With growing insecurity across the country, secessionist agitations and ethno-religious crisis, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has warned that Nigeria is heading for the brink, urging that there is an urgent need to pull it back.
“Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brinks and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe,” he said in a letter inviting leaders of opinion to a town hall meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Kaduna.
Also concerned by the raging strife across the land, the Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd)-led National Peace Committee (NPC) is also convening a meeting today in Abuja to discuss the way forward. Nigeria has recently witnessed increasing insecurity, leading to the killing of security agents and innocent citizens by bandits.
The security crisis has made many Nigerians and members of the international community to express concerns about the state of the nation. Mohammed, in a letter, inviting prominent Nigerians for a town hall meeting in Kaduna tomorrow said the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences need to be addressed urgently. He said with the situation, the country is heading for the brink.
He said: “As you may observe, Nigeria has failed to manage its diversity. Despite huge human and material resources the country is heading for the brink and there is an urgent need to pull it back from this catastrophe.
“Increasingly, we are seeing this lack of capacity to manage our diversity manifesting in a general state of insecurity as witnessed in the heightened incidences of farmers/herders clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, ethno-religious clashes and intolerance, cultism, drug addiction and kidnapping.
“Closely tied to all these are the dangerous threat to the unity of the country and its continued existence as one indivisible nation. But the story of Nigeria has not always been this negative. How did we get here and what can we do to change the narrative to present our country in the best of light? This requires teamwork, reflecting all diversities, leveraging on all our collective creativity to pursue with diligence the project of rescuing Nigeria.’’
Mohammed added that the correct starting point towards addressing the problems is building an elite consensus on the security, unity, indissolubility and peaceful existence of Nigeria. He said such elite consensus had worked in the past and there is a need to find out why it is not working again as well as to proffer solutions because Nigeria is truly at a tipping point.
In the invitation letters sent to many opinion moulders nationwide, the minister said a broad-based and inclusive town hall meeting has been fixed for Kaduna tomorrow to discuss some of the manifestations of the general state of insecurity in the country, especially with secessionist narrative, crass politicisation of ethnic and religious differences.
“The proposed town hall meeting will aim at developing concrete implementable resolutions because a lot of theoretical talks and postulation had taken place with little or no requisite outcome. “The event will be declared open by President Muhammadu Buhari. Reputable scholar, Prof. Jibril Ibrahim, will be the lead presenter and will set the tone for discussion with Prof. Saka Nuru, Prof. Chudi Uwazurike and Prof Kokunre Eghafonaas as guest discussants,’’ the letter stated.
The meeting is expected to be attended by the leadership of the legislature, governors, ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, service chiefs, Inspector-General of Police, heads of security agencies, religious and traditional leaders and members of the international community amongst others.
Similarly, the Abdulsalami-led peace committee has also scheduled a meeting of prominent leaders for today in Abuja to address what it described as the “escalating spate of insecurity, banditry, kidnapping, regional agitations, the killing of innocent citizens and other forms of violence.’’ It added that the vexed issues have continued to cause deep concern to well-meaning citizens at home and abroad. NPC said it had been receiving requests from Nigerians, urging it to intervene. (ThisDay)
The Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a factional umbrella body for herdsmen in the country, has said it is opposed to the ban imposed on open grazing of cattle by South-West governors. It said the enforcement of the ban was tantamount to an eviction notice.
This is however against the position of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, which at a meeting with some governors in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on January 25, said it agreed with the position of the governors.
The meeting in Akure was attended by the Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi; Governors Adegboyega Oyetola of Osun State, Muhammad Badaru of Jigawa State, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State. MACBAN was led to the meeting by its chairman, Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa, among other attendees.
Apart from South-West governors, governors in the South-East had previously banned open grazing and movement of cows on foot into the South-East.
The Secretary General of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Saleh Alhassan, said on Friday, “They can’t put an end to open grazing by fiat because grazing is not motorcycle business; there must be an alternative. Secondly, if they say they are going to end open grazing, what is the timeline for it?
“They want to displace herders from where they earn their livelihood. It is not different from an eviction notice – it is just putting the eviction notice into effect. This is very unfortunate because they cannot come out to say they are embracing peaceful herders and then say they are ending open grazing. What do they mean by that? Is there closed grazing?
“From history, right from the time of Moses, grazing is open. By now, they should realise that they will not get the result they are looking for. We are in total support of the National Livestock Transformation Plan. I was part of the committee that reviewed the final document. The programme has a lot of components, and if implemented, it will address a lot of challenges.
“Look at Benue State and how the approach has created a militia. You can’t end open grazing by fiat as if someone is looking for a crisis, and these crises have a way of reverberating.”
Alhassan argued that asking herdsmen to stop open grazing and begin ranching was tantamount to asking farmers to begin mechanisation, without which they wouldn’t be able to do their farming activities.
He added, “If they say herders must begin ranching today, where is the ranch? For someone to develop a ranch, they need at least three to five years for it to mature. The facts are there. Ranches cannot be created overnight but they are just playing politics.”
On the issue of insecurity, he said herders had been victims of rustling and kidnapping and that if insecurity was to be addressed, it was not by making it an ethnic issue, because according to him, there are criminals in every ethnic group.
“It’s sad, because at the end of the day, we end up radicalising the herders,” he said. “When they are radicalised, who will benefit? The country will suffer worse insecurity. That’s why we are against this issue of eviction or ultimatum because it doesn’t work like that. There have not been proper laws at the national level to address these challenges and the National Assembly is just playing to the gallery. Let there be proper laws.”
He said if there had been an increase in the herders moving from the North to the South, it could be due to climate change, insecurity in the North-East, drought caused by environmental factors or Boko Haram.
“All these need to be properly addressed via articulated policies. Politicians should address their differences; they should leave the herders alone, they are in the bush dealing with all kinds of challenges,” he added.
When reminded that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, who is also a northerner, had canvassed the restriction of the movement of herders from the North to the South, Alhassan said, “That is where I disagree totally with the Kano State governor. Are they going to stay inside his house in Kano? You must create space for them and not to just talk.”
After reading and listening to this video, if you do not get angry with this leadership, which had so much intelligence on all issues but refused to act on them but allow things to deteriorate this much, then something is not right.
How could a leader wait so long to act on such cases of insecurity that was capable of causing civil war and breaking the country into fragments?
Such is a clear case of dereliction and one would ask, was the president really seriously waiting for things to get worse before he could muster the courage to act?
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that last Friday’ abduction of female students from Government Girls Science Secondary School, Jangebe, will be the last to happen.
The president’s statement was relayed today, through Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, who led a high-powered federal government delegation to sympathise with the people and government of Zamfara.
He said new measures had been developed by the federal government which would bring complete end to all forms of criminality in the nation.
“The President is saddened by the abduction of the students from Jangebe and reassures you that the government has all the resources and wherewithal to contain these criminals.
I have a story to tell the North. I hope it receives it in good faith. I love the North. So I have decided to tell the North how his brother the South truly feels. The South loves the north but the South is getting fed up.
The truth may taste bitter but it sets free. I will throw away political correctness and let the North know how the South feels because the North has to sit up and shape up.
The South is getting fed up.
Today, it’s Boko Haram. Tomorrow it’s banditry. Yesterday, it was confounding mass illiteracy. And no mention has been made yet about the abiding mass obesity of the North.
Family resources are being wasted fighting useless fires!
The truth is, the South increasingly sees the North like a slothful temperamental brother that has stubbornly refused to go to school and has begun to keep the company of bad gangs.
So the North isn’t just a laid back family black sheep, it’s now the sort of black sheep that is bringing in wolves and troubles to impoverish and imperil the family.
And nothing rankles the South more than the fact that the North seems utterly oblivious of its predicaments and their toll on fortunes and future of the family. If the North understood the magnitude of its problems, its leaders will weep every day.
The South wants his brother the North to take out time and do some sober reflection in a pan Arewa village meeting. Their emirs, their generals, their billionaires, their Islamic clerics. So that the North can ask himself soul-searching questions about how he came to such a sorry pass.
Because nothing irritates the South more than the fact that the South sees the North, every day, chasing political shadows instead of chasing its children to school, instead of taking care of its ever-increasing number of young pregnant women.
The South is amused when he watches the North occupy himself, chasing population numbers, disfiguring meritocracy with the quota system and resisting power devolution instead of taking practical steps to save his children from poverty and illiteracy.
Yes, this is how the South feels. I know the North has things to tell the South too. It’s normal. But this is how the South feels.
The South is not an angel and the South is not without its own conspicuous sins. But the South can’t understand why a brother beset with so many crippling self-inflicted wounds could yet be so aloof, so arrogant, so enamoured of frivolity.
This is the North in the eyes of the South today: The picture of a backward brother in a poor family. The picture of a fat family liability.
I promised to tell the whole truth.
There is a feeling of disgust that seizes a brother when his own brother’s prodigal shortcomings and recklessness threatens to plunge the entire family into turmoil and shame. It solidifies into repugnance when rather than face his problems, perhaps, that brother takes more interest in claiming ‘firstsonship’ and talking about how his brother has lost respect for him. And rebuking sympathizers harshly, with reminders about groundnut pyramids and how he was once the prosperous one.
The truth is, the South has logged in its own eyes. The South might even suffer from bigotry. But it is indisputable that his brother’s slothfulness poses a more immediate calamity to the family.
The South wants the North to sit up and zip up. Yes, zip-up and stop breeding the way our great grandfathers ignorantly did when there was little else to do than marry and have children. The extended family lacks the resources to feed one hundred million children. And neighbours mock when our scrawny children go plate in hand begging for food.
The South wants the North to note how Fareed Zakaria painted Nigeria in glorious lights a couple of days ago. Nigeria has more percentage of PhD holders in America than China and the UK. Nigeria has a higher percentage of Bachelor’s degree holders in America than every other country. The CNN presenter told the world that Nigeria was rich in quality human resources.
That data is Nigeria’s but it is plainly the South’s. Because last year Zamfara with all its puritanism couldn’t get more than 20 students to write the National Common entrance Exams. It is indeed, an abomination. But have you seen any northern leader weep over this? Or call for a Jihad to fight educational backwardness and social injustice in the north?
So the South wants the North to produce only the children the North can feed and send them to good schools. The South doesn’t and can’t feel safe when his brother’s children rather than become doctors and lawyers are ending up in droves as angry street urchins.
The South doesn’t know how to say it, but he is fed up with the North dragging the family numbers down.
The South wants the North to see Boko Haram and banditry as wolves that can devour the entire family. The South wants the North to hold a village meeting and find a spiritual solution to the wolves. The South knows that his brother has a temper. But he is yet to see that temper unleashed on Boko Haram and banditry. He would like to see one Yerima or one Shinkafi stand up and issue a fatwa against Shekau and the insurgents. And follow it up by mobilizing 2 million volunteers into Borno. Because in actual sense the insurgents have blasphemed God and done incalculable damage to Islam.
The South knows the North loves Sharia. It doesn’t mind. But it wants the north to open the windows of its mind and excommunicate religious intolerance.
I’ve come to tell the North how the South feels. I didn’t come to mince words. The North must discard his pride and face his perilous reality. His farmlands are lying waste because of banditry while his children roam the streets with chronic malnutrition and preventable diseases.
Northern leaders can’t be frolicking in Abuja and Kaduna plotting 2023!
The South knows that it also has some rogues as leaders but it wants the North to stop scratching and smiling, and start treating, in earnest, the craw-craw of having about the worst set of leaders in a badly governed Africa.
The five South East governors meeting with all security Chiefs in Enugu has ended with them issuing strong-worded communiqué at the end of the deliberation.
There have been tensions in the region due to the activities of the Fulani herdsmen bandits, causing many deaths and creating internally displaced persons, IDP in the communities.
Igbo youths have recently like before issued statements that their governors and other political leaders in the region are not doing enough to checkmate these attacks and stop the activities of these bandits
The communiqué reads as follows
Enugu airport to open December 2019 after renovation.
Joint air patrol to flush out bandits in all the forests in southeast.
No more foot movement of cattle and herdsmen from one state to another.
No more foot movement of cattle from community to another across farmlands.
Any cattle herder with gun or machete will be arrested.
Southeast governors never invited the army nor requested for Operation Python dance in the region.
Adequate security to be provided along the routes to Owerri airport where flights have been diverted due to closure of Enugu airport.
Southeast governors to meet with Mr President.
Commended governor Ugwuanyi for establishing forest guards and asked other states to take a cue from Enugu state government and establish forest guards.
Here is the full communique on papers.
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President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday that he was working hard to secure the country, especially from the hands of the bandits and kidnappers in the North-West.
The President met with the governors of some northern states at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, who were there to discuss security challenges with Buhari and call for more actions by the Federal Government.
The governors were led to the meeting by the Governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari. They took turns to brief Buhari on the peculiar situation of each state.
Besides Yari, the other governors in attendance were Kashim Shettima (Borno); Simon Lalong (Plateau); Yahaya Bello (Kogi); Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna); Aminu Bello-Masari (Katisna); and Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto).
The list also included Muhammad Abubakar (Jigawa); Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi); and Abubakar Sani-Bello (Niger).
Buhari claimed to have a 24-hour watch over the security challenges of the country, assuring the governors that he would not let the nation down.
He stated, “The security of the country is on my mind 24 hours of the day. I get daily and weekly situation reports. I have listened to your brief.
“I will look into your recommendations. I am acutely aware of the situation, but I have learnt more today.”
The President also blamed the situation of today on corruption in the Armed Forces in the past, which he said had left the country with “terrible effects.”
He spoke further, “If you follow the efforts we are making within the system, you will see that we have curbed much of the corruption that is there.
“See the recoveries that we have made – money and landed property. We are not going as fast as we want under the system, but we will keep trying to improve it.”
A State House statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, contained Buhari’s comments at the closed-door meeting.
Although the governors acknowledged the Buhari administration’s efforts in combating Boko Haram in the North-East, they observed that the latest twist in banditry and kidnappings in the North-West did no one any good.
