The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday said he had asked the police and the military to treat bandits in the Northwest “in the language they understand.”
Buhari said the security crisis in the region was partly fueled by unemployment and poverty.
He said he believed the majority of the Boko Haram members are Nigerians after being told so by Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum.
According to him, his government had done a lot to fight the terrorists but the problem in the “Northeast is very difficult.”
He said: “Problem in the Northwest – you have people over there stealing each other’s cattle and burning each other’s villages. We are going to treat them in the language they understand.
“We have given the police and the military the power to be ruthless. You watch it in a few weeks, there will be a difference.
“Because we told them if we keep people away from their farm, we are going to starve. And the government can’t control the public.
“If you allow hunger, the government is going to be in trouble and we don’t want to be in trouble. We are already in enough trouble. So we warn them sooner than later you’ll see the difference.”
‘IPOB a dot in a circle’
The President added that with the assurance of “the elderly people” and “the youth” of the Southsouth that the region had no intention of seceding, IPOB has no escape route.
Buhari reiterated his statement that IPOB members will be treated in the “language that they understand”.
“I was encouraged by what I heard, nobody told me. Two statements from the Southsouth: one by the elderly people, they said this time around there would be no (secession). And again the youth made the same statement; such encouragement.
“So that IPOB is just like a dot in a circle. Even if they want to exit, they’ll have no access to anywhere. And the way they are spread all over the country, having businesses and properties. I don’t think IPOB knows what they are talking about.”
“In any case, we say we’ll talk to them in the language that they understand. We’ll organise the police and the military to pursue them.”
‘My appointments are based on merit’
On alleged lopsided appointments, the President said his decisions had always been based on seniority.
He said: “You’re saying someone who had gone through military and police training all his life should not be appointed to lead the military or police department he works with just because we must balance appointments? What are you saying?
“The system didn’t restrict anyone from joining the military or the police, and if you decided not to join, we will not force you but you too will not force us to bring someone who is not qualified in training and experience when it comes to leadership of these institutions just because we want to balance some appointments.”