From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday issued fresh orders to security chiefs to rescue all persons abducted during the Kaduna train attack and other persons still in captivity across the country.
National Security Adviser, Babagana Munguno disclosed this on Thursday after a meeting of the National Security Council at the Presidential Villa.
Munguno, who briefed alongside the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, and the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi said the Abuja-Kaduna train attack was the last straw, leading to the deaths of some passengers and scores kidnapped, adding that the president is saddened by the security situation and demanded immediate action from the security chiefs.
He said Buhari has consequently ordered the rescue of all kidnapped persons unhurt using the train attack as a fulcrum.
The NSA noted that the President feels that enough was not being done by the security agencies despite what has been provided.
Monguno stated that the President alone cannot completely receive the blame for the insecurity in the country as his part is to make strategic decisions which the NAA said he has been doing.
He added that the surrendering of Boko Haram elements has not engendered the desired result in stemming insurgency in the country.
The NSA also said President Buhari has also ordered the tightening of the borders to curb insecurity, noting that without the intelligence and support of the local communities it will be difficult to tame the rising insecurity in the country.
He said “Mr President commenced the meeting, in his opening remarks he spoke about his sadness in respect of the recent developments in the country, the recent security challenges we’ve had, in particular, the incident in which several Nigerians lost their lives and many more have been taken into captivity by criminals and bandits.
“Mr. President has directed all the operational and intelligence elements to rescue these innocent people immediately and unhurt.
“This is the basis, on which other issues were discussed. Obviously, the Chief of Defense Staff and the service chiefs, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, all briefed the President on the occurrences in their respective organizations.
“I submitted a memo to Council and my recommendations are being looked into by the President. My recommendations are wide-ranging and they touch on all aspects of security, starting with the level of security of our land borders, as well as within the country itself.
“In terms of securing the nation, we’ve recorded a lot of successes in the maritime domain and obviously, the problem now has shifted to our borders from outside. As a result of that, there’s a need for us to configure how we’re going to make our borders more secure because of the threats coming from outside the borders.
Explaining further he said “Now, the issue in the Northeast, there’s been a lot of improvement and that has been attested to by the governor of Borno state during our last National Council of State meeting, but nevertheless, the fact that the Northeast is becoming much more stable, more and more people from the terrorists have started surrendering to government, has not really brought to an end the way we would want the situation in the country because the threat is now shifted from the Northeast to the Northwest, and the Northcentral and this threat has to be contained.
“It has to be contained collectively by both the armed forces as well as the constabulary forces; the Nigerian Police Force, Civil Defense, but the intelligence agencies also have been directed to enhance the acquisition of intelligence.
“The present situation in the country calls for a collective effort by all, not just those that have been charged with the responsibility of physically securing the country, the most important thing, for now, is the acquisition of intelligence and the type of intelligence that is needed is human intelligence
“And I need to make it very clear, I have to be very honest; unless the wider society, right down to the local governments, are willing to give the type of information that is needed to block the activities of these criminals, this situation will continue to linger beyond whatever timeframe we’re looking at, towards ending this great problem.
“A lot of lives are being lost, the President is not happy about this situation, he’s made it very clear. The first assignment he’s given to the security agencies, especially the armed forces and the police is to rescue those that are in captivity, not just those that were captured during the last train incident, but those that have been in captivity in other parts of the country. That is the first thing that has to be done.”
On why is it difficult to deploy technology, especially in some areas where the military has been having problems, he said “One, technology is expensive. Technology takes time to acquire these things. Since inherently we do not produce this very, very delicate equipment.
“It’s not as if the government is not making any effort to acquire but we need to know who to acquire this technology from, where, when and there are certain processes.
“For now, I know we have but the plight is that there are inadequate, so to the government, it’s a continuous process. That’s what I can say about the issue of deploying technology,” he added.
The NSA also spoke on the threats coming from the country’s vast land borders and the need to replicate in them what has been achieved in the maritime borders.
He also stressed the imperative of intelligence from ordinary citizens as he noted that unless the wider society is willing to provide the necessary intelligence, the problem of insecurity will linger beyond the time frame intended to end menace.
Meanwhile, the Munguno has criticised the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, for being a loud mouth, that may indirectly help terroists restrategise as well as danger those in captivity.
He was responding to question on El-Rufai’s claim that intelligence was made available to the military early enough on hideout of bandits and planned attacks but they failed to act.
According to the NSA, El Rufai’s comments could compromise the security situation as the bandits can relocate to other destinations, if they know that their current hideout is known.
He said: “Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, spoke about the security agencies saying we know who they are, where they are. Again, that is the danger. When you start talking too much. You give away a lot, I agree. Now, even if they say we know where they are, that in itself is already a problem. Because once you say it, whether it is true or false, the person who has your people in captivity will move to another location. It’s just as simple as that. So sometimes is best to just keep silent, mum is the word.”
He also spoke on the recent arms deal with the United States government. He said Nigeria and the US came to an agreement to sell some military equipment to Nigeria, after the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari and himself travelled to the US, where they made a presentation to members of the Congress.