Troops of the Republics of Chad and Niger participating in the ongoing multi-national border operation to ward off insurgency in parts of the North-east of Nigeria have abandoned their deployment, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, has said.
Speaking to State House Correspondents in Abuja on Tuesday, Badeh said the troops, who were part of the Multi-national
Joint Task Force (MNJTF), pulled out after last week’s attack on Baga by Boko Haram fighters.
Boko Haram had on Saturday at about 5 a.m attacked the base in which Nigerian and allied troops including some Boko Haram were killed while others abandoned the MNJTF headquarters.
Badeh assured Nigerians that security situation would improve this year, while insisting that the Nigerien and Chadian troops were still part of the MNJTF.
He said: ”No. They have not pulled out of the multinational force because we have held several meetings, they are still part of the multinational force. What has been happening is that they have not contributed troops to the point of Baga. Chad has people on their own side but I believe they have withdrawn. Niger had people with us they too withdrew and left Nigeria, but are only at the multinational force headquarters”.
On the suggestion that the borders between Nigeria, Chad, and Niger should be closed, the CDS said, “I wish it could be closed but how do you close such a very large border? And it is not for the military to close border any way or is it?”
Asked to speak more on the military base attack at Baga, he said, “Of course there was an attack. Don’t worry we are at work”.
On whether Baga can be taken back from the insurgents, Badeh replied, “Why not? I can’t give you exactly what is going to happen”.
On what should Nigerians expect in the new year in terms of security, he said, “It will improve by God’s grace; we are working”.
Meanwhile, former governor of Yobe State, Bukar Abbah Ibrahim, has kicked against the suggestion of border closure.
According to him, “A border of about1,500 kilometers from Yewa in Borno down to Kebbi, how are you going to close that?”
Speaking on a similar challenge during his tenure, he said the insurgents, though a small group, were crushed by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Asked if he envisaged the magnitude of the insurgency, Ibrahim said, “Not only did I envisage it, I went through it. It was President Obasanjo who crushed the Yobe talibans over a period of just few weeks being a former military man. We went through this, they came to Damaturu, they killed people, burnt DPO’s offices, police officers,doctors, nurses and so any people were killed but within a short time Obasanjo was able to crush them”.
Asked if he was blaming the level of insurgency on the nation’s leadership, the former Yobe Governor said, “No. But this one is a more terrible one than the earlier one, the earlier one I think was a small one, it was a small insurgency, this one is very huge with some international connections”.
Badeh was at the Presidential Villa to attend an emergency meeting on security called by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The meeting was also attended by
other security chiefs as well as the governors of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. It focused on the security situation in the North-east.
The meeting, which lasted for over an hour, also had in attendance, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Governors of Adamawa, Bala Ngileri; Yobe, Ibrahim Gaidam; (accompanied by his predecessor, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim), Borno, Kashim Shetima (accompanied by the Secretary to the State Government, Abba Ahmed Gida) and the Kaduna State Governor, Ramalan Yero.
Others were the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Bade, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, Director General State Security Service (SSS), Ekpenyong Ita, Inspector General of Police, Sulieman Abba, and DG National Intelligence Agency , Ayo Oke.
Also in attendance were the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke,
Minister of Defence, Mohammed Gusau and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Amyim.