Olalekan Adetayo, Daud Olatunji, Godwin Isenyo and Olufemi Olaniyi
The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.), on Thursday said the Federal Government knew that the killing of Chad’s President, Idriss Deby, was capable of causing security problems for Nigeria and other neighbouring countries.
The minister, who spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja during the weekly briefing organised by the presidential communication team, said government feared that insecurity in Chad could lead to proliferation of illegal arms in Nigeria.
Magashi stated these as gunmen kidnapped no fewer than seven people in Oyo and Kaduna states between Wednesday and Thursday.
In Oyo State, kidnappers of five occupants of a vehicle are demanding N50m for the release of their victims, who were abducted on the Igboora-Eruwa road on Wednesday night.
In Kaduna State, health workers have threatened to go on strike if the state government fails to ensure the release of two nurses who were abducted on Thursday morning.
Apparently preparing the minds of Nigerians for the implications of the recent incident in Chad, where Deby died as a result of the injuries he sustained in a battle with the country’s rebels, the minister stated that Nigeria would be hit most by the development.
He said, “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew that the problem is bound to be replicated among neigbouring countries and Nigeria will be hit most by his absence.
“If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be a lot of problems. But thank God, we have a lot of military activities with the Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“So, under the aegis of the Multinational Joint Task Force, all these countries, including Chad, are contributing soldiers for the operation (against Boko Haram insurgents).
“We hope that very soon, we will find a secure way for the continuation of the activities we are supposed to be doing.
“The problem is now going to be aggravated because we are not sure the direction that country ( Chad) is going to face.
“But I assure you that we are mindful of our borders. We are mindful of the development (in Chad)…We are beefing up security at all borders to ensure that refugees do not flow into the country.”
The minister said the Federal Government was also afraid about possible proliferation of weapons as a result of the development in Chad.
We are afraid that now with the absence of Chad’s influence infiltration of weapons into Nigeria will be easy – Minister
He added, “On the issue of weapons and armament, we are also afraid that before now, Chad has been the one stopping most of these infiltrations of weapons.
“Now, that is free for all right from Libya down to Nigeria. It is very easy now because of the absence of the influence of Chad in that route.
“So, we also have to take care of that. I think we are on top of the situation. All we are praying is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad and get in a more corrective society as respected by international organisations.”
The minister said although terrorism was reducing, the nation was being confronted with other forms of insecurity arising from intolerance.
Magashi said, “Make no mistakes that our nation is bleeding now. It is bleeding because of the self-interest and other primordial considerations underlying decisions, which quite a number of our elites – political, ethnic and religious – make. Such elites are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs.
“The whole idea is to exploit the social division for their political gains and it is because of this divisiveness that Nigeria lacks a national consensus or common comprehensive understanding and the interpretation of what national security is on Boko Haram, farmers/herders clashes, IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and different concerns. All these can encourage groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
“From here emerges a narrow vision of national identity and vision which threatens our country’s prospect of social cohesion and stability.”
Magashi said a comprehensive report had been prepared on the challenges but said he would not disclose the details.
He continued, “We have made a comprehensive brief as far as the security of this country is concerned and the methods we want to use in ensuring that we strategically and tactically get rid of all enemies of this country.”
The minister reiterated government’s position that those responsible for the killing of soldiers in Benue State recently would be brought to book.
He added, “The latest is the burning of our soldiers, brutal murder of about 11 soldiers and one officer and the military is not taking kindly to that.”
He also confirmed that some individuals, who funded Boko Haram, had been arrested particularly in Kano State.
Kidnappers demand N50m ransom on Oyo passengers, driver
In Oyo State, four passengers and the driver of a commercial vehicle were kidnapped on the Igboora-Eruwa Road on Wednesday night.
It was gathered that the vehicle, a Mazda Pimera, left the Ita Osin bus terminus, Abeokuta at 6pm on Wednesday and headed for Eruwa through Igboora.
It was learnt that the occupants of the vehicle were abducted between Igboora and Eruwa by armed herdsmen in connivance with some butchers.
