The Eropean Union in a new report released on January 16, 2020 said over 6000 Christians had been murdered by “Fulani militants whereas in Sharia states, Christians face constant discrimination and are often considered second class citizens.”
The European parliament, legislative branch of the European Union, has accused the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of overseeing the persecution of Christians in the Northern part of Nigeria where Sharia law is in practice.
The EU in a new report released on January 16, 2020 said over 6000 Christians had been murdered by “Fulani militants whereas in Sharia states, Christians face constant discrimination and are often considered second class citizens.”
The report further adds that, “These attacks have continued with total impunity with perpetrators rarely being held to account whereas Amnesty International report has demonstrated wilful negligence by the Nigerian security forces concerning deadly attacks against farming communities.”
The report says Buhari’s poor handling of Nigeria’s deteriorating situation in the North-East has worsened as non-governmental organisations ready to help are denied access by the Nigerian Government for political reasons.
The EU condemned what it described as “extermination of human beings or ethnic cleansing” while calling on the Nigerian Government to find immediate solutions to the conflict now affecting the stability of West Africa.
Delta State MONARCHS have unanimously declared that no land, under their respective domains, will be available for RUGA settlement should the Federal Government decide to re-introduce the now suspended policy.
The royal fathers, under the aegis of Delta State Traditional Rulers’ Council made the firm position known shortly after its monthly meeting in Asaba, the state capital.
Chairman of the council and Obi of Owa Kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor II told journalists that the position was taken during the meeting, adding however that land will be readily available for industries that will boost economic activities and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youths.
While thanking the Federal Government for having a re-think by suspending the controversial policy, the monarch said any attempt to smuggle it back will be stoutly resisted.
Obi Efeizomor also urged the President Muhamadu Buhari-led Federal Government to be decisive in clamping down on those involved in banditry, kidnapping and other violent crimes across the country.
He said government and security agencies should prioritise the safety of the citizenry particularly those constantly on the road, by monitoring every route to guide against the conduct of hoodlums and men of the underworld.
“We know that doing this constant monitoring of the road is quite expensive, but the life and security of ordinary Nigerian should be of paramount interest to the government,” he stated.
The royal father seized the opportunity to admonish indigenes of the various communities in the state to ensure the sustenance of peace, as well as ensure that non-natives in their midst are protested from any harm to avoid using any part of the state as testing grounds.
“I want to appeal to our subjects that we are in the era of peace, so they should maintain peace, respect law and order. They should ensure that no harm come to the non-natives who have settled in their domains and are doing legitimate businesses so that people do not use our territories as testing grounds,” he reiterated.
On the inter-communal crisis between Okparabe and Arhavwarian in Ughelli South Local Government Area of the state, Obi Efeizomor commended his colleagues in Delta central senatorial district for resolving the issues amicably.
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There have been cacophonous responses to the latest letter from the two-time president, Dr Olusegun Obasanjo to the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari. This has been the third letter he has written to Buhari tittled ‘The State of Nation”. He wrote him two letters prior to the last general election campaigns in what many thought to be an ambush before the general election.
Depending on who you are talking to and on whose side you are, the repsonses from analyses from political analysts on televisions channels to pages of newspapers both papers and online version of these media outlets, are overwhelming. Above all, one thing stands out, there is serious problem in the land irrespective of how the citizens see it or on whose side they are.
Here, Mr Kurtis Adigba, who is a contrary voice to that of president Olusegun Obasanjo, seems to exonerate the current president, Muhammadu Buhari on the issues raised by the writer of the letter.
OPEN LETTER TO FORMER OLUSEGUN OBASANJO.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,
Obasanjo presidential Library,
I’m Kurtis Adigba, a lawyer, political consultant, and a citizen of Nigeria. I’m an Idoma from Benue State. My father; Samuel Ochola Adigba, was a classroom teacher, and retired as a Headmaster. My father, was some years ago, the Benue State Secretary of the National Party of Nigeria( NPN). That was the highest he attained. My mother, was a school teacher who later joined the civil service, and retired as a Head of Department of Adult Education Department of Apa Local Government Area, of Benue State. She died in 2015.
I chose to introduce myself to you upfront so you know I have no pedigree to match yours, and because I know your supporters and attack dogs will come after me, and raised questions about my pedigree. They will ask: “who is his father….who is he to dare write a letter to a former Head of State and President..”. Now you know. And hopefully, they know too!
The only pedigree that I stand on to write you today sir, is my citizenship of Nigeria, a privilege and right I share and enjoy with you. The Constitution of Nigeria, confers on us ( you and me and others)the right to free speech. You have constantly and frequently exercised that right in writing letters to our fellow citizens who happened by good fortunes to be former and present leaders of the country. Only yesterday, you penned and published a letter to President Buhari on the state of our nation. I’m writing you this letter in the exercise of the same right- free speech.
In your open letter to President Buhari, the last in the series, you raised so many critical issues: Boko Haram, Insecurity, Poor Management of our diversity, Unity or Disunity, Economy, Poverty, and of course, the violent death of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoronti, an elder statesman and leader of Afenifere, in the hands of some yet to be determined people. Some people have jumped to conclusions and prejudged the investigation into the despicable act, I have chosen to wait until investigators complete their work and inform Nigerians about their findings.
Sir, apart from the death of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, which is the trigger for the letter, there is nothing new in your new letter. Even her death, is not new in the sense that many Nigerians have been dying on that road and others, unmentioned. The only reason her death attracted your attention and that of others, is because she was the daughter of a powerful figure. After her unfortunate death sir, some Nigerians have died in similar circumstances unmentioned and unannounced, because they are ordinary citizens. As I write sir, many are suffering from the same fate.
