President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday cautioned against a repeat of violent protests across the country.
Buhari made this known while virtually declaring open the Chief of Army Staff’s Annual Conference 2020.
The President warned that any act of hooliganism hiding behind lawful and peaceful protests would be dealt with decisively to ensure peace and stability in the country.
Buhari, who restated government’s commitment to the rights of citizens to embark on peaceful protests responsibly and in accordance with the laws of the land, also recalled that the #ENDSARS protests were hijacked by hooligans to cause wanton damage to lives and property in many cities across the country.
He, however, hailed the Nigerian Armed Forces for their efforts at restoring law and order in various states during the large-scale criminality that ensued in the wake of the #ENDSARS protests.
The President described the Year 2020 as a very challenging one, citing the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its negative impact on almost every aspect of national life.
‘Despite this, I am pleased to note that the Army remained resolute in the discharge of its Constitutional roles and in keeping the wealth and welfare of our soldiers a priority,’’ said the president.
”The Army’s support of Civil Authorities in the management of the COVID – 19 Pandemic is a case in point.
”Also, the peaceful elections conducted in Edo and Ondo States would not have been achieved without the high level of professionalism displayed by all security agencies, including the Army,” he said at the conference themed “Human Capacity Development in Sustaining Professionalism and Responsiveness of the Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles.”
The President lauded the Army for its unwavering commitment towards curtailing the activities of insurgents, armed bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers and other violent criminals through ongoing exercises and operations in different parts of the country.
He said the “Exercise Sahel Sanity” launched a few months ago in the North West states to rid the Katsina-Zamfara corridor of marauding bandits had recorded commendable progress.
”I have also been briefed about the tremendous successes that have been achieved by troops during the ongoing Operation Fire Ball in the North East.
”I charge you all to sustain these efforts until the full restoration of peace and security in the nation is achieved,” the President told members of the armed forces at the conference which provides an avenue for the leadership of the Army to re-assess its preparedness and operational readiness in carrying out its Constitutional roles.
President Buhari also paid tribute to men and women in uniform who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the defence and security of the nation, he also condoled with their families and loved ones.
”As we pray for the repose of their souls, we must strengthen our collective resolve to address those issues that will make every part of our country a safe and secure place to live and carry out our normal business,” he said.
He promised that his administration will not relent in its efforts to take adequate care of families of fallen heroes who had paid the supreme sacrifice in the fight against insurgency and other forms of crimes across the country.
At the conference, the President launched the Housing scheme for Next of Kin of personnel of the Nigerian Army killed in action.
President Buhari, who said he had been briefed that some of the major capabilities procured for the Army will soon be inducted into the various theatres of operations, urged personnel ‘‘to make judicious use of these capabilities, even as we await the arrival of others currently pending shipment to the country.’’
The President, who congratulated the Army on holding this Conference at the magnificent edifice housing the Army’s Cyber Warfare Command with its state-of-the-art Cyberwarfare Operations Centre, added that this showed that the Army is alive to the changing nature of warfare which is gradually moving into the cyber domain.
Earlier, the Minister of Defence, retired Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi, who thanked the President for always approving funds for operations of the military in the country, assured that all resources will be judiciously utilised.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, noted that the Nigeria Army is well poised to confront all security challenges, which includes cyber threats.