Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari said on Friday his government was not in a hurry to withdraw military personnel from trouble spots across the country.
The President in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the withdrawal of the military from areas where peace had been restored would not be done in a manner that would expose communities to more attacks.
The withdrawal exercise, he said would be gradual and carefully planned in order not to jeopardise the success already recorded by the military.
Reacting to concerns and appeals from governors and community leaders over the proposed withdrawal, President Buhari said the “administration would not abandon citizens in need of protection.”
He urged Nigerians, especially public affairs analysts, to carefully study the statement following a security council meeting with service chiefs that the withdrawal of troops will be done after an “assessment” to determine areas where peace had returned to enable civil authorities to assume full control.
The President said where it is determined that the withdrawal would not in any way jeopardize peace already achieved, the military pullout would be undertaken in a careful and gradual way.
He said: “You don’t need to worry. We will not expose our people and their communities to harm or danger.
“The withdrawal is to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression. It is the duty of the police to handle internal security since Nigeria is not at war.
“The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps will support the police to provide internal security. When it is time to withdraw, nothing will be rushed.”
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Marshall Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, had said late last year that the federal government would begin the gradual withdrawal of troops from some parts of the North East where normalcy had returned from the second quarter of this year.
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