Let me talk about the specific issues in your letter:
Boko Haram. The seed that germinated into Boko Haram, was planted under your Administration. It grew and became a big tree under your handpicked successors due to outright denial, mischaracterization, poor management,and corruption. It was under your government that full Sharia regime was introduced in Zamfara state. You chose to ignore it because you said it will fizzle out because of internal contradictions. It did at some point; but before then, it spread to other states with deadly consequences. One of the groups that emerged from the Sharia revolution that started in Zamfara, metamorphosed into the deadly terror group known today as Boko Haram. It is true that under your administration, Boko Haram, was an unknown group nationally, but it was under the administration of your handpicked successors, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, that Boko Haram exploded into the deadly terror group that it is today.
President Yar’Adua tried to deal with Boko Haram, but his poor health stood on his way. He died and was succeeded by president Goodluck Jonathan. It was under Jonathan that Boko Haram became the most deadly terror group in the world. They abducted over 200 girls from Chibok, killed over 100 children in Buni Yadi, carried out regular deadly attacks at Abuja and different parts of the country. President Jonathan from the onset denied and disputed the Chibok girls abduction. He said it was an orchestrated smear campaign against his person and government. It took a global outrage before he sprang into taking some tepid actions- he set up a panel to determine if the girls were indeed abducted. Sir, you wrote about the same issue in your epistle to President Jonathan. It was one of the issues you used to canvass support for the candidacy of president Buhari in 2015.
In your your previous letter to President Buhari, where you asked him to dismount from the horse of Nigeria leadership, you gave President Buhari some credits for dealing with Boko Haram and fighting corruption. You also called for more efforts in combating Boko Haram and corruption. As you know, President Buhari on assumption of office took the fight to Boko Haram. He relocated soldiers to the epicenter of the terror group’s operations. He recovered territories occupied by them, destroyed their key infrastructures, and forced them into negotiations leading to the release of some of the abducted Chibok girls. Many people hitherto unheard of, but in captivity of Boko Haram, were also set free. The government discovered massive corruption in the management of funds earmarked for procurement of equipment to prosecute the war on Boko Haram. The funds are still being recovered.
You mentioned that the government hastily declared victory against a group that is strengthening, I agree to some extent with you sir. I agree that the government oversubscribed itself when it declared that it has defeated Boko Haram. Boko Haram, is not defeated. It has been weakened, but it is still capable of Carrying out deadly attacks given the time, resources, and opportunity. We saw them abduct over 100 hundred girls from Dapchi after their “ defeat”. All but one of the girls, have been released. Leah Sharibu, is still being held by Boko Haram because she refused to denounce her faith in Jesus Christ. She is today the highest value target because of the religious factors made worst by people playing politics with her. God in whom Leah Sharibu trust as her Saviour and protector, will keep her. She will be freed from her captors. Amen. The government made a mistake in declaring victory over Boko Haram because, Boko Haram is fighting an ideological war. Ideology cannot be defeated, it can only be overcome by superior reasoning.
But on the whole, the current government has done much more to fight Boko Haram and contain their terrorist activities than any other government. It can do more, and it will do more.
Insecurity in the country. I believe that in the real world, cause has effect, and actions have consequences. The insecurity of today, is the consequence of the failures of the past. I’m talking about the huge and unprecedented corruption in the management of public resources that left us with poor infrastructures, created inequality with some few very rich and many so poor, that they cannot afford the basic things of life. I’m talking about the failure to manage the crisis that arose all over the country sir. When the agitation for better allocation of resources started in the Niger Delta areas under your watch, you responded with maximum force. You sent soldiers to invade Odi under the pretext of looking for the people who killed some soldiers. Many were killed, women and girls were allegedly raped, and the community destroyed. The people regrouped and armed themselves better. They started kidnapping expatriates and local oil workers for ransom. It became a huge business for some governors who claimed to have paid millions as ransom to free the victims. Your government did nothing to stop or prevent kidnapping, and it quickly spread round the country. what about Zaki Biam, where the invasion by the Army helped to militarized the people with deadly consequences for security in the area?
Your immediate successor, President Yar’Adua, tried to end the siege by proposing an Amnesty that was successful to some extent, but kidnapping has become a business. President Jonathan who succeeded Yar’Adua, didn’t do much in tackling kidnapping. President Buhari has made modest efforts in tackling it, but it is not enough because the governors are not playing complimentary roles. Peter Obi, former governor of Ananmbra state, fought kidnappers in the state to a standstill. Governor Obiano is doing the same thing. Lagos State, is also leading in the fight against kidnapping. Kaduna State has just enacted a law against kidnapping that prescribed death as punishment for the offense. Edo State too. Majority of the states, are not doing much sir.
Sir, you mentioned the killing of Mrs Olakunrin in your letter and described it as one death too many. In the statement you issued before then, you said her death has diminished Nigeria. I share in your sentiments and beyond sir. Her death, like the death of any Nigerian in the same or similar circumstances, is regrettable and diminishes the rest of us and the country in more than one way. But as painful and regrettable as her death is, it is not the first in the country. Under your watch as President sir, Chief Bola Ige, our nation’s Attorney General, was murdered in his home at Ibadan. The home, is supposed to be the safest place, but Ige was killed. Up and until now, no one has been brought to justice for his killing. What about Chiefs Harry Marshall and Sekibo? Funsho Williams and others? Of the people listed here sir, only Sekibo was murdered on the road. The rest were killed in their homes. No one has been found guilty for their murders. Do you then have the moral right to pontificate on insecurity sir?
