President Muhammadu Buhari is facing growing pressure to sack his security chiefs over indiscriminate killings across the country.
A group, Good Governance Initiative (GGI), yesterday, took its view even a notch further by asking the president to resign. “What is happening now will be a child’s play, if the APC returns to power in 2019,” GGI president, Nnosike Nwosu, warned.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) also backed calls for sacking. In a statement in Lokoja, yesterday, he accused the officers of incompetence and complicity in the killing of innocent Nigerians, adding that it was high time the “insecurity chiefs” became alive to their duties or were relieved of their posts.
The Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) has also declared its resolve to take Buhari to the International Criminal Court at The Hague over insecurity in the country.
In a communiqué, following its meeting in Ikeja, Lagos, at the weekend, the group stated: “We have also resolved to drag the heads of the various security organisations before the court as well. We have discovered that the leaderships of the various security organisations such as the Nigerian Army, the Police and the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) have been providing security cover for these criminals. How on earth can one justify the recent killings in Plateau State where the marauders operated unhindered for about eight hours without any form of resistance from security personnel?”
The Christian Association of Nigerian Americans (CANAN), on its part, asked: “What relevance is the intelligence gathering by the Department of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies, if communities can be attacked and hundreds slaughtered without security organisations providing rescue efforts?”
In a statement by its Executive Director Ade Oyesile, the group concluded: “It becomes obvious that Nigeria’s security system has been compromised.”
President Buhari had courted controversy in 2017 when he granted tenure elongation to Chief of Air Staff (CAS) Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai.
While some analysts described the move as an expression of confidence in the operations of the top officers, others said it smacked of political undertones and was capable of causing disaffection within the rank and file.
But with growing cases of wanton killings across the country, the recent Plateau massacre of over 100 persons being a textbook example, some Nigerians have begun intensifying calls for a change of guard.
Following a meeting Buhari held with Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, last week, it was disclosed that an overhaul of the nation’s security apparatus was imminent. Whether this would entail a removal of the chiefs remains unclear.
In a statement yesterday, the Progressive Youth Caucus (PYC), a coalition of groups in the All Progressives Congress (APC), urged the president to conduct an immediate review of the security architecture and do away with all non-performing service chiefs and heads of security organisations.
Make the security forces more accountable and effective, even if this means drastic changes to the heads of the police, army, navy and air force, PYC said.
Barely two days earlier, Saraki, while on a visit to Kwara State, had also called for the removal of non-performing service chiefs, saying: “This is not something to be politicised. If somebody is not capable, he should give way for others that are competent.”
Also last week, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) called for an urgent reconstitution of the top echelon of the security forces.
“The Nigerian government has serially breached its social contract with the people of the Middle Belt by its failure to protect their lives and property. In very many cases, the circumstances surrounding the killings and destruction suggest complicity by the leadership of security and intelligence agencies,” the group said at a press conference in Abuja.
Referring to the Plateau State killings, MBF president Dr. Pogu Bitrus, noted: “It is inconceivable that an attack of such magnitude requiring the kind of logistics involved could have been planned without any inkling by the intelligence agencies.”
The opposition Action Democratic Party (ADP) particularly blamed the tenure elongation for engendering low morale in defence quarters and consequently precipitating decline in security.
“We have come to the conclusion that political consideration is the only reason the president subverted the normal succession process in the military with the belief that they (service chiefs) could be deployed to subvert the electoral process in 2019,” said National Chairman Yabagi Sani.
Meanwhile, herdsmen allegedly killed six people, yesterday, at Mararaban Kantoma in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State, causing the Commander of Operation Safe Haven (OPHS), Anthony Atolagbe, to relocate “with all the principal officers of the security outfit to the epicentre of the renewed attacks.”
OPHS spokesman, Major Adam Umar, however, put the fatalities lower. “It is regrettable that before our men could get to the scene of the attack, four persons had already been killed by the attackers,” he said.
This came as 32 Boko Haram terrorists surrendered to troops at different locations in Borno State yesterday.
Spokesman Brig.-Gen Texas Chukwu confirmed this in a statement, saying one Ibrahim Lawal also handed over an AK 47 rifle and two magazines containing 59 rounds of 7.62mm (special) ammunition.