By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
Worried by the conflicting reports of who is in charge in the neighbouring Republic of Chad following the death of long-term Chadian President, Idriss Deby Itno, Nigeria has moved to beef up security around her borders with Chad over the prevailing situation.
Also, the Federal Government has warned that attacks on Police formations by yet to be identified gunmen in the South East and killing of Military personnel in Benue state respectively will no longer be tolerated.
The position was made public on Thursday in Abuja by the
Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd.), while briefing State House Correspondents at the ‘Special Weekly Briefing’ organised by the Presidential Communication Team.
The Minister disclosed that the Federal Government is aware that the absence of Chad’s influence on the border may worsen Nigeria and other neigbouring countries security situations hence, the need to ramp up security at the border to forestall security breaches.
He said it is for this reason the Federal Government will beef up security around its borders, particularly with the Republic of Chad following the ongoing unrest in the country, which the government says may escalate insecurity in the Nigeria.
Magashi however said, in order to prevent a situation where bandits will infiltrate the borders, influx of refugees into the country will be controlled.
According to him: “If there’s no security in Chad there will be a lot of trouble for all neighboring countries. But thankfully we have a lot of ongoing military co-operation, through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), which we expect to continue. We remain mindful of our borders and developments in Chad.”
Magashi also said: “When we heard of this unfortunate killing of the Chadian President, we knew that problem is bound to be replicated among neigbouring countries and Nigeria will be most hit by his absence. If there is insecurity in Chad, there will be a lot of problems. But thank God, we have a lot of military activities with the Chadian, Niger Cameroon, we have all that military concern. So, in the name of that multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF), all these countries, including Chad, are contributing countries for the operation.
“We hope that very soon, we will find a secure way of the continuation of the activities we’re supposed to be doing. The problem is now going to be aggravated. Because we are not sure the direction in which that country is going to face. But I assure you that we are mindful of our borders, we are mindful of the development, and politically, the government is putting its head together to see how best they can restore the peace in that country.
“So security wise, we’re beefing up all borders to ensure that refugees did not flow into a country. Even Nigerians there I’m sure some of them would like to come back. We have to make ready. Let’s prepare for them and not allow them to come in and use others to come because of the problems that they will create.
“The issue of weapons and armament, we are also afraid of that. Before now, Chad has been the one stopping most of these infiltration of weapons and the rest of it. Now, that is free for all right from Libya down to Nigeria. It’s very easy now because the absence of the influence of Chad in that route. So we also have to take care of that.
“I think we are on top of the situation. All we are praying is that African countries will find a solution to the problem of Chad and get in a more corrective society as respected by international organisations.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defence also revealed that the Federal Government has said the current attacks on Police formations in the South East is an affront on Nigeria’s security architecture and warned that such would no longer be tolerated.
He also said the killers of 12 Nigerian soldiers in Benue State will be brought to book saying: “Whoever touches the military has no regard for this country.”
Magashi added that nine of 12 weapons belonging to the murdered soldiers have been recovered, and arrests are being made, assuring Nigerians that the perpetrators of the acts will not escape long arms of the law of the land.