Governor of President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, Katsina, Aminu Masari, said the security threats in the state are getting worse as nine out of its 34 local government areas are currently under the control of bandits.
He stated this on Wednesday while speaking with State House Correspondents in Abuja after he met behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Certainly, there is going to be some issues, because in the entire state, nine local governments are affected out of 34,” Masari said.
The governor said his government was making efforts to free some affected villages and areas bordering the forests, adding, however, that “there is going to be some drawbacks in some of the areas.”
The state has been under serious security threats following persistent attacks by bandits, despite assurances by government that it would not allow the situation to escalate.
The governor stressed that although the rainy season has set in and can pose a challenge to the fight against bandits, the government was determined to conquer them.
“You know, the North-Western and North-Central parts of the country where these bandits are is a vast forest area and unfriendly terrain, so especially now during the rainy season, moving with heavy military equipment can be very challenging because the soil is soft and the rains are heavy but it is doable. No situation is impossible especially to a willing and determined mind, so I do believe that we can conquer these bandits and stop them from hibernating into something else,” he said.
Masari assured that government is determined to contain the situation.
“The hope is that the military including the police and other security agencies have been given a marching order by the president to control the situation by all means and it is a task that must be done because we cannot allow the situation in the North-West to develop to a worrisome stage like it is in the North-East,” he said.
Al-Qaeda penetrating north-west- US alerts Nigeria
Meanwhile, the United States says the Al-Qaeda insurgent group has started to penetrate the north-western part of Nigeria.
Dagvin Anderson, commander of the US special operations command, Africa, who disclosed this during a briefing, said the group is also expanding to other parts of West Africa.
In his remarks which TheCable obtained from the US Department of State, Anderson said the US will continue to partner with Nigeria in sharing intelligence.
“We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.
“And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaida starting to make some inroads in.
“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaida are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas.”
UK advises Britons in Nigeria against travelling to Kaduna, other states
In another development, the United Kingdom (UK) has issued a travel advisory to its citizens in Nigeria against travelling to Kaduna and some other states in the country over insecurity challenge in the country.
The advisory posted on the official website of the UK Foreign Office stated that “the Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel.”
UK Government stated all but essential travels to Kaduna, Bauchi, Zamfara, and Kano states should be avoided by Britons in Nigeria.
According to the UK Government, its citizens should avoid travelling to Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe states.
The riverside of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states within 20kilometre of the border with Niger in Zamfara State were also among the states on the red flag by the UK Foreign Office.
The UK Foreign Office further stated that the current insecurity in Nigeria has necessitated the temporal withdrawal of a small number of UK staff and dependants at the British High Commission in Abuja and the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos.
“Both locations will continue to carry out essential work including providing 24/7 consular assistance and support to British people in Nigeria,” the statement reads.
Presidency debunks rumours of military recruiting repentant Boko Haram members
Meanwhile, the Presidency has debunked reports that the President Mohammadu Buhari-led administration was absorbing repentant Boko Haram members into the military.
The Presidency, via President Buhari’s Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu on Wednesday also stated that the government was not contemplating such plans.
“It is important that we step in to clear the false reports that the administration is absorbing repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the military,” Shehu said.
“It is important for the public to know that nobody has ever been absorbed into the military from the de-radicalized Boko Haram and there is no such plan for their absorption. None of the 601 former Boko Haram members who voluntarily laid down their arms, and have recently graduated from the Federal Government’s de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, is going into the military.
“This is the fourth such graduation of repentant Boko Haram fighters and not one of such graduates has been absorbed into the military.
“The public needs to be reassured that the de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of violent extremists of the Buhari administration code-named “Operation Safe Corridor,” follows an established example from countries with similar experiences, and is supported academically and materially by the European Union and the United Nations.
“The lead agency for the implementation of the programme in Gombe is the International Organization for Migration, a leading inter-government organization which is represented in Nigeria.
“It is also important to note that this programme does not have a place for hard-boiled, ideologically hardened terrorists. It only admits, after careful scrutiny, repentant fighters that were captured and forced to bear arms in the first instance, and there are many who have been drafted by force.
“At the point of their graduation, a determination is made that the former combatants have repented and are better citizens, imbued with genuine nationalism. They must no longer represent a danger to society or to themselves.
“Where they are certified as such, communities have the duty of accepting them. Unless they want them to take up arms and resume terrorism from which they have repented, community leaders must work with the relevant agencies to end their rejection.
“The Buhari administration is a responsible one and is conscious of its duty to the state and society, and to the victims of terror as well as to those who inflicted these pains and losses on our people.”