Earlier on Thursday, there were reports that the affected vehicle was an 18-seater bus, but a visit by one of our correspondents to the bus terminus on Thursday showed that it was a Mazda Pimera.
Chad reopens borders after Deby’s death
When the correspondent visited the place, one of the leaders at the bus terminus, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that five people were abducted.
He stated “There were five persons in the vehicle, including the driver whose nickname is Eko. The kidnappers who were identified to be herdsmen stopped them on Opeki bridge, along Eruwa road and took the five of them away, leaving the vehicle on the road side and they (the kidnappers) are requesting N10m ransom on each person.
“We got the sad news from some eyewitnesses. We received the news around 9am today (Thursday .) This is not the first time, for the past three weeks now, we have been experiencing incidents like this. They have kidnapped many of our drivers.
“We have reported at Eruwa police station and they (the police) promised to do the needful. We have also reported to the Oyo and Ogun state governments. We are fed up. Many of our colleagues have left this job due to the fear of kidnappers.
“We want government to come to our aid. People don’t want to board vehicles in this park anymore due to this recurring incident. On that same Eruwa road where kidnappers are, there are over 13 police checkpoints but no action.”
“We are begging the government and security agencies to help us by protecting us before kidnappers capture all of us .They demand for huge money . They are asking for N10m each from these ones.”
In Oyo State, some residents accused some butchers of conniving with herdsmen to carry out abductions including the latest one.
The Secretary of Farmers Union in Ibarapa, Mr Taiwo Adeagbo, confirmed this development in an interview with The PUNCH.
Adeagbo, who is known as Akowe Agbe, said he had held meetings with some traditional rulers and told them his observation.
Adeagbo said, “I went to meet our traditional rulers and told them and they agreed with me that those perpetrating these criminal acts are those who have been trained by herders. Some people came to me this morning and told me that the butchers said the community should go and beg the herdsmen to come back to Ibarapa.”
“They want to be causing fear and perpetrating evil to make money because the Fulani selling clowns to them are no longer around. So, they want the Fulani to come back by all means.”
The convener of Igangan Development Advocates, Oladiran Oladokun, when contacted said the identifies of the victims were not known yet. He said the victims might not be from Ibarapa.
The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Adewale Osifeso, however said there was no report of any kidnap on the road.
Replying a message sent to him by one of our correspondents, the PPRO said, “ There has been no records of any kidnap incident on that road.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide, has called on Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and other South-West governors to rise up and tackle insecurity in their states.
Olajide, who spoke in an interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday said the governors were the ones voted into power and they could not be blaming the Federal Government for the worsening insecurity in their states.
Bandits kidnap two nurses in Kaduna LG
In Kaduna State, health workers have abandoned rural areas in the state following the abduction of two nurses in the early hours of Thursday at Idon General Hospital in the Kajuru Local Government Area.
It was gathered that the hoodlums stormed the hospital through the fence, shooting indiscriminately and in the process took away two nurses.
The incident came on the heels of bandits’ attack on Greenfield University along the Kaduna – Abuja highway in the Chikun Local Government Area of the state. They killed a staff member and abducted several students.
The Chairman of the Kajuru Local Government Area, Mr Casfra Caino, who confirmed the kidnapping of the nurses to journalists in on Thursday, urged residents to remain calm.
Following the kidnap of the two nurses, health workers protested at the state Ministry of Health headquarters in Kaduna.
The Chairman of the state chapter of the Nation Association of Nurses and Midwives of Nigeria, Mr. Ishaku Yakubu, said lack of proper adequate security at most health facilities was responsible for abduction of their members.
He noted that five members of the association had so far fallen victims of Kidnapping in the state.
Yakubu, who condemned the situation, called on the state government to intensify efforts and ensure that the victims members were released between 48 and 78 hours unhurt.
According to him, anything short of the release (of their members) will leave them with no option but to withdraw their services.
“We are not ready to pay any ransom and we want government to secure their release in less that 48-78 hours or we withdraw our services,” he said.