State of emergency has restored normalcy in the north – Presidency

By The Citizen

The Presidency has said the state of emergency declared three months ago in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states has brought normalcy to the affected areas saying it was a good tactical and strategic move and good demonstration of President Goodluck Jonathan’s determination and focus to end the insurgency.

This was disclosed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati who was guest on the 7am network news of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN), monitored in Abuja.

He also said  Nigeria’s successful efforts in tackling terrorism in the north has been noted by the International Criminal Court, saying all credit must go to the Armed Forces of Nigeria that have restored confidence in the people of the area.

Abati also stated that the collaboration with neighbouring countries has also yielded positive results in curtailing the movement of the perpetrators of insurgency.

He said, “The first point to note is that before the declaration of state of emergency, the situation in the affected states was really bad, socio-economic activities had practically ceased. There was anxiety in the communities and beyond the affected parts to all parts of Nigeria. On a regular basis, there were either cases of detonation of bombs or harassment of people. There was a state of fear. But since the declaration of state of emergency by President Jonathan, a lot has been achieved. It was a very good tactical and strategic move, as well as a very good demonstration of leadership, determination and focus by this present administration.

“Three months down the line, when you look at the affected places where the state of emergency was declared, the first thing you will note is that before then, the Boko Haram insurgents had carved out a part of Nigeria. They had created enclaves where they exercised authority but they have now since been flushed out by the security agencies. I think the armed forces deserve commendation for being able to achieve this. Socio-economic activities have resumed in the affected states, Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, and people can now go about their normal businesses. The level of fear before the declaration of state of emergency in those affected states was really very high and even in the rest of the country, but that has gone down now.

“What has happened is that there is now greater confidence; the confidence of the people in the capacity of the Federal Government and the Jonathan administration to fulfill the objective of securing lives and property has been restored. The level of confidence is now very high and I believe that is another great achievement. You will find out that in the affected states, there was curfew initially. But that curfew has been relaxed. There is no curfew again in Adamawa. In Yobe, the hours of curfew have been reduced and in Borno, the number of curfew hours has also been reduced. More important in terms of success is the fact that the people themselves have taken ownership of the security process with youths in the area going out on their own and helping to identify persons they think have been involved in terrorism  or criminal activities generally. That in itself is great because what it means is that there is overwhelming support for the decision of the President to declare a state of emergency.

“The emergency rule united almost all constituencies in Nigeria, everybody supported it. We saw that in spite of differences, Nigerians were really united to make sure that this country moves forward.

“The other point is the support of the international community that this administration has enjoyed on the basis of taking this decision. Only yesterday (Monday) the ICC prosecutor declared that the Nigerian government has done very well in containing terrorist activities and also that it is not true that the Nigerian government  and the security agencies have been targeting civilians. The prosecutor made it clear that in their investigations between 2010 and 2012, that there is no evidence that Nigerian security forces were targeting civilians. She went further to accuse the Boko Haram of crimes against humanity. All these are proofs that the Jonathan administration’s approach to tackling this issue has the support of critical stakeholders not just in Nigeria but also in other parts of the world”.

On the steps being taken to ensure that the country does not return to the situation in no distant future, Abati said, “One of the major fall-outs of the operation in the last thee months has been the special focus of government on border patrol, securing our borders. The Nigerian government is doing this in collaboration with neighbouring countries. So there is greater collaboration at the security level between Nigeria and all neighbouring countries and in fact in the speech by the President declaring the state of emergency, you will recall that he promised Nigerians that he will take further steps to link up with the neighbouring countries and a lot has been done in that regard.

“There has also been a lot that has been done in terms of mobilizing the people to see that they themselves are responsible for their own security. This is in terms of education, and general enlightenment and it is this that has led to the involvement of the ordinary people in ensuring security in the affected states. The point is that once people themselves are alive to their own security responsibilities, it will be very difficult for insurgents or terrorists to carve out enclaves for themselves and begin to make life difficult for other people.

“I think as part of long term measures also, the level of collaboration among our security and intelligence agencies has gone up. The whole point is that the Nigerian government cannot allow anybody to overwhelm the Nigerian state and it is the duty of the armed forces to ensure that that does not happen, to protect the sovereignty of Nigeria, to protect the territorial integrity of Nigeria. The insurgents and terrorists were beginning, to pose a threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria, they were hoisting flags,they were carving out enclaves. Now, there is a higher level of collaboration among our security agencies on a sustainable basis and once that continues as a long term strategy, it will be very difficult for anybody to engage the Nigerian state at this kind of level.

“Also, there has been a general review of the security architecture which is something the President has always been talking about. We have reached a stage that that is the major point in terms of strategy, it is a long term sustainable intervention. Also, you will recall that the President had set up a committee to check small arms proliferation. Now, there is a lot of focus on mopping up small arms and light weapons, that is another area of constrictive engagement with our neighbouring countries. Once we check the access of criminal elements to small arms, then we will be able to further strengthen the security architecture on a long term basis”, he said.