In those first three weeks of the Tinubu administration, terrorists had swamped Zamfara in renewed frenzy. It was reported that they killed 21 residents in Janbako, a community in Maradun, mostly local vigilante members; three were killed in Sakikida. Over 30 women and girls were abducted in Gora same day, but were later released.
In Tangaza area of Sokoto State, 37 people were reportedly killed in Raka, RakarDutse, Bilingawa and other communities in nearby Gwadabawa. Abductions along Shinkafi-Kaura Namoda road, and Zurmi-Kaura Namoda road among others, were on the increase.
The terrorists did not relent in their assault on Plateau communities, where their pattern of operation remained brutish and merciless, stealthily invading villages in the dead of the night to cut down defenceless women and children. The intensity prompted newly sworn in Governor Caleb Mutfwang to restate that what is happening in the Plateau is a clear case of genocide designed to diminish and overrun the communities. He debunked the old narrative of herders-farmers clashes to assert it was a case of “insurgency and a reign of terrorism.”
The same thing was ongoing in Kaduna South, just as it had been in the eight years of the previous government. The South-east did not show signs of improvement, just as cultists and criminals continued to flourish in the South-south.
It emerged that the terrorists in the North-west were very deliberate in their quest to disorganise society, when they issued notice for fresh peace negotiations with the new governors. In their dark hearts, the MoUs they ‘signed’ with the previous governors had lapsed and it was time to renew them. To gain attention, they stepped up their atrocities.
That was the time the President appointed new Service Chiefs and a new Inspector General of Police. There was joy in the land that the new Sheriff was about to restore law and order in communities where terrorists and bandits have disrupted businesses, farming activities and social relations across the country
As PBAT clocked the first 100 days in office, it is a matter of regret that the government is yet to do or say something different regarding the fundamentals of Nigeria’s peculiar internal security. His body language has not revealed an understanding of how unsafe Nigeria has become. He seems too concerned with taxes and foreign investors.
Sadly, the new numbers and details of terrorized citizens are even more damning than what obtained before the new military chiefs came on board. We saw the brazen attack on the military by terrorists on August 14 in Niger State. They not only ambushed troops and killed 25 and injured seven, a military evacuation aircraft on a rescue mission came down in a suspicious crash, adding to the toll. Later, one of the terrorists, Dogo Gide provocatively and derisively suggested he was the governor of Niger State.
Then, the original and elected Governor of Niger State, Umar Muhammed Bago, later visited the Presidency in Abuja to announce that he would dialogue with the terrorists who had just killed many soldiers. He told the Federal Government to halt any major offensive until he engaged the criminals. Hear him: “We don’t want any major military activities in Niger as we also don’t want the grazers to leave our state because of business and the investment. But if we don’t get to that level of dialogue, then probably, we have to go fully military.” It’s now a month since he made that promise. The Nation is waiting.
Meanwhile, the situation in Kaduna State is going from bad to worse. Earlier this month, terrorists invaded a mosque in Saya-Saya village in Ikara Local Council and killed seven persons. According to the village head, Abdulrahman Yusuf, the leader of the community vigilante group was among those killed.
Terrorist and bandits have returned to the Birnin Gwari area, where they recently laid siege to the Birnin-Gwari highway for nine days, kidnapping over 40 people in the process.
Reports said the situation forced drivers and commuters to find alternative and safer routes. The locals are lamenting that the respite they thought they got with the new government has been spent. They query the heavy presence of military posts along the highway from Kaduna to Buruku to Udawa to Kuriga, yet terrorists manage to operate and get away with their victims.
Still in September, a seminarian, Na’Aman Danlami Stephen, was killed when the rectory at St. Raphael Church in Fadan Kamatan was set on fire by terrorists. There seems no end to unrestrained attacks on hapless villagers.
According to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna, 23 pastors have been killed and more than 200 churches shut down in the state due to repeated attacks by terrorists in four years. They charged the Police Commissioner, Musa Yusuf Garba, to walk his talk and restore peace to their homeland.
Kidnapping has become rampant in communities across the country. In the Federal Capital Territory, citizens are on red alert because bandits could invade homes in the outskirts with no resistance and take citizens away for ransom.
In the last two weeks, 19 persons were kidnapped in the Bwari Area Council of Abuja, in what has become a routine operation, just as a woman and her two daughters were kidnapped in the Galadimawa area and taken to the Kuje forest. Husband and father to the victims lamented how they were on their way home around 7:00 p.m. when they were waylaid at a bad spot around Kabusa Garden Estate. The experience for victims is always traumatizing and harrowing for their loved ones who end up raising huge unbudgeted sums to recover kidnapped relatives. Sometimes, they sell valuables to rescue loved ones because kidnappers expect to be paid, not minding that Tinubunomics affects every home.
Outside the FCT, going into Kogi, Edo and Ondo states, kidnapping is a booming activity for criminals, a lot of which is often unreported. The criminals take advantage of bad roads to waylay their victims.
A local businessman who deals in building materials in one of the communities in Akoko-Edo was kidnapped along Lampese-Ogori-Magongo axis of the notorious Okene-Ibillo-Ikare highway on August 24. He spent four days with the criminals who first demanded N200 million. They later collected N5 million after repeated floggings and humiliation for no offence.
On September 10, two commercial transport vehicles belonging to Benue Links conveying passengers from Benue through Ajaokuta to Lagos were ambushed towards Okene. Some of the passengers managed to escape into the bush while the kidnappers got hold of 10 victims.
I like to remind the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, not to forget the pledge he made to Nigerians, to chase away criminals and give us a new Nigeria where citizens will be hale and hearty to welcome the foreign investors PBAT has spent a lot of energy cajoling.
In excitement at his appointment and decoration, Egbetokun told Nigerians: “I will tell you that right now, I feel like a Tiger inside of me ready to chase away all the criminals in Nigeria. And some other time, I feel like a Lion in me ready to devour all the internal enemies of Nigeria.”
We join him in that excitement and wish him well. But he must focus on the task at hand and make the homeland safe for the people. Let him not be distracted by contractors and consultants who will flood his office with proposals. The job is out there and doesn’t need much classroom work. This is the time to liaise and partner with community leaders and youths to obtain intelligence.
The few cases cited here have victims who have a clear idea of the type of people who have turned Nigeria into the kidnap capital of the world. Kidnappers do little to hide their identities in the bush. Victims know them and the languages they speak. They also know the locations where they were held. State and area Commands of the Police will do well to follow up on victims, so that kidnappers are traced to their hideouts before they come to the roads.
Finally, PBAT should remember his lavish promise to secure Nigerians in his Renewed Hope document. You pledged that the fundamental responsibility of your government will be the protection of lives and property of citizens. You promised to protect Nigerians from danger and from the fear of danger.
Please do not forget your pledge. Nigerians are living in fear and expending scarce resources to secure their lives. Do something different. Say something to the type of internal security arrangement that’s best for Nigeria.
The Guardian Nigeria