Tony John, Port Harcourt
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that his administration would no longer tolerate killings and kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs in the country.
Buhari has also expressed concerns about the unprecedented level of insecurity across the country, noting that it has affected the nation’s development.
This was even as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has reiterated his call for the decentralisation and depoliticization of security services, as a way of resolving the deadly security challenges facing the country.
The President added that his administration would not fail to bring the perpetrators to justice.
President Buhari stated this yesterday in Port Harcourt while declaring open the Ninth General Assembly of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), with the theme: ‘Community Policing as a Catalyst to Crime Prevention – The Role of Traditional Rulers’.
Buhari was represented at the event by the Minister of Interior, Abduraham Dambazau.
In his opening speech, Buhari said:
“I am very worried and saddened about the persistent killings and kidnappings happening in our country, especially the wastage of innocent lives in different parts of the country by whatever means it is done, particularly in Benue State.
“I have, therefore, directed that no effort should be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those that are carrying out the acts. I have, therefore, directed the Chief of Army Staff to relocate to the North East to ensure that the activities of Boko Haram are stopped.
“Likewise, I have directed the Inspector General of Police to relocate to Benue State to ensure that the killings are not only contained and, but, that those involved are brought to justice.
“By whatever name they are called, these acts are criminal violence in themselves even, as they are deliberate efforts to sustain fear on the citizen of our dear nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country by murdering innocent citizens and destroying property of people”, he declared.
Buhari further stated:
“These actions amount to declaration of war on our peaceful co-existence and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian State and threaten her sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“As a responsible government, we will never tolerate or condone all trouble makers, criminals and killers; they should be ready to face the consequences of their acts. While the Federal Government is doing everything possible to tackle the root cause of violence and crime in Nigeria, we expect citizens to respect and obey the laws governing our society”, the president vowed.
In his address, Governor Wike noted that the security services as presently constituted, cannot address the security challenges facing the country, where lives are wasted regularly, while governors are helpless.
Wike said that the State Government had taken steps to improve its security through the setting up of a neighbourhood watch.
“For us in Rivers State, our position on State and community policing is very clear. While we join our voices to other well-meaning Nigerians to strongly and emphatically demand for the decentralization and depoliticization of security services, we are also not resting on the back of helplessness to do nothing.
“Already, we have forwarded a bill to the State House of Assembly to establish the Neighbourhood Security Corps to cooperate, support and complement the efforts of the regular security agencies in policing our communities and advancing their security.”
The governor noted that:
“The reality before the nation is that centralized policing has flatly failed and is incapable of resolving the enormous security challenges of a vast and culturally diverse country like Nigeria
“And even as we may continue to live in denial, the recurring bloodbaths in Benue, Taraba and other States have once again, exposed the weaknesses of our country’s centralized policing system, as well as the frustrations and near complete helplessness of State governors in their quest to provide adequate security for the communities and the people that they govern.
“We can only imagine the magnitude of the sufferings and pains ordinary Nigerians are going through when the daily pains of violence and insecurity are added to the unending pressure of poverty, unemployment and lack of development,” he noted.
Governor Wike said that at a time like this it would be wrong for good men to remain silent.
He urged all well-meaning persons to work for the resolution of the security challenges facing the country.
He said that Rivers is peaceful, working and brimming with ample economic opportunities for investors to take advantage.
Wike charged traditional institutions to wake up to its responsibilities by lending strong and respected voices to the national agitations for true federalism, resource control, greater devolution of powers, state and community policing, as well as good governance in the country.
“In all these, our traditional rulers have significant roles to play to protect and defend the nation’s unity and advance the rights of our people to democracy, good governance and development.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in his keynote address, noted that the issues of community policing were relevant to the security challenges and in line with President Buhari’s resolve to provide adequate security to the nation.
Idris noted that effective policing of the nation could not be achieved easily without the assistance of the traditional rulers, adding that they (traditional rulers) command the respect of their subjects.
He called for a synergy between the traditional rulers and security agencies, noting that traditional rulers know their subjects and could help in providing useful information that could help the police achieve its mandate.
The IGP further disclosed that he has been adopting decentralized operation as one of his strategies, adding that police have increased people’s participation through town hall meeting and seminars.
He warned royal fathers to stop conferring chieftaincy titles on people with questionable character, even as he urged Nigerians to support the police force in logistics.
The Chairman of NCTRN, Alhaji Muhammad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, in his opening remarks charged traditional rulers to be role models in all their dealings.
Abubakar thanked Governor Wike for hospitality and noted that any government that relegates traditional rulers to the background would suffer setbacks in its attempt to take governance to the grassroots.
He commended traditional rulers for convening the body, as the nation still has the opportunity to resolve its challenges.
The ruler further added that the body would continue to play an advisory role to the government in dispute management, stating that, with the council, it would be easier to handle crises in the nation.