The Federal Government, on Wednesday, described threats by some terrorists to abduct the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), as laughable.
It also reacted to threats by some lawmakers in the upper chamber of the National Assembly to remove the President over the rising insecurity nationwide, saying the government is “working 24 hours” to bring the situation under control.
Addressing State House correspondents shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by Buhari, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, commended the lawmakers for their patriotism but added that work was ongoing to restore order.
This follows the release of viral video footage showing terrorists—including an escapee from the July 5 Kuje Prison attack—whipping the remaining 43 of over 61 passengers kidnapped from a Kaduna-bound train on March 28.
In the video, the terrorists threatened to kidnap the President and the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.
Replying to queries on the President’s safety, Mohammed described the terrorists’ threats as “laughable” adding that it is mere “propaganda”.
“As to those who have issued threats to Mr. President, I think it’s mere propaganda. It is laughable,” he said.
Also, Senators elected on the platforms of the main opposition, Peoples Democratic Party, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, on Wednesday, threatened to remove Buhari if the worsening security crises nationwide are not contained within six weeks.
While fielding questions on the issue, the Information Minister said “As to the resolution passed by the Senate, it was passed when we were deliberating (at the FEC meeting). We thank them for their patriotism and their concern. But we are working around the clock 24 hours to ensure that the situation is brought under control.
“I want to assure you that the President is aware of all these and as a matter of fact, I think tomorrow there’s going to be another Security Council meeting. So, it’s not a matter the President is taking lightly and like I’ll always say some of the measures we’re going to take are not measures that you can discuss openly here, but we’re as concerned as you are, we’re not going to abandon our responsibility.”
Speaking on behalf of his counterpart in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk, Mohammed added that the council approved a memo for the standard operation procedure on maintaining the civilian and humanitarian character of asylum seekers in Cameroon.
“You all know that due to the insurgency in Cameroon, Nigeria has witnessed an influx of Cameroonian asylum seekers and there are basic standard procedures for you to be granted status as an asylum seeker.
“This is what the council considered and approved today. And basically, is that anybody from Cameroon who’s seeking asylum in Nigeria must first convince the authorities that he or she has actually renounced armed struggle before you can even be considered as an asylum seeker.
“Also there are cases of some of them who have come even when they claim to have surrendered their arms, go back at times, to join the separatist movement in Cameroon. So, the procedure was explained and approved today that will evaluate the basic criteria to grant asylum,” he explained.
Asked why the Government, despite the current security crises, is mulling asylum for foreign nationals, the minister said “The issue of the standard operating procedure for asylum seekers from Cameroon is not a matter that started today. The issue of the separatist movement in Cameroon is many years old and every day, because of the proximity of Cameroon to Nigeria, we’ve witnessed an influx of refugees seeking asylum, and under international regulations, there are certain procedures you must take for asylum seekers.
“So, all we have done today is to establish the standard procedure to ensure that those who claim to be asylum seekers are actually not insurgents themselves that have come to destabilise Nigeria or people who will come and be launching attacks against their own country from the comfort of Nigeria.”