From Victor Osula, Abuja
For traditional rulers who lamented the heavy toll banditry, kidnapping and herder/farmer conflict had taken on the country during a courtesy visit on President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa in Abuja on Thursday, promises of tougher crime fighting was made as reasurances.
The President who gave the assurances at a meeting with the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria at the State House, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III and the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi also restated his recent order to the nation’s security chiefs to use all means possible, including shooting anyone found illegally wielding AK-47, to arrest crimes and criminality across the country.
Also in attendance at the meeting were the National Security Adviser, Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, the Director-General of Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, and the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
The President, who apprised the meeting with efforts by the government to improve the security situation in the country, said his administration has recorded appreciable successes in the North-east and South-South parts of the country.
‘‘But what surprises is what is happening now in the North West where the same people, with the same culture are killing each other, taking their livestock and burning properties.
‘‘As a result of that, we had a four-hour meeting of the National Security Council attended by the Ministers of Internal Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Service Chiefs, Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector-General of Police and others and we gave clear instructions.
‘‘One thing that got to the press which I read myself was that anyone with an AK-47 will be shot. This is because AK-47 is supposed to be registered and it is only given to security officials.
‘‘We closed the borders for some years but the intelligence report I’m getting on a daily basis is that those who are conducting the abductions, the killings and so on are still not short of arms and ammunition,’’ he said.
The President expressed dismay on the attacks on police stations and killings of security personnel by criminals, warning that no investor will invest in a country that is unsafe.
President Buhari also stressed the need for traditional rulers to use their roles and positions as bridge builders in each of their communities to complement government efforts at ensuring peace and security.
He appealed to the traditional leaders to deploy their reach and influence in the best interest of assisting the Government to root out those whose sole objective remains to cause trouble and destruction of livelihoods and families across the nation.
The President, who listened to various interventions from representatives of the traditional rulers from each of the six- geo-political zones in the country, pledged that his administration would continue to support and work collaboratively with them to ensure peace and stability.
‘‘By your role and positions with history dating back hundred years, the people trust you implicitly and in return you provide them with comfort and guidance in accordance with our cultural heritage and traditions.
‘‘You are the bridge builders in each of your communities. No one is better placed with your strength of moral authority to ensure that people who visit your communities for either business, leisure or any honest and credible reason are protected and made to feel at home,’’ he said.
In separate remarks, the royal fathers stressed the need for the traditional institution to be assigned definite roles, particularly on peace and security, within the ambit of the Constitution as well as regular engagement with the National Assembly on multiple fronts.
The following royal fathers made interventions at the meeting: the Sultan of Sokoto, the Ooni of Ife, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Etsu Nupe, Alh. (Dr.) Yahaya Abubakar, King Jaja of Opobo, Dr. Dandeson Douglas Jaja, Emir of Bauchi, Dr Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammad Iliyasu and the Alawe of Ilawe-Ekiti, Oba Adebanji Ajibade Alabi.
Meanwhile, addressing State House Correspondents after the meeting with the President, the traditional rulers stressed the need for federal government to step up the equipment of the Nigerian armed forces to be able to match the bandits.
The delegation, led by Etsu Nupe, His Royal Highness Yahaya Abubakar, also told President Buhari that the activities of bandits are taking too much toll on Nigerians, requesting him to do more to restore normality.
Etsu Nupe revealed that the bandits make use of sophisticated weapons that reach kilometers compared to the ones borne by the security forces.
He said the monarchs also requested government to provide them a role in the effort to resolve insecurity in the country.
The Etsu Nupe said the President has reassured that beyond what the administration is already doing, it will equip the military and expressed commitment to deal ruthlessly with the criminals.
Asked to comment on the allegation that some traditional rulers collaborate with foreign elements to carry out criminal activities, he said that the allegation could not be far from the truth, but that mechanism was being put in place to checkmate such persons.
The traditional rulers were led to the briefing by the National Security Adviser, NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd).