UPDATE: ‘We’re coming for your thugs’, NSA warns governors obstructing opposition campaign

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (retd) has warned state governors using thugs to prevent the opposition from mounting campaign materials in their domains that security agencies will soon descend on them.

Appearing at the Ministerial Media Briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa Abuja on Thursday, he said when the law enforcement agencies move, there will be no hiding place for the perpetrators.

Monguno who was reacting to reports of state governors implementing policies that prevent the presence of opposition campaign materials in their states, blamed the action on what he called an inferiority complex.

He warned the governors to restrain their thugs as he said that President Muhammadu Buhari has given clear directives that the 2023 election must be free, fair and credible.

The NSA warned the governors to “call their Capo regime to order because when we move, there will be no hiding place.”

He said: “One thing I can assure you is, the President has given clear directives. The people’s will, must prevail. What happened in Anambra or Osun and Ekiti is what we want to happen all over the country. Let the people choose their leader, whoever they want, then later, they can decide.

“But in the process of electing who governs them, we must be mindful of the fact that there are people who are hell bent on forcing on bullying and cornering their opponents. It’s not even a function of numbers or a function of money. It’s a big problem. It’s a problem that’s also linked with complex. Because if you are really who you are, you don’t need to hire thugs.

“If you cannot restrain your thugs, the government will do that for you. And you will be called on the carpet and you will answer questions. We have a lot of politicians and I’m not being specific about any politician or party. This virus has to be contained.

“I have given a clear warning that any politician who engages in any unpalatable activity, the use of thug and I know we have a lot of political thugs, straining at the leash, foaming at the mouth, desperate to bite and taste blood.

“But we’re going to apply everything within the powers of the government. And I’m not saying that we’re going to just operate in a manner that is not regulated. The government is not going to embark on anything that is uncontrolled, we will operate on the straight and narrow, confining ourselves to legality. That I can assure you, the President has given his directives. And we’re working on that.


“So those elements who think they can deny other people, the political air to breathe and reach out to the local community should have a rethink. And I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again, these political elements should call their thugs, their Capo regimes to order. They should have a nice, quiet fireside chat with them, and advise them that when the law enforcement agencies come there’ll be no hiding place.”

The NSA assured that the persistent attacks on the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in parts of the country, will be brought to an end.

Asked why the attacks had continued despite his earlier assurances, Monguno said: “we will get there.”

On the security of the 2023 general elections, he stated: “I hope your question is not a trap but the elections will take place. We have said that. By the grace of Almighty, they will take place in an atmosphere bereft of intimidation and violence, we’ll try as much as possible to maintain that.

“For those people who have been going around burning offices, killing people, I have already said it, the security agencies have been given that instruction. Visit them with all you have and let them understand that there are consequences for bad behavior and that we are determined. Everybody’s a Nigerian, everybody’s free to do whatever he wants to do, but don’t cross the line and move into another person’s territory.

“That you want to destroy government property, property set up by taxpayers money? How dare you? Who the hell are you? In a normal society, this is not tolerated, and I believe we’re normal society. How can you just be on your own? So, please, let’s forget that one.”

The NSA affirmed that security situation has significantly stabilized especially in the last one year due to inter-agency collaboration.

However, he noted that as long as the
drivers of insecurity are prevalent in one form or another, threat to security will remain in the country.

Giving update on the current security situation in the country, Monguno said: “I’m going to try and be as objective as honest and as factual as I can. Of course, you know, the dynamics of the security landscape, as such that things tend to change at a rapid rate, especially in terms of statistics.

“But the basic facts will remain, that the graph, the trend of our achievements, and what President Muhammadu Buhari has done within the period he has been presiding over the affairs of the nation, and I also want to let you know that there are some aspects of national security, that are not cut and dry, that are not fixed for just the government and its security agencies.

“Those arms of government that are mandated with dealing with specific issues, the type of situation we are faced with today, we’re dealing with an asymmetric conflict, and in an asymmetric conflict, solutions are completely outside what government alone can handle.

“And that is why you keep hearing phrases like whole of government approach, in conjunction with a whole of society approach to get a whole of nation solution.

“That is, because a lot of things happening, a lot of the layers that are not seen to the general public are layers that can only be handled by concerted efforts of the entire population of the country.

“Countries that have been able to overcome these problems have been able to do so because they recognize that inherently, if a nation is not able to set aside, you know, individual issues either ethnic, religious, tribal, whatever and face, the devil that is destroying the country in terms of asymmetric matters, then all other things will be lost.

“So, it is important for you to understand that the responsibility does not lie entirely on the government and its entities. The responsibility goes all the way down to the society, to the local level, to the family level, traditional religious, and so on and so forth.”

Giving an overview, the NSA stated: “Now, as you’re all aware, Nigeria was at a critical period of its history. In 2015, when President Buhari administration commenced work in the North East, Boko Haram terrorists were in control of a sizable portion of territory, with the intention of establishing dominance to spread the extremist ideology.

“Relatedly the Northwest was characterized by activities of bandits, which drew persistent concerns from the citizenry. While conflicts involved in pastoralism farmers in the North Central were rife and aggravated already existing tensions between communities, in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria was declared a high-risk area due to high incidence of piracy and kidnappings of seafarers.

“In addition, separatist agitations in the south east emerged with the irredentist, adopting guerrilla tactics against security forces and law-abiding citizens.

“Thus, it is against the backdrop of these aforementioned issues that Mr. President made security one of the core pillars of his administration.

“Let me therefore, state that the security situation in this country has significantly stabilized especially in the last one year, notwithstanding isolated cases of attacks by various categories of criminals across the geopolitical zones.

“This stabilization was largely due and achieved through the strengthening of inter-agency collaboration among intelligence and security agencies, as well as engagements with our regional and international partners.”

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