TEXT OF PRESENTATION BY HMIC, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE ON SECURITY IN ABUJA ON MONDAY, SEPT. 5 2022
Good morning gentlemen, and thank you for honouring our invitation to this joint press conference, to be addressed by the Honourable
Ministers of Defence (Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi, rtd), Interior (Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola) as well as Police Affairs (Alhaji Mohammed Dingyadi), and moderated by the Minister of Information and Culture (Alhaji Lai Mohammed). This is the first in a series of briefings that we hope to make a regular event, in the face of the security challenges facing our great nation.
- At today’s briefing, the Honourable Minister of Defence will speak first, followed by the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs and
then Interior. We will then take your questions.
- As you are all aware, the issue of security has dominated our national discourse in recent times, against the background of the
terrorism, banditry and kidnapping in the North-East, North-West and North Central; separatist violence and crude oil theft in the South-East and South-South as well as cultism, armed robberry and sundry crimes in the South-West.
- Today, we are here to tell you that while we may not be there yet, our military and other security agencies have succeeded – and are
succeeding – in substantially restoring security across the nation. As far as the daunting security challenges we face are concerned, we can tell you that the worst is over. Never again will terrorists and bandits and their cohorts hold sway in our country.
- As I said at a summit organized by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in Abuja on Aug. 23rd 2022, President Muhammadu
Buhari’s directive to the military to crush those terrorising our citizens is working, hence peace and security are gradually being restored to the country. Let me quote Mr. President himself on his directive to the military: ‘‘Judging by the available reports to me and news that have begun emerging in the last few days, I will say they have heard this instruction and are responding appropriately. In the past couple of days, you must have heard about the number of terrorists neutralized by the military, and number of hostages freed.
These efforts will not stop, or reduce. We must take the fight to the terrorists and demonstrate that there is no hiding place for them
within the borders of our country. Each one of them will be hunted, and pursued and spoken to in the language that they understand.’’ End of quote. These are great words of assurance, coming directly from the President and Commander-in-Chief himself.
- The security challenges we have face, as an Administration, have been daunting – from terrorism to banditry to kidnapping to separatist violence to crude oil theft to armed robbery and sundry crimes. It’s undoubtedly the greatest challenge to the peace and security of our great nation since the civil war from 1967 to 1970. It is the kind of challenge that would have overwhelmed many nations. But thanks to the purposeful leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, we can say, I want to repeat, that the worst is over and peace and security are gradually returning to the land. Please don’t misunderstand or misrepresent this assertion. We may still witness isolated cases of security challenges here and there, but it will not be on the scale that we have witnessed in the past.
- We want to use this opportunity to salute Mr. President for his leadership. When many threw their arms up in the air and felt it was
all over, President Buhari remained resolute. When many called for the use of foreign mercenaries to tackle the challenges, especially
terrorism and banditry, President Buhari never wavered in his belief in the ability of our gallant men and women in uniform to rise to the occasion, and rise to the occasion they did. Some said the security challenges have overwhelmed the military, but the military has now demonstrated that no group of ragtag criminals can ever overwhelm them. Terrorists and bandits and co can run but cannot hide, and this has been demonstrated by the arrest of those who attacked a church in Owo. These criminals can run but cannot hide, as we have seen in the decimation of the cowards who ambushed the Brigade of Guards troops in Abuja. I am sure you will hear from my colleagues how our military and other security agencies have been decimating the top echelon of ISWAP and Boko Haram, how armed bandits camps and resources have been destroyed, and how the capacity of IPOB/ESN has been substantially
- Please note that whereas in conventional warfare, the parties can declare a truce or cessation of hostilities, upon reaching an
agreement, it is not the same for the kind of unconventional warfare that our military has been fighting in recent years. We are therefore not saying the battle is over. No. What we are saying is that our military and other security agents have been able to contain the daunting security challenges we face, and that the worst is indeed over. We have now put the terrorists, bandits and their ilk on the run and we will not relent until they have been crushed.
- Gentlemen, please permit me to use this platform to commend all the men and women of our military, police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Force, Immigration, Customs, Nigerian Correctional Service, intelligence agencies, etc, for their sacrifice and patriotism. May I also appeal to all our compatriots to continue to support the security agencies in their onerous task of keeping our country safe. We must also realize that security is the business of everyone, hence the tagline ‘if you see something, say something.’ Terrorists or bandits are not spirits. They are human beings, and some of them reside in our communities. They must all be exposed and crushed for peace to reign.
- Finally, I want to commend the media for continuing to carry out its constitutionally-mandated watchdog role in this regard. May I,
however, call on the media to also endeavour to give a big play to the recent successes recorded by our security agencies in tackling terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, separatist violence and oil theft, among others, just as they gave prominence to the reporting of the security challenges at their peak. It is instructive that when the terrorists and bandits strike, they get very prominent mention in the media, but when the security agencies hit them hard, as they are doing now, a section of the media suddenly goes quiet. This is not helpful for the morale of the fighting forces and even the citizens.
- I thank you all for your kind attention. I will now call on the Honourable Minister of Defence to make his presentation