UPDATED: Buhari declares Zamfara a no-fly-zone


By Bolaji Ogundele

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the recommendation that Zamfara State be declared a no-fly-zone, with immediate effect, in response to recent security challenges erupting from the state.

National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), disclosed this to State House Correspondents at the end of the National Security Council meeting, held in the State House on Tuesday.

According to Monguno, President Buhari also approved the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in the state, until further notice, as part of efforts to curb rising rate of insecurity.

Monguno said, as part of strategies to douse tension and restore order in all parts of the country, the intelligence and security communities have been mandated to go after all non-state actors, whose activities have been fueling chaos, place them under surveillance.

He said the President has charged the new service chiefs to reclaim all areas under the control of bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and all others involved in criminal activities across the country.

“Given the fact that we have a new organisation with new service chiefs, the President has charged all of us to redouble our efforts, especially in view of the occurrences of the last couple of weeks.

“The predominant issues raising concern for the entire nation remain kidnapping, banditry, and of course terrorism in the north eastern part of the country. Apart from that, we’ve also had issues with farmers and herders, which have also resulted in some unpleasant ethnic situations.

“Now, His Excellency, the President has approved, based on our recommendation, the imposition and enforcement of a ban on all mining activities in Zamfara State with immediate effect, until further notice.

“He has directed the Honourable Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser to deploy massive military and intelligence assets to restore normalcy to that part of the country. He has also approved that Zamfara State be declared a no-fly-zone with immediate effect.

“Now all non-state actors that have been causing problems for the innocent peoples, not just in Zamfara State or the Northwest zone, but also the Northeast and other parts of the country in the South-South, have been placed under surveillance by the intelligence agencies, we’ve had a lot of reports coming in; collusion with people from all walks of life,” he said.

Monguno also disclosed that President Buhari had given the intelligence and other law enforcement outfits in the country the go-ahead to bring down the activities of all individuals already flagged as persons of interest on the nation’s security watch list.

According to him, the President had given the order that such persons be trailed and flushed out, warning that the federal government would not fold its arms, watching individuals or groups to push the nation beyond the edge.

“Other issues deliberated upon include issues of freedom of citizens to reside wherever they wish to reside, this is stipulated in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While at the same time, the government endorses that anybody who is a criminal, who acts on his own outside the law, should be brought to book wherever he is, but the issue here is that when we continue to pith ourselves against each other, then this problem will only continue to be magnified.

“Therefore, Mr. President has charged each and every one to be mindful of this situation because once we start to profile ourselves along ethnic or religious lines, then there’ll be no end to it. We’ve seen what has happened in so many countries around the globe, and we do not want Nigeria to fall into that type of situation.

“I think we’ve had enough of violence, enough of chaos, enough of anarchy, but I want to stress once more that any individual or group that thinks it can take it upon itself to cause disunity, disharmony and push the country to the brink should have a rethink.

“Any individual who thinks he has any support, who thinks he can undermine this government, anybody, any human being, as long as it’s a citizen of this country, any one person who thinks he’s the cat’s whiskers, or he can be rocky on the perch and lead us into a situation of unhappiness, will have himself to blame at the end of the day.

“Already, the President has given directives to the military and intelligence organisations to trail and flush out all the people that have been on our watch list and I can assure you there are quite a handful of people on our watch list. They will be trailed, they will be routed out and they’ll be brought to book. They’ll be prosecuted and they’ll be made an example of, and anybody who wants to use this situation to blackmail the government should also think.

“The President, finally, has asked us to put our heads together to try as much as possible to work on a whole of government basis, in conjunction with a whole of scientific basis to achieve a whole of nation result. When I say whole of government, I’m not saying whole of executive. I’m saying the whole of executive, legislature and judiciary.

“That is what the partnership is and this partnership will work with people outside the federal establishment, that is working with the state governments, working with traditional and religious organisations and local community leaders, while at the same time trying to enhance community policing,” he said.

He, however, noted that though government would prefer to use other diplomatic means to resolve the various crises threatening the peace and security of the country, it would not hesitate to use military force to protect and sustain the peace and security of Nigerians.

“While the federal government is not averse to the application of non-kinetic means, to resolve this problem, I need to make it very clear that the federal government will not hesitate to apply to the fullest its kinetic means to restore normalcy to the country. I’m sure you’re all aware of the fact that no country will tolerate a group of non-state actors.

No sovereign nation will allow a group of non-state actors to bring it down to its knees and render the state in state of panic, apprehension, mistrust, disorder, and so on and so forth. Therefore, both the defence and intelligence organisations have been charged that while we look forward to having a peaceful, non-kinetic resolution, we will not allow this country to drift into state failure and with the fact from today, the new service chiefs have been given directives by the Minister of Defence, conveyed by the President to the Minister of Defence, to reclaim all areas that have been dominated by bandits, by kidnappers and other scoundrels and scallywags,” he said.

He also revealed that security agencies have good information on persons using their social status as cover over their involvement in criminal activities like kidnapping, where he said evidences had shown that such individuals have been profiting from proceeds of crimes.

He warned that machineries had been put in place to check such activities and bring culprits to justice, adding that government would not stand aside while anyone tip the nation off the edge.

“In doing so, I’ve also asked all the intelligence agencies to collapse all their efforts into one platform, so that with the convergence of efforts, we will be able to give the required intelligence to the operational elements of government.

“Now, I need to stress also that there are individuals in this country who have assumed a status that is beyond what they should be. The intelligence from our own sources, the intelligence at my disposal and the disposal of the other intelligence hence, reveals that we have certain entities, certain individuals who are making capital out of insecurity, especially kidnapping.

“This is a situation that has to be brought to an end and I’m sending a warning to anybody who is hiding beneath a veneer of some status, whether official, in terms of an official capacity or traditional or religious, to stoke the flames of disorder will have himself to blame. The government is very serious about this.

“Like I said, we’re drifting into a situation that we can no longer afford to lose lives. We are not going to be blackmailed, we’re going to use whatever is at our disposal, while operating within the confines of legitimacy, within the confines of legality, but the government has a responsibility to assert its will, using the instruments at its disposal to keep the state moving, alive, happy in prosperity, this will not be compromised,” he said.


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