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We don’t need mercenaries to end insurgency – NSA

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The Federal Government has ruled out hiring mercenaries to fight the insurgency war, saying the country has enough personnel and resources to fight insecurity.

It also foreclosed negotiations with bandits and terrorists, contending that doing so could suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.

Addressing journalists on Thursday in Abuja, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), stated that the services of mercenaries would no longer be required as the military has the firepower and expertise to defeat insurgents.

Monguno spoke following clamour that the federal government should enlist military contractors to bring a quick end to the anti-terror war.

Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, rekindled the debate on the necessity of employing mercenaries to assist troops in combating the insurgency.

Zulum had also called on the federal government to seek the support of neighbouring countries in the fight against insurgency.

The governor in November 2020 had made a case for the employment of mercenaries as done by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Jonathan administration had used specialised tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), a South African company, to degrade the insurgents in the North-east, making it possible for the reclaiming of some towns and villages from the insurgents, which eventually paved the way for the conduct of elections in many areas in Borno State in 2015.

The governor, at the North-East Governors’ Forum meeting in Bauchi last week, restated his advocacy for the recruitment of foreign fighters in the fight against insurgency.

The House of Representatives, a week later, joined Zulum in demanding the recruitment of foreign mercenaries to assist in the fight against insurgency.

The House passed a resolution on Wednesday for the recruitment of foreign fighters following a motion moved by Hon. Abdulkadir Rahis, representing Maiduguri Metropolitan Federal Constituency.

But Hon. Manu Masur, representing Darazo/Ganjuwa Federal Constituency, moved for an amendment of the motion and asked the federal government to consider foreign-paid fighters. The motion was adopted after it was put to a voice vote.

However, Monguno ruled out the FG seeking the help of mercenaries in the renewed onslaught against Boko Haram, revealing that troops have killed no fewer than 2,403 insurgents since the current administration took off in May 2015.

According to him, it is pointless re-engaging the mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram since Nigeria has enough resources to deal with the situation.

He said, “The president’s view and the directive are that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the president has given a new lease of life to the armed forces.”

He stated that theFG would also deploy all necessary force to eliminate insurgents and bandits rather than opening talks with them.

“We can’t be singing the same song every day, and these people are unreliable. They are ignoble; they are ready to undermine whatever agreement we have had. So, because of that, if the opportunity avails itself, of course, we will talk with responsible people from the side of those people. I don’t even know how to categorise them because it’s not as if they are looking for something you can point a finger at; it’s not some kind of nationalistic situation – something you can actually identify and relate to,” he said.

Monguno described bandits and insurgents as a murderous group of individuals who are keyed up on drugs, adding that there is nothing to negotiate with them.

He said, “While the government is not averse to talking to these entities, these human beings, I have to be very honest, the government has to apply its weight, that force that is required because you can’t even talk with people who are unreliable, who will turn out to do a different thing and people who will continue to hurt society.

“So, basically, what the government wants to rely upon is to deal with this issue by using all the assets – military assets, intelligence assets to eliminate these people.

“If along the line, some of them are ready to come out and talk and negotiate, when the time comes, we will do that but for now, we can’t keep on dwelling on let’s dialogue.”

Monguno emphasised that negotiating with the criminals will suggest weakness and incapacity on the part of the government.

“Psychologically, it is not even good for us. It paints the picture of weakness; it paints the picture of incapacity, and I, just like what the governor of Kaduna State said, do not see any reason why we cannot, with what we have, deal with these elements.

“These are people, who are not looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate; these are people who are just out to perform atrocities, to take calculated measures to inflict pain, violence on people,” he said.

He stated that the new direction of government “is to come out with full force,” adding that the government will not allow itself to be blackmailed by any group or any individual “who thinks he can hide under the surface and use proxies to deal a fatal blow on innocent people. I want to assure you categorically and unequivocally, government is going to apply full weight to deal with these criminals until such a time that they vacate the shores of this country.”

The NSA explained that is difficult to quantify achievements in the security sector, as most successes are operational in nature “which can only be satisfactorily narrated to the people in the complete absence of panic, etc.”

On the achievements of Buhari’s administration in the security sector since it assumed office on May 29, 2015, Monguno said the security forces have killed 2,403 insurgents, sea pirates and freed 864 kidnapped persons.

He stressed the need for cooperation among the different arms of government to fashion out and apply new laws to deal with insecurity in the country.

He added that it makes no sense using 1958 laws to punish today’s offences.

He listed major issues impeding efforts at battling insecurity as personnel shortage and lack of equipment, adding that Buhari has now given the go-ahead to address the problems.

He also called on people to assist security agencies with Intelligence to overcome the asymmetric war as only locals can provide information to apprehend criminals among them.

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Retired soldiers protect against non-payment of security allowance

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Some retired soldiers on Monday protested in Abuja over non-payment of their security debarment allowances, among others.

The protesters who defied the rains demonstrated in front of the Ministry of Defence headquarters, clutching mats and banners as well as singing.

