The Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said the army adopted spiritual warfare to counter Boko Haram propaganda, adding that the terrorists cannot be defeated by kinetic military warfare alone.
Buratai, represented by Brig.-Gen. Timothy Olowomeye, the Director Civil Military Affairs, stated this at the 2019 Chaplains annual Training Conference and Retreat on Tuesday in Sokoto.
Buratai described Spiritual Warfare as an effective tool against insurgency and other forms of restiveness.
”Boko Haram and the likes cannot be defeated by kinetic military warfare alone.Finding appropriate counter-narratives against these violent extremist sects will immensely be a big push towards eradicating their negative activities in Nigeria,” he said.
Buratai said Nigeria and the world at large were grappling with the harsh reality of restiveness mostly shrouded in religious, economic and political undertones.
”These tendencies have caused disorder and wanton destruction of lives and property of many innocent citizens who have continued to look unto the government for solace.
”President Muhammadu Buhari has continued to offer succour and renewing the hope of the country’s citizens through the relentless efforts of our Armed Forces and other security agencies.
”We, therefore, must call to mind always that the noble task of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation while also being proactively involved in aid of our civil authority is our prime responsibility,” Buratai said.
He said the Army had continued to engage with the religious directorate on possible proactive measures to help in winning this fight against the various forms of restiveness in the country.
The COAS described the theme, “The Non-Kinetic Strength in the face of Armed Banditry and other Security Challenges: The Role of the Military Chaplains”, as very relevant in this battle.
He further noted that the choice of the Northwest for the event meant they were in tandem with the efforts of the government in quelling the teeming security challenges of banditry in the region.
He called for more collaboration between the Directorates of Civil Military Affairs (DCMA) and the three Religious Directorates in the efforts to contain the security challenges.
According to him, the Armed Forces have attained great feats in the fight against insurgents, breaking their ranks and degrading their will to fight.
However, the insurgents’ belief in their ideologies remain the driving force thereby making ideological battle in some ways very necessary and timely.
He expressed optimism that the conference would develop appropriate narratives required to counter the ideologies of the religious terror groups.
Speaking also, the Coordinator, Brig.-Gen. Charles Chidebere, said the event was in furtherance of efforts to win the war not by blazing guns but through winning the hearts of all with profound messages of peace.
Chidebere appealed to religious leaders, tribes, communities and people at large to uphold the true message of religion which included peace, tolerance and unity in words and actions.
”We must refute in strongest terms possible all forms of extreme religious fanaticism and its attendant security threat to the nation,” he said.
The conference ends on Oct. 25.
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Hassan Dantawaye is the commander of bandits who recently renounced violence following peace talks in Zamfara State. The bandits, who are Fulani herdsmen, had been engaged in killing, kidnapping and other crimes, which they blamed on cattle rustling and harassment by security agencies and local vigilance group. Dantawaye tells MAIHARAJI ALTINE about the peace initiative and some of the atrocities they had committed
Q: You recently said your people were forced into a life of kidnapping, killing and other crimes because you were unjustly treated by the government and society, how were you treated unjustly?
A: Thank you so much for this question. We the Fulani have been facing serious challenges, both from the government and cattle rustlers, some of whom are our own people. I mean some bad eggs among us. Most of them are not even citizens of this country.
We were living peacefully about 10 years ago. There was nothing like cattle rustling or kidnapping let alone killings or destruction of innocent people’s properties. The only issue we had then was Fulani herders/farmers clashes and they were always addressed by community leaders of both the farmers and the Fulani.
Let me tell you the truth of the matter, cattle rustling was the genesis of armed banditry in this country. Many Fulani like me have lost their cattle to the rustlers. You know that the Fulani are neither farmers nor traders; they depend solely on the rearing of animals. So when cattle rustling started in our state in 2013, we did all we could to draw the attention of the government to the problem, to do something about it, but nothing was done to stop the menace. The government ignored our numerous complaints. So as time went on, most of us lost almost all of our animals, and as a result of that, many decided to also engage in cattle rustling to regain their lost animals and also sell some of the animals to buy food and other things.
As time went on, the government realised that cattle rustling was on the increase. So, the former governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, quickly ordered that no cow should be sold or taken out of the state until it was certified that the person selling it or taking it outside was the genuine owner of the animal.
