FG bans flight over Zamfara, goes after watch list actors

Published March 3, 2021

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno (retd.), on Tuesday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had approved the declaration of Zamfara State a no-fly zone to tackle the security challenges.

He said the President also approved the stoppage of mining activities in the state, which has been witnessing cases of banditry with the latest being the last week’s abduction of students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe.

Monguno spoke to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting of the National Security Council held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

A no-fly zone, also known as a no-flight zone or air exclusion zone is a territory established by a military power over which certain aircraft are not permitted to fly.

Aircraft that violate a no-fly zone may be shot down by the enforcing state.

The NSA said, “The President has approved, based on our recommendations, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara with immediate effect until further notice.

“He has directed the Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country.

“He has also approved that Zamfara State should be declared a no-fly zone with immediate effect.”

Monguno said Buhari charged the new service chiefs to redouble their efforts, especially in view of recent developments.

He added that the meeting with lasted about five hours dealt with kidnapping, banditry, terrorism in the North Eastern part of the country and the issue of farmers and herders which had resulted in some “unpleasant ethnic situations.”

Non-state actors on watch list

The NSA added that some unnamed non-state actors causing problems in parts of the country have been placed under security surveillance.

He added, “All non-state actors that have been causing problems for the innocent people, not just in Zamfara State or the North West zone, but also the North East and other parts of the country in the South-South, have been placed under surveillance by intelligence agencies.

“While the Federal Government is not averse to the application of non-kinetic means to resolve this problem, I need to make it very clear that the government will not hesitate to apply to the fullest its kinetic means to restore normalcy to the country.

“No sovereign nation will allow a group of non-state actors to bring it down to its knees and render the state in state of panic, mistrust, disorder and so on.

“While we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into failure and with the effect from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, kidnappers and other scoundrels.”

Monguno said he had asked all intelligence agencies to collapse their efforts onto one platform.

He also warned individuals who he said had assumed “a status that is beyond what they should be.”

He said intelligence report revealed that those in that category were making capital out of the security challenges, especially kidnapping.

He said, “This is a situation that has to be brought to an end and I am sending a warning that anybody, who is hiding beneath a veneer of some status, whether official, traditional or religious to stoke the flames of disorder, will have himself to blame.”

The NSA added that the meeting also discussed issues of freedom of citizens to reside wherever they wish, adding Buhari warned against ethnic profiling.

He said, “Mr President has charged each and every one to be mindful of this situation because once we start to profile ourselves along ethnic or religious lines, then there will be no end to it.

“Any individual who thinks he has any support, who thinks he can undermine this government, or he can be rocky on the perch and lead us into a situation of unhappiness, will have himself to blame at the end of the day.

“Already, the President has given directives to the military and intelligence organisations to trail and flush out all the people that have been on our watch list. They will be trailed; they will be routed out and they will be brought to book.”

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; and the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari; among others attended the meeting which also had Ministers of Defence, Interior, Police Affairs and Foreign Affairs in attendance.

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