Home Nigeria EXCLUSIVE: Insecurity: What NSA Ribadu told senators

EXCLUSIVE: Insecurity: What NSA Ribadu told senators

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PREMIUM TIMES has obtained exclusive details of the disclosures made by the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, at a closed-door meeting with Nigerian senators on Tuesday.

Apart from Mr Ribadu, the meeting was also attended by security chiefs; Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo; Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Olawale Edun, and Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Geidam.

The meeting at the instance of the lawmakers lasted for about nine hours behind closed doors.

Sources at the meeting said the NSA made the lead presentation while the security chiefs and ministers contributed to the discussion.

In his presentation, Mr Ribadu spoke about terrorism, various armed groups in the country and the efforts of the government to tackle the situation.

Terrorism

Mr Ribadu said counter-terrorism efforts in the North-east have led to a marked decrease in Boko haram activities, with incidents dropping to an 8 per cent low in the last six months. In 2023, out of a total of 394 attacks, only 64, representing 16.24 per cent, occurred under the Bola Tinubu administration, he said.

He said this indicates a significant reduction in such incidents during the new administration’s tenure, reflecting potentially effective security measures or strategic changes in response to terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria. He credited this to aggressive military operations and infighting among insurgent groups.

Insurgents now rely more on softer attacks and IEDs against troops, indicating a shift in their tactics due to military pressure, he said.

Terrorists
ISWAP Terrorists

He said the government’s analysis indicates a strategic shift in ISWAP’s tactics throughout 2023, with 78 per cent of their attacks being defensive, while only 22 per cent were offensive. This suggests that the group is primarily engaging in actions to protect its positions or respond to military pressure, rather than initiating attacks. This change reflects the effectiveness of ongoing counter-terrorism strategies, altering the group’s operational capabilities and forcing them into a more defensive posture, he said.

Mr Ribadu thanked the Borno State Government for contributing to the successes of security agencies.

IPOB Agitations

Mr Ribadu said Nigeria has made substantial progress in curtailing attacks by IPOB and its different variants. Through a combination of kinetic (forceful) and non-kinetic (non-violent) measures, attacks in the South-east have been reduced by 75 per cent within six months, he said.

He said the significant decrease comes after a period during which over 164 police stations were destroyed by separatists during the last administration.

Today, not only is the process of rebuilding underway, but life is also gradually returning to normal. Sit-at-home order that was widely observed is now largely defeated, he said.

PREMIUM TIMES has, in several reports, detailed the activities of armed groups in the South-east who have killed or kidnapped hundreds of people, including security officials. The government has blamed the secessionist group, IPOB, for the attacks although the group has denied responsibility, suggesting many other armed groups operate in the region.

The armed group had also ordered a sit-at-home every Monday in the region which residents observed mainly out of fear.

Addressing these separatist agitations requires a multifaceted approach, incorporating both immediate security measures and long-term strategies to tackle the root causes of such movements, Mr Ribadu said. Enhanced regional cooperation and international support are essential in curbing the spread and impact of these destabilizing forces, he added.

Banditry

The NSA said there has been a marked improvement in the security situation in the North-west and North-central. Banditry went down by 45 per cent in the second part of 2023, he said.

Many communities hitherto unable to farm have gone back to farm in the last farming season, he said.

Mr Ribadu said the government has secured the release of over 700 kidnap victims from their captors in the North-west.

“You can drive to Kaduna and Kano at night today. Most of the extreme violent kidnappers are eliminated,” he said.

Despite the NSA’s claims, bandits continue to attack communities in many North-west states at will.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how terrorists, earlier this week, killed 13 people, including two police officers, in separate attacks in northwestern Zamfara state. The attackers also abducted over 40 people.

Zamfara on Map (Photo Credit: Channels TV)
Zamfara on Map

Earlier on Sunday, nine residents of Kwabre in Zurmi Local Government Area of Zamfara were killed by terrorists. On that same day, a commercial driver was lucky to escape death when marauding terrorists ambushed motorists on the Jibia-Batsari road in Katsina State.

In his presentation, Mr Ribadu said kidnapping and banditry, initially perceived as mere criminal activities, have evolved into significant economic crimes within Nigeria, signalling a distressing transformation like criminal behaviour. This evolution is a reflection of both changing opportunities for criminals and the dire socioeconomic conditions affecting vast segments of the population, he said.

Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs)

The NSA said security agencies recovered and destroyed over 5,000 military-grade rifles and intercepted over 20 gun-running networks in the last months.

He and the security chiefs harped on the need for good governance as a non-kinetic measure to resolve the security challenges.

The alarming rates of poverty and unemployment contribute substantially to the proliferation of violence and insecurity, Mr Ribadu said. The inability of some citizens to meet basic needs leads them to take up arms against the state, compounding security challenges, he added.

The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio (PHOTO CREDIT: @SPNigeria)
The President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio (PHOTO CREDIT: @SPNigeria)

PREMIUM TIMES reported that Senate President Godswill Akpabio, after the meeting, told journalists that the lawmakers were impressed with the efforts made to tackle the security situation and passed a vote of confidence on the security chiefs.

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