Ahead of the March 28 presidential election, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday met behind closed doors with the heads of security agencies and the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, at the State House, Abuja.
But there was no firm commitment from those who briefed the press after the meeting that the general election will go ahead as planned.
While Jega simply said the meeting went well, the Chief of Army staff, Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, said it was up to INEC to decide whether to go ahead with the polls or not.
The meeting, which lasted for about five hours, was attended by Vice President Namadi Sambo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; the Chief of Staff to the President, General Jones Arogbofa; the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali; the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan; and the Minister of Interior, Abba Morro.
Others included the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh; Minimah; the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Adeola Amosu; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin; and the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba.
It was also attended by the heads of the Department of State Services and the National Intelligence Agency.
Asked by State House correspondents the thrust of the meeting, Jega simply said: “I believe it went well.”
He made no further comment.
On security issue, briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Minimah said Council reviewed the North East operations, particularly in the last three weeks, and renewed its confidence in the Nigerian Armed Forces and commended them too.
He said: “You know Yobe and Adamawa States have been liberated completely and we look forward to the reinstatement of structures of government and governance.
“I am also sure you know that in Borno State out of the 27 local governments we have, three local governments remaining – Abadam, Kalabaldi and Gwoza – and we are optimistic that with time we will liberate those local governments.”
Responding to questions whether there were discussions on the forthcoming elections, Minima said: “I am not competent to speak on that matter.
“INEC is still there.
“INEC has to re-access the situation and evaluate because the areas have been liberated, but I can also tell you that not all structures of governance have been reinstated and they will need to be reinstated so that citizens can go back to their areas and it is then I think they can execute their rights as voters.
“I don’t know.”
On whether the military will conclude operations in the North East before the March 28 date for the polls, Minimah responded: “War is war.
“It is our wish and we pray God gives that to us, but war is war.
“War sometimes is not fought on some platforms of permutations.”
Asked about the whereabouts of the Chibok girls, Minimah said: “No news for now.
“In all the liberated areas we have, we have also made enquiries but the truth is when the terrorists are running away, they also run with their families.
“And those we have come in contact with have not made any comments suggesting that Chibok girls were there and taken away.
“But we are optimistic that as it becomes closer the territory is becoming elusive to them, we will get further details on that.”