Buhari: No Single Nation Can Solve Security Challenges Alone

• Says Nigeria working with other ECOWAS member-states, regional blocs to deal with terrorism, trans-border crimes 

•Orders military to smoke out terrorists, criminals 

•FG: Abuja-Kaduna train service remains shut till abducted passengers are released 

•Terrorists free five more victims

Deji Elumoye, Kasim Sumaina in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna

As Nigerians continue to lament the rising insecurity in the country and growing attacks by terrorist groups, President Muhammadu Buhari has said no nation can unilaterally tackle its security problems. Buhari made the remark yesterday at the Council Chambers, State House, Abuja, while receiving Letters of Credence of Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador James Kingston Christoff, and Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria, Juan Alfred Miranda Oritz.

The president’s comments came as the federal government yesterday announced that the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, which was attacked four months ago by terrorists, would not resume services till the remaining abducted passengers were released and reunited with their families.

Five of the remaining 39 passengers of the attacked train were released last night.

Buhari, who painted a gloomy picture of the security challenges facing Nigeria, advocated more collaborative efforts among nations with a view to addressing the menaces of terrorism, banditry, and insurgency across the globe.

Speaking while receiving the letters of credence of the new envoys, Buhari declared, “I believe that matters of security have become the business of all nations, as these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain.”

He commended the collective efforts of nations towards tackling security challenges across the globe and within Nigeria, urging more collaboration to check extremism.

“The world must, therefore, work closely together and Nigeria counts on your support in cementing the relations between our countries at both bilateral and multilateral levels to surmount these global threats to civilisation,” the president said.

He told the diplomats that successes in efforts to tame insecurity had been recorded through collaboration across borders, and more could be achieved.

According to Buhari, “The devastating effect of global insecurity, climate change and the post-COVID-19 era has devastated global economies. Nations continue to struggle to recover from these multiple global challenges.

 “The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has undermined the progress countries have achieved in tackling food security in the last decade. While, the political instability in Libya continues to fuel terrorism in the Sahel, as well as scuttle democratic sustenance in both West and Central African regions.

“Nigeria is not left out of the equation, as we are fighting to rid our country of banditry, kidnapping, herder/farmer crisis and insurgency. We are, however, making meaningful progress with the support of friendly countries like yours to sustain these fights until we overcome these challenges.”

At the regional level, Buhari said Nigeria had been working with other member-states of ECOWAS and other regional blocs to deal with terrorism, trans-border crimes, and maritime crimes, such as piracy and illegal fishing on our waters, illicit drug, and human trafficking, banditry as well as unconstitutional changes of government.

He urged the diplomats to monitor political developments in the country ahead of the 2023 general election, but said they must remain true to their professional ethics of non-interference.

Buhari noted that Nigeria was drawing close to its national elections and candidates at different levels were beginning to build consensus within their respective parties in preparation for the start of campaigns across the country soon.

“As the drums of campaign begin to rise, I urge you to be guided by diplomatic practice to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to the elections and the conduct of the general elections,” Buhari said.

The president also advised the diplomats to focus on building on the successes of their predecessors.

He told them, “The task before you require you both to build on the successes of your predecessors and further make efforts in the expansion and advancement of the cordial bilateral relations and cooperation between Nigeria and your respective countries.

“These relations, as you all know, span across political, socio-economic and cultural spheres, that have overtime benefitted our peoples.

“I am confident that in carrying out your diplomatic responsibilities in the course of your tour of duties, you will spare time to appreciate the uniqueness and strength in our country’s cultural diversities in terms of both human and natural resources as well as the flora and fauna across the country.”

Buhari said the cultural diversity of Nigeria “represents our pride as a nation and identity as a people.”

He urged the diplomats to also build friendship and acquaintances in the course of their stay in the country.

In his remarks, on behalf of the ambassadors, the Canadian High Commissioner thanked Buhari for accepting their Letters of Credence.

Christoff stated, “Today marks formal beginning of our engagement with the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will work closely with ministers and officials to start a progressive relationship.”

Meanwhile, Buhari yesterday read the riot act to the military, with a clear directive to the security agencies to smoke out all identified terrorists and criminals across the country.

He condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Sokoto, Kaduna, and Plateau states during which lives of innocent citizens were lost.

The president, in a statement yesterday by his spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, stated, “We have given security forces full freedom to deal with, and bring to end this madness.”

Buhari paid his condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the recent terrorist attacks in Sokoto, Kaduna and Plateau states. He reviewed the situation following reports on the loss of several lives in the attacks and assured the states of support from the federal government.

According to him, “I condemn these barbaric attacks on the country. I wish to assure the states of all possible support from the government of the federation. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. May the injured recover quickly.”

