FG to withdraw troops in some Northern States

Obinwannem News FG to withdraw troops in some Northern States

There have been strong indications that the Federal Government may begin the gradual withdrawal of soldiers from some states in February, they include states greatly overwhelmed by the security challenges in Northwestern parts of Nigeria; Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa and some parts of Kaduna. Others are some states in the North- Central region, including Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, some parts of Niger and the Northeastern Taraba state.

Some of the states were among the worst hit by herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, banditry, kidnapping and internal conflicts since 2015. The sources noted that the reason for the withdrawal was because relative calm had returned to the zones, especially the Middle Belt, and that troops deployed on special operations in some of the states might be trimmed.

The scheduled commencement of the exercise is in disregard of the appeals by some of these states’ governors to the Federal Government not to withdraw troops from their states.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, had at the end of a security council meeting, presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari ( Retd. ), on Monday, told State House correspondents that the planned withdrawal in the first quarter of the year was to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression and to respond to new security challenges.

One of the new challenges is said to be the growing threats posed by the Islamic State West Africa Province, now working in collaboration with Boko Haram insurgents.

ISWAP had on Christmas Day executed 11 hostages, 10 of whom were Christians, to avenge the death of their leaders, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir, in Iraq and Syria, respectively, during a US military operation.

The naval chief, who declined to name the states or the geopolitical zones that would be affected, explained that the withdrawal would be done after an assessment of the situation on the ground, to determine areas where peace had returned and to enable civil authorities to assume full control of security of lives and property in such places.

He said the council decided that in place of the military, the Nigeria Police Force, which has the primary responsibility of providing internal security, would assume its duties fully in such areas and that they would be supported by officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

But, reacting to the planned withdrawal, some governors, including Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Darius Ishaku of Taraba State and Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, said in an interview with The PUNCH on Monday shortly after the security council meeting that they still needed troops in their states.

Nwada Ugochinyere Onyechere reporting, Obinwannem News

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