Defence Minister Pushes for Suspension of Anti-grazing Law

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• Says North-west now killing field

Omololu Ogunmade andSenator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Minister of Defence, Col. Mansur Dan-Ali (rtd.), on Tuesday in Abuja advised the Security Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on the need to suspend Anti-open Grazing Law in Benue, Taraba and Ekiti States.

The meeting which had the service chiefs in attendance as well as the Inspector- General of Police, (IG) lasted for several hours in the State House.

According to Dan-Ali, suspending the laws would reduce tension while negotiations for safe routes for herders would commence.
“The need to employ other channels with the affected states to reduce tension by suspending the implementation of the Anti-open Grazing Law while also negotiating safe routes for the herders,” he said.

Ali’s briefing, which was contained in a statement he handed to State House correspondents after the meeting, also included a suggestion that the Nigeria Police and Department of State Services (DSS) should prosecute all suspects arrested in the affected states.

He also suggested the need to establish a National Commission on Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in  the country as well as the need to employ diplomatic channels to avert the United States’ sanction on Nigeria.

“There is need to hasten the establishment of a National Commission on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria. The need to engage diplomatic channels to ensure US sanctions does not affect Nigeria,” he stated.

The minister also advised the council on the need for defence headquarters to launch a joint task force operation that will be similar to Operation Safe Haven in Jos; in Zamfara State and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna State with its headquarters in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State.

Ali also told the council that incessant killings and kidnappings by criminal elements along with other criminal activities across the North-west are becoming alarming and worrisome.
He also stated that the degree of banditry on Abuja-Kaduna expressway was a source of concern, insisting that the upsurge on insecurity in Zamfara State is quite disturbing and called for a more robust approach to arrest the situation.

“The situation is characterised with killings and kidnappings by bandits and criminal elements predominantly in Anka, Maru, Kaura Namoda and Talata Mafara council areas of the state,” he said.

On security situation in the North-central, Ali claimed that the incidents of herdsmen-farmers clashes in Benue and Taraba States had reduced, adding that several arrests had been made by the troops in conjunction with other security agencies on killings and destruction of properties by criminals.

Furthermore, he said Boko Haram terrorists activities in the North-east had largely been contained, submitting that there is also a significant improvement in security situation in the zone.
The defence minister also gave situation reports on military operations in the North-east as well security reports in other regions of the country including the South-south and South-west.

Ali however, thanked the president for his support to the Nigerian Armed Forces in the conduct of its operations, which he noted is yielding success in other areas of conflicts especially in the North- central and North-east.

“The Nigerian Army has launched Operation Last Hold to flush out the insurgents from their hideouts in the Lake Chad Basin and free the communities to enable Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return to their homes. The operation is to last till end of August 2018.

“Similarly, the MNJTF is currently engaged in operation to dislodge Boko Haram terrorists in the fringes between Niger Republic and Nigeria. The Task Force has so far dislodged the insurgents from Arege, Kangarwa, Metele and few other islands on the Lake Chad.  So far, 296 persons have been rescued and are undergoing profiling.

“The number is envisaged to increase as troops intensify clearance operations. In the  South-south/South-west, the situation of illegal oil bunkering, militancy and pipeline vandalism is on a decline in the Niger Delta following the effort of the federal government to engage stakeholders in dialogue.

“Also, Operation AWATSE has continued to dislodge militants and pipeline vandals from Arepo and other areas in Lagos and in Ogun waterside Local Government Area of Ogun State,” he said. The council was also informed by the minister that the United States of America conveyed to the government of Nigeria information about the implementation of Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act Section 231.

“It is pertinent to state that the award of contract for the procurement of the Mi-35M helicopters was completed before the Act was signed into Law in August 2017,” Ali stated.