You may not know this sir, but I want to tell you that bad roads and darkness, are also accelerators of insecurity and poverty. Bad roads ensure that motorists cannot move fast,and therefore, become vulnerable to the murderous activities of criminals. Under your watch as President, Billions of Naira were budgeted for roads, the roads were never built, but the funds disappeared. The Lagos-Benin Expressway featured in some many budgets but the funds were never utilized on the road. President Jonathan did a portion of it, and President Buhari, is working on some other parts. Your government did nothing about it. What about power? You claimed to have spent $16B on power, where is the Fower? Apologies to President Buhari. You generated megawatts of darkness with the humongous amount of money. And you don’t want us to talk about it! We can only imagine what that money would have done for the economy sir. Many of the people terrorizing the country today, may have been profitably engaged in other activities,and poverty, would have been significantly reduced. But you failed and betrayed our trust.
Corruption. Where do I start here? Is it financial or political corruption? Do you know know who started corrupting our political system sir? It is you. Under your watch, we conducted the worst election in Nigeria. Figures were randomly awarded to parties and candidates. You promised it was going to be a do or die Affairs and you delivered on your promise. The major beneficiary of that election, president Yar’Adua agreed with the verdict that it was indeed a horrible event, but you went round western capitals praising the same election. Who introduced garrison command politics in Nigeria? It is you sir. You subjected Governor Rasheed Ladoja to the whims and caprices of your garrison commander, Adedibu, the late Alafin of Molete. You supported and facilitated his impeachment by a minority group in the house of assembly. And when his impeachment was overturned by the Supreme Court, you dithered in enforcing the judgment until the NBA protested against your illegality.
What about the impeachment of Peter Obi In Ananmbra state, and Dariye of Plateau State? In both cases, less than two-thirds of members of the Houses of Assembly, carried out the impeachment under your watch. Maybe we didn’t have a Constitution then sir! Under your watch, Ngige, former governor of Ananmbra state was abducted by the private of Chris Uba, Eselu of Uga, and your man Friday. You did nothing sir.
Former Speaker Ghali Na’Abba, displayed bundles and wads of Naira running into millions of Naira that you bribed law makers with to remove him. You had no convincing deniability. What about the N50M given to law makers as bribe to get them to amend the Constitution and grant you life presidency? You denied it, but your daughter has confirmed it. You were behind it. It is true that you made efforts to fight corruption by setting up the EFCC, but you undermined the fight against corruption by your own actions. Let me remind you about the mismanagement of PTDF funds by you and your new friend, Atiku. The facts were made public during your roforofo fight. In 1999, when you were freed from jail, you had barely N100k. Today, you are said to be worth Billions. How did it happen and what did you do to become so rich? But you keep pontificating on corruption and pointing at others. Your like a sign post- pointing the directions, but never going there.
Mismanagement of our diversity. You accused the president of mismanaging our diversity, a claim you said is responsible for the myriad of our problems today. You said the president has made lopsided appointments in favor of the North and his people, I don’t have the data, and you also did not provide any to substantiate your claim. You expressed outrage over the pattern of certain appointments and election of leaders of the National Assembly in terms of ethnic and religious balance, but you did the same thing happened under your government. You also believe like some Nigerians that only equitable distribution of public offices and positions, will guarantee Unity and imbue a sense of belonging in all, it is not true. Yes, it a good thing to do, but it does not promote Unity, and it will not guarantee unity. For a moment, let us assumed you managed our diversity well, and that you distributed equitably the opportunities available to you, why was Nigeria not United under you? Why do you keep talking about equity only with respect to the FG? Where is equity in the states, including Ogun where you are an influential and consequential figure sir? I’m not against fair and equitable distribution of opportunities, but it is no promoter of unity. It will only provide jobs and access to the few, and in most cases, not on merit, but on connection.
Islamization and Fulanization. With fairness to you sir, the fear of Islamization has always been with some parts of the Nigeria. You played an active part in creating it. You and your party weaponized it against President Buhari. You said he is an Islamic fundamentalist seeking power to Islamize Nigeria. Many Nigerians believed you, and still believe you, even after 4 years of the man in power. Recently in Delta state, during the Anglican Synod, you upped the ante by declaring that the president had an agenda to Islamize and fulanize Nigeria. The of event, time, and audience, was telling. You tapped into the dangerous mood of the nation arising from the activities of herdsmen to ratchet up the tensions in the land, by telling Christians that Muslims and Fulani were coming after them and their lands and religion. You have created a dangerous and combustible Fulaniphobia in the country. It rings true to your reputation as a master schemer who can execute good and evil with equal efficiency.
Because of your actions sir, today, every criminal activity in Nigeria, is attributed to the Fulani. And I’m not saying that Fulani are not involved in criminal activities, they are in so many areas and cases, but it is not true that they are the only criminals in Nigeria. You singled them out to demonize President Buhari, who is also Fulani by tribe. Before Buhari became president, the Fulani were involved in different crimes and problems in all parts of Nigeria. After Buhari, the problems will continue if we don’t find solutions to them. Under your government, we had Fulani crisis. Same for Yar’Adua and Jonathan. Jonathan was at some point the grand patron of Miyetti Allah. Did he fulanize Nigeria? As a leader in this country, much more is expected from you. Stop encouraging centrifugal tendencies in Nigeria. It is funny that you are suddenly against the Fulani now. You campaigned so hard for another Fulani, Atiku to be president. The same Atiku, you accused of committing the most horrible acts of corruption against Nigeria; the man you said God will not forgive you if you support him to be president knowing what you know about him. He is still a Fulani sir.
Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my long letter. I hope and pray that you find some of my thoughts useful! Nigerians are looking up to you to join other leaders in preferring solutions to the problems of the country. They are asking you to look at Gen. Yakubu Gowan, and make him your role model. My sincere respect and regards to you sir.
God bless Nigeria.
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•The crisis may engulf coastal West Africa —Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister warns
•10 million people in Lake Chad area need urgent help —UN
There are fears that the current security problems wracking the country, Nigeria could become worsened soon with reports that jihadists across the West African region are recruiting heavily from aggrieved Fulani pastoralists.
While the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), fears a hike in the population of the displaced in West Africa, other reports warned that militant groups in the Sahel are on their way down to West African coastal countries.
Sahel countries are Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Southern Algeria, Niger, North of Nigeria, Central Chad, Central and Southern Sudan, the extreme north of South Sudan, Eritrea, Cameroon, Central African Republic and the extreme north of Ethiopia.
The coastal countries of the West African region under these threats are Nigeria, Cape Verde, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Benin, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe and Mauritania.
The New Humanitarian news agency (formerly IRIN) a few days ago released a detailed report on the security crisis which may threaten the coastal West Africa with invasion by the militias.
According to the news agency, jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists, which it described as “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” The report added that this has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.
“In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities,” it said.
“Failure to contain the insurgencies,” it said, “could also result in further regional destabilisation, with militant groups now moving southwards from Burkina Faso towards Ghana, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Benin, where two French tourists were recently kidnapped,” the report said.
“It’s no longer just the Sahel, it’s coastal West Africa and the risk of spreading regionally,” Burkina Faso Foreign Minister, Alpha Barry, told a security conference in Munich in February.
10 million people in Lake Chad area need urgent help —UN
The OCHA has also disclosed that nearly 10 million people, or half the population of the conflict-hit Lake Chad Basin region need humanitarian assistance as the decade-long conflict drags on.
In a report released during the week, OCHA said some 2.5 million people are now displaced. “Hunger and malnutrition remain high. Abduction, killings and rights violations are also widespread. Humanitarian response has been accelerated over the past three years, with many more affected people receiving assistance.”
It added that “this year, the humanitarian community is seeking US$1.3 billion to provide food, water, shelter, healthcare and safeguard the rights and dignity of the conflict-affected.
“The region is facing a severe protection crisis. The armed violence that has affected large parts of the Lake Chad Basin is stretching to its tenth year. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have lived in displacement sites and refugee camps for years, grappling with extreme hardship and deprivation. Many civilians have suffered abuse and rights violations and are deeply traumatised by the violence.
“It is critical to strengthen the protection of civilians, especially women and girls, and work towards preventing sexual and gender-based violence as well as enhance support to survivors. Women and girls face high risks of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse primarily by armed groups, but also by men in uniform.
“Thousands of civilians have also been killed or abducted and many families separated.
“The recurrent attacks and insecurity as well as security measures have restricted free movement. “Farming, trade, transhumance and other activities have been significantly affected, depriving millions of people of their means of survival and limiting access to basic services. Displaced people are also unable to move freely in and out of camps.
“In January 2019, the Governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria reaffirmed their commitment to the Abuja Action Statement on civilian protection in the Lake Chad Basin region. The agreement comprises a range of actions to enhance protection and respond to the most urgent needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and other affected populations.”
Humanitarian needs still high
The OCHA added that: “Humanitarian needs remain high. The persistent violence and its impact on the lives of millions of people across the Lake Chad Basin mean that many families and communities still require help to survive.
“Humanitarian assistance has been significantly stepped up over the past three years, with millions more people receiving aid. Relief assistance needs to be sustained and international support increased to provide adequately to those in need. The prevalent insecurity and inadequate funding are some of the main hurdles to effective relief assistance.
“To sustain relief operations, the protection of aid workers and humanitarian assets is paramount. While providing life-saving assistance, aid workers have unfortunately come under attack. In 2018, six aid workers were killed in Nigeria and one is still held captive.
“The prevailing insecurity has forced the suspension of operations and withdrawal of humanitarian workers in some locations, leaving affected communities without access to basic services and assistance.
“As insecurity and recurrent armed attacks prevent the return of millions of displaced people to their homes, efforts towards lasting solutions are necessary to increase access to basic services and livelihoods. The protracted crisis calls for an early shift towards self-sufficiency. The displaced need not wait for the conflict to be fully resolved to start rebuilding their lives.
“In addition, steps towards increased collaboration between humanitarian and development strategies need to be sustained and strengthened.
“Greater economic and infrastructure investment are required to complement humanitarian action and decrease dependence on relief aid,” it said.
The report by The Humanitarian (formerly IRIN) reads in part
What is causing ethnic conflict?
Jihadist groups have recruited heavily from Fulani pastoralists, “an ethnic group that suffers from social exclusion as well as government and development programmes that favour agriculturalists.” This has raised tensions with members of other ethnic groups who say they are targeted by the jihadists.
In the absence of the state, some have turned to self-defence militias, who have indiscriminately attacked Fulani communities,
In January, attacks against Fulani villagers in northern Burkina Faso left more than 200 dead, according to local civil society groups. In March, some 160 Fulani men, women, and children were killed in a single attack by an ethnic Dogon militia in central Mali. The violence is now being widely described as “ethnic cleansing”.
Why is violence rising?
The violence has its roots in the activities of a number of local but globally oriented jihadist groups that have spent the past few years laying the groundwork for armed insurgencies and are now wreaking havoc across the Sahel – a semi-arid belt of land on the southern edge of the Sahara.
