Stooges of former Libya leader, Muamar Gaddafi, constitute the terrorists perpetrating evil acts in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
The bandits, who escaped from Libya after the death of their leader in 2011 took to terrorism, the brunt of which Nigeria and some other African countries are currently bearing, Mr Buhari added.
Mr Gaddafi, who led Libya for decades, was in 2011 killed during the Arab Spring that saw citizens of several Arab countries taking up arms against sit-tight dictators.
Contrary to public belief that killings in some region are the handiwork of Nigerian herders and terrorists, the president is convinced that the unsavoury legacy of Mr Gaddafi is still haunting Nigeria and other countries.
“The Nigerian cattle herder use to carry nothing more than a stick, but these are people with AK-47 and people refuse to reflect on the demise of Gaddafi,” Mr Buhari said in an exclusive interview with Arise TV.
“Gaddafi for 43 years in Libya, at some stage, he decided to recruit people from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, from Central African Republic and these young chaps are not taught to be bricklayers, electricians, plumbers or any trade but to shoot and kill.
“So, when the opposition in Libya succeeded in killing him, they arrested some and they did what they did to them. The rest escaped with their orphans and we encounter some of them in the North-east and they are all over the place now organising attacks.”
This is not the first time Mr Buhari will be shifting blames of Nigeria’s insecurity on Mr Gaddafi who has been dead for over seven years now.
While speaking with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in April, Mr Buhari said arms Mr Gaddafi provided to his supporters had filtered into Nigeria where they are now being used to fuel killings across the North-central.
“The problem is even older than us,” Mr Buhari said of killings. “It has always been there, but now made worse by the influx of armed gunmen from the Sahel region into different parts of the West African sub-region.”
“These gunmen were trained and armed by Muammar Gaddafi of Libya. When he was killed, the gunmen escaped with their arms. We encountered some of them fighting with Boko Haram,” Mr Buhari had said.
In the latest interview, President Buhari said his government has succeeded in reducing the activities of terrorists in the North-east by reducing their stronghold from 17 local governments to none.
Recent media reports however reveal that the insurgents have taken over at least six communities in the region. The military dispute this.
Mr Buhari asked for ‘responsible reportage and leadership’ from Nigerian journalists and concerned state governments to stem the challenge.
On the deadly crisis in Zamfara State, Mr Buhari said his government had several times changed police personnel to ensure effectiveness.
“We virtually changed all the officers for more than three years in Zamfara State and we did a lot of cross posting and so on. There are issues that I don’t go public (on) as the commander in chief because it will affect the morale of men in the front, so, I try to keep quiet. So the situation in the North-west and the North-east are better.”