At 81st Birthday, IBB Says Nigeria’s Insecurity would be Over Soon

•Charges citizens to be patient, prayerful 

•NHRC commends Nigerian armed forces

Kingsley Nwezeh, Michael Olugbode in Abuja, Laleye Dipo in Minna, Fidelis David in Akure and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Dutse

Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, sounding a note of hope and optimism on the eve of his birthday on Wednesday, said the security challenges currently facing the country would be over soon. Babangida, who turned 81 yesterday, said Nigerians should be patient, prayerful, and supportive of one another.

The former head of state spoke on Tuesday when officials of the Correspondent Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Niger State paid him a birthday visit at his Minna residence.

However, not giving up on the fight against insecurity, the Ondo State government fixed N50, 000 as reward for anyone or group with useful information that could lead to the exposure and arrest of kidnappers or other criminal elements in the state.

Similarly, in new efforts to curtail insecurity, the Jigawa State government, yesterday, took new steps, including ordering the closure of all schools across the state.

Still on the menace of insecurity, some northern youths, under the aegis of Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA), yesterday, protested at the main gate of the National Assembly and demanded the sack of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd.), over the worsening security situation in the country.

However, Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Chief Tony Ojukwu, extolled the efforts and sacrifices of the Nigerian Armed Forces as well as the commitment of the governments and citizens of the North-east states towards reconstruction, rehabilitation, and reintegration of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency.

Speaking in Minna on the eve of his 81st birthday, Babangida urged those behind the series of insurgency across the country to have a change of heart.

He said, “Nigerians should be patient and should be convinced that this, too, shall pass. God in His infinite mercy will come to our rescue.”

Babangida advised Nigerians to be patient and prayerful and continue to sensitise one another on the need to live in peace with one another. He observed that the strategies he had used to secure the country while he was in power might not be applicable now, saying, “Things have changed.”

On his 81st birthday, Babangida said, “I give thanks to God Almighty that has kept me till today. Alhamudullillah.”

Babangida said journalists in the state had been doing a tremendous job in propagating the state and the country. He advised the media to keep up the good work.

The former military leader counselled media practitioners in the country to work towards changing the psyche of ordinary Nigerians, adding that the press “should ignore those that preach hate and disunity; ignore them”.

He expressed hope that the media in the country in the next eight years would “shape the way Nigeria will be”.

Chairman of the Correspondent Chapel, Mr Mustapha Bina, congratulated the former military president, whom he described as a father to all.

Bina added that Babangida had shown he was an elder statesman with his contribution to national discourse.

Ondo Govt Goes Tough, Places N50, 000 Bounty on Criminals

The Ondo State government promised a N50,000 reward for anyone with useful information that could lead to the exposure and arrest of kidnappers and other criminals in the state.

THISDAY gathered that the bounty came in light of the June 5 attack on worshippers at St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, which claimed 40 lives, and other abduction cases in the state.

Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Mrs Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, who revealed the reward while speaking with journalists in Akure, said the development was to further encourage citizens to give useful and timely information about criminal activities in any part of the state.

Ademola-Olateju stated, “From now on, anyone, who reports a crime and we follow the trail, and it leads to a successful prosecution of the criminal, that person will be offered a reward of N50, 000. We want people in Ondo State to say something when they see something. We want our people to be proactive in the area of security to rid Ondo State of criminals, bandits and terrorists.”

The commissioner added that the state executive council acknowledged the appreciation and commendation from residents of the state following the government’s initiative to have a toll free line to call, give security tips, and report criminal activities. She called for timely reporting of criminal activities, saying government would protect anybody, who reports or gives useful information about criminal activities in his or her area.

Jigawa Government Closes Schools in New Measures 

Jigawa State Government embarked on new measures to check insecurity, ordering the closure of all schools across the state. Commissioner for Education, Dr. Lawan Danzomo, who confirmed this to newsmen in Dutse, cited security threat as reason for the closure.

Danzomo said schools were closed after the state received intelligence about possible attacks on educational institutions across the country, particularly, in border states.

THISDAY gathered that schools were scheduled to close on Friday after completing the third term examination.

However, the students, who were still writing their examinations, were told to go home, a development that caused worry among residents of Dutse.

Security personnel had since been patrolling Dutse, the state capital.

Efforts to contact the police for further clarification proved abortive.

Northern Youths Stage Protest, Demand NSA’s Sack

The northern youths protested at the main gate of the National Assembly, carrying placards with the following inscriptions: “Rescue all kidnapped Nigerians”, “Monguno, resign or be sacked”,  “We no longer have what to sell to pay ransom”, “We can no longer go to our farms because of banditry”, and “We are tired of paying ransom”, among others.

Arewa Youth Assembly (AYA) said the failure of the federal government to stem the tide of insecurity was not unconnected with bad advice on security. They added that under Monguno’s watch, terrorists had overrun the country.

Addressing journalists, publicity secretary of AYA, Aliyu Muhammed, stated that Monguno had failed to foster needed synergy among security forces fighting various criminalities, hence the ineffectiveness of the security agencies in the face of mounting insecurity.

Muhammed stated, “In response to the astronomic increase in the cases of unprovoked killings and abductions of Nigerians in their farms, houses, train and our major highways, which has led to an unprecedented rise in the poverty rate and food scarcity across the country, we want the immediate removal of the National Security Adviser.

“In concordance with the similar situation in the southern part of the country, where citizens are not allowed to come out on Mondays to pursue their businesses, thereby further impoverishing them. All this is because there is a severe defect in the security architecture of our country.

“The criminal elements became emboldened under his watch as the NSA, they equally ambushed and killed some officers of the Brigade of Guards to Mr President and also issued notice to kidnap a sitting President Buhari and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. This is unfortunate and unimaginable in the history of nation.

“The NSA is either not advising the president or his ideas are ineffective, hence, the seeming triumph of ragtag elements over our armed forces. We, therefore, call for his immediate resignation or (he should) be sacked by Buhari.

“We want the security of this nation to unconditionally be improved from its present state to a satisfactory one and all Nigerians in captivity should be fought for and set free, unconditionally.

The group vowed to mobilise and hold a massive protest across the 19 northern states if the president refused to sack the NSA by Friday. AYA said, “We are calling off the protest today, to accord appropriate time for the president to act accordingly, and after two days nothing is done, the protest will continue, not only here, but in all the 19 northern states.”

NHRC Commends Nigerian Armed Forces

Ojukwu commended the armed forces at a Traditional and Religious Leaders Forum on Transitional Justice and Reconciliation in North East Nigeria, in Maiduguri. He said the armed forces had made a lot of sacrifices to secure the civilian population, despite the difficult terrain in which they operated in the fight against insurgency.

On the issue of transitional justice, which was the crux of the forum, the human rights boss urged the traditional and religious leaders to assist the commission to facilitate the effective implementation of the project.

The NHRC, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union, had in 2021 launched a Project on Promoting Transitional Justice, Reconciliation, and Reintegration in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno states.

The project was launched on the premise of bringing lasting peace to the communities affected by insurgency through truth telling, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

The NHRC helmsman stressed that the role of traditional and religious leaders in any peace-building process could not be over-emphasised.

He recalled, “In many of our communities across Nigeria, traditional and religious leaders are the centrepiece of our civilisation, facilitating and shaping education and socialisation from cradle to grave.”

He said traditional and religious institutions in the North-east had advanced social and economic development dating back to many centuries.

Ojukwu thanked the governments of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states for their partnership in the implementation of the transitional justice project, and for the leadership and resilience they had all shown in tackling the security and development challenges affecting the region.

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