The Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen Tukur Buratai, on Monday placed the task of ending terrorism, banditry and kidnapping at the doorsteps of Nigerians, saying that if they wanted the violent attacks to end, they would end.
He said leaving the task to the military alone might not bring the needed solutions, except Nigerians cooperated with the security agencies to route the criminals.
Buratai spoke in Abuja after he held a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, the agenda dealing on military operations, killings by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers.
He justified his position by saying that most of the criminals were Nigerians, who resided among fellow Nigerians in communities in the country.
The COAS argued that a lot depended on the same Nigerians to decide on whether to end the attacks immediately.
He explained, “As to whether banditry, terrorism and so on will end, I think it all depends. If Nigerians want it to end today, I can assure you it will end today, if everybody joins hands, because these bandits are not outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign land.
“These terrorists, 99 per cent of them are Nigerians. These kidnappers, I will say 100 per cent of them are Nigerians. So it’s not just a military, security agency task to end the insecurity in this country. It is only when it goes bad that we are called in, but everybody has the responsibility to handle that.
“Some of the insecurities are as old as history itself and it all depends on what you are doing to contain or defeat it at a particular time. It is the totality of your effort that will determine the escalation or containment of the insecurity in the country.
“It is not today that we have been containing armed robbery. As far as I know, armed robbery has been existing in this country even before we were born and it’s still going on. Kidnapping too is as old as the history of the country, but it all depends on the level it has been perpetuated at a particular time.
“Terrorism is relatively new and insurgency, we have had that experience before and we contained it, just like the different crises we have had in different locations.”
Buratai stated that the security challenges were not beyond the ability of the security agencies to contain, but noted that they needed support from Nigerians to succeed.
He fumed at the culture of complaining by Nigerians whenever an attack took place, while the same people were not willing to volunteer useful information to the security agencies.
“Like I said, if we want it to end, the totality of the people’s effort must be put into it to see that insecurity in the country is reduced to the barest minimum.
“But, if we don’t do anything and continue to complain, and continue to accuse the agencies involved in fighting it, then we are not helping matters. You are supposed to find solutions as something is being done on daily basis.
“I assure you that we will soon reach the end of the tunnel and we will see the light that will improve the security situation in all parts of the country”, he added.
The COAS said he was at the State House to brief Buhari on the various military operations carried out by the army against insurgency, banditry and kidnapping, particularly in the North-East/North-West of the country.
Recall that the meeting, one of many, was held amid a resurgence of attacks by Boko Haram and rising cases of banditry and kidnapping.
The renewed attacks were recorded in spite of the many counter-operations like ‘Operation Hadarin Daji’, being carried out by the military.
But, the president insisted on Monday that contrary to media reports, the operations had been largely “successful.”
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He explained, “We are working very hard and the troops are doing very well and I commend them for the efforts they have put in so far. They include the kinetic and the non-kinetic aspects of our exercise Sahel Sanity. We are there fully supporting operation Hadarin Daji, which is a joint operation of the armed offices and the security agencies. So far, this collective effort is making tremendous progress in the area of bringing normalcy (to affected communities).
“Unlike the series of killings, kidnapping, cattle rustling and of course the threats to prevent the people from going to their farms this seasons; these have been removed with the presence of troops.
“They are carrying out surveillance operations, patrols to ensure that no one is molested if you go outside the community to farm or harvest. We will ensure that this is sustained throughout this farming season and beyond. What we require is the full support of everyone in the area.”
He went on further to blame the media for hyping reports on attacks against security agencies and civilian victims that did not look as real as they were portrayed.