The Federal Government said in the new year, it will withdraw soldiers from military operations in some volatile spots in the country where normalcy has returned.
It was learnt that the withdrawal will begin from the first quarter of 2020 but the government was silent on the specific states or geopolitical zones where the military would withdraw its operations.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, made this disclosure to State House Correspondents after the National security Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The council is made up of the Minister of Defence, Gen. Bashir Magashi (Rtd); heads of security agencies in the country, including the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe-Ibas; and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Abubakar Sadiq.
Others are the Inspector General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu; Director-General of Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi; and Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai.
The Admiral Ibas explained that the withdrawal of troops will be done after an “assessment” to determine areas where peace has returned to enable civil authorities (police and civil Defence) assume full control of security.
Ibas, who said the meeting was to review the security operations in the country in 2019, added that the withdrawal was to allow the military to focus on its primary duty of defending the nation against external aggression.
“It is the work of the police to handle internal security, since Nigeria is not at war.
“The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps will support the police to provide internal security.
“Also, you will remember that additional 10,000 personnel were approved for the police recently for recruitment”, he added.
On the purpose of the meeting, Ekwe-Ibas said, “We had a security council meeting with Mr. President where we appraised the year 2019 generally with emphasis on ongoing operations both within as well as the regional operations ongoing.
“With respect to operations within the country, it was generally agreed and noted that the security agencies have done their very best in ensuring that the deliverables are made clear.
“You will recall that the various operations in the country in the northeast, northwest, north central, the southeast as well as the southwest where all members of the armed forces are taking part as well as the intelligence agencies have ensured that we all enjoyed a better holiday period that has just been observed.