So that was when we started having serious problems. We have stolen cows but we had no money to buy food because we didn’t know how to sell the animals. One day, an idea came to us that since the kidnapping of people for ransom was being done in some parts of this country and people were making money from it, we should adopt that to get money for our needs. So you see, if the government had acted fast and arrested the issue of cattle rustling at the time we complained about it, we wouldn’t have been involved in these heinous activities.
Q: You said you also faced serious harassment and intimidation from security personnel and Yan Sakai (a local vigilance group), can you expatiate on your experience?
A: Of course, we faced serious harassment and intimidation from the security personnel and the vigilance group, a factor that further worsened the security situation in the state. The security agents, particularly the police, have been levying charges on our people. They had been collecting money from us unnecessarily simply because both the government and society consider every Fulani man as a criminal. When the ban on the sale of cattle was imposed by the state government, the police took advantage of that to extort money from even genuine Fulani people who own animals, whenever they see them. This issue seriously aggravated the insecurity problems in the state.
The vigilance group and Yan Sakai have also contributed to the insecurity issue considering their negative attitude towards the Fulani people. These two groups have turned themselves into groups that are licensed to kill. They killed any Fulani man they perceived as a bandit or cattle rustler and the government did not take any serious action to stop the menace. Many of our people were killed by these people. After realising that the government was not ready to stop the killing of our people by these two groups, we decided to pay back with reprisals. From that day, we decided to kill at least 50 people whenever one of us was killed.
Q: You mentioned cattle rustling, how many cows are you aware were rustled in the last one year, or example?
A: Nobody can answer this question but l can tell you that more than half of our people have lost their animals. Many of them have died of hypertension, while several others have turned to beggars as they have nothing left with them.
Q: What was your personal cattle rustling experience?
A: Believe me, I lost 372 cows and a large number of sheep. My family members have also lost many. In fact, that was my reason for leaving my village and moving to the forest as an alternative home and becoming a bandit, because I had nothing left to depend on.
Q: In the course of all that, did you share your concerns with the government before your people resorted to kidnapping and killing?
A: How many times do you want me to explain this? I told you that we did all we could to convince the government to come to our aid, particularly with regards to cattle rustling. The police had a bad attitude towards our people and there was the persistent killing of our people by the villagers and volunteer groups, but our appeals to the government fell on deaf ears.
Q: What specific response did you get?
A: Not much attention was given to our plight.
Q: How did you become the commander of the bandits?
A: I became the commander because of my total commitment to the plight of my people. They have respect for me because I am very sincere and committed to protecting their interest. I am always contacted by the present administration of Governor Bello Matawalle for any peace accord and whatever he says is accepted by the group.
Q: What do you do normally?
A: As to how?
Q: How do you discharge your duty as the leader of the bandits?
A: The issue is now over. We have embraced peace moves initiated by Governor Matawalle, as such; there is no need for me to tell you the mode of operations since the chapter is now closed.
Q: Are you all Fulani herdsmen?
A: Yes, the people under my command are all Fulani herdsmen. But I cannot say that all bandits are Fulani people because there are several instances where people from other tribes were arrested for banditry. There are many people arrested for banditry and when you look at their identities, you find out that some of them are not Fulani.
Q: How was the group formed? Did you all come together after identifying one another as victims of cattle rustling and so on?
A: You are very correct. The majority of those in our group are victims of armed banditry or other forms of intimidation by either the security personnel or vigilance group. But there are also others who only joined us to fight our enemies and also get something for their families.
Q: Did they undergo any training before they started kidnapping and killing?
A: No, they didn’t need any special training except only on how to operate AK 47 or other weapons. Once a person knew how to use a gun and fight his enemy, he had met our requirements. The kidnapping issue is not something one can be trained on. We normally had our targets. So we only sent our boys to go and kidnap this or that person. We also blocked some roads and kidnapped motorists.
Q: Many of you have surrendered weapons, guns and so on after renouncing, how many have been submitted to the government so far?
A: We surrendered some guns, but you know, the peace process is still ongoing. We are still studying the situation in order to ascertain the level of commitment and seriousness of the government before we finally surrender all of our weapons. Don’t forget that we had a similar peace accord with the past administration of former Governor Yari, when thousands of weapons were surrendered to the government. But at the end of the day, the peace accord failed to yield any positive result. But, I trust the current peace accord of the new governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle. The governor is really serious; that is why we have released almost all those people we kidnapped in various places. We will soon surrender all the weapons in our possession.
