President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja ordered the service chiefs and the acting Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to deal ruthlessly with armed bandits and kidnappers terrorising different parts of the country.
The president gave this marching order during a two-hour Security Council meeting that he presided over at the Presidential Villa.
Present at the meeting aside the acting IG, were the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.
Others were the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd); Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ahmed Rufai; Director-General, Department of State Security Service (DSS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi; the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd); and the Minister of Defence, Brig-Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd).
Bandits have in recent times, laid siege to various parts of the country particularly Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kaduna States in North-western Nigeria, wreaking havoc and sending many to their early graves.
In the same vein, kidnappers have made living harrowing for many Nigerians especially those plying Kaduna-Abuja highway, Okene-Lokoja road, Benin-Ore expressway, among others, waylaying travellers, kidnapping them and subjecting their families to utter discomfort by demanding huge ransom.
However, Buhari who returned to Nigeria on Tuesday night from trips to Jordan and United Arab Emirates (UAE), convoked a security council meeting in the Presidential Villa over worsening security crises bedeviling various parts of the country and gave the heads of security agencies marching orders to ruthlessly deal with criminals tormenting the lives of innocent citizens.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Olonisakin said the meeting reviewed existing security strategy and simultaneously examined a new approach to be adopted in combating security challenges confronting the country.
According to him, such a review and examination bordered on strategy for tackling banditry, kidnap and other security challenges facing Nigeria, adding that the president ordered them to ruthlessly tackle the challenges with a sense of immediacy.
He said: “The security meeting we just had with Mr. President today (yesterday) is to review the strategy that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State especially and other places nationwide. And this review strategy is to address all the issues, including kidnapping, banditry and other associated issues confronting the nation and we are coming out with a revised strategy to handle those challenges.
“Yeah, the marching order is for us to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all those bandits are immediately dealt with and all those issues that are bordering on our security are properly addressed.”
Also briefing, the acting IGP said the menace of kidnapping on Abuja – Kaduna expressway had been effectively tackled, disclosing that several kidnappers had been arrested and the road is now safe for motorists.
According to him, the security patrol team that is on duty every 24 hours on the road has had bloody encounters with the kidnappers during which he said some of them had been injured and others arrested.
He said: “I want to assure Nigerians that Kaduna-Abuja roads are now safe. We have cleared the roads; we have arrested a lot of kidnappers and in confrontation with some of them, and some were fatally injured.
“So the road is cleared. Our patrol teams, the combined security services that are patrolling the road are constantly there 24 hours.”
IG’s submission that Abuja – Kaduna highway is now safe for motorists and commuters was the fallout of the launch of “Operation PUFF- ADDER” last week in the North-west region as a security strategy conceived to dislodge both bandits and kidnappers in the region.
The IG while briefing journalists on Sunday on federal government’s decision to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and its environs on April 7, described “Operation PUFF- ADDER” as a combined security strategy aimed at reclaiming territories under the control of criminals.
According to him, the strategy involved raiding of the hide-outs of criminals, arresting perpetrators, bringing them to justice and as well recovering illegal weapons in circulation with the overall intention to guarantee the security of lives and property.
He said: “As part of sustained efforts to flush out, and permanently put an end to armed banditry and criminality in Zamfara State in particular and the North-west in general, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with the Nigerian Military and other Security Services has commenced “Operation PUFF- ADDER” which is a full scale security offensive against the bandits.
“The operation is aimed at reclaiming every public space under the control of the bandits, arrest and bring to book all perpetrators of violence in the area and their collaborators, achieve a total destruction of all criminal camps and hideouts, mop up all illicit weapons fueling the violence and attain a full restoration of law and order in the affected communities.
“Our commitment at protecting the sanctity of life and property is irrevocable, and we will not scale-down the pressure on the armed bandits until they are totally flushed-out.”