President Muhammadu Buhari has said that his administration has been able to stem insecurity and its attendant threat to food security in war-wracked Northeast Nigeria.
Mr Buhari also said most of the local government areas that were prior to his administration under the control of outlawed armed groups like Boko Haram, have been reclaimed and displaced residents have returned to their homes.
President Buhari made these claims in a nationwide broadcast on Friday in commemoration of the maiden celebration of the country’s June 12 Democracy Day.
The broadcast came hours after suspected Boko Haram splinter group, ISWAP, circulated a video footage showing the execution of an abducted soldier and a police officer.
It also came days after Boko Haram militants killed 81 people in Gubio, a community in Borno State.
Mr Buhari said his government has in the area of security, in the past five years “remain unshaken” in its “resolve to protect our national infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.”
“Ending insurgency, banditry, and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones,” he said.
He said “all the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.”
Mr Buhari also said that his administration has so far halted “the total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.”
Recent Gubio Killings
Mr Buhari in the broadcast empathized with people of Borno over the Tuesday’s attack by Boko Haram in Gubio local government.
“I regret recent sporadic incidents with the tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions,” he said.
He said security agencies will go after the perpetrators “and bring them to swift justice.”
He however urged state and local governments “to revamp their intelligence assets so that the Security Agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas.”
“I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.”
The Northeast region has been enmeshed in a bloody insurgency over 10 years which has resulted in the killings of thousands and mass displacement of residents in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe States.
The Buhari regime came into office in May 2015, winning a major victory on the basis of his promise to tackle the northeast insecurity in six months.
Though most of the local government areas that were earlier seized and declared Boko Haram territory have been reclaimed by Nigerian troops, access to those communities still remains difficult.
In the last two years, the region has witnessed a mass resurgence of violence perpetrated by the now divided terror groups – Boko Haram and ISWAP.
UN comment on northeast Nigeria
On Thursday, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, had, while commenting on the Tuesday killing of 81 civilians in Monguno, bemoaned the failing state of insecurity in the northeast.
Describing the attack as the “deadliest recorded in north-central Borno State since July 2019,” Mr Kallon said the incident has sent “shockwaves across the humanitarian community working to provide life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable in Borno State.”
He said he was “gravely concerned” by the spike of level “violent attacks recorded in recent weeks.”
“I am also troubled by the widespread practice by non-state armed groups of setting up illegal checkpoints along main supply routes, which heighten risks for civilians to be abducted, killed or injured, ” said the foremost UN staff in Nigeria
“Aid workers are directly impacted and the humanitarian community is disturbed by the news of possible abductions, including that of a camp manager from the Borno State Emergency Management Agency working in the northern Borno State town of Monguno, where tens of thousands of civilians are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance.”
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