The protesters lamented the non-payment of their Security Debarment Allowance, among others.

They were joined by some relatives of deceased military personnel, blocking access road to the ministry located at Ship House on Olusegun Obasanjo Way in the Federal Capital Territory.

The military veterans under the aegis of the Retired Members of Nigerian Armed Forces and the Coalition of Concerned Veterans, accused the Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), of being insensitive to their plight.

Addressing reporters during the protest, spokesman for the CVV, Abiodun Durowaiye-Herberts, vowed that they would not leave the ministry’s entrance until their demands were met.

He said they had already made arrangement to sleep overnight if the situation warranted it.

“We are here alongside our wives and children, and the widows of late military personnel and veterans who died in service, some of whom died fighting Boko Haram terrorists. We’ll be sleeping over at this place until the Minister of Defence, Magashi accede to our demands,” he said.

On his part, the National Secretary of RMNAF, Roy Okhidievbie, explained that the demonstration was to demand the payment of their security debarment allowance owed them by the Federal Government.

He accused the minister of refusing to disburse the allowances despite approval by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“We have had meetings with the Defence Minister, Magashi, but he appears to be headstrong, heartless, and unperturbed concerning the grievances of retired military officers, as he never paid nor showed any interest or concern to pay these allowances, especially the Security Debarment Allowance.

“Interestingly, President Buhari-led administration has approved the payment of this allowance, but Magashi has refused to make disbursements,”

In January, some retired soldiers under the aegis of the Coalition of Concerned Veterans protested against the non-payment of their pension arrears for 24 months.

The veterans who gathered at the Ministry of Finance headquarters, Abuja, insisted on getting answers to their demands, or else they would continue protesting.

They were seen with placards on which various inscriptions were written. One of the placards reads, “CCV demands immediate payment of security debarment allowance.” Another read, “Military veterans demand 24 months arrears of minimum wage approved.”

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Nationwide outage as grid collapses to zero megawatts again

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Nigeria was thrown into a total blackout Monday morning as the national grid collapsed to zero megawatts (MW).

The latest incident, which reportedly occurred at 10:51am Monday, is the seventh time the power grid would collapse this year.

This came just days after electricity consumers said they had enjoyed improved supply.

Some power distribution companies including Kaduna Electric, Enugu and Kano have already communicated the nationwide outage to their customers, adding that efforts were being made to restore supply.

The national electricity grid as of 10am on Monday had 3,712MW generated from 21 power generation companies (GenCos) before it dropped to 0MW one hour after, Daily Trust reported.

It stated that information from the System Operations, a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), indicated only Afam IV was on the grid but with zero supply as of 12noon.

It also showed that as of Sunday, the highest generation was 4,100MW while the lowest was 3,652MW with the frequency hovered between 49.04 Hertz (Hz) and 50.34Hz.

Electricity consumers have attested to improvement in supply in their various areas since July this year.

For instance, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) recently confirmed increment in its daily allocation to over 500MW from the actual 300MW it had distributed before then.

Though the national grid had not cross 5,000MW, Daily Trust observed that level of load rejection especially around the DisCos’ networks had dropped significantly with some customers entitled to five-hour supply, recording over 12 hours daily.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had attributed the improvement in power supply nationwide to the partial activation of contracts seeking to hold sector operators liable for deliberate incompetence.

The national grid collapsed twice, in July and in August but was quickly restored and power supply improvement was sustained before the latest system collapse on Monday.

Although the TCN, the national grid manager, was yet to establish the cause of the crash, some insider said it could be as a result of a maintenance of the 330 kilovolts Jos – Bauchi transmission line maintenance slated for Monday.

 

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2023: PFN disowns Bishops for holding meeting with Tinubu

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The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has disowned the “Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria” for holding meeting with Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Deputy National Secretary of the PFN, Bishop David Bakare, told reporters in a telephone interview that such group was not known to the PFN, saying, “there is nothing in PFN that is regional based like Southern or Northern Pentecostal Bishops.”

Bakare, who maintained that the PFN is an arm of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said the position of the fellowship on same faith presidential ticket of the APC has not changed.

“The meeting between Tinubu and the Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria has nothing to do with PFN. I am speaking to you officially and authoritatively that the ranks of the Christian community and of course, the PFN which I represent, is not broken at all.

“The Pentecostal Bishops Forum of Northern Nigeria is not known to the PFN. The forum does not have any affiliation or relationship with the PFN that is registered with the government of this nation.”

He added  that the position of the PFN “on same faith ticket still stands as it was in the beginning and we have not, for any reason, shifted our position on that matter…

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The PFN was not a part of the meeting with the presidential candidate that was highly politicised. We are, however, aware of the ripples in the public domain about this matter. I am speaking officially to clarify that the PFN has nothing to do with that organisation.

“We didn’t take such a decision, we have not met that political party and whatever we will do would be in the public domain. That group is on its own and has nothing to do with the real incorporated  PFN. I looked at the photos (from the meeting) and the names. I could  recognised  about two people who are our members, but they speak for themselves.”