For example, Masari, in an interview with State House Correspondents, expressed concerns over the banditry in the North-West, saying that the governors stressed this at the meeting with Buhari.
He said, “The issue that brought us to the President is about the rising insecurity in the North-West, North-Central, and North-East.
“North East is known for Boko Haram insurgency, but of recent what was known to be cattle rustling in North-West and some parts of North-Central has turned out to be something different from what we had before.
“So, this concern made us to come and brief the President so that urgent action would be taken in order to curb this deadly menace of banditry, which is graduating into an insurgency. You know the North-West has a vast forest area going to North-Central and then even going out of Nigeria.
“So, we need to act quickly and decisively so that it doesn’t turn into something else like what we had in the North-East.”
The Katsina governor confirmed that District Head of Daura, the President’s home town, who was kidnapped weeks back, had yet to be released. (Punch)
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The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, says it’s difficult to say exactly if Boko Haram will ever be eradicated in Nigeria. He, however, said the President Muhammadu Buhari administration should be praised for reducing the insurgents’ attacks against the country considerably.
It may be recalled that the Federal Government had, in 2016, claimed to have defeated Boko Haram.
Shehu, who was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily programme, said this in Abuja on Monday.
The President’s spokesman made the point when he was reminded that thousands of Internally Displaced Persons had yet to return to their homes, while periodic attacks by insurgents still take place in some parts of the North-East.
In response, Shehu said, “Well, I can’t promise you that Boko Haram will or will not be eradicated. But it is an ongoing challenge, globally. “Even in more advanced countries, more ‘weaponised’ nations, it is still a challenge.
“The point we are making is that the attacks you just cited are still a far cry from the enormity of those attacks we have seen in the past.
“They have been greatly minimised and they are being pushed farther away from the national population.”
Shehu also lamented the proliferation of small arms in the country, which he said has worsened the issue of banditry in the country. He, however, said the Police, through its operation Puff Adder outfit, had been able to arrest over 160 bandits across the country.
The President’s spokesman added, “Our security services are coming to terms with the fact that this (weapons proliferation) is one area they have to tackle.
“The source of weapons – whether locally manufactured or imported – must be tackled; otherwise, it will continue, because it is oxygen to crime.” He expressed fear that even weapons that had been seized by the Police from bandits would be replaced by the criminals because weapons are easily available.
Shehu added, “So, we are looking into the source of the weapons. As I said, the government has identified the manufacturers and many people have been arrested along with weapons.”
The President’s aide said neighbouring countries were also assisting Nigeria in the area of curbing weapons’ smuggling. (Punch)
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■13, 000 hectares of farmland, thousands tons of grains in silos destroyed in Zamfara, others …Due to kidnappers, bandits, herdsmen attacks in North
Tunde Omolehin (Sokoto), Linus Oota (Lafia), Mohammed Munirat Nasir (Gusau), Noah Ebije (Kaduna), and Gyang Bere (Jos)
As states in the Northwest and North-central geopolitical zones of the country grapple with the rising challenge of armed banditry, kidnapping and herdsmen attacks, farmers in the states have alerted of imminent famine.
The armed criminal elements are known to rustle cattle, rape women and kill unarmed men seen in the farms. Those that are not killed outright are abducted for ransom.
This action has instilled great fears in farmers, causing them to abandon their farms.
Sunday Sun investigations in the affected states showed that scarcity of food would be the end product of what is happening in them now.
In this report, we present the situation in the states that are at the epicenter of banditry, kidnapping and herdsmen attacks, which have unsettled their people mostly in the farming communities.
It is said that every time the United States economy sneezes, the global economy catches cold. In some sense, this has been the lot of Sokoto State ever since banditry in Zamfara State began to increase in scope. This produced spill-over effects in Sokoto, which is a neighbour to the epicenter of the trouble.
The result is that the criminal activities of bandits and kidnappers in Zamfara have caused a geometric rise in insecurity in Sokoto, which used to be one of the crime-free states in the federation owing to its age-long serene nature. In the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency that convulsed some states in the core North, Sokoto, proudly known as the Seat of the Caliphate, remained one of the few states in the Northwest that could not be infiltrated.
But all that changed with the rise of banditry and cattle rustling in Katsina and Zamfara. Created in 1975, Sokoto shares borders with Niger Republic to the North, Zamfara State to the East, Kebbi State to the Southeast and Benin Republic to the West.
The latest attack on Sokoto State was carried out on May 7, when gunmen stormed Balle community in Gudu Local Government Area of the state and shot the traditional ruler, Aliyu Ibrahim, dead and also burnt down the police station in the community. Balle, which is the headquarters of Gudu LGA was in 1804 the capital of the caliphate. It is located on the border with Niger Republic.
