President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, held an emergency security meeting with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Navy Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amao.
Others at the meeting were the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno; Director-General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi; Director-General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i and the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu.
The meeting was held before the president left for London, United Kingdom (UK), for his medical checkup.
At the meeting, he told the heads of security and intelligence agencies that their first assignment is to identify and take out leaders of bandits and kidnappers, to make the country safer for citizens.
Speaking to State House correspondents after the meeting, Monguno said the president had told the security and intelligence agencies that he would no longer tolerate a situation where bandits and kidnappers will keep dictating the pace in the country.
The NSA said the president has also kicked against a situation whereby security actions are reactive rather than being proactive.
He said President Buhari has also indicated his willingness to provide all resources needed by troops to put down the criminals.
“They must be brought down with all the ruthlessness it requires. And whoever is in collaboration with them will be brought to book,” Monguno said.
He said there would be no adjustment to what the National Security Council has already laid down until normalcy is restored.
The NSA conveyed the president‘s displeasure over certain elements working in cahoots with criminals in and outside the country to exploit the mine fields of Zamfara State.
He also revealed the existence of individuals and groups who are planning to link up with non-state actors to frustrate the effort of government to curtail illegal mining and enforcing the nofly zone in Zamfara.
Monguno also alerted that there are some elements working with people in critical agencies of government, saying that certain weaknesses have been identified that must be strengthened.
He said: “After meetings with governors of the NorthWest and North-Central zones, Mr President decided to call for an emergency meeting with heads of defence and security organisations.
“Prior to this meeting, he had also met with the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum on issues directly linked to the state of insecurity in the nation. Today’s meeting was not a very long meeting, but the president looked at certain issues that were presented to him in the last one week.
“Mr President, in particular, emphasised that the comprehensive reports he has received from the Chief of Defence Staff and the service chiefs, following their recent appointment, has illuminated the need for him to look deeper into certain aspects that need to be taken care of.
“He is particularly inspired and impressed by the way the new service chiefs have started their assignments, with all the operational visits they have made to the theatre, where they have been able to address troops, look into their immediate needs and come up with immediate, medium and long term proposals.
“Mr President is going to look into these things with the urgency they require, but he is particularly delighted that from what he has received from the Chief of Defence Staff, there is now a renewed vigour; there is now a willingness on the part of all the operational elements to work together, as well as also work hand-in-hand with the intelligence organisations.
“On the issue of kidnapping and banditry, this menace still persists, especially in the North-West and North-Central zones. Mr President has been very emphatic, he has stated very clearly that this problem must be brought to an end, but using the traditional methods that the armed forces have been trained to deploy.
“Mr President has made it very clear to both the intelligence and operational elements that the first assignment will be to identify the leaders of these bandits, kidnappers and take them out in order to restore confidence in those areas.
“Mr President has said that he will no longer tolerate a situation whereby bandits and kidnappers are the ones dictating the pace and setting the tone and he will not also condone a situation in which our own operations are reactive rather than being proactive.”