The Northern Governors Forum weekend urged the Federal Government to exercise great caution in its plan to withdraw troops from volatile areas.
The Federal Government had, last Monday after a meeting of the National Security Council chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, disclosed that beginning from the first quarter of this year, it would gradually withdraw military operations in some volatile areas in the country.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, who briefed journalists after the meeting, had clarified that withdrawal of troops would be done after an “assessment” to determine areas where peace had returned in order to enable civil authorities to assume full control of security.
President Buhari had also on Friday reassured that withdrawal of the military from areas where peace had been restored would not be done in a manner that would expose communities to more risks of attacks.
The president had assured that the withdraw exercise would be gradual and carefully planned not abrupt or arbitrary to jeopardise the success already recorded by the military. But the chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, in a chat with Daily Trust, at the weekend, advised that great caution be taken in withdrawing troops, especially from volatile states where governors and other stakeholders were beginning to build confidence in the people.
Lalong, in a chat relayed through his Director of Press and Public Affairs, Dr Makut Simon Macham, stated: “I think we should do that (military withdrawal) in a gradual process and with great caution for volatile areas, especially now that we are beginning to build confidence and encourage the return of Internally Displaced Person’s (IDPs) to their original homes.”
Lalong’s Plateau State has witnessed almost two decades of ethno-religious crisis and is currently under the security control of Operation Safe Haven, a multi-security Special Task Force set up by the Defence Headquarters in 2010, comprising the armed forces, the Department of State Services (DSS), the Nigerian Police Force and selected paramilitary organisations.
Source :Daily Trust