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Just In: Buhari cancels ‘sasual leave’ to honour slain soldiers

President Muhammadu Buhari has cancelled his planned five-day “casual leave’’ as a mark of respect for victims of Boko Haram attacks across the battlefields in the Northeast zone of the country.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the President had planned to spend the casual leave at his home country, Daura, Katsina State from Nov. 27 to Dec. 2.

The president, according to NAN, had earlier cancelled his official trip to Benin City, Edo, where he was initially billed to inaugurate the Edo-Azura Power Plant and grace the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference.

NAN reports that already the advanced teams of the president, who left Abuja for Katsina and Benin on Sunday, had been asked to return.

NAN gathered that the cancellation of the trips would also enable the president to continue his ongoing meetings and consultations with relevant security and intelligent community aimed at addressing the nation’s security challenges.

However, the president is expected to declare the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference, which was moved from Benin City to Maiduguri, Borno, on Nov. 28 at the Government House Conference Hall (CGH).

President Buhari’s aide on New Media, Alhaji Bashir Ahmad, had on Sunday confirmed this development on his tweeter handle.

He said: “President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to declare the COAS Annual Conference on Nov. 28, 2018 at the Conference Hall CGH in Maiduguri, Borno state.

“The conference was earlier scheduled to take place from 26 -28 November 2018 in Benin, Edo state.

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NAN also gathered that the shifting of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Annual Conference from Benin City to Maiduguri might not be unconnected with the killing of Nigerian soldiers at Metele, a remote village bordering Nigeria and Chad.

NAN learnt that President Buhari would use the opportunity of the COAS conference to address the Nigerian soldiers at the battlefields to further boost their morale.

It would be recalled that President Buhari had on Sunday presided over a meeting of security chiefs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as part of the ongoing efforts to engage military and intelligence community towards addressing Boko Haram insurgency.

In a tweet in Abuja on Sunday, the President’s aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, said all the service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, Idris Ibrahim and the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS), Yusuf Bichi were part of the meeting.

“All the Service Chiefs, I-G of Police and DG of DSS were at the State House this morning. As President Buhari said (Saturday) yesterday, in the coming days, he will be engaging the Military and Intelligence Chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking,’’ Ahmad said in the tweet.

President Buhari had pledged on Saturday to ensure that the loopholes, which led to the fatalities are blocked once and for all.

On 18 November, the Al Barnawi faction of Boko Haram attack the 157 Task Force Battalion based at Metele in northern part of Borno state, killing scores of Nigerian troops.

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The military authorities are yet to give the specific number of casualties.

Buhari in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja on Saturday, reiterated his administration’s commitment to the security of military personnel and other citizens.

“No responsible Commander-in-Chief would rest on his oars or fold his hands to allow terrorists to endanger the lives of military personnel and other citizens”, Shehu quoted the president as saying.

“Our loyal forces have proved their strength over the terrorists and we are ready to give them all the needed support, in terms of equipment and manpower, to succeed in ending the renewed threat.

“In the coming days, I am engaging the military and Intelligence Chiefs in extensive discussions on the next steps we shall be taking.”

The President noted that fighting terrorism had taken a global dimension, which necessitated international collaboration among states facing similar security challenges.

He, therefore, reassured Nigerians of his continued commitment to their security and of his efforts to sustain the momentum in the previous significant successes recorded against the terrorists.

The president, however, advised Nigerians against making a political capital out of the national tragedy, saying “members of the armed forces are one family, commonly committed to the security and safety of all Nigerians.’’(NAN)

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