The Senate on Monday declared that the Nigerian Army is currently overwhelmed providing internal security in not less than 33 states of the federation
This is just as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army in Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Usman Mohammed, claimed only two lives were lost to kidnappers attack along the Kaduna-Abuja road on Sunday.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, who spoke during a meeting with Gen. Mohammed, expressed great concern that the Nigerian Army was being overwhelmed and overstretched since it started providing internal security across various states of the federation
Ndume, who led four other members of the committee on oversight visits to Army formations in Kaduna State said: “The Army is overwhelmed. Imagine they operate in about 33 to 34 states across Nigeria. They’re very overstretched. They don’t have the number. The Army we used to know is very different from the Army of today. But we are hoping that things will get better.”
He said going by the provisions of the 1999 constitution, the Army ordinarily shouldn’t have been involved in internal security arrangements.
He said: “We insisted on this oversight visit for some reasons. The Army is facing its own challenges. By our constitution, the Army isn’t supposed to be involved in civil security.
“But we have security challenges across every part of the country. The Army had to be drafted to provide internal security. We can’t sit in Abuja and talk.
“We need to see for ourselves. We are hoping that the Army will get back to its feet. As a country, we are known to have a formidable Army. But these days, we are worried.”
Commenting on the recent kidnapping incident along the Kaduna-Abuja road, Ndume urged the Army to go after the bandits and kidnappers in their various hideouts.
“In the last few months, we have had peace along the Kaduna-Abuja road. But on Sunday, what happened is worrisome. Along the Birni Gwari, the security situation is also alarming. Unfortunately, the Army doesn’t have the number needed to provide security,” the former Senate leader said.
Also speaking, a member of the committee, who is also a retired Army Colonel, Senator Bulus Amos, alleged that many villagers and peasants in areas where bandits operate, often serve as informants.
He, therefore, urged the Army Division to be more tactical in its operations.
According to him, “Most people who are farmers, bike riders and villagers are informants. These bandits have informants everywhere. Soldiers need to go after them. If they meet them face to face, soldiers will finish them.
“Soldiers need to disguise and find a way to get the people to cooperate with them. These bandits live with us. They’re part of us and they live in communities. We need to do more.”
Responding, the GOC explained that contrary to media reports, only two persons, a woman and a driver, were killed along the Kaduna-Abuja road on Sunday and not 15.
Gen. Mohammed further said that nine persons who were kidnapped by the bandits were freed on Sunday by soldiers, who immediately swung into action as soon as the attack happened.
“We always go after the bandits in their camps. We have dislodged them from their camps. On Sunday, only two persons were killed. Nine persons were kidnapped. We went after them and the kidnappers left their victims and ran away.
“It is false to say that 15 people were killed. That’s not true. We will keep dislodging them. We will redouble our efforts and ensure that they don’t have their way,” he said.
Army troops, he stated, will go after the bandits during the forthcoming Christmas season, adding that more camps belonging to bandits will be located and destroyed in the coming days.
He said: “We want to appreciate the support of your committee. We are succeeding because of your support. We need your support to keep succeeding. We are not unmindful of the security challenges.
“Right now, we have three operations going. There is one along the Kaduna-Abuja road. We are going after bandits during this Christmas period. We will flush them out. We have been seeing their recent hand along that road. We will keep doing our best.”