because the challenges before us are enormous and we need to address them.”
Also on Tuesday, Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi responded to the abduction of pupils in the North, by commencing the construction of perimeter fences in all Ekiti public schools.
Fayemi said work on the fences would be intensified to ensure maximum security, in addition to deployment of security personnel across the state’s 16 council areas to enhance the security of life and property.
“The government of Ekiti State…has ensured that primary and secondary schools across the 16 local government areas of the state are adequately protected.
“In doing so, school fencing projects are ongoing. Also, the government has improved on security surveillance across the state, deploying more personnel to strategic locations for effective coverage”, he said during his monthly ‘Media chat’ programme.
He canvassed for state police as the only viable solution to the growing insecurity.