Don’t Interfere In 2023 Elections, Buhari Tells Diplomats

Buhari

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has commended the collective efforts of nations towards tackling security challenges across the globe, and within Nigeria, urging more collaboration to check terrorism, banditry and insurgency.

The president, who spoke Tuesday in Abuja, also called on members of the diplomatic community to observe and not meddle in Nigeria’s build-up to the 2023 general elections.

Receiving Letters of Credence of Canadian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ambassador James Kingston Christoff and Ambassador of Mexico to Nigeria, Juan Alfred Miranda Oritz, the president told the diplomats that successes in taming insecurity had been recorded through collaboration across borders, and more could be achieved.

“The devastating effect of global insecurity, climate change and the post COVID-19 era has devastated global economies. Nations continue to struggle to recover from these multiple global challenges.

“The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has undermined the progress countries have achieved in tackling food security in the last decade, while, the political instability in Libya continues to fuel terrorism in the Sahel, as well as scuttle democratic sustenance in both West and Central African regions.

“Nigeria is not left out of the equation, as we are fighting to rid our country of banditry, kidnapping, herder/farmer crisis and insurgency. We are, however, making meaningful progress with the support of friendly countries like yours to sustain these fights until we overcome these challenges,’’ he said.

At the regional level, President Buhari said Nigeria had been “working with other member-states of ECOWAS and other regional blocs, to deal with the problems of terrorism, trans-border crimes, maritime crimes such as piracy and illegal fishing on our waters, illicit drug and human trafficking, banditry, as well as unconstitutional changes of government.

“I believe that matters of security have become the business of all nations as these challenges go beyond the abilities of any single country to effectively contain.

“The world must, therefore, work closely together and Nigeria counts on your support in cementing the relations between our countries at both bilateral and multilateral levels to surmount these global threats to civilization.”

2023

On the 2023 general elections, President Buhari urged diplomats to monitor political developments in the country, leading to the 2023 elections, but remain true to their professional ethics of non-interference.

He said Nigeria was drawing closer to its national elections and candidates representing their parties at different levels were beginning to build consensus within their respective parties in preparations to the launching of campaigns across the country soon.

“As the drums of campaign begin to rise, I urge you to be guided by diplomatic practice to ensure that your activities remain within the limits of your profession as you monitor the build-up to the elections and the conduct of the general elections,” he said.

The President also advised the diplomats to focus on building on the successes of their predecessors.

“The task before you requires you both to build on the successes of your predecessors and further make efforts in the expansion and advancement of the cordial bilateral relations and cooperation between Nigeria and your respective countries.

“These relations, as you all know, span across political, socio-economic and cultural spheres that have overtime benefitted our peoples.

“I am confident that, in carrying out your diplomatic responsibilities in the course of your tour of duties, you will spare time to appreciate the uniqueness and strength in our country’s cultural diversities, in terms of both human and natural resources, as well as the flora and fauna across the country,” he said.

The president further said the cultural diversity of Nigeria “represents our pride as a nation and identity as a people,”’ urging the diplomats to also build friendship and acquaintances in the course of their stay in the country.

Diplomats’ remarks

Speaking on behalf of the ambassadors, the Canadian High Commissioner thanked the president for the ceremony of accepting the Letters of Credence.

“Today marks formal beginning of our engagement with the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We will work closely with ministers and officials to start a progressive relationship,” he said.

Five additional hostages of train attack

In a related development, the gunmen who attacked a Kaduna-bound train March and abducted several passengers, released five more hostages Tuesday.

The hostages were released after the terrorists released four of the victims last week Monday.

A newspaper publisher, Tukur Mamu, who had previously negotiated the release of some of the captives, confirmed the release of the five hostages to Premium Times.

Mamu identified the released hostages as Mustapha Imam, a professor from Usma Danfodio University Sokoto, Akibu Lawal; Abubakar Rufai; Mukthar Shu’aibu; and Sidi Sharif.

He said the released hostages visited his office Tuesday afternoon to thank him for his efforts in securing their release.

Mamu said he had withdrawn as lead negotiator for the release of the captives due to threats to his life, personal integrity and (alleged) lack of support from the federal government.

Also, the negotiator also said he wasn’t aware if the relatives of the hostages paid a ransom before they were released.

He said with the release of the five, 34 of the victims are still being held in the forest

The son of a former military governor of Kano state, Idris Garba, his wife and children and many others are reportedly among those still being held.

Nine passengers were killed during the attack

NRC suspends stopover

Also, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) has temporarily halted its stopover at the Ajaokuta train station following bandit attacks on commercial buses close to the vicinity of the station, Blueprint has gathered.

Our correspondent gathered that the management of NRC took the decision in order to avert a repeat of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack where terrorists killed scores of passengers and abducted others, many of whom were still in custody of the terrorists, months after their abduction.

The Ajaokuta station is part of the central line covering 326-kilometer on the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway line and commences commercial operations August 2021.

The single-track project, built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the ancillary facilities yard.

A top official of the corporation confided in Blueprint that the corporation had taken all necessary measures to ensure that a repeat of the Abuja-Kaduna incident never happened again within the entire networks on its corridor.

The official said: “the NRC did not stop the train service on the route but we only suspended the stopover at Ajaokuta following increased attacks on commercial buses by bandits around the area. We are putting everything in place to ensure that normal operations go on without any hindrance on that route and at the train station.”

IGP assures 

Meanwhile, Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba Alkali  has allayed the fears of residents in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs concerning the recent security threats, just as he ordered massive deployment of additional police operatives and operational assets within the territory.

Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi said this Tuesday in a statement in Abuja,

He said the directive was to solidify the security and protection of lives and property of its residents, critical national assets and vulnerable facilities as well as road users plying routes in and around the FCT.

“The IGP made the charge during the Force Management Team’s meeting at his office on Monday, August 1st, 2022, while receiving general security updates on the nation.

“He has equally charged the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Department of Operations, DIG Bala Zama Senchi, to supervise and manage the deployment to ensure maximum security in the FCT as well as surrounding states with a high risk of attacks resonating from the threats being speculated on the news, as the Force does not and will never handle any information with kid gloves.

“The IGP, however, cautioned members of the public, especially citizen-journalists, on the dangers of spreading false alarms, misinformation, and disinformation as they could be detrimental and counter-productive to national security,” the statement read in part.

Adejobi also said:  “In the same vein, the IGP has assured Nigerians in general, and residents of the FCT in particular, of their safety and security, while urging them to go about their lawful duties without fear of attacks.

“He equally reiterated the firm determination of the Police leadership to continue to explore avenues to enhance the security architecture in the country, through intelligence gathering, operational deployments and application of cutting-edge technology to decimate the activities of criminal elements across the country.”