The military will pull out from ongoing internal security operations in various parts of the country, beginning from the first quarter of 2020.
The decision was taken during a Security Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Monday.
Shortly after the meeting, some governors appealed to the Federal Government not to withdraw troops from their states.
The governors include Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Darius Ishaku of Taraba State and their counterpart in Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle.
The Federal Government’s decision on troop withdrawal is coming from fresh threats by the Islamic State West Africa Province, now working in collaboration with Boko Haram.
Only last week, ISWAP circulated a video online where it showed 10 Christians who were beheaded on Christmas Day.
However, the Security Council clarified that the military would first conduct a “threat assessment” to determine the specific areas where the troop withdrawal would cover.
The council decided that in place of the military, the Nigeria Police Force, which has the primary responsibility of providing internal security, will assume its duties fully in such areas.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who spoke with State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, explained that the withdrawal was to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression and respond adequately to “emerging threats.”
He recalled that following an upsurge in violent crimes, aside from Boko Haram insurgency, the government had launched several joint military operations to combat the situation.
Don’t withdraw troops now, Ortom begs FG
Commenting on the Federal Government’s decision, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ioraer Ortom on Monday appealed to Buhari not to withdraw troops code-named Operation Whirl Stroke deployed in the state.
Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke were deployed in the state in 2018 in the wake of the herdsmen attacks.
Ortom, who spoke through his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, appealed for an extension of the presence of the troops to allow the displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.
The governor said, “Our position is an appeal to Mr President. He had done Benue well by deploying Operation Whirl Stroke to help tame the menace of herdsmen at the time Benue needed intervention.
“We appeal to the President to extend the life-span of the troops at least by a year to enable our people at the IDPs camps to resettle in their ancestral homes.
The governor said that he had already communicated to the President not to withdraw the troops from the state for now.