By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, June 12, 2020(NAN) President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday expressed regret over the killing of innocent citizens by insurgents and bandits in the country.
He challenged state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets to address the dastardly acts.
The president made his feelings known in a broadcast to commemorate the 2020 Democracy Day in Abuja on Friday.
He said: “I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.
“I must implore state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the security agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas.
“I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.’’
The president observed that the Ministry of Police Affairs was created as part of efforts aimed at strengthening the nation’s internal security architecture.
According to him, ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.
“All the local governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.
“The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities,” he said.
He also revealed that the government had expanded the National Command and Control Centre to 19 states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security Communication System and commenced the implementation of the Community Policing Strategy.
“Government has similarly established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund as a public-private sector vehicle for alternative sources of funding security activities.
“To reduce security challenges through our external borders, especially smuggling of oil products out of the country, inflow of small arms and drugs into the country and equally protect our local manufacturers, we introduced operation “Ex-Swift Response, ” he said.
He added that the closure of borders from Aug. 20, 2019, had ” considerably succeeded in meeting its objectives as well as improving our national revenue.”
Buhari also disclosed that the Federal Government had continued to work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programmes, education, technology and improved information.
“ Our Social Investment Programme has continued to be a model to other nations and has engaged 549,500 N-Power beneficiaries, 408,682 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and 2,238,334 beneficiaries of the Growth Enhancement and Empowerment Programme.
“This is being done in collaboration with the states.
“Similarly, “Marketmoni” and “Tradermoni” Programmes have provided affordable loans to small and micro scale enterprises to grow their businesses.
” Under the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, over 9,963,729 children are being fed to keep them in school and improve their nutritional status,” the president said.