Many residents attributed the killing to vengeance as the traditional leader was said to have reported the activities of the bandits to security agencies. Before the Balle attack, similar attack was recorded at Bafarawa town in Isa LGA, a border community close to Niger Republic. A security guard of the former governor was killed in the attack while one person was abducted. No less affected are the people of Kamarawa village in the LGA, who have been experiencing killing, kidnapping and burning of their property.
Early this year, there were series of attacks carried out in towns and villages across the state, mainly those that share borders with Zamfara State. It could be recalled that 17 persons were killed at Daliga, Rakkoni and Kalhu communities, another 26 people killed in three communities of Warwanna, Kursa and Dutse of Gandi district, all in Rabah LGA of the state. The council has continued to be under bandit attacks, which have so far claimed many lives and property.
One the survivors of the attacks, Isah Nasiru, a farmer and member of the vigilance group from Warwanna village said that the lack of security personnel in the community made them vulnerable to banditry.
Nasiru who lost a child and some other relatives in the series of attacks launched on the community explained: “They started the attack from Dutsi and then moved to Kursa. They came through three different sides of our village and surrounded us; if you tried to escape they would shoot you while those that did not run were left alone.
“Those they met on their farms working were either shot dead or killed with cutlasses. Most of the bandits have often been seen coming into the village to buy foodstuff, petrol and recharge cards before they were barred from the village.
“We noticed their evil antecedents and we stopped them from buying anything in our village. Maybe that is the only problem we have with them. We equally reported them to the government and they sent some policemen, but the police never acted on the intelligence report we gave to them, which prompted us to form a vigilante group.”
He, however, appealed to the government to reinforce security personnel in the area, insisting that the bandits usually come through three areas that lead to Maradun in Zamfara State, Goronyo and Isa LGAs of Sokoto State.
There is apprehension in farming communities in Nasarawa State as suspected armed Fulani herdsmen are having a field day attacking and abducting farmers who venture out to their farms.
Often, family members of victims go through traumatic experience while some even lose their lives in the process of meeting the tough demands of the kidnappers. The psychological effect of the experience is enormous on the victims, who most times live in fear, anxiety and above all loss of trust in people which might likely lead to depression.
The upsurge in kidnapping, especially in most parts of Nasarawa State is threatening agricultural activities and other commercial transactions, which have forced farmers to abandon their farms for fear of being kidnapped.
Between January and May this year, scores of innocent farmers have been kidnapped, while others were killed on their way to their farms. The nefarious activities of the armed Fulani herdsmen marauding in the area is stoking the fire of unprecedented food crisis in the state particularly and the nation in general if not promptly nipped in the bud.
From every indication, kidnapping has become a booming venture in the state and other parts of the country.
Keen observers have been quick to lay the blame on security lapses, lack of basic amenities, unemployment, corruption, flagrant flaunting of wealth by the rich and most importantly, lack of transparency and accountability of stewardship by public office holders.
A legal practitioner in the state, Mohammed Hamisu, said that lack of political will on the part of the government to implement capital punishment as enshrined in the constitution is also a strong contributing factor to the upsurge of kidnapping, noting that legally; kidnapping attracts life sentence or jail term of between 10 and 30 years for the convicted person.
Recently in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, gunmen abducted two young men, Nasiru and Bashir, as well as a driver who were heading for their farms. Also, on May 14, 2019, a staff of Toto LGA, Mr Mohammed Shuaibu, was gruesomely murdered and his wife, Mallama Zainab Salihu, kidnapped. The abductors demanded N2 million. Again, on May 18, five farmers Basaru Rukaiya, Aishat Zakari, Chinedu Ide, Reuben Ibrahim and Vivian Ibrahim were kidnapped in Yelwa area of the state at gunpoint while going to their farms. Their whereabouts are still not known till date.
Expectedly, concerns over the implication of the situation continue to grow in the state. A commercial farmer in Nasarawa Local Government Area, Ibrahim Mustapha, while noting that agriculture is the mainstay of the state economy, given the absence of industries, said that the citizenry rely on the cultivation of grains, vegetable and other agricultural produce from the state to meet their needs. He said that even as the rains set in, he had to shut down his entire farm because of fear of being kidnapped. He added that farming in most parts of the state has become big risk business.
He explained that most of his friends who run irrigated farms in the size of 200 to 300 hectares of land have equally shut down. The unfortunate outcome is that there would be scarcity of food by next year.
He said that 65 per cent of farmers in the western and northern parts of the state today cannot go to their farms for fear of being kidnapped as armed Fulani herdsmen and other bandits rampage through the state.
His words: “Many farmers cannot access their farms, so there will be scarcity of food in Nasarawa State. If the security agencies do not step in, there will not be much farming activities in major parts of the state and the result is imminent food shortage by the end of the year. Many farmers are afraid to go to their farms, some cannot even travel on the Toto-Nasarawa road now, the activities of kidnappers and other armed bandits have left them scared.”
