President Muhammadu Buhari has said the withdrawal of the military from areas in the country where peace had been restored will not be done in a manner that will expose communities to more risks of attacks.
The president said the withdraw exercise ”will be gradual and carefully planned, not abrupt or arbitrary to jeopardise the success already recorded by the military.”
In the face of rising security threats across the country, and the inability of the police to curb crimes and insurgency in the north, troops have been deployed to many parts of the country in recent years to restore normalcy.
Reacting to concerns and appeals from governors and community leaders over the proposed withdrawal of the troops, President Buhari said the “administration will not abandon citizens in need of protection.”
He urged Nigerians, especially public affairs analysts, ”to carefully study the statement following a security council meeting with service chiefs that the withdrawal of troops will be done after an ‘assessment’ to determine areas where peace had returned to enable civil authorities to assume full control.”
President Buhari said where it is determined that the withdrawal will not in any way jeopardise peace already achieved, ”the military pull-out will be in a careful and gradual way.”
“You don’t need to worry. We will not expose our people and their communities to harm or danger,” the President assured in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu on Friday.
“The withdrawal is to allow the military focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression. It is the duty of the police to handle internal security since Nigeria is not at war.
“The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps will support the police to provide internal security. When it is time to withdraw, nothing will be rushed,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Buhari has condemned the murder of 19 people by unknown gunmen in Tawari community of Kogi Local Government Area, Kogi State.
President Buhari said in a statement: “there is no excuse or justification for killing innocent people by anybody or group, and for whatever motive.
“The killings and revenge killings will only aggravate the cycle of violence, creating neither safety nor security for any side.
“People should avoid taking the law into their own hands because doing so could make a bad situation worse and undermine the government’s efforts to tackle security challenges.
“I am gravely worried about frequency and temptation of using violence to settle disputes instead of following lawful and amicable means to avoid needless destruction of lives and property.’’