President Muhammadu Buhari  yesterday  met with security chiefs on the herdsmen/farmers clashes in the country.

Minister of Defence Monsur Dan-Ali told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that it dwell on the general security challenges.

He blamed the blockage of grazing routes for the series of herdsmen, farmers clashes.

The minister said Nigeria was finalising plans to buy jets from the United States.

He said the ministry and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) had set up a committee to work out the modalities to transform the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons to a National Commission.

Asked if the solutions to the clashes were discussed, Dan-Ali said: “Yes we did. First I mentioned about this commission on proliferation of arms into the country. You see, whatever crisis that happens at any time, there is remote and immediate causes.

“Look at this issue (killings in Benue and Taraba), what is the remote causes of this farmers crisis. Since the nation’s Independence, we know there used to be a route whereby the cattle rearers take because they are all over the nation. You go to Bayelsa, Ogun, you will see them. If those routes are blocked, what do you expect will happen?

“These people are Nigerians. It’s just like one going to block shoreline; does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes of the crisis.

“But the immediate cause is the grazing law. These people are Nigerians and we must learn to live together with each other. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave. Finish!”

Asked if he was justifying the killings because of the blocking of the routes, the minister said: “You are going away from what I came here to do. However, this is internal security, I can provide some answers. I have told you that the remote cause is part of the grazing law. Since independence, there are clear routes where these people pass.”

On arms, Dan-Ali said: “They are all over. In that killings you are talking about, they are also militias that also did the killings. Some people were caught with arms and they call themselves Forest Guards or whatever with AK47. There is nowhere in this country where arms are allowed to be carried apart of legitimate security forces.

“So, anybody carrying any arm is doing so illegally. Militias were caught in the same land doing the same killings; so, the killings are not done by any particular group, its a communal issue.”

Asked what Nigerians should believe; that the killings were done by foreign terrorists or militias, Dan-Ali said, “Of course that is why I said they are militias. Militias are part of illegal immigrants. They are the people”.

According to him, the members of the National Commission are drawn from all security services with Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior. It will be headed by a retired general.

He said that $494 million will be used to acquire the Super Tucano A29 jets from the US as well as training and continuous servicing.

He said: “Some of the stringent measures include that we will start having them from 2020, which is two years from now. They are also thinking of not allowing our technicians to be part of the production inspection. But this is what we normally do in all the defence contracts we send our personnel to go and understudy especially when it comes to specialised contracts like in Russia, our personnel are permanently based in where the production is being done for this MI35 helicopters,” he added

Reading the statement on the National Security Council meeting, he thanked the President, Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces for his continuous funding of the Armed forces to perform their constitutional role, especially as it is now fighting multiple security challenges.

According to him, he informed the Council that in line with the decision of the government to increase the strength of the Armed Forces to address manpower, the three services have in the last two years enlisted and recruited qualified Nigerians.

The Ministry of Defence, Dan-Ali said, is also building befitting accommodation for members of the Armed Forces in the six geopolitical zones.

“Similar accommodation was built by Defence Headquarters and commissioned by the HMOD in Abuja last month. This has gone a long way to solving accommodation problem and boosting the morale of personnel serving in Abuja,” he said

He added: “In compliance with the presidential directive for the establishment of National Commission on the Control of small Arms and Light Weapons in the country, the Ministry of Defence in conjunction with the office of the National Security Adviser, has set up a committee to work out modalities to transform the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) to a National Commission.”


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