In a chat with Sunday Sun, the Commissioner of Police, Nasarawa State Command, CP Bola Longe, expressed concern over the rising incidence of armed banditry and kidnapping in the state.
In compliance with the directive of the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu who is an indigene of the state, the command launched “Operation Puff Adder,” a special security initiative to confront and root out kidnapping and armed banditry in the state.
Operation Puff Adder is aimed at re-dominating and reclaiming the public space from heinous criminal elements that are bent on threatening the nation’s internal security order.
Longe noted that the Nasarawa Police Command is committed to vigorously conducting an unstoppable onslaught against the criminal elements in the state.
Already, men of the command have arrested 14 suspected kidnappers that had been terrorizing people in the Mararaba-Udege axis of the state.
The incoming governor of the state, Abdullahi Sule, an engineer, told Sunday Sun in an exclusive interview that he is equally having sleepless nights over the insecurity caused by armed banditry and kidnapping in the state, adding that he has already developed a template on how to tackle it as soon as he is sworn-in on May 29.
He said that Nasarawa, Akwanga, Obi, Keana, Toto, Doma and Awe LGAs are major areas dealing with security challenges.
Sule assured that he would deploy robust industrialization programme that would create employment for the youths.
His words: “One of the biggest challenges is the situation of the youths. So, I intend to provide employment for the youths through my industrialization policy, which will take most of the youths off the streets. By the time you provide industrialization in the state and also engage the local communities into commercial farming, by the time you develop the out-growers system because the state is an agro-allied one, and apart from working very close with the security agencies in partnership with the local communities, the preventive measures restore the security of the citizens.”
The slogan of Zamfara State is “Farming is Our Pride,” but in the last few years, farming which is the main occupation of the people is rapidly turning into a risky venture as bandits who are terrorising the state are making farmers to dislike going to the farms for the fear of their lives.
The bandits have changed the scenario of farms in the state from being the biggest contributor to the economic lifeline of the people to death traps.
The government records show that over 13,000 hectares of arable farmlands and several thousand tons of food items in local silos have been destroyed in the last six years. Without doubt, the rising wave of banditry and kidnappings have put the state at the precipice of food scarcity as many farmers, both large scale, medium scale and peasant farmers, may likely not take part in farming activities in this rainy season as many farmers have been killed while working on their farmlands across the state, leaving many hectares of farmlands uncultivated.
Alhaji Yau Muhammad Dansadau, a large-scale farmer in Dansadau emirate in Maru LGA of the state, said that between 2010 and 2013, he used to harvest over 10,000 bags of maize, sorghum, rice, soya beans and cowpea, but unfortunately when the banditry got worse from 2014 his farm production began to decline.
“Between 2014 and 2018, my production dropped to 2,000 bags from over 10,000 bags. Honesty speaking most large and medium scale farmers will not farm this year even the majority of small scale and peasant farmers will not farm this year as some have even migrated to other states because of this lingering banditry and kidnappings in the state,” he said.
Yau who is the Chairman, Dansadau Farmers Association, warned that the activities of the bandits are pointing to food disaster in the state.
“Write it down, there is red signal for hunger coming in 2020 as there will not be enough food production in the state this year,” he said.
Long before the bloody activities of kidnappers and armed robbers in major neighbouring villages and towns of Kaduna State gained notoriety, Alhaji Lawal Maikudi was a contented and proud farmer of various kinds of crops, such as rice, maize, soya beans, millet and guinea-corn, which earned him good money.
But now he has abandoned his farm for fear of being kidnapped. The area where he used to farm in Igabi LGA is now the den of kidnappers.
“I have a farm which is about 20 kilometers away from Kaduna city centre. I used to grow rice, millet, maize, groundnut and guinea-corn. But as I speak to you I can no longer go to the farm for fear of being kidnapped on the farm. In time past I had a one-room apartment on the farm so that if I worked till late hours and got tired, I would pass the night on the farm.
“Now, I have abandoned both the apartment and the farm. I cannot take the risk of going to the farm any longer because apart from kidnapping, there are cases of banditry and armed robbery. The implication for a farmer like me, and other farmers, not to be able to go to the farm throughout one or two years is that there will be serious shortage of food in the Land.
“I am not the only farmer in that area, so you can imagine how many hectares that have not been cultivated with food crops. We are indeed in a mess. Government and security agencies should show more commitment and put up adequate security measures to tackle the situation,” he said.
In the same vein, Isaac Aga, who resides in Agwa area of Kudenda, Kaduna, said most farmers in the area have abandoned their farms for fear of kidnappers and other notorious criminals.
Aga noted that the worst hit farmers are those whose farms are located along the Abuja-Kaduna highway since it is the den of kidnappers.
