BOKO HARAM TERRORISTS NOW OPERATE AS BANDITS- BUHARI

President Muhammadu Buhari (right); President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer and other members during a meeting at the Presidential Villa in Abuja …yesterday.

From President Muhammadu Buhari came yesterday a disclosure that the remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents in the North-east region of the country are the ones operating as bandits killing innocent citizens.The president spoke at the State House, Abuja, while receiving Mr. Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

According to Buhari, “Boko Haram has been degraded, but its members are still a nuisance around Lake Chad and surrounding islands. That is why we are cooperating with Chad, Cameroon, Niger Republic, and other countries. We are also using the Air Force quite effectively. They are bandits, and we will continue to treat them as such.”

He said the government was concentrating on repairing damaged infrastructure, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and securing their communities so that they could return home.

The president applauded the support of the ICRC and other humanitarian organisations. “The situation of the displaced persons is very pathetic. Some children don’t know where their parents are, neither do they know where they come from.

“We are focusing on education and healthcare, along with the rebuilding of infrastructure. The agency formerly under the leadership of Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) and now headed by Major-General Paul Tarfa (rtd) is quietly making an impression. We are dedicating lots of resources to the area.”

He disclosed that great progress had equally been made in disabusing the minds of people that the insurgency was religious.

“How can you kill people, and say ‘God is great.’ It’s either you don’t know that God or you don’t know what you are talking about. God is the God of justice. And the people have understood the message well, so recruiting is now difficult for the insurgents.”

According to Maurer, Nigeria is the fifth largest country of operation of ICRC worldwide, and the organisation would continue to render humanitarian action to people affected by violence.

On the recent killing of two officials in the North-east, he said: “We were shaken by the killing of our staff, but not discouraged. Humanitarian assistance should continue, and we applaud the hospitality of Nigeria.”

The ICRC boss said the relationship would be further strengthened with Nigeria, submitting that “the more we see activity from Nigerian authorities, the easier it is for us to add here and there.”

Earlier yesterday, President Buhari decried what he called the “undue politicisation” of the security situation in the country.

Speaking while receiving the promoters of the proposed African security leadership summit at the State House, Abuja, the president said no matter how much the revisionists tried to distort history, “the records show where we were in terms of security in 2015, where we are now, and we also know where we want to be.”

In a statement after the meeting by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina yesterday, Buhari said the relative successes of the administration since 2015 were clear, “and what remains in areas of security are also clear, despite the politicisation.”

He lauded the plan to convene a high-powered security summit that would bring together some of the leaders on the African continent, defence attaches, embassies and high commissions, the leadership of the defence community in the country, and many others.

Speaking directly to the chairman of the security summit initiative, Major-General Abdullahi Mamman (rtd), Buhari said: “I am glad that you are well experienced, and know the implications of this high-powered conference. It will be a great test for you and members of your committee. You will be dealing with professionals in security, defence and diplomacy. We will do our best to support you.”

Mamman, now a traditional ruler, led a team under the auspices of Global Initiative for Leadership Success (GILS), which is organising the security summit.

“We share in the conviction of the administration to address the problems of the country. At the assumption of office in 2015, parts of the country had been captured by the Boko Haram insurgents. Your seriousness and committed efforts have made us to now be able to worship in peace. Boko Haram has been truly degraded, and other forms of criminalities are being addressed.”

Also yesterday, President Buhari met with the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu; the Director-General of Nigeria National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar; and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting which held behind closed doors immediately after Buhari had conferred with Mamman earlier, was also attended by the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

It was learnt that the meeting was in connection with the proposed African security leadership summit scheduled to be hosted by Nigeria.

The security chiefs did not address reporters after the meeting.

Meanwhile, a group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has canvassed the sustenance of the current support from the civil populace for the Nigerian military in the current counter-terrorism battles in the North East.

According to the group, there is now verifiable and concrete evidence that the Nigerian military has witnessed impressive change in the observations of human rights in internal security operations in the North East, contrary to some insinuations making rounds that the army violates child rights in the flashpoints of counterinsurgency warfare.

HURIWA, in a statement issued in Abuja by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Zainab Yusuf, affirmed that there have been phenomenal improvements in the respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians in the flashpoints of the counter-terror war in the North East of Nigeria by the army following a series of intensive human rights capacity-building strategic sessions organised between the army and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).