• Presidency mum on plans for ‘surrendered’ terrorists
• Says infighting among insurgents, surrender excites Buhari
There were more questions than answers on what the Federal Government plans to do with the rash of Boko Haram terrorists surrendering to security forces after a marathon meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
The president was briefed on issues arising from the military successes recorded in the theatre of operations in the Northeast and the security situation in the country, where he said he was not prepared to leave office as a failure and he is determined to turn things around in the war against insecurity.
Recall that the Nigerian Army, on Tuesday, August 17, disclosed that at least 1,000 Boko Haram/Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) members had laid down their arms and surrendered to its troops.
According to a statement, army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, had said all the surrendered terrorists would be received, processed and passed on to the relevant agencies of government for further assessment in line with extant provisions.
Briefing newsmen after the over five hours closed-door meeting yesterday, National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd.), disclosed that the armed forces have so far recorded a lot of successes in the operations in the North East.
Apparently, basking in the euphoria of the surrender, Monguno said: “Large numbers of people are surrendering in the Northeast as a consequence of the relentless efforts of the armed forces, intelligence and security agencies. We have never had such numbers of people defecting from the other side, back to the Nigerian side, mainly as a result of many issues within the theatre, especially infighting among the various factions of the terrorist groups.
“So, the President was briefed. The President is quite happy that there’s been tremendous success, especially with the advent of the new service chiefs and Inspector General of Police.
“And he’s also made it very, very clear that he’s not ready to exit government as a failure. He is not going to tolerate that; he’s made changes and is ready to make further changes if he is not satisfied. He is completely determined to ensure that there’s a turnaround in the fortunes in the theatre of operations.”
The NSA, however, declined to disclose what the authorities would do with those who have surrendered. He said: “Yes, there are plans. But I don’t want to immediately divulge what has been decided on those plans till the President takes a firm decision on the plans. But definitely, that is one of the things he intends to address in the coming days.
“And it’s not just in Nigeria, even in northern Cameroun, you have equally large numbers of people surrendering to the bonafide agencies of government. That is all as a consequence of the regional cooperation between the various countries.”
Monguno added that the issue of the recent killings in Plateau State also formed the crux of deliberations among the security agencies.
“So, the President is also aware of that. And he has also made certain assertions, which I am not willing to say right now, till he makes the final decision on the matter.
“Also, the issue of insecurity in the Northwest was on the agenda. For us within the security system, we have seen a significant drop in the number of incidents of kidnapping and banditry, nevertheless, a lot has to be done. Generally, the atmosphere is improving, and the President is very happy with the drive in that part of the country.”
Those at the meeting included Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Secretary to the Government of Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha; Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff, Lieut-Gen. Farouk Yahaya; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Amoo and Director General, Department of State Services (DSS) Yusuf Bichi.
The President also received briefings from the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; and Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola.
MEANWHILE, it was gathered that the need for governors to deal with security concerns in their various states was largely responsible for the postponement of a scheduled zoom meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Wednesday.
Governors of the 36 states of the federation were to meet via zoom to discuss the ongoing nationwide strike by resident doctors as well as strategies for reducing poverty among Nigerians. Notices for the meeting had been sent out late on Tuesday but later withdrawn.
In a terse statement, the Head, Media and Public Affairs of the NGF, Abdulrazaque Bello-Barkindo said: “The pro-poor meeting slated for Wednesday has been cancelled due to critical national issues beyond NGF, which have just come up. We regret to announce that a new date for this meeting will be announced in due course.”
However, a source privy to the development said: “Some of the governors had domestic security issues to deal with. The governors of Sokoto, Katsina and Plateau states especially had emergency security meetings scheduled because of happenings in their states. All these were considered before the proposed meeting was shelved.”