Benue cri­sis: There’s in­tru­sion of crim­i­nals on both sides - Bu­ratai

Weekly Trust - - News - Hope Abah, Makurdi

The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Bu­ratai, re­cently toured cri­sis­rid­den ar­eas of Benue State. Con­cerned about the ter­rain, which poses ma­jor chal­lenges to troops, he as­sured in this in­ter­view that the Nige­rian Army is al­ready build­ing con­fi­dence in the peo­ple who fled their homes to re­turn. He also posited that crim­i­nal el­e­ments are in­volved in the killings in the state, from the lo­cals to armed herders. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust: What is your as­sess­ment of the ar­eas that you have vis­ited?

One very im­por­tant thing that I dis­cov­ered was that the troops are well-po­si­tioned and are per­form­ing their du­ties ex­cel­lently, and they have al­ready given the peo­ple the con­fi­dence for them to know that there is se­cu­rity and they can go back to their homes. We are also in­creas­ing more troops to cover the area. You know, that place is sort of where three states con­verge to­gether, they have a com­mon bound­ary that is Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. So, it’s very im­por­tant for us to look at it and see how we can fur­ther re­in­force the troops.

Mo­bil­ity on the wa­ter is also very crit­i­cal, which we are also look­ing into. Al­ready, there is a plan­ning com­mit­tee on the ground from the De­fence Head­quar­ters who are work­ing on this and there are a lot of boats that have been brought in for de­ploy­ment.

Over­all se­cu­rity will de­pend on a num­ber of fac­tors: Ev­ery­one is com­ing to play his role, es­pe­cially the state and we the se­cu­rity agen­cies, the lo­cal gov­ern­ments have their role, also, to play in the pro­vi­sion of roads, pro­vi­sion of so­cial ameni­ties. They are quite fun­da­men­tal, so we hope they will look at it crit­i­cally and see how they can im­prove the ter­rain in terms of move­ment, in the pro­vi­sion of roads. You saw how dif­fi­cult it was when it rained for us to come out. I think some­thing should be done by the state and lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

Also, cer­tain poli­cies or cer­tain laws need to be re­pealed or re­viewed to give ev­ery­body a sense of be­long­ing. I think that is very fun­da­men­tal and if it is done, it will help us a lot to ward off some of th­ese in­se­cu­ri­ties. But one point is that there is in­tru­sion by crim­i­nals on both the side of the herders,

and that of the lo­cals. We shouldn’t give them that chance to cause dishar­mony be­cause the in­se­cu­rity chal­lenge we have on hand is enough. But by and large, se­cu­rity is ev­ery­body’s re­spon­si­bil­ity. DT: What would you say is the ma­jor chal­lenge of se­cur­ing th­ese com­mu­ni­ties?

Like I said, mo­bil­ity in re­la­tion to ad­di­tional troops that we in­tend to de­ploy to pro­vide se­cu­rity and re­store con­fi­dence in the lo­cals, is im­por­tant. The most im­por­tant thing is that they should sup­port the mil­i­tary in terms of pro­vi­sion of in­for­ma­tion that will help us in flush­ing out the ban­dits, or crim­i­nal el­e­ments that are op­er­at­ing within the en­vi­ron­ment. DT: What should be the ef­fort of the state gov­ern­ment to sup­port the mil­i­tary?

There is need for more lo­cal gov­ern­ment roads, more state gov­ern­ment roads, to be con­structed, apart from what the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is do­ing. It is very im­por­tant that this is­sue is looked into, so that we will be able to move rapidly or re­spond swiftly when­ever there are se­cu­rity chal­lenges in the area.

DT: There is con­tro­versy over the ar­rest of the Com­man­dant of the Benue State Live­stock Guard, Alh. Aliyu Te­shaku. What’s your take on the is­sue?

In­ves­ti­ga­tion is still on, and if we find any­body di­rectly in­volved in any crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, def­i­nitely, he will be ar­rested ac­cord­ingly. It is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion, an ar­rest has been made by the ap­pro­pri­ate agen­cies, as well as any other group that is in­volved. If an in­ves­ti­ga­tion has any con­nec­tion with them, we will def­i­nitely get across to the ap­pro­pri­ate agen­cies to make the ar­rest. So, it is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion based on in­tel­li­gence.

If we have con­crete in­tel­li­gence on any other group, rest as­sured that we will take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion. What we are do­ing now is fo­cus­ing on crim­i­nal el­e­ments who are on the ground, caus­ing havoc.

Lt.-Gen. Tukur Y. Bu­ratai, Chief of Army Staff

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