Q: How do your people get the weapons?
A: This is top secret. I cannot disclose this for now but when the time comes, I will answer your question.
Q: Why did you see kidnapping and killing as the solution?
A: I told you earlier that we resorted to kidnapping because we were left with no option as the government at that time banned the sale of animals and we were almost out of cash to purchase food. Similarly, we resorted to killing in order to avenge the killing of our own people by the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.
Q: How many people were you involved in their kidnap?
A: They were many. I cannot precisely tell you their number.
Q: What about killing? Is that something you can talk about?
Q: How were the peace talks with the vigilantes initiated?
A: The peace talks were initiated by the state police commissioner, Alhaji Usman Nagogo, who invited all the stakeholders, that is the Fulani people, vigilance group and Yan Sakai to a meeting where every group was given a chance to voice their grievances. After a series of meetings, we all agreed that there was a need for all of us to forgive one another and embrace peace. We agreed to release the people we had abducted if the government could also release our people that had been imprisoned.
Governor Matawalle has not only accepted our request but has also promised to provide us with government assistance for us to live happily like our counterparts, the farmers. He has also proscribed the activities of the vigilance group and Yan Sakai.
Q: The public has also had problems with the way your herders also roam from place to place with their cattle, destroying farm crops and so on? Will you say that is fair?
A: I will not say that it is fair. You see, farmers depend on their farms to survive and the Fulani depend on their animals. So it is very unfair for the Fulani to destroy food crops. But sometimes we have no alternative because more than 80 per cent of grazing areas have now been encroached into by farmers. There used to be enough grazing lands demarcated by the government in those days mainly for cattle. They are called cattle routes. These lands have been taken over by farmers and the government did not bother much about it. So that is why we are having problems with those who have encroached into the cattle routes and grazing lands. If this issue is addressed by the government, I am telling you, the issue of destruction of crops will be over.
Q: Many of your kidnap victims are still in captivity; will you ensure the release of all these people following the peace initiative?
A: As far as I am concerned, nobody is currently being held captive in Zamfara State. We have released our captives and the government has also released our people arrested by security agents.
Q: But people are still being kidnapped, though the situation has gone down, what are you doing to ensure that killing and kidnapping stop totally?
A: We have not kidnapped anybody in one week as the government is doing its best to fulfil its promise. Nobody was kidnapped or killed during the Eid el Kabir festival. So there is relative peace in the state now.
Q: How do you pass the message of peace across to the various cells of bandits?
A: It is easy to communicate nowadays with mobile phones. So we communicate with our people through phone calls.
Q: What do you think is the solution to all the problems of insecurity in the country?
This is very simple. Justice is the solution to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria.
Q: What do you mean?
A: I mean everybody should be treated justly and with fairness. All Nigerians must be treated equally. The government should try as much as possible to make sure that the right of every Nigerian is adequately protected. If this is done, I assure you, the problem of insecurity would be adequately addressed. (Punch)
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Some unidentified gunmen have killed Saidu Kolaku, a leader of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Adamawa state.
The assailants were said to have invaded his home on Saturday at Sabon Pegi in Mayo Belwa local government area in the state and shot him dead.
Prior to his death, Kolaku was the zonal vice-chairman of the MACBAN (Adamawa south).
Sulaiman Nguroje, the state police spokesman, who confirmed the incident, said the victim died in the hospital.
‘’Unknown gunmen stormed the resident of the Fulani leader located at Sabon Pegi in Mayo Belwa local government, shot him and left him in the pool of his blood,” he said.
‘’Following the incident, a distress call was forwarded to the police who rushed to the scene and took the victim to the hospital where he was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty.”
The spokesman also revealed that the state commissioner of police has ordered personnel of the homicide department to investigate the circumstance that led to Kolaku’s death.
‘’Indeed, police received the death of the slain man with shock because of his invaluable contribution towards fighting crime and criminality especially his gallantry in the fight against kidnappers,” he said.
“The command has launched manhunt for the fleeing culprits and God’swilling, they will be tracked down and brought to justice.”
In his reaction, Muhammad Buba, public relations officer (PRO) of Miyetti Allah in the state, described Kolaku’s killing as a reprisal attack from persons who were provoked by his effort in fighting crime.
