National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd)
The military has begun the re-establishment of some military checkpoints across the country in line with the recent clarifications by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), that President Muhammadu Buhari never ordered the dismantling of all the roadblocks.
Some of the checkpoints, which were dismantled following the initial Presidential directives, have since been restored in parts of the country.
The Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sani Usman, who confirmed the development further clarified that what he described as a “snap checkpoints”, is on the need basis.
“What we have in those areas are not permanent checkpoints without a time line but a snap one based on the prevailing security situation,” Usman said.
He noted that the previous directive was never a blanket dismantling of all the military checkpoints across the country but should be at the discretion of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).
He said: “The directive was that those checkpoints that were not necessary should be removed forthwith and that was complied with. However, the language is that the COAS should use his discretion to remove all those checkpoints that are not necessary but that those in the North-east and South-south, for obvious security reasons should not be removed”.
Even at that, Usman added: “The COAS has gone further to direct all the General Commanding Officers (GOCs) and other Commanders to discuss with the respective state governments where they are involved in internal security operations on how to apply this.
“This is because whenever there is serious security threats there can be snap re-establishment of the checkpoints”, he explained.
It will be recalled that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Ismail Aliyu, after a security meeting last month, announced that the president had ordered the dismantling of military roadblocks and directed the police to take over internal security.
This was however countered by the NSA, who after meeting with the top military and security chiefs in his office in Abuja on Thursday, clarified that the directive of the president was never a blanket order to remove all military checkpoints.
According to Dasuki, the military roadblocks in flashpoints would continue to be maintained while those in relatively peaceful areas would be dismantled but soldiers would continue to be positioned in those areas while not mounting road blocks.
He said it was both conventional and the global practice for governments to increase security measures whenever insecurity is heightened and appealed to citizens to endure the temporary inconvenience the roadblocks may cause.
According to him, essential security checkpoints in vulnerable areas were a “necessary inconvenience” to ensure criminals and terrorists do not have easy passage.
He cited some arrests made recently including that of the mastermind of bomb attacks in some towns who were nabbed by Nigerian troops at such checkpoints.
Also, the COAS, Lt-Gen. Kenneth Minimah, made similar clarification earlier this week in Abuja, during the Inter-Denominational Church Service to mark the Nigerian Army Day Celebration 2015 (NADECL) .
Speaking on removal of military check points, the Army Chief noted that not all check points and road blocks were being removed, contrary to the perception or feelings of people. Indeed, he noted, we will re-establish some that were erstwhile removed like the South-east and some of the South-south areas where kidnapping and ransom taking exist.
“So the road blocks and check points will remain in certain areas. And in the areas where they cause hardship for citizens we are taking steps to ensure that they are presented in such a way that citizens experience less hardship”, he added.