In 2012, the militants were largely contained to northern Mali, where they had joined forces with separatist Tuareg rebels to take over a number of strategic towns, including the fabled city of Timbuktu.
A French intervention in January 2013 dislodged them, but they regrouped and insurgencies have since spread into central Mali, northern, eastern and southwestern Burkina Faso and the Tahoua and Tillaberi regions of southwestern Niger.
“It is unprecedented,” the top UN official in Burkina Faso, Metsi Makhetha, told TNH recently. “The country has never had to deal with such massive displacement.”
The militancy’s rapid progress has been aided by the region’s vast desert areas and porous borders, a flow of firearms from nearby Libya, and weak – and often predatory – states that struggle to provide even basic social services: Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger all rank among the 10 least developed countries in the world, according to the UN’s Human Development Index.
“People think the jihadists can offer them a better life than the state,” Mahamadou Savadogo, a Burkinabe researcher, told TNH.
In recent times their tactics have shifted from targeted assassinations of government officials, soldiers, and local leaders that oppose their vision of Islam, to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and entire villages.
The response from security forces has, by and large, made matters worse. Last year Malian troops were implicated in mass killings in the central Mopti region, while in northern Burkina Faso TNH has documented recent atrocities by military personnel, who are now killing three times as many civilians than jihadists. Affected communities describe being trapped between the state and jihadists. Both sides accuse them of collaborating with the other.
France’s counter-insurgency force in the Sahel – Operation Barkhane – has been accused of stoking communal tensions by backing two Mali-based militias, the MSA and GATIA, which have targeted Fulani herders during anti-jihadist operations in both Niger and Mali.
A string of recent attacks on churches by militants in Burkina Faso could also now test relations between the country’s majority Muslim and minority Christian religious groups.
What are the humanitarian needs?
Internal displacement has increased five-fold in the past year according to the UN, with 330,000 people uprooted and a further 100,000 people fleeing across borders.
In Mali, the number of people forced to flee tripled in 2018 and continues to rise, with 133,000 newly displaced since the beginning of the year, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.
In Burkina Faso, 170,000 people have been uprooted, with more than 100,000 fleeing so far this year. In Niger’s Tillaberi and Tahoua regions, violence has forced more than 70,000 people from their homes.
Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition were already chronically high following a severe drought in the Sahel last year. The current violence is now “compounding” these issues, “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, said Gasarabwe, the UN official. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance across the region but aid groups say the needs are far exceeding available resources.
The crisis in numbers
Civilian fatalities rose 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali compared to the previous year
440,000 people displaced by conflict, a five-fold increase over the previous year, a five-fold increase over the previous year
1.8 million people face food insecurity
5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance
157 men, women, and children killed in March in one attack in Mali
How much worse could it get?
Conflicts are likely to escalate further through the year as militants expand their reach, ethnic militias proliferate, and communal divisions harden.
So far this month, 20 people have died after militants attacked four churches and a religious procession in northern Burkina Faso; at least 18 civilians have been killed by ethnic militias in central Mali; and jihadists killed 28 soldiers in western Niger – one of the deadliest attacks recorded in that area to date.
Projections on future population displacement are hard to come by, but Daouda Djouma, an official at the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA, has said more than 380,000 people could be uprooted in Burkina Faso alone by December.
How is the international community responding?
Efforts to stem the violence aren’t working. The UN has around 13,000 peacekeepers deployed in Mali, but attacks by jihadists mean the mission is now “more a target than an anchor of stability”, according to a recent assessment from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.
The French have 4,000 troops in the region as part of Operation Barkhane; the US is building a $110 million drone base in Agadez, Niger; and five Sahelian states – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – have united under the G5 Sahel joint force.
But analysts and aid groups say focusing on military solutions risks overlooking the social and political grievances enabling militants to take root within local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.
Which jihadist groups are involved?
The largest coalition of jihadist groups is known as Jama’at Nusrat ul-Islam wal-Muslimeen, or JNIM. It brings together al-Qaeda’s Sahara franchise, AQIM, with a number of other militant groups. The coalition was formed in March 2017 and operates in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
A franchise of so-called Islamic State, known as Islamic State in the Greater Sahara or ISGS, has been active since 2015 and is also gaining ground despite recent pressure from French forces.
In his first video message in five years, the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, paid special tribute to ISGS fighters in Burkina Faso and Mali: “We congratulate them for their joining the convoy of the caliphate,” he said.
An assortment of homegrown militant groups – including Ansaroul Islam in northern Burkina Faso and Katiba Macina in central Mali – completes the picture. Their success is largely predicated on understanding the local grievances of different communities, in particular the Fulani.
A surge in violence across West Africa’s Sahel has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left thousands dead since January, as Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State extend their reach across the region at a time when they are losing ground in their Middle Eastern strongholds.
For the past 10 months, The New Humanitarian has been one of the few news organisations reporting consistently from the front lines on the civilian impact of the rapid rise in violence by the militants, who are based primarily in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – three countries with shared borders and problems.
Five takeaways on the growing violence and its civilian toll
Jihadist groups are manipulating inter-communal conflicts. They are exploiting the region’s ethnic fault lines to stir violence that can be far deadlier than anything the militants are doing directly themselves. In central Mali, the level of violence may now qualify as ethnic cleansing.
Governments have helped local militias thrive. Central governments have allowed and in some cases encouraged the proliferation of communal militia groups – decisions that are now coming home to roost as intercommunal conflicts rise.