“Efforts of Kolaku in fighting crime had made the police command to honour him on 17th July 2019, for his gallantry and valiant exploits in fighting kidnappers and cattle rustlers rampaging the state,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that the death of our zonal leader will seriously undermine the fight against crime and criminality in the state.’’
Adamawa is one of the states affected by insecurity, insurgency and periodic incidences of inter-communal killings.
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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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No fewer than 25, 794 Nigerians may have died in violent crises in the first four years of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The figure was released by the Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank specialising in United States foreign policy and international affairs.
The number represents those killed by different insurgent groups and Boko Haram in the North, herdsmen, and people who died in extrajudicial activities of the military.
From June 2015 to May 2019, our correspondent observed that Borno suffered the highest casualties, recording 9,303 deaths. The state was followed by Zamfara (1,963) and Adamawa (1,529).
Others captured in the map are Kaduna (1,488), Plateau (771), Taraba (649), Benue (1,642), Niger (252) Rivers (730), Cross River (467), Ogun (301), among others.
Graphical illustration revealed that the highest casualties were recorded in July 2015 (1,299) and January 2019 (1,077).
Within the four years timeline, Boko Haram was responsible for 5,598 deaths, while sectarian violence, including the herdsmen-farmers crisis led to 4,917 deaths.
State actors alone, including the military, were said to have killed 4,068 people.
During the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan (June 2011 to May 2015), a total of 34,884 people were reportedly killed across the country.
The highest record of casualties was in March 2014, when 3,456 Nigerians were killed.
Boko Haram and the military were together responsible for 12,765 deaths.
The Council on Foreign Relations, while explaining the methodology behind the data, said it relied on media reports.
The report said, “The Nigeria Security Tracker tracks violence that is both causal and symptomatic of Nigeria’s political instability and citizen alienation. The data are based on weekly surveys of Nigerian and international media.
“The data start with May 29, 2011, the date of Goodluck Jonathan’s inauguration as president. It was an event that highlighted the increasing bifurcation of the country on regional and religious lines. The NST is updated weekly.
“Relying on press reports of violence presents methodological limitations. There is a dearth of accurate reporting across certain regions, death tolls are imprecise, and accounts of incidents vary. There is the potential for political manipulation of media. Given these limitations, the NST makes every effort to collect information from multiple sources. Nevertheless, NST statistics should be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.”
The Presidency did not react when contacted.
Calls made to Presidential spokesmen, Mr Femi Adesina, and Mr Garba Shehu, were not returned.
Text messages forwarded to them were also not responded to as of 9.03pm.
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…As US government honours Imam Abubakar with peacemaker award
Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has proffered solution to spiralling violence in the country. This is even as the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria honoured Imam Abdullahi Abubakar who hid 200 villagers during attacks on Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State with Ambassador’s Peacemaker Award for Heroism.
Symington disclosed this during an interfaith dialogue with Imam Abdullahi Abubakar at the premises of the United States Embassy in Abuja.
Symington said: “It will end when all come together and invest in each other and when individuals find the path forward, not just for their own daughters and sons, but for the daughters and sons of every Nigerian.”
Earlier, Ambassador Symington urged mankind to love one another and let the idea of one family take the centre stage.
The United States Ambassador also urged the world to emulate the virtue of kindness to promote global peace.
The envoy added that Imam Abubakar’s act of brotherliness raised hope of a cohesive society in the face of growing mistrust.
“Today, there is only one word that matters and that is perhaps, love. Or perhaps, one more word, family.
“With the lesson of this imam, chief imam, this village head, this deputy imam, and all of those who brought you this story, is a lesson not just for Nigeria, but for all mankind – one family, one race, one love,” Symington stated.
In his earlier remarks, Imam Abubakar said God who created mankind, had a reason for creating mankind in different forms and brought mankind together and gave a command to mankind not to harm one another.
“God has created us as diverse people. Some black, some white, some tall, some short. God has a reason. He is the only One who knows why He created us that way.
“It is unfortunate what happened in my community which led to the demise of some in the community and by Allah’s grace, some have survived to tell the story,” Imam Abubakar said. (The Sun)
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Security Chiefs yesterday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari said only God can police the country’s border. At the end of a security meeting with Buhari at the State House, Abuja, the country’s security chiefs blamed the porous border for the rising insecurity.
The security chiefs including; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique. Others are National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director General of Department for State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi spent over two hours meeting with the president.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, expressed concern over the inflow of arms into the country. (Daily Trust)
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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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