Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered security agencies to ensure speedy and safe recovery of all abduction victims in the country
He also ordered the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to provide more regular and detailed information to the families of those in captivity.
Receiving select residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to pay their respects to Sallah at the State House on Monday, May 2, 2022, the President said the government would explore all avenues to secure the captives, alive and unharmed.
“As we celebrate this occasion with joy among friends and family members, we are fully aware that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety because of the many captives held by terrorists against their will, including those swept away after the tragic Abuja-Kaduna train bombing.
“I have ordered security agencies to ensure the speedy and safe recovery of all abduction victims. I urge railroad management to immediately set up a crisis room for coordination of the rescue mission and for minute-by-minute engagement with the families of the captives.
“This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push service members to find a safe return to their families. My goal is to see everyone in captivity rescued safely.
“Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are only pushing their luck but it is only for a while before they are finally crushed. They are using civilians as human shields making it difficult to confront them directly,” he said.
According to the President, bandits and terrorists, unlike professional soldiers, do not respect the rules of engagement and may resort to hostage assault when attacked.
“They don’t care to kill their hostages if they are attacked. It is a delicate situation which requires wisdom, prudence and also patience. Any rescue operation resulting in the death of a hostage cannot be considered a success.
“The government does not want this kind of tragic outcome. It is a complex situation that requires good management. The main objective of any rescue operation is to free the hostages unharmed and alive.
“Let me clarify, however, that defeating terrorists and bandits requires more than weapons; we also need the human intelligence that is necessary to thwart terrorist plans. Individuals and community leaders should assist our security officials with information on the activities or movements of criminal groups,” he added.
Expose the criminals
President Buhari has urged Nigerians to create a hostile environment for criminals lurking in communities, warning that “by protecting criminals from exposure, you endanger your own security and the security of your own community. No criminal can thrive in an environment where he faces the risks of being exposed by people.
According to him, a stronger synergy between security agencies and communities will make a huge difference in the fight against banditry and terrorism in the country.
President Buhari has allayed fears that the bandits could become another big challenge to the Boko Haram threat, assuring the administration will not allow that to happen.
“This administration has allocated enormous resources to improve the capability of our security forces by timely equipping them with adequate equipment and improving personnel welfare to boost morale.
“Abuja has seen remarkable improvements in terms of security. In the past, terrorists had made it nearly impossible to lead a normal life. Road barricades had invaded the capital and people had to pray in fear because of the anguish of the terrorist attacks. No place in the FCT was beyond the terrorist. Not the United Nations building, nor the police headquarters.
“But today, the situation is no longer the same. We have greatly weakened and crippled the capabilities of Boko Haram terrorists to such an extent that they no longer have the ability to seize and occupy Nigerian territory without being repelled by our valiant troops.
“Of course, we cannot say that the terrorists are 100 percent destroyed, but we have destroyed their ability to take over our territory. This improvement in terms of significantly weakening the enemy is necessary to finally defeat him. The rate at which terrorists are abandoning their weapons and surrendering to our troops is an important and welcome development,” he told FCT residents.
The President commended FCT Minister Mohammed Musa Bello for his diligent work in keeping the capital safe and attractive, while thanking FCT residents for visiting the presidential villa.
“It is with pleasure that I welcome you to the presidential villa. As is tradition, people pay their respects to the president as part of the events marking the celebration of Sallah.
“I appreciate these kinds of visits because they allow me to interact directly with people or their representatives. I commend the residents of FCT for living in peace and harmony for years since the official establishment of the capital,” the President said.
President Buhari noted that the welfare of the people of Abuja and all Nigerians remains paramount.
“The physical development of Abuja and the provision of infrastructure is our priority. Since this administration came to power, we have made the realization of abandoned and ongoing projects our priority.
“For Abuja to attract investors as its population grows exponentially, the provision of infrastructure is essential. A federal capital should live up to its name and it cannot do so if it does not have the necessary infrastructure to accommodate and accelerate development.
“Abuja has grown beyond even the imagination of its planners. With this expansion comes great challenges. In line with its goals of transforming Abuja into a modern city worthy of the name, the FCT administration under the leadership of Minister Mohammed Musa Bello has done an excellent job,” he added.
The President said the completion of the Abuja Light Rail is one of the major projects undertaken by the administration for the people as infrastructure development remains essential for economic growth.
He said the government will continue to pay special attention to city roads, connecting roads to other states, power and electricity.
“Our priority is the well-being of the population.
“The second bridge over the Niger, which has been dragging on for years, is now due to be completed by this government in October this year.”
The Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was also present, expressed his gratitude to the President on behalf of all the guests for hosting the tribute. He recalled that the last time such a gathering was possible was in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thank Almighty God for giving us such an opportunity. It also tells us that indeed everything and everything belongs to Almighty God.
“If this program had taken place in your residence, Mr. President, it would not have taken these great people, I think even COVID-19 has a silver lining; here we are with so many people who can come.
“This is a perfect opportunity to thank God that our nation is united and united despite the challenges faced which are not unique to our nation alone.
“I want to thank Almighty God, Mr. President, for giving you everything you need and life to continue to meet and overcome these challenges and I pray to Almighty God to help you and to help our government address each of these challenges as we face them,” he added.
Federal Capital Territory Minister Mohammed Musa Bello expressed his gratitude to Almighty God and the President for the opportunity to celebrate the traditional Sallah tribute at the State House held for the last time on June 4, 2019, when they entered during Eid al-Fitr.
“I would also like to thank you for graciously agreeing to allow us to come with a large number of people representing a very wide cross-section of the FCT community which includes religious leaders of various faiths, Muslim and Christian, community leaders , the judiciary, members of the National Assembly representing the FCT as well as other stakeholders,” he added.