Director of the College of Agriculture, Animal Science and Vocational Study, Faruk Ahmad, said that the youths need to be given entrepreneurship training and empowerment, as a way to dissuade them from engaging in criminality.
After 18 years of the reign of terror by Fulani herdsmen, which caused the death of hundreds of Plateau men and women, the state is gradually being overwhelmed by kidnapping and banditry.
At the moment, most people are living in fear and at the mercy of kidnappers at the state capital and in the rural villages. The trend is that the kidnappers would disguise themselves as neighbours and casually knock on the door and once the door is opened, the person would be abducted at gunpoint.
In an event where the door is not open, they would force themselves into the house and abduct a teenager, terrorise the victim and inflict pains on the parents until ransom is paid.
This banditry and other criminal activities have compounded security challenges in the state and put perpetual fear in the residents. The kidnappers incidentally live among the people without anybody being aware of their activities.
In February 2019, the 12-year-old son of the chaplain of Plateau State Polytechnic, Barkin-Ladi, Kim Dido was kidnapped, leaving the father, Pastor Andrew Dido, in psychological agony.
The boy was held in captivity for two days until the family raised the ransom before he was released. The kidnappers broke into his quarters in the institution and abducted the teenage boy.
Two months later, kidnappers abducted 24-year-old Abigail Rangs, a student of the same institution who was living with her elder brother, Mr Exeziel Rangs.
The gunmen broke into the staff quarters on that fateful day about midnight, and demanded for money, but they were not satisfied with what they were offered.
The gunmen ordered Mr Rangs to lead them to the children’s room, where they woke up the young woman and left with her. She was released one day after payment of ransom.
Mr Rangs, who narrated the sad incident, said that three of the kidnappers wore black and mask on their faces. They broke into his compound with a heavy stone.
These are few cases apart from silent kidnapping in Rayfield, Kwang and Angwan Rimi, all in Jos South and Jos North Local Government Areas of the state.
In the wake of these abductions, farmers in the rural villages have abandoned their farms for fear of kidnappers and bandits. Naturally, farming activities have drastically gone down with the result that food scarcity may ensue, if urgent steps are not taken by the government to arrest the downward spiral. (The Sun)
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The Peoples Democratic Party, the Campaign for Democracy and the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership on Monday attacked President Muhammadu Buhari following the Presidency’s rating of killings under the current regime as lower than those of the past PDP governments.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had said the abduction of the District Head of Daura, Alhaji Musa Uba, who is also the husband to President Buhari’s niece, Hajiya Bilki, showed that security agencies were not giving any town preferential treatment.
The abducted district head is also the father-in-law to Buhari’s Aide-de-camp, Col. Mohammed Abubakar.
Umar was kidnapped by yet-to-be identified gunmen at his residence in Daura, Katsina State last week Wednesday.
The President’s spokesman, who said this during an interview on Kakaaki, a breakfast television programme on the Africa Independent Television, argued that the number of people killed under Buhari’s watch was lower when compared with Nigerians that lost their lives under the past governments.
But the PDP urged Buhari to stop comparing the number of Nigerians killed under his administration with those of the party. Rather, the opposition party asked him to see the abduction of his town’s district head as an insult to the nation and a wake-up call for him to fight insecurity in the country.
Shehu had while responding to a question on the rising cases of banditry as evidenced by the abduction of the President’s in-law said, “Well, that has happened but I think that brings the message home that it is a national problem and that because the President comes from Daura, that is not to say there cannot be crime in Daura or Daura will be specially treated.
“The army said two days ago that there were clear pointers that these problems were beyond criminality.”
Shehu, however, scored the Buhari administration 98 per cent in the fight against insurgency.
He said, “If you ask me about the biggest security (challenge) we met on the ground, it is Boko Haram terrorism and I will score this administration 98 per cent coming this far because Boko Haram is now confined to the fringes of the Lake Chad. As a matter of fact, they jump in and out and mainly occupy communities that have not been re-occupied by their owners.”
Responding to a report by the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu’s, claim that 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country in the first quarter of 2019, Shehu said despite the recent rising killings, banditry and kidnapping, the figure was still better than that of the previous administrations.
The President said although he would not want to compare figures, the facts remained sacred.
Shehu said, “Yes, there has been a recent rise (in attacks) but this is not to suggest that this has never happened in the country and they are beginning just now because President Buhari is out of the country.
“You mentioned the numbers but I want to say from our own point of view in the Presidency, we have avoided comparing numbers because it will lead to the same criticisms that some people have made of being insensitive because even if it is one life of a Nigerian that is lost, it is important, it cannot be justified, it cannot be defended.
“But anybody who takes the trouble to check the Presidential website; at some point Femi (Adesina) had done the numbers and the staggering numbers put on display coming from the past are nothing comparable to these numbers but we will not take it likely.”
