Our Army is distracted, overwhelmed, Senate raises the alarm

• Only two killed during Kaduna-Abuja bandits attack ― GOC, 1st Division

The Senate has again expressed concern over the engagement of the Nigerian Army in providing internal security in the country, adding that the Nigerian Army is distracted and overwhelmed.

The Senate Committee on Army raised the alarm on Monday when members of the Committee visited Army formations in North-West state of Kaduna.

Senator representing Borno South and Chairman Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume who noted that the Army was currently involved in maintaining internal security in 33 states of the federation, insisted that containment of internal strife was outside the constitutional mandate of the Nigerian Army.

Tribune Online checks revealed that the Commander of 81 Military Intelligence Brigade, Victoria Island, Lagos, Brigadier General Ahmed Taiwo, at the weekend told the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry investigating the alleged shooting of protesters that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Tukur Buratai, ordered the deployment of soldiers undergoing training at military schools for the Lekki exercise due to the shortage of troops.

Senator Ndume while meeting with the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Usman Mohammed said the Army must be supported for it to succeed.

He said: “We are delighted to be here. We insisted on this oversight visit for some reasons. The Army is facing its own challenges. By our constitution, the Army isn’t supposed to be involved in civil security.

“But we have security challenges across every part of the country. The Army has to be drafted to provide internal security. Right now, the Army provides internal security in about 33 States in the country. We can’t sit in Abuja and talk.

“We need to see for ourselves. We are hoping that the Army will get back to its feet. As a country, we are known to have a formidable Army. But these days, we are worried.”

Senator Ndume appealed to General Mohammed to ensure that his officers rout bandits and kidnappers from perpetrating their evil activities along Abuja – Kaduna road.

“In the last few months, we have had peace along the Kaduna-Abuja road. But on Sunday, what happened is worrisome. Along the Birni Gwari, the security situation is also alarming. Unfortunately, the Army doesn’t have the number needed to provide security.”

The GOC, however, faulted media reports that fifteen people were killed at the weekend by the bandits.

He revealed that a driver and a woman were the casualties while his officers rescued nine others.

He assured the federal lawmakers that more camps belonging to bandits would be identified and destroyed ahead of the Christmas festive season.

He said: “We want to appreciate the support of your committee. We are succeeding because of your support. We need your support to keep succeeding. We are not unmindful of the security challenges.

“Right now, we have three operations going. There is one along the Kaduna-Abuja road. We are going after bandits during this Christmas period. We will flush them out. We have been seeing their recent hand along that road. We will keep doing our best.

“We always go after the bandits in their camps. We have dislodged them from their camps. On Sunday, only two persons were killed. Nine persons were kidnapped. We went after them and the kidnappers left their victims and ran away.

“It is false to say that 15 people were killed. That’s not true. We will keep dislodging them. We will redouble our efforts and ensure that they don’t have their way.”

Senator Bulus Amos, who incidentally was a retired Army officer advised General Mohammed to be more vigilant as he revealed that the villagers on the highways could be informants for bandits.

“Most people who are farmers, bike riders and villagers are informants. These bandits have informants everywhere. Soldiers need to go after them. If they meet them face to face, soldiers will finish them.

“Soldiers need to disguise and find a way to get the people to cooperate with them. These bandits live with us. They’re part of us and they live in communities. We need to do more.”

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