Civilians look to jihadists for support the state doesn’t provide. Jihadist groups often understand the social grievances of local communities. A recent study by the peacebuilding charity International Alert attributes the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel to weak states rather than religious ideology.
Civilians are becoming casualties of security forces. These forces add to the insecurity by killing civilians during counter-terrorism operations. In Burkina Faso, military forces are killing three times more civilians than jihadists.
Displacement, food insecurity, and other humanitarian crises are escalating, but resources to respond are lacking. Some 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance, and the new violence is “compounding” already existing needs and “threatening civilians’ lives and livelihoods”, a UN official said.
According to data from ACLED – a group that monitors and maps conflicts – civilian fatalities between November 2018 and March this year rose by an “alarming” 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali, when compared to the same period the year before.
In early May, senior UN officials from all three countries warned that insecurity had “reached unprecedented levels”.
The situation has surprised many analysts and UN and government officials and is pushing an area already prone to droughts and floods to its limit, with 440,000 people forced from their homes by conflict in the past year alone.
Hundreds of thousands of people are now without access to education and healthcare as staff flee their posts; 1.8 million people are facing critical food insecurity.
“Many people affected by the violence were already facing serious difficulties,” said Mbaranga Gasarabwe, the UN resident coordinator in Mali. “For them it is a double disaster.”
The militants’ increased presence has sparked a violent backlash by the region’s overstretched security forces and fuelled a growing number of explosive inter-communal conflicts among ethnic groups accused of either supporting or opposing the jihadists. (Nigerian Tribune)
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At least 25 people have been killed in fresh bandits’ attack in four villages of Ghandi District in Rabah Local Government Area of Sokoto State at the weekend.
The bandits stormed villages of Tsage, Rakonni, Kalhu and Gee’re villages on Sunday, killing 25 people and wounding many. The state governor, Aminu Tambuwal was among dignitaries who attended the funeral prayer for the deceased on Sunday. Condoling the families, people of Rabah Local government and the state as a whole at the palace of district head of Ghandi, Mr Tambuwal appealed to the security agencies to redouble efforts towards containing the menace.
Tambuwal praised Ghandi community for being their brothers’ keepers and urged them to continue with the good job of providing accomodation to the internally displaced persons. He, therefore, directed the state Zakkat and endowment commission, Isa and Sabon Birni Local governments to come to the aid of the internally displaced persons.Briefing newsmen on the incident in Ghandi town, the state commissioner of police, Ibrahim Kaoje, said four suspects including a woman have been arrested.
The police commissioner however assured that they are on top of the situation.The Governor also attended the funeral ceremony of the deceased.
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Prof. Clement Adebooye, who is the immediate past Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University and Secretary-General, Governing Board of African-German Network of Science, tells FEMI MAKINDE that the present government lacks the political will to tackle insecurity
Killer herdsmen are on the rampage in many parts of the country and there is Boko Haram in the North-East while banditry is ravaging the North-West. What do you think are the implications of these crises?
Definitely, these problems will lead to food crisis. The attacks on farmers and destruction of their farms as well as attacks on their households are dangerous. If you sack farmers from their production zones and they are not able to produce, then there will be nobody to contribute the little proportion they contribute to food production capacity of the country. As things are now, many farmers in the North are at the mercy of donors. They are living at the Internally Displaced Persons camps. Producers have been reduced to beggars and when producers are reduced to beggars, then shortage is looming. So, it is implied that there will be food crisis soon if things do not change.
How do you think the herdsmen crisis can be tackled since it will have a negative effect on food security?
Nomadic life is not new in this country and cattle rustling is not a new phenomenon within Nigeria. The question is why have these two suddenly become big issues? Why do the herdsmen now need to carry sophisticated weapons around instead of rods they used to goad their animals? We should ask questions from those that are older and learn from history. We grew up to know herdsmen and the kind of crisis we are witnessing now was not there then. Are we saying the number of the cattle has increased so much that herders now have to carry AK-47 to protect their animals? The answer to these questions is no. The issue is that Nigeria is facing a serious and fundamental problem now. This problem is caused by people who have political motives.
What kind of political motives do the herdsmen have?
The political motives are two-pronged. The first is this Boko Haram issue which, in a way, is saying that western education is useless and that people should shun it. It is a political objective and there are some people behind it. The other one may be extreme politics about who governs the nation and who rules where. It appears as if there is a scheme to annihilate the whole of Nigeria and convert it to a particular dynasty that I don’t want to mention. What is happening now is not new to Nigeria. Anybody that has read history will remember that there was a war similar to this before. Between 1840 and 1860, there was a similar war which was launched from the northern Nigeria and the war raged down the South until they were defeated around Osogbo. They were fighting down the South all in the name of Jihad. So, what is going on now can be something like that. The current attacks are not targeted at farmers only; they are killing students, teachers, doctors, chiefs, kings, their subjects and anybody they see. This is not a war against farmers only; it is a war against the generality of Nigerians. Those who launch such wars like the ones we are seeing always have a date that they will launch the major one. They may launch the final war soon. What they are doing now is just to do a trial run and see the level of resistance.
Are you saying they are planning to unleash terror on the nation and overrun it?
They are just ‘test-running’ now to see the level of resistance of the people but unfortunately, there is no resistance anywhere.
But why has it been difficult to arrest those behind this?
The reason is because there is no political will to tackle the problem. We all know that when armed robbers strike in a place and the police want to work, they get those robbers arrested within two weeks. But how many of these herdsmen have been arrested and prosecuted since they have been killing? They have been killing for about four years now; unfortunately, none of them has been caught. This points to the fact they are enjoying a kind of socio-political backing and it is sending a signal that what we are witnessing is a kind of trial run with the hope that in no distant future, they will launch the bigger attack and it will be total.
