• As Buhari charges service chiefs on peaceful New Year
By Lawrence Olaoye
President Muhammdu Buhari yesterday convened what apparently could be termed the last security meeting of the year 2019.
Briefing newsmen after the meeting the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, said the meeting appraised the security situation in 2019 with emphasis on ongoing operations both within the country as well as around Africa and elsewhere.
According to him, the military had resolved to withdraw from internal operation by next year.
He said “With respect to operations within the country, it was generally agreed and noted that the security agencies have done their very best in ensuring that the deliverables are made clear.
“You will recall that the various operations in the country in the northeast, northwest, north central, the southeast as well as the southwest where all members of the armed forces are taking part as well as the intelligence agencies have ensured that we all enjoyed a better holiday period that has just been observed.
“We also recalled that in those areas where the military have been able to achieve desired objectives, from the first quarter of next year, the civil authority will be preparing to take back those responsibilities as the military draws back its forces from those areas to enable it focus its attention on other emerging threats and areas of concern.
It also observed that in the maritime environment a lot has been done to ensure that our resources are protected. The outcomes of the operations there have seen to the arrest of about six vessels that were involved in stealing of the nation’s maritime resources.
Mr. President has directed that the council and the members of armed forces ensure a peaceful society in 2020. To that effect, we are more than determined to continue from where we stopped in 2019 and to ensure that we sustain our various operations to ensure a secured Nigeria for all of us.”
Asked to be specific on the presidential directives on the matter, Ekwe-Ibas said “Basically, most of the internal security that we are having, as you all are aware, is supposed to be the responsibility of the civil authority, the police in particular. Howbeit, so long as Nigeria is not engaged in war outside, it means whatever internal crisis that we have, the responsibility rest with the Police. In the circumstances that the military has to come in to stabilize the situation, it is only proper that once one area has been dominated by the military and the situation has returned to normal that the Nigerian police takes over the responsibility. And in this instance we also have the civil defence which is suppose to support the police in this regards.’
He continued “You will recall also that Mr. President recently approved the recruitment of about 10,000 Nigerians into the Nigeria Police Force, hoping that once these Nigerians get the appropriate training, they will be in the position to fill the gaps. You are aware that Nigeria is such a big country that we cannot tie down the military even in those areas that the deliverables have been achieved and the objectives achieved.”
Asked why her the troubled troops would be withdrawn from the troubled north-ears too, the Chief of Naval Staff said the assessment of what the military will do would be based on the situation on ground.
He assured that the military will not withdraw if it is apparent that there are still threats in some locations adding that some equipments procured would soon arrive to enable the military monitor situation.
Commenting on the activities of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), the military chief said they are doing their best possible to curtail their activities in conjunction with the nation’s regional partners.