FG: Abuja-Kaduna Train Service Remains Shut Till Abducted Passengers Are Released 

Announcing the decision of the federal government not to resume train services on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line until the remaining abducted passengers were released and reunited with their families, Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said what happened was unfortunate and the incident would not deter the federal government from providing succour to Nigerians.

Sambo, who spoke shortly after inspecting the Idu and Kubwa axis of the rail corridor in Abuja, said, “It will be highly unexpected that a member of your own family is affected in an incident and you have not gone to the family, you have not done the necessary steps to comfort them.

“It is not possible, we have done that and we are still doing and we will continue to do it until we have gotten them reunited with their families and, by the grace of God, they will be reunited with their families.”

Asked when the service was likely to resume, the minister said, “It is very important to get those Nigerians that have been kidnapped reunited with their families, otherwise, it will appear the government is not sensitive, whereas the government is not only sensitive but the government is doing everything it can to make sure that those who have been affected by this abduction are reunited with their families.”

He added, “I think it is an important step to do that first and foremost. Secondly, you must put in place adequate security and infrastructural measures to protect and prevent all forms of threats that are possible and leave what you cannot do to God but everything humanly possible must be put in place to ensure that the reoccurrence of this nature is automatically eliminated forever.”

Sambo further explained that technology could make it possible, saying, “We are trying to deploy the best technology available anywhere in the world that has served very well in other jurisdictions, which we believe can also serve us very well in Nigeria.

“We are in the process of procuring the sensors and that is why I said we must ensure that we put in place every infrastructure that will ensure that lives are safeguarded. So, the technology that is going to be deployed is such that you can perceive a threat and eliminate it before you get to the location. That is being proactive.”

Sambo said safeguarding the lives of Nigerians was the topmost priority of the government. He said, “This railway asset is brought to bear to improve the lives of Nigerians. This was the project that was started under the previous administration and unlike the previous administration; we don’t allow any project to be abandoned.

“So, this administration completed it and it’s running it. It is really unfortunate that what happened, happened, but we must not let that deter us from providing succour to Nigerians, because the best way to travel as far as I am concerned is by train and by the grace of God, we will make sure these services resume, but not until those things I mentioned have been achieved.

“Rescue or reunion of those that have been kidnapped with their families and put in place technology that will ensure that threats to lives are eliminated.”

On the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri project, the minister said, “It is on-going. Work is in progress. We are happy with what is happening and there is no going back by the grace of God. We are maintaining the infrastructure.

“At the Idu station, the managing director introduced the coordinator, manager and everybody else running that station, so maintenance goes on. They come to work every day, the only people not working are those on the train themselves and even they, come to work just like every civil servant should.”

Media consultant to Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Tukur Mamu, confirmed that five of the remaining 39 passengers were release yesterday.

Mamu, who had been at the forefront of the negotiation for the release of the victims before he withdrew, said the released victims visited him in his office in Kaduna to thank him for his role in negotiations that led to the release of victims that were earlier released.

Four of the victims were released on July 25, 2022, and so far, 34 of the victims are still being held captive by the criminals, while a total of 27 had been freed.

Mamu also shared a recorded video of three of those just released on WhatsApp.

Speaking in the video, one of the victims, Mustapha Imam, an associate professor of Medical Biochemistry at the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, urged the government to ensure the immediate release of the remaining victims.

Imam described his experience in the hands of the terrorists as terrible, saying he would never wish his enemy to be treated like that.

Imam said, “You can see, I just finished shedding tears of joy. I am happy that I am free, too, and would be reunited with my family very very soon. The experience I have been through in the last four months is not something that I will wish my enemy. The situation was really terrible. In the last two weeks, we were okay. But for the three and a half months we were actually very very hungry. There were days we ate once in a day.

“I was the medical doctor in the camp. I was treating captives as well as the bandits. There was no medication in the camp. There was a lady who went into coma, because there was no medication to treat her of malaria. I will like to call on government to take whatever necessary steps to ensure the release of the remaining people.”

Mamu said in a recorded video that all the five released victims were at his office in Kaduna on Tuesday afternoon immediately after their release to thank him for his past efforts.

He stated, “I keep on saying that there is nothing dialogue and negotiation will not achieve. In a situation where guns will not work, dialogue will certainly work.

“I said before that I had withdrawn from anything that has to do with negotiation, because of the situation we found ourselves and because of government’s lack of interest in this matter.

“What brought these released victims to my office this afternoon is that they came purposely to thank me for my past efforts in engaging with their abductors to ensure than none of them was harmed.”

He appealed to the government to pursue the release of the remaining victims as soon as possible, saying, “More than 80 per cent of the victims in the bush are very poor and cannot negotiate their release. Government has to come to the side of the remaining victims to bring an end to the trauma.”

On March 28, terrorists attacked an Abuja-bound passenger train. Eight people were killed; many others were injured, while 61 were abducted. Some of those released were said to have paid as much as N100 million as ransom for their release.

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