He’s procuring fake Christian groups  -Babachir

This is a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, accused the presidential candidate of the APC of procuring fake Christian groups in a desperate bid to convince the electorate to accept the same faith ticket.

The SGF, in a statement, disclosed that a number of Nigerians have reached out to him and former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, to convince them to accept the same faith presidential and vice presidential ticket.

“We have so far not taken the road to reconciliation because in the first instance, neither the APC as a party nor its presidential candidate has bothered to seek us out for reconciliation even though early on, our doors were left open for such.

“We only get to learn of their views through vile propaganda in the media courtesy of their rabid attack dogs who they have procured in abundance.

“There are of course some ‘Christian’ turncoats and ‘Judases’ who, driven either by moral turpitude, poverty or greed, have hired themselves out as agents and spoilers of this noble Christian course.

“To this group, I wish to recommend the study of the biographies of Judas Iscariot and Ahithophel in the Bible. Be careful to note how their lives ended

“It seems that Bola/Kashim’s preferred approach is to attempt to counter our position through insults and sponsored fake Christian organisations in order to create the impression that there is division within the Christendom on this matter.

“Needless to say, this tactic has failed woefully. They are now the butt of jokes in church gatherings all over the country. Unknown to them, Church history emphatically records that Christians are more united in terms of adversity and persecution as now being propelled by this same faith ticket of the APC.

“This approach has also portrayed the duo as arrogant and pitiable people whilst also exposing them to the public as people with unimaginable deficiencies of noble character.

“The reality is that for each minute that this same-faith ticket duo have  spent on their Goebellsian propaganda, they have ended up spending several hours more trying to rebutt the controversies that they themselves create in the process.

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“Everyone, including some notable Christian haters, are now inviting  false Bishops and ‘CAN leaders’ to meetings. They are busy fabricating overnight “Christian” organisations that churn out falsehood to the public. It is such a pity that people who intend to lead our country could descend to such low levels of morality and deficiency of conscience.”

We’re consulting for a pan Nigerian platform to adopt  -Dogara

Former Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said having rejected the divisive same faith ticket, they were consulting with relevant Islamic and Christians leaders to jointly adopt a pan-Nigerian platform that all of them would support in 2023.

He stated this  in a lecture entitled: “Nigerian democracy post 1999: Progress, diversity and national unity” and  magazine launch and awards event organised by MUPUN youths association in Jos.

Mr. Dogara, who was  represented by the former member representing  Pankshin, Kanke Kanam federal constituency of Plateau, Timothy Golu, said when some of them rose against the same faith ticket, it was because they were bothered by the issues and  insistence on same faith ticket and same faith voting which  is tantamount to summoning a jihad to collide with a crusade.

He explained tha, the people promoting “this combustible agenda” hate the North and by extension, Nigeria, adding that they wanted to “use religion to weaken the North first for some sinister schemes because our weakness is their strength.

“Take it or leave it, if Nigeria has a major promise those that will deliver on it will be those of you who will summon the courage to embrace people of other faiths in the spirit of justice equity and fairplay. The truth is that no one will root out Islam just like no one will root out Christianity from the North or Nigeria.

“If that is the case, why won’t Christians and Muslims work together on the many things we agree upon to make Plateau, the North and Nigeria great? All that bothers us is the progress of all Nigerians regardless of creed.”

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‘Ex-SGF undermining goodwill of northern Christians’

Replying, Yakubu Dati, Chief of Staff to the Director General, APC Presidential Campaign Council, Governor Simon Lalong, accused Babachir Lawal of trying to isolate Christians in the north from playing significant roles in the mainstream politics of Nigeria.

He accused him of trying to lead northern Christians in the wrong direction because he lost the bid to be appointed running mate to Tinubu.

“Last time I checked, Babachir Lawal does not have the mandate to speak on behalf of northern Christians because he was never elected to lead any such group and does not command the respect of the average northern Christians. Even in his native Hong Local Government, Lawal does not have a voice, as his voice thins out when other respected personalities from the area like the current SGF, Boss Mustapha, speak.

“But more profoundly is the fact that Babachir Lawal talks as one who does not have a sense of history hence he is trying to carve out a region out of Nigeria to make them a target of derision and scorn.

Without anybody sending him, Lawal is trying to damage the reputation of northern Christians who have all along been accommodating and tolerant of other Nigerians,” he said.

Dati observed that Northern Christians in Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba Benue, Nasarawa, Kogi, Kwara etc were not known to be hostile, self-serving or epitomise bigotry as Lawal was trying to portray them, noting that the northern Christians have worked peacefully and harmoniously with other Nigerians and while they demand equity and fairness in all affairs, do not stake their integrity on the altar of tokenism of political office.

“The northern Christians have taken the front seats in some administrations and played other roles in others and other sections of the country have understood the exigencies of such era and have been cooperative.

Yakubu Gowon, a northern Christian, has been head of state, while TY Danjuma, Joe Garba, Domkat Bali, Shagaya, etc have held responsible positions in this country at one time or the other,” he said.

Sun

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