*Says military fully aware of its duties
The Presidency, Sunday, said the President, Major General Muhammadu (retd.), had done more than was expected of him as Commander-in-Chief in ensuring the security of Nigerians.
This was as it said it would not be arm-twisted into responding to propaganda promulgated by terrorists as the military was quite aware of its duties.
In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the Presidency argued that the public outcry for a carpet bombing of terrorist hideouts in the north defeats the entire aim of rescuing the innocent hostages alive.
The statement titled, ‘Latest version of terror propaganda and military readiness’, was in response to a widely circulated footage of terrorists flogging the remaining 43 of the over 61 hostages kidnapped in the March 28 attack on a Kaduna-bound train.
“Terrorist activity using propaganda and the use of violence to force governments to accept or submit to political demands is not new all over world.
“The country’s security and defence forces are not clueless or helpless. They have their plans and ways of doing things which they will not display in the media.
“The dilemmas in dealing with the specific case of train terrorists are manifold: punitive action like the popular call for carpet bombing of the known locations may assuage the desire of an angry public for revenge, but what about the hostages? They have committed no offense. All they did was to board a train.
“It suffices to say that the security forces are not relenting. They are acutely aware of their duties, responsibilities and what the nation expects of them. Whenever they embark upon those actions, they expect that the public should provide them with the needed support,” the statement partly read.
It further noted that terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought by all actors – the military, the civilian population and the communication service providers.
This, it said, was the only way safe havens of terrorists are eliminated in every part of the world.
It argued that, as far as equipping the military to confront terrorists is concerned, President Buhari has done more than is expected of him.
“The Presidency, in the meantime, wishes to reassure the public that the President has done all, and even more than what is expected of him as Commander-in-Chief, by way of morale, material and equipment support to the military and expects nothing short of good results in the immediate.
“To help the nation against ongoing situation, the media must increase their support for the fight against the exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes,” Shehu said.
In a 10-minute video footage publicised earlier on Sunday, terrorists, including some who escaped from Kuje Correctional Centre during the July 5 attack, threatened to kill the remaining hostages from the train attack if the government does not bend to their demands.
Before the threat, the terrorists were seen flogging the hostages with sticks as they pleaded.
They also threatened to sell off hostages as slaves and to abduct President Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
“This is our message to the government of Nigeria and just as you have seen these people here, by God’s grace, you will see your leaders; your senators and governors will come before us.
“These ones you are seeing here, we will keep some as our slaves and sell them off just as our Imam told you in the past.
“Just like the Chibok girls that were sold off, we will equally sell these ones as slaves. If you don’t adhere to our demands, we will kill the ones we need to kill and sell the remaining. By God’s grace, El-Rufai, Buhari, we will bring you here,” said one of the terrorists.
The hostages have spent at least 118 days in captivity.