He also defended Buhari’s decision to travel to the United Kingdom for 10 days during the height of insecurity.
Shehu said the President was entitled to rest even as he claimed that Buhari was in firm control of the nation while in the UK.
The President’s spokesman said security agencies were doing their best but noted that things would not change overnight but would take some time.
Let kidnapping of Daura district head drive you to action, PDP tells Buhari
But reacting to the Presidency’s claim, the PDP called on President Buhari to “wake up and realise that he is leading a country of about 200 million people.”
The party also asked the President to consider the kidnapping of the district head of Daura, as an insult to himself and the nation.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Kola Ologbodiyan, who spoke with The PUNCH, said the daring manner with which kidnappers had been operating in the country made the party to ask Buhari to return to Nigeria from London where he went for a “private visit” for 10 days.
Ologbodiyan said, “It is an insult that kidnappers could be that daring to the extent of going a few metres to his (Buhari’s) house and take away his district head.
“That is a worse form of insult to the President of a country like Nigeria. To us, nothing compares to that insult.
“This was one of the many reasons we asked him to abandon whatever he was doing in London and return home. If he had been asked how Nigeria was while he was there, what would have been his response?
“Now is the time for him to show that he still has energy, if he actually has, to work.
“We know that there were no bandits in this country, especially in the North-West before the elections. But they were the ones that brought mercenaries from other countries to this country for the elections.
“The President should therefore wake up and act as a leader, who is leading a nation of more than 200 millon people.”
Ologbondiyan also said it was sad that the Presidency could be comparing the number of deaths in particular administration with what was happening now.
While saying the PDP was not interested in the number of deaths before now, he said the President could quit if he felt the job was too much for him.
He said, “We are not interested in the number of deaths then and now because we are not morticians; we do not work at mortuaries. What we want is peace and a stop to the senseless killings in the country.
“The President came with a promise to change things positively. He did not promise that he would be taking the number of people killed in his administration and then compare the figure with other administrations when he is done.
“However, one thing is sure: we were not witnessing these daily killings, kidnappings, weeping, gnashing of teeth and sorrow during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the late Umaru Yar’Adua and President Goodluck Jonathan. They were never gang of failures.
‘If the President is tired as we could see now, he is free to throw in the towel.”
Buhari at risk of bandits’ attacks, say CD, CACOL
Also, two civil society organisations, CD and CACOL said if the Federal Government allowed the insecurity in the North-West to fester, the President might soon be attacked or abducted by the bandits.
The two organisations spoke in different interviews with one of our correspondents.
The CD National President, Usman Abdul, said, “Let me be emphatic. If President Buhari happened to be in Daura on that day when the bandits struck, the President might have been kidnapped also.
“Some of the pledges that the President made during the recent elections were things that bordered on security. Today, it is very unfortunate that the President’s in-law was abducted and the Senior Special Assistant, Garba Shehu, was lamenting.
“It is a shame that this government has not done enough to secure its citizens, which is its primary responsibility. On our part as a civil society organisation, we are not alarmed by Shehu’s statement because they have not met their primary responsibility to safeguard us and our property.
“It is laughable that this is the next level we are preparing for. Nigeria is at a crossroads. If Buhari was in Daura on that day, he might have been taken hostage too.”
Also the CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “What has happened in Daura and in that geopolitical zone may be due to intelligence gathering failure. If the intelligence system had been working, attacks would have been nipped in the bud.
“What I believe that the bandits want to prove is that if they wanted to get to our President, they could get him. Sometimes, the President goes to Daura to attend Muslim prayers and others. What the bandits are saying is that nobody is completely safe in this country. Also the security agencies must review their operational system.”
Presidency adding insult to Nigerians’ injury – ADC
On its part, the African Democratic Congress said it amounted to adding insult to Nigerians’ injury for the presidential spokesman to claim that the kidnap of the district head of the President’s town showed that security agencies were not giving any town preferential treatment.
The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Yemi Kolapo, said this in an interview with The PUNCH.
She said, “We are not talking about where these killings and abductions are taking place or who the targets are. What we are talking about is the increasing rate of insecurity in all parts of the country.
“By saying that what happened in Daura showed that no town is given preferential treatment, one will even think they stage-managed the kidnap so that they can say so.”
On the claim that the rate of killings under the present administration was lower than what was obtainable during the last administrations, Kolapo asked the Presidency to end the killings and stop comparing figures.
Sad, Buhari rationalising crimes, says MBYC
However, the Middle Belt Youth Council said it was sad that the Presidency could be rationalising crimes, saying Buhari was never serious about fighting crime.
Its President, Emma Zopmal, said, “At the outset of this menace, the Presidency was playing politics and pranks over insecurity, partly because it was not yet in their immediate domain. They were seeing it from afar so it did not really matter to them until now.” (Punch)
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