President Muhammadu Buhari has queried security and intelligence chiefs on how possible it was for terrorists to have access to the arms they used despite the closure of the nation’s land borders.
Speaking at a virtual meeting with State Governors and heads of security agencies coordinated from the presidential villa, Abuja on Tuesday, he expressed concern that in spite of the fact that borders with neighbouring countries had been shut, bandits and terrorists continued to have access to small weapons.
“These terrorists are in the localities. How is it that they are not short of small arms?” he queried the security and intelligence chiefs.
The meeting ended with a call for a joint strategy to bring various conflicts to an end within time limits, while field commanders would take measures to protect civilian communities as a confidence-building mechanism between the military and those communities.
It focused on the country’s security policies and approaches in tackling the internal security challenges with a charge that intelligence-gathering and sharing must be optimised for the nation to secure itself.
The participants expressed the hoped that when the trust that has been lost between both parties is re-established, there would be improved cooperation in intelligence-gathering and sharing.
According to a statement issued Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President(Media & Publicity), in Abuja the meeting also agreed that poverty and youth unemployment are at the root of the national security challenges, and needed to be addressed with greater vigour by all tiers of government.
The President used the opportunity to dispel commonly held assumptions that the terrorists in the Northeast had far more weapons and money than the government, stressing that what is left of them are “mere scavengers desperate for food, raiding shops and markets, and killing innocent persons in the process.”
President Buhari reiterated his call for the security chiefs to retool their strategies, saying: “We have said enough on the need for them to rejig their operations. I am glad that there are better synergy and cooperation which are very important. I have directed the Service Chiefs to meet among themselves in-between the National Security Council meetings.