Is it possible for outsiders to perpetrate these criminal acts without the support of the locals?
It seems to me that the killer herdsmen are not acting and working alone. They have collaborators within the other ethnic groups in Nigeria. For example, I’m still wondering how brave the herdsmen could be to operate around Asejire along Ife-Ibadan Expressway without the support of the locals. This is the worrisome part of the whole saga. It means that the nation has been held hostage. Everybody is just looking for a way to make money at the expense of the masses. That is why some of those at the lowest rung of the ladder are engaged in criminal activities.
Those in the political as well as ruling class have also held the nation hostage by creating disharmony among the people through politics, religion and ethnicity. We have been disorganised to such an extent that all social structures have been destroyed. Pressure groups are no longer there and we are all praying on the mountain in order to solve social problems that could be solved by one day protest. The psyche of our people is damaged by the political class and that is why our youths have lost the necessary societal values and therefore, cannot think correctly.
As an agriculturist, what will you suggest as the solution to the problem of open grazing?
This problem is political and that is why ranching may never solve it. Ranching and cattle colonies as they are proposing are a way of handling the land of some people over to other people. That is the reason it will not solve the problem. It is a tactical way of grabbing land and giving the same to some people. Israel is in the desert and they practise agriculture on a large scale including raising livestock but there is no problem with herdsmen there. About 75 per cent of the land in Australia is desert and Australia has much more cattle than human beings; yet this problem does not exist there. Israel is in the desert and the number of cattle there is much more than the cattle we have here in this country. Despite that the landmass is very small compared to Nigeria’s. Have you heard of herdsmen destroying farms there? They are raising cattle in many countries much more than we have here and they don’t have the kind of crisis that we have.
How are they handling it?
What the government here should do is to create an enabling environment in the areas where people raise cattle. They should set up irrigated pasture in the North. If they establish that, those who carry AK-47 will have no excuse for killing, raping and destroying people’s property all over the country in the name of looking for greener pasture for their animals. Irrigated pasture is a practice in agriculture and it will solve this problem coupled with a strong political will. I am sure you are aware that they grow tomatoes in Kano State, Borno and other states and they grow onions and other things as well. They raise these crops during the dry season with the help of irrigation. Why can’t government use similar irrigation method for pasture instead of coming to seize land from the South-West, South-East and South-South in the name of ranches? Israel produces enormous citrus and many other crops through irrigation. Why is our government running away from doing that?
Are you saying the government should assist pastoralists by setting up irrigated pasture in areas where cattle raising is their major business?
Yes, this should be done in the North where cattle raising is their business. It makes sense. Why are the people of the South-West not asking government to give them land in the North to grow kola nuts, cocoa and palm trees? Why is the government not providing the enabling environment for the people in the South to go and plant these crops in the North? Why is the government not allowing farmers to go to Kano and other states in the core North to raise pigs? Why can’t government set aside 50 hectares of land to raise pigs in Kano or Sokoto State? Government should create the enabling environment in the North for those raising cattle, not seizing the land of some people under the guise of cattle colonies or ranches.
Insurgency can’t thrive except it is supported by government. Look at what happened in Kano State during the Maitasine riot in 1983. It was put at bay by the troops of the nation. The government troops drove those militants outside the country. What is the difference between the war by the killer herders and the Maitasine rioters? It is the will of the government that is lacking to address the problem. This government in Nigeria has no political will to stop the carnage going on around the country. There is no where people are kidnapped in Nigeria and such is not traced to killer Fulani herdsmen. Most kidnappings in the country are done by these herdsmen. Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped by the herdsmen; the Obafemi Awolowo University professor recently abducted was kidnapped by the Fulani people. Some Methodist priests were kidnapped in Osun State as well as in Ekiti State. This shows that the government has tacitly legalised all these criminal activities and that is why they thrive. Those behind this crime are not arrested or prosecuted; and this has emboldened them to do more. You can’t see this happening in any sane society.
Let us put things in perspective. How many armed robbers have been arrested in the last four years? They are many. How many robbers have the police attacked and killed in the last four years? I am sure many of them have been arrested and some killed. So, why have the security agencies not been able to arrest any of the herdsmen killing people all over the country? Why is it very difficult to arrest these people? The situation is becoming worse in the South-West.
Are you also saying the South-West is under the siege of herdsmen as alleged by the Yoruba Council of Elders?
The South-West is under the siege of these people. I said something earlier that these people are engaged in trial run of their weapons and strategies and that the day of final onslaught is coming.
How do you think this can be prevented?
It is the government that has the security forces that can do that. The ordinary people are incapacitated. The people that have the instrument of authority should act now before it is too late. I doubt if anybody in the South-West or the South-East is ready to go to war now. These attackers will just overrun us if they strike because the government is not interested in protecting the people.
What do you think is the motive behind the alleged plan to overrun the people?
Do you know that these people have a veiled mission? We have heard that the ISIS has joined the fight and you can never tell their strategy. It appears like they are trying to convert the whole of West Africa to come under a political dynasty that will have one identity. Some people are trying to convert our region to a political entity known to them. It is a conversion process that is going on. From what we have read, people who do this kind of things, all over the world, first carry out trial runs just like the ones we are witnessing now. And after that, they will strike. They will first test the strength of their opponents and the quality of their resistance after which they will strike. Let me make it clear that this has nothing to do with Islam. I say this because we have Muslims in the South-West but have you heard that they slaughter people of other religions because of Islam? Also, In Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries where Islam is the dominant religion, such killings do not happen. Why are those ones killing here? You will know that it is part of their culture.
