•Says National Assembly to decide on diaspora voting
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Seriki Adinoyi in Jos
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday reaffirmed the determination of his administration to defeat Boko Haram and other terror and criminal cartels threatening the nation’s security.
He spoke in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, a day after Boko Haram attacked stranded travellers in Auno, a village in Borno State, the epicentre of the insurgency ravaging the country in the last one decade, killing some 30 people and destroying many property, including vehicles, goods and houses.
In his reaction to the Borno attack, the president who condemned the Sunday night killing and condoled with families of the victims, had on Monday vowed not to allow Boko Haram to hold Nigeria to ransom.
The president’s pledge came just as the military raised the alarm that fleeing Boko Haram fighters have dispersed across Abuja and Plateau State following crackdown on the terror group in the North-east.
The president, at a meeting with the Nigerian Community in Ethiopia (NICE), said his administration was fully prepared to fight and crush all acts of criminality, banditry and terrorism.
He appealed to all Nigerians to support and cooperate with security agencies that are ready to defend and preserve the unity of the country.
Buhari also said though he was in support of diaspora voting, only the National Assembly could facilitate it by enacting a legislation to make it practicable.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the forum, coordinated by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, observed a minute silence in honour of Nigerians killed in Borno State.
According to the statement, Buhari restated that issues bordering on protection of the lives of Nigerians at home and in the diaspora as well as the battle against corruption and promotion of prosperity of all remain the key priorities of his administration.
Buhari also spoke on economic issues and the business climate in Ethiopia, saying he has been briefed on the challenges confronting some Nigerian companies doing business in the East African country, particularly the Dangote Group and Lubcon.
He said he had “directed the relevant ministries to take up these issues with a view to resolving all complaints amicably with the Ethiopian authorities.”
Responding to a question from the leader of the group, David Omozuafoh, on diaspora voting, Buhari said though he was in support of the exercise, a legislation must first be put in place to make it practicable.
”I have said it severally that I am not against it. However, you will need to convince the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws to make diaspora voting a reality,” he said.
The president expressed concerns about the conduct of Nigerians in the diaspora, saying that some of their actions have deleterious effects on the positive image of Nigeria.
He urged them to change their ways of life and obey the laws of their countries of residence.
He commended Nigerians in Ethiopia, adding that they had the highest concentration of professionals working in international organisation such as the African Union and United Nations agencies.
”This is a correct representation of the Nigerian spirit of excellence and high achievement,” he said.
Buhari also told the meeting that his government was committed to supporting and protecting all law-abiding Nigerians, at home and abroad, to the level of success, urging those in the diaspora to key into this vision by being good citizens and worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.
“The president also encouraged them to be the best in all their legitimate engagements in their host country, reminding them: “while you are out in the Diaspora, do not forget home as you represent some of the best human assets that Nigeria possesses.’
“He, therefore, urged them to use their resources, skills and talents to help the development of Nigeria,” the statement said.
According to the statement, the Nigerian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the AU, Bankole Adeoye, lauded the huge investments of the federal government in Ethiopia since independence.
He described the Nigerian Embassy in Addis Ababa as one of the Nigerian missions in the whole of Africa with the largest diplomatic and residential premises.
”Nigeria has continued to live the saying that Africa is the centerpiece of her foreign policy especially with the many impacts in the AU, the United Nations Economic Community for Africa (UNECA) and Ethiopia as a whole,” he said.
The ambassador commended Buhari for reciprocating the visit of the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia to Abuja in view of the country’s zeal to develop stronger ties with Nigeria.
Adeoye noted that Buhari had appointed the highest number of career ambassadors so far, attributing such gesture to his flair for professionalism.
Omozuafoh, who is the president of NICE, in his remarks at the meeting, commended the president for establishing NiDCOM, adding that Buhari’s leadership and contributions has cemented Nigeria’s role as a central player in strengthening the AU.
He appealed to the federal government to fast-track the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN on Junior Professionals’ Programme, which provides young Nigerians the platform to access opportunities in international organisations.
“Similar opportunities should be explored with the UN Volunteers Programme, the AU Volunteers Corps as well as the ECOWAS Youth Volunteer Programme,” he said.
Fleeing Boko Haram Fighters Dispersed around Abuja, Plateau, Military Warns
Meanwhile, the military yesterday alerted the public that fleeing Boko Haram fighters have dispersed across Abuja and Plateau State following crackdown on them in the North-east.
The Commander of the military task force in Plateau State, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Augustine Agundu, raised the alarm while parading a fleeing member of the terrorist group, Mr. Umar Musa Tello, who was arrested in Plateau State during a routine patrol by the troops of the task force.
Agundu said: “Our troops, while on routine patrol apprehended a suspected fleeing Boko Haram terrorist member, Mr. Umar Musa Tello, who was seen loitering around Zawuran village in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect fled from Damagum village in Yobe State due to the ongoing crackdown by troops of Operation Lafiya Dole. The suspect confessed that he has been a member of Boko Haram for over three years, but decided to abscond due to hardship.
“Furthermore, he explained that some other Boko Haram fighters have equally absconded and dispersed around FCT Abuja and Plateau State.”
He added that 21 suspects were equally arrested for other crimes.
While 10 persons were arrested for cultism, two were arrested for kidnapping; eight for cattle rustling and one for armed robbery.