The Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd.), on Thursday, said the Federal Government knew that the killing of Chad’s President, Idriss Deby, was capable of causing security problems for Nigeria and other neighbouring countries.
The minister, who spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja during the weekly briefing organised by the presidential communication team, said government feared that insecurity in Chad could lead to proliferation of illegal arms in Nigeria.
Magashi stated these as gunmen kidnapped no fewer than seven people in Oyo and Kaduna states between Wednesday and Thursday.
In Oyo State, kidnappers of five occupants of a vehicle are demanding N50m for the release of their victims, who were abducted on the Igboora-Eruwa road on Wednesday night.
In Kaduna State, health workers have threatened to go on strike if the state government fails to ensure the release of two nurses who were abducted on Thursday morning.
Apparently preparing the minds of Nigerians for the implications of the recent incident in Chad, where Deby died as a result of the injuries he sustained in a battle with the country’s rebels, the minister stated that Nigeria would be hit most by the development.
He said, “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew that the problem is bound to be replicated among neigbouring countries and Nigeria will be hit most by his absence.
“If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be a lot of problems. But thank God, we have a lot of military activities with the Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
“So, under the aegis of the Multinational Joint Task Force, all these countries, including Chad, are contributing soldiers for the operation (against Boko Haram insurgents).
“We hope that very soon, we will find a secure way for the continuation of the activities we are supposed to be doing.
“The problem is now going to be aggravated because we are not sure the direction that country ( Chad) is going to face.
“But I assure you that we are mindful of our borders. We are mindful of the development (in Chad)…We are beefing up security at all borders to ensure that refugees do not flow into the country.”
The minister said the Federal Government was also afraid about the possible proliferation of weapons as a result of the development in Chad.
He added, “On the issue of weapons and armament, we are also afraid that before now, Chad has been the one stopping most of these infiltrations of weapons.
“Now, that is free for all right from Libya down to Nigeria. It is very easy now because of the absence of the influence of Chad in that route.
“So, we also have to take care of that. I think we are on top of the situation. All we are praying is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad and get in a more corrective society as respected by international organisations.”
The minister said although terrorism was reducing, the nation was being confronted with other forms of insecurity arising from intolerance.
Magashi said, “Make no mistakes that our nation is bleeding now. It is bleeding because of the self-interest and other primordial considerations underlying decisions, which quite a number of our elites – political, ethnic and religious – make. Such elites are quick to attribute blames to groups other than theirs.
“The whole idea is to exploit the social division for their political gains and it is because of this divisiveness that Nigeria lacks a national consensus or common comprehensive understanding and the interpretation of what national security is on Boko Haram, farmers/herders clashes, IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) and other political associations that are coming up with different mandates and different concerns. All these can encourage groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.
Magashi said a comprehensive report had been prepared on the challenges but said he would not disclose the details.
He continued, “We have made a comprehensive brief as far as the security of this country is concerned and the methods we want to use in ensuring that we strategically and tactically get rid of all enemies of this country.”
The minister reiterated government’s position that those responsible for the killing of soldiers in Benue State recently would be brought to book.
He added, “The latest is the burning of our soldiers, brutal murder of about 11 soldiers and one officer and the military is not taking kindly to that.”
He also confirmed that some individuals, who funded Boko Haram, had been arrested particularly in Kano State.