If the executive is not willing to act to prevent the looming disaster, why are the lawmakers at the National Assembly not putting pressure on the executive?
Cheap money impairs thinking. There are no people that will collect the amount of money they collect and will be able to think about the people. They are only representing themselves and not the people. People who get such huge amount of money with little or no work won’t put the people first. Also, the political parties we have do not have ideologies and that is one of the reasons those elected on their platforms do not consider the people in what they do. Nigeria was programmed by God to succeed but some Nigerians have held the country hostage and there can’t be development until the nation is liberated.
You have won many grants for your universities from Germany and Canada. What will you say is making it difficult for many Nigerian scholars to achieve this feat?
The number one thing before you can win grants from these foreign countries is the quality of your research work. Your work must be of good quality before they will agree to fund it. Also, you must have built good reputation for yourself. Those who have given you money before must be able to vouch for your reputation. You must have previous records of ground-breaking research work. Your reputation as a researcher builds the reputation of your university. Those people won’t give you their money because your university has a big name but if somebody from a small university has done a quality research and such has good reputation, it will be easier for others from the same university to receive grants provided they also have good research work they want to do.
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** Commends S/East govs for cordial relationship with cattle breeders
By Vincent Ujumadu Awka-
THE South East branch of Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Tuesday denied the alleged plan by members of the group to attack the five South East states over their governors’ alleged refusal to allocate grazing land for herdsmen in the area.
In the said report, which was trending in the social media, Miyetti Allah was quoted as warning that since the South East governors had refused to give them land for grazing, such land would be taken by force by herdsmen.
Chairman of Miyetti Allah in the zone, Alhaji Gidado Sidikki, who addressed reporters in Awka said there was no iota of truth in the report, adding that the governors in the zone should rather be commended for creating an enabling environment for peaceful coexistence in the zone.
The statement read: “Few days ago, we woke up to a malicious publication in the social media purporting a phantom statement in Abuja entitled ‘South East will boil any moment from now because of their stubbornness’ ascribed to the leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, and erroneously ascribed to me.
“While it is my wish to inform the public that Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria did not make any statement to the effect of the content of the publication either in Abuja or anywhere for that matter, I humbly wish to correctly place my designation as the Chairman of South East zone of the association and not the leader of cattle breeders in Nigeria as I was addressed in the publication.
“Again, I wish to put it on record that the South East zone of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria and her cattle herder members whom I serve, as the zonal chairman, enjoy warm relationship with the governors, governments and people of South East Nigeria.
“I wish to state that this warmth has not been completely devoid of flashes of momentary conflicts at few locations. Such instances were, however, promptly addressed by the authorities and warm commonality restored amongst the people.
“Given the increasing orientation and reorientation of our people and the local people who are our landlords, and given the strong commitment of the state governors towards peaceful relationship across board, one harbours no doubts that the relationship between our herders and their landlords can only be increasingly better as time progresses.
“It is therefore my intention, while dispelling the published rumour from the pit of malicious mischief, to share my upbeat spirit with all of us. It is my utmost belief that the sincere and committed understanding we all propagate today will yield us minimal rancour if not rancour free society tomorrow.
“I therefore wish to thank the governors of the South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo for their wonderful sense of accommodation, as I pledge our continued efforts towards greater harmonious environment for thriving economic activities and better life.” (vanguardngr)
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Early this morning according to the leader of cattle breeders in Nigeria. He expressed his shock on how serious the governors of South East has been in their refusal to give them their lands for cattle rearing.
Leader of the group, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, in a statement issued in Abuja , said the decision was surprising to them considering the cordial relationship that had existed in the zone between the group and the five state government.
He said that, since they are claiming to be stubborn, and had refused to give us their lands in peace, it will be taken by force and entire south east will be raided and taken over by herdsmen.
He said Miyetti Allah had never failed to appreciate the commitment of the host governors in ensuring their safety, even in their rational insistence that their people must not infringe on the rights of indigenous farmers to cultivate and harvest their crops without any hindrance. He also mentioned that it’s an insult that the Igbos do not value anything that has to do with cow only their business and money and yet they eat cow meats.
Siddiki said: “It is evident that our organization’s advocacy for peaceful coexistence among indigenous farmers and herdsmen is increasingly making successes in the South East.
“This explains our surprise at the latest stand of the governors, which, if implemented, will not only frustrate our people from carrying out our legitimate livestock rearing business in this part of the country, but might be suggestive of a kind of suspicion that might undermine the mutuality of the claim of brotherhood.
“We are mindful if the various negotiations and consultations still going on in respect of the contentious issues of ranching, colonies and grazing areas across the country, we are hopeful that these issues are considered dispassionately in the interest of Nigeria and the generality of it’s citizens.
“We of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders of Nigeria, south east zone, consequent upon the existing understanding we enjoy with our hosts, and in response to the latest stand by the south east Governors forum, wish to reaffirm our confidence in the capacity of our host governors to encourage the growth of our legitimate trade in their geo political zone.
“It is a very trying period in the history of Nigeria and it is our candid view that the south east whose citizens are the major bonding elements among the people of Nigeria, would provide exemplary leadership in accommodating other Nigerians in their midst, in so far such persons are legitimately engaged in their economic pursuits.”
The South East governors had at the weekend in Enugu, during their meeting, agreed that open grazing by the cattle breeders would not be tolerated in the zone by any reason. (Akelicious)
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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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■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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