The National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) has said that President Muhammadu Buhari never ordered the dismantling of all military checkpoints in the country.
His statement overrides the statement made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Ismail Aliyu, who 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.
Dasuki, who met top military and security chiefs in his office in Abuja yesterday clarified that the directive of the president was never a blanket order to remove all military checkpoints. The NSA said 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 blocking roads.
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.
While condemning the indiscriminate proliferation of security checkpoints by unauthorised bodies, he said: “We will continue to ensure that the necessary or essential security checkpoints are not avenues for extortion, indiscipline and other forms of corrupt practices that can exacerbate traffic flow and cause road accidents.”
He added that the government was deploying new sophisticated scanners and detectors in some areas to ease traffic and to identify movement of strange objects, concealed weapons and criminal suspects. “With the effective use of technology, which minimizes physical contact between security personnel and citizens, the time spent at designated security checkpoints will ultimately be reduced,” he said.
Dasuki added however that “whenever necessary, soldiers will mount their checkpoints to conduct security screening in emergency situations and for quick response”.