Monday, June 20, 2011

Nigerian Government Serious About National Security, Says President Jonathan

Govt serious about national security, says Jonathan

Tuesday, 21 June 2011 00:00
From Madu Onuorah, Oghogho Obayuwana, John-Abba Ogbodo, Abosede Musari (Abuja), Iyabo Lawal (Ibadan), Odita Sunday, Tosin Fodeke (Lagos), and Charles Coffie-Gyamfi (Abeokuta)
Nigerian Guardian

Save nation from Darfur saga, Gambari tells leaders

MORE Nigerians and foreign governments yesterday condemned last Thursday’s bomb blast at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja and also appealed to the Federal Government to promptly move against all acts of terrorism.

In an apparent response to the demands for action against the menace, President Goodluck Jonathan said yesterday that his administration had taken concrete steps to strengthen national security.

Jonathan spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while responding to commiseration on the bomb blast at the Police Headquarters last week, from members of the family of the late Nigeria’s former Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

The family had paid a thank-you visit to Jonathan for naming the new Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ building after the late premier.

The President said the explosion was an act of terror, which had become a global trend. He assured that the government would deal decisively with the challenge to ensure the safety of all Nigerians. He added that no incident should be overlooked, no matter the circumstances or location of its occurrence.

President Jonathan welcomed the appreciation expressed by the Balewa’s family.He noted that the naming was not an accident but a “recognition of his contribution as Nigeria’s first foreign minister and to the development of Nigeria as its first premier. It is important that great leaders are appreciated.”

Earlier, Yakubu Tafawa-Balewa, a member of the family, had expressed appreciation to Jonathan for naming the new building after their father.

As part of efforts to strengthen security after the Abuja explosion, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Hafiz Ringim, has summoned top police officers to Abuja for a meeting today.

Sources at Louis Edet House, told The Guardian that since the blast, which killed scores of people occurred last week, the police, in collaboration with officers of sister agencies formed a joint investigation team which has been comparing notes on the incident.

The Guardian also learnt that those invited for the meeting include all Deputy Inspectors-General (DIGs), Assistant Inspectors-General (AIGs) and Commissioners of Police (CPs) of the 36 states of the federation and FCT.

Canada, which mourned the victims of the explosion yesterday, described it as an unacceptable terrorist attack. The North American country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, who issued a statement after the conclusion of observations by its mission in Nigeria, stressed that “Canada strongly condemns the terrorist bombings in Nigeria on June 16.

“The bombing of the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja was a cowardly and despicable act. It is a direct attack on the right of the people of Nigeria to live in safety and peace.”

Also, former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, has tasked the government to take a cue from the war-torn Darfur and urgently tackle the myriads of problems confronting it to prevent possible disintegration.

Gambari, who cited the cases of the Boko Haram sect, bloodletting by rival transport unions as well as the restiveness and militancy in the Niger Delta region, said “these and many others constitute major threats to our internal cohesion and economic development as a nation.”

Gambari, who is the Special Representative of the Joint African Union (AU) and UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), reminded that Nigeria shares many affinities with Darfur particularly in terms of religion, ethnicity and multiplicity and must critically study the situation and learn how to prevent it.

The diplomat was a guest speaker at a lecture yesterday organised by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CEPACS), University of Ibadan (UI) to commemorate the World Refugee Day.

In his paper titled: “The challenges of refugee and internally displaced persons in peace processes and in rapidly changing times: The Case of Darfur,’” Gambari said in as much as the nation’s intervention is needed in the war torn Darfur, the government must put “its house in order” to prevent the country from suffering a similar fate.

“There are seven million Sudanese of Nigerian origin in Sudan, the only country separating us is Chad, so Nigeria cannot ignore the conflicts in this area, we must study it and learn from it.”

He tasked the Nigerian government to rise to the challenge and ensure that the human rights of the people and its democratic process are put in order.

Gambari stressed the need for Nigerian leaders to prevent the normalisaion of the seeming domestic abnormal situation as well as the abnormal situation in the crisis-torn Darfur whereby huge numbers of internationally huge persons continue to live in camps and refugees reside abroad.

“Let us also remember that peace and security are prerequisites in the path to prosperity, therefore, Nigeria has a responsibility to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in our region and continent. This country must work harder to establish internal cohesion, political stability and socio-economic development. This will enhance the credibility of its foreign policy.”

The institution’s Vice Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Adewole, appealed to the country’s leaders to ensure that Nigeria does not become a refugee nation through good governance.

“The current situation in Darfur, Rwanda, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan is not far from us unless we retrace our steps and embrace dialogue, with our current population of over 150 million, we are capable of displacing the entire West African sub-region and African continent and causing huge political, social and economic dislocations,” he said.

The leadership of the National Think Tank (NTT) has described as “pathetic” and “an attack on the people” the bomb attack on the Police building in the Asokoro District and urged the Police authority to be courageous in arresting the perpetrators.

The group’s Coordinator, Prof. Steve Azaiki, in a chat with The Guardian condemned the dastardly act, describing it as “barbaric and uncalled for especially at the time the country is savouring a smooth transition from one civilian to another civilian government.” Against calls for the integration of the Boko Haram sect into the amnesty programme of the government, the Amnesty Office has declared that it would not accept members of the group.

Special Adviser to the President on Amnesty and the Niger Delta, Kingsley Kuku, made this assertion in Abuja yesterday.

Kuku, in an interview at the end of an orientation programme for 36 Niger Delta youths being sent to Israel for training in agriculture, declared that amnesty was a special programme for youths in the Niger Delta, which had gone through the first and second phases, adding that there would not be a third phase.

“President Jonathan is the only one with that power. However, let me make this clear that the current amnesty programme is actually a solution by this country under the late President Musa Yar’Adua and his then Vice President who is now President, working together to proclaim amnesty”.

“It’s a special programme that can never be politicised. It can never be mixed up with any other issue at all. It’s a special programme meant to address a special problem. That has been done. However, people have individual rights to agitate and demand for whatever they believe in.”

The Nigerian Navy has pledged to collaborate with the government to end the embarrassment caused Nigeria by the Boko Haram group.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Sa’ad Ibrahim, who admitted that the country was facing challenging times, made the pledge in Lagos where he was special guest of honour at the Nigerian Navy Communication seminar held in NNS Quorra, Apapa, Lagos. He assured that the armed forces were up to the task and would apply all the necessary laws to ensure that the sect’s activities were nipped in the bud.

“The bomb issue is international. It is just that Nigeria is beginning to have its unfortunate share of the embarrassment that other countries have had to contend with. The law is on our side, you can be rest assured that the insurgents will be defeated,’ Ibrahim said.

Last week’s suicide bombing at the Police headquarters in Abuja, has also been condemned by Muslim Students Society in Ogun State, which described it as “ungodly”.

They expressed worry over the level of insecurity in the country and called on the security agencies to bring those behind the attack to book.

A group, South-East Ndigbo in Lagos yesterday joined other Nigerians to condemn the Abuja blast.

It urged security chiefs to step up activities to check the present spate of bomb incidents, describing the attacks as a distraction.

The group while commiserating with the families of those who lost their dear ones in the bomb incident, advised the use of Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) and lining metal or bomb detectors on the roads and buildings.

According to its Public Relations Officer, Chidi Nwafor, the group said Nigerians should rise against the perpetrators of the illicit acts.

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