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President Buhari orders “immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus,” says NSA

  • National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) addressed journalists at the end of the meeting of the National Security Council. Excerpts

I presented two memos. The first had to do with drug trafficking as well as drug addiction in Nigeria. And the widespread use of these substances and the dangerous impact on our social and economic situation. Thereafter, I briefed on the security situation in the Northwest and the Northcentral in terms of looking at the issue of kidnapping, banditry and bandits’ killing of innocent people.

After I presented these two memos, the Chief of Defence Staff, Army Chief, Inspector General of Police, heads of the various intelligence agencies, also gave synopsis each of the current security situation and what their various organizations and agencies are doing about these situations.

But on the issues of drug trafficking and abuse of drugs, basically, what I told Council was that this has taken on a worrisome dimension. Nigeria’s perception on the drug trafficking index has changed from the status from a transit hub to a production centre.

Between 2011 and 2019, approximately 17 manufacturing laboratories of metal and metallic substances were located by the various security agencies and destroyed. That is a large number. At the same time, we have had increasing activities of illegal cultivators of Cannabis in Nigeria.

These people basically use extremely large space of arable land to cultivate this illegal substance, employing militia men to protect their farms and also their storage facilities. When you look at drugs, our main concern as security operatives is the ultimate destruction to the social fabric and economy of the nation.

There is hardly any violence crime today in Nigeria that is not propelled by the use of these hard substances. And these hard substances have been coming in from all nooks and crannies. What is worrisome is that the report we have received from the chairman of NDLEA show that the numbers keeps increasing, despite the closure of borders we are still having to contain with the influx of these drugs.

The problem here is that the reckless use of these substances are directly linked to the insecurity we are confronted with. Unless there is a collective, concerted effort to deal with this problem, it will only result in this country going down the bottomless pit of self-destruction. We don’t want that to happen and one of the ways of dealing with this issue is by using a whole of society approach in conjunction with the whole or government approach to achieve the whole of the nation approach.

The substances that are in use, again the problem is that dealing with such an issue as the proliferation of drugs is not as easy as it looks even for the most developed country, because it is not a one sided affair.

You have a minimum of three parties operating at the same time, the drug peddler (the supper fly), the consumer (the junkie) and that person in the centre who has been entrusted with denying these drugs access  into the country. It is important to note that if there is a compromise then things become tedious and problematic.

So, what we did was to invite the chairman of NDLEA based on his report that all security agencies are studying. The President has resolved that we must wrestle this problem. This problem is directly linked.

If you look at the criminality, the colouration of each crime, especially kidnapping, banditry and terrorism, it is not the killing of the people but the way people are killed goes to show one thing. It is extremely abnormal, inhuman and these acts can only be perpetrated by people who are out of their minds.

One thing we in the security and intelligence arm have been able to trace is that there are certain drugs of choice that have saturated the entire landscape of the country.

These drugs basically are codeine, opium, cocaine, tramadol and pertamines and of course cannabis sativa. The popular drug of choice is tramadol. It is easily acquired. Tramadol has been the drug of choice for terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. And if we don’t approach it, we are going to be immersed in great problem by virtue of the fact that he who resides in the town, urban or rural area must be able to collaborate with agents of government in revealing these abnormalities.

I know it has not been easy. There has been a gradual loss of confidence over the years and the President is determined to restore confidence. So, for the issue of drugs, it is basically related to every form of violent crime in which these criminals, just at the touch of a button, give bent to homicidal instincts and go on a murderous rampage killing people. The office of the National Security Adviser in conjunction with other security agencies will work on a blueprint in a short, medium and a long term to address this matter.

The second issue of course is also tied intrinsically to that situation of banditry in the Northwest and Northcentral zones where you have a lot of illegal aliens working just like what you see in the mining sector, illegal miners working with bandits and kidnappers.

Of course there are also other issues of fully equipping the security agencies.

Finally, Mr. President has also directed we must rejig our strategy both in terms of operations and intelligence to further prevent catastrophes. We must bear in mind that we owe a duty to the people that elected this government and at the end of the day, without securing the nation, all other things such as revamping the economy and fighting corruption cannot be addressed.

Question and Answer

Question: The President’s marching orders to the Service Chiefs?

Answer: Basically, these are operational matters that are best dealt with by the Minister of Defense. I know that there is something that he is working on, which has led to this meeting being delayed slightly. This meeting was actually supposed to take place before the Sallah holiday but I think one or two things have come up that I don’t think I can explain. But I want you to be comfortable that something is being done, following that marching order.

Kaduna is again a political matter and I think the Governor of Kaduna State has been talking with Mr President and I’m not privy to the final details.

President’s anger about declining security situation in the last meeting

What he said today was virtually a reaffirmation of what he said the first time. Yes, Mr President said you are doing your best as far as I am concerned. But there’s still a lot more to be done. I am more concerned about the promise we made to the larger Nigerian society and I am ordering an immediate re-engineering of the entire security apparatus. This is something that I believe will be done in a very short time. But I just want us to keep hope alive.

I know how everybody feels. I know how Nigerians feel. Definitely, the President is not oblivious of the fact that securing the nation is a primary responsibility of government. And I believe in his sincerity. But again, since he’s not an octopus, since he’s not a spirit, if he delegates to people, then the onus is on them to actually fulfil the legitimate expectations of the larger Nigerian society.

Governor Babagana Umar Zulum and the military

Just like you have seen things on the social media here, again, I don’t know the final details of what happened. But I know that the Governor will meet with Mr President to discuss whatever led to the incident and the debacle. What I know, however, is that in another 30 minutes from now, we are going to have a virtual meeting with the Governors’ Forum.

My namesake has already told me that he is coming for the meeting. It is only after that meeting that I can really be able to understand the nitty gritty of what happened. But like you said, it’s unfortunate and I believe we’ll get over this issue.

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