Twenty-one days after 230 female students of a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State were abducted by Boko Haram terrorists, with only 43 of them escaping so far from the terrorists’ den, an expanded National Security Council, yesterday, rose from an emergency meeting declaring that everything must be done to rescue the girls.
President Goodluck Jonathan summoned a security meeting comprising the service chiefs and all the state governors in response to the spate of security challenges in the country.
Governors Babangida Aliyu of Niger State; Theodore Orji of Abia State and Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State as well as Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau addressed newsmen on decisions taken on the various security challenges confronting the nation.
On the abduction of the female students, Governor Kayode Fayemi said the meeting agreed that “everything must be done to free the abducted girls.” According to him, “the meeting stressed the importance of rising above partisanship when dealing with security issues. We stressed the importance of security agencies to be scrupulously professional and non partisan. The meeting commended the security agencies and urged them to share data amongst themselves.
“We also agreed that we need a holistic response to terrorism. Military action is sine qua non but there has to be an anti-poverty strategy. The meeting also stressed the need to address the capacity of media practitioners to make them more patriotic in their reporting.”
On the incessant crises between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, the meeting agreed that the long-term objective would be to “domesticate them, and create ranches but in the short term, the grazing routes must be properly gazetted and enforced.”
On the issue of religion the meeting agreed that there should be monitoring of what is being preached by some religious leaders and to make them understand the larger implication of what they preach on the nation at large.
Nyako’s memo condemned
The meeting also unanimously condemned the memo written by the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako in which he accused President Jonathan of carrying out genocide against the North.
Addressing State House Correspondents, the Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau who was flanked by the governors of Niger, Abia, Borno and Ekiti states said the meeting enjoined all holders of public offices to be wary of statements that are capable of exacerbating the already precarious security situation in the country.
Governor Babangida Aliyu who spoke on some of the decisions reached at the meeting said: “I am sure many of you will be curious about the memo written by one of us. We looked at it. In fact, he was allowed to read the memo to all of us and we discussed and concluded that for all of us, we need to be very careful with the kind of statement we make and we need to be very careful that whatever we say must either be evidence-based or something that can be authenticated. There is no need to give terrorists the opportunity of thinking that they are succeeding.
“All the terrorist wants is for him to find out that whatever he does is carried out in such a way that people will believe he is succeeding and is having some impact,” he said.
Collaborating Governor Babangida Aliyu’s position, the Governor of Abia State, Theodore Orji said: “There was a unanimous condemnation of the memo written by Nyako and all public officers were advised to be conscious of what they say”.
He added: “The meeting recognized the fact that security issue is not for the Federal Government alone; it should be a corporate issue, handled corporately by the Federal Government, states and local governments. When there is a synergy, obviously progress will be made. The meeting also agreed that at the state level, governors who are chief security officers have to do a lot to help because that is where the security issue is, at the state level.
“In so doing, the state governors should mobilize their radio houses to sensitize the people in the state so that they will be aware of the security situation.
“We also agreed that Boko Haram that is on now, is not a religious war; people should not misrepresent it to be, because both Muslims and Christians are being killed. It doesn’t discriminate against any person.
“The memo that was written by one of our colleagues, Governor Nyako of Adamawa State was discussed and there was a very unanimous condemnation of that memo. All officers and people in positions of authority were advised to be cautious of what they say, that what they say should at least enliven every person and make us to know that this country belongs to all of us and not something that will demoralize us, not something that will incite people to go the negative way”.
General Gusau who co-ordinated the meeting explained that the meeting “decided that the Federal government will do everything within its powers to bring the security situation in the country, whether it is terrorism, kidnapping or herdsmen clash with farmers under control.
Those in attendance at the meeting were: Governors Willie Obiano (Anambra); Theodore Orji (Abia); Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara); Seriake Dickson (Bayelsa); Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Martins Elechi (Ebonyi); Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara); Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta); Murtala Nyako (Adamawa); Kashim Shettima (Borno); Aliyu Wamako (Sokoto); Ramalan Yero (Kaduna ); Garba Umar (Taraba); Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti); Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa); Seidu Dakingari (Kebbi); Godswill Akpabio (Akwa Ibom); Babangida Aliyu (Niger); Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo); Lyel Imoke (Cross River); Isa Yuguda (Bauchi); Ibrahim Shema (Katsina); Ibrahim Dankwambo (Gombe)and Sullivan Chime (Enugu).
Deputy Governors of Jigawa, Imo, Oyo, Rivers, Kano, Ogun, Plateau, Edo and Yobe were represented their governors.
Ministers in attendance at the meeting were Abba Moro of Interior; Gen. Aliyu Gusau, Defence; Abduljelil Adesiyan, Police Affairs; Viola Onwuliri, Foreign Affairs; Akinwumi Adesina, Agriculture and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke.
The security chiefs in attendance were the Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, the Comptrollers General of Customs and Immigration, Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps and the Commandant-General of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor , President of the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Sultan of Sokoto, and President of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs also attended the meeting.