President Muhammadu Buhari did not threaten any specific region or people with violence in his warning to those carrying out attacks on critical national assets across the country, and their sponsors.
According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), all that the President did was to read the riot act to dissidents, terrorists and other troublemakers, and warn them to sheath their swords or be ready to face the music; and the group believes this is quite in order
In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, the group said that what the President did in his speech to a delegation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday was to serve a clear notice of intent to arsonists and insurrectionists.
“We are concerned about the manner some Nigerians, especially opposition elements, have been twisting a general comment by the President on tougher actions against criminal elements who have been carrying out atrocities, including setting INEC offices on fire in 14 states, to mean that he threatened an entire geopolitical zone.
“This is clearly far from the truth as President Buhari had made it clear that he had a duty to protect the Constitution and would no longer tolerate incessant arson on INEC offices, especially against the backdrop of daily security briefings he said he had been getting.
“We dare say that any patriotic Nigerian should see the President’s comment as welcome, but we are shocked that people who had taken delight in constantly accusing him of inactivity in the face of rising insecurity in some parts of the country are the ones now claiming that the reference to 1967 to 1970 Nigerian civil war was an indication of threats against the South East region.
“While we see it as a reminder of the same thing many people had been saying about the horrors of war in response to individuals and groups who had been taking steps that could trigger bloodshed, we wonder why those who had been silent over the spate of violent attacks by misguided elements have suddenly found their voices.
“Like the majority of Nigerians who have hailed his pledge, we stand by the President and we look forward to efforts by the security agencies to stem the tide of insecurity, not only in the South East but in other parts of the country”.
The group also noted that contrary to the impression in some quarters, President Buhari has not been overlooking the antics of criminal elements in northern Nigeria.
“In their bid to paint a picture of bias, we noticed the usual resort to disinformation by government critics who have been claiming that the President had been making appeals to Boko Haram insurgents and other criminals operating in the North, rather than take action against them. Some of these purveyors of fake news even went to the extent of claiming that he negotiates with bandits.
“All these are far from the reality as a simple fact check would show that he has not only threatened action against insurgents and other criminals as well as their backers, the military has constantly followed up with air and ground assaults
“This year alone, President Buhari had vowed to take tough action against bandits and other criminal elements on more than three occasions. First in March when he ordered a shoot-on-sight order on anyone found in illegal possession of assault rifles. The order also attracted unnecessary antagonism but it was followed up with a series of military operations including airstrikes in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue and Nasarawa States, then twice in May he vowed to ensure food security by dealing with the menace of bandits.
“He also addressed troops in Katsina where he charged them not to spare bandits. This is aside from his constant admonition to security chiefs on the situation in the North, but surprisingly many people believed nothing is being done because they have failed to appreciate the task of securing large ungoverned spaces in Northern Nigeria
“Also on the President’s watch, Boko Haram has been reduced to launching hit-and-run attacks with no capacity to hold territories, and only recently 400 people suspected to be financial sponsors were arrested and are being profiled for prosecution for various roles in pumping about N300bn to the insurgents.
“Clearly those who are claiming that the President had been biased in his reaction to security challenge in the country do not mean well for the country and we are not totally surprised that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is part of these individuals and groups”.
BMO reassured Nigerians that the vow of tough actions against those bent on destroying the system in any part of the country would be backed up by action.