Fear, outrage as bandits spread tentacles

Less than one month to the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term, the nation has been gripped with fear, tension and outrage over the increasing spate of violence and widespread insecurity in the country.

The development comes as prominent Nigerians have raised fears that Nigeria is gradually cascading toward the Somalia experience if urgent steps are not taken to stop a possible  descent to anarchy.

Investigations revealed that the menace of insecurity which hitherto was prevalent in North East, had spread to North Central region and now North West with fears that it may soon spill over to Southern parts of the country.

Insecurity in North East first came in the form of Boko Haram whereas in North Central, it started as the farmers\herders conflicts but in the North West, it manifested through armed bandits who have literally turned the region upside down. The deteriorating security situation in North West which started in Zamfara State has spread to Sokoto, Kaduna and now ravaging Katsina, home state of Mr Buhari.

At the quarterly Northern Traditional Rulers’ Council meeting in Kaduna on Tuesday, Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, said Zamfara State with 203 murder cases topped the national prevalence rate while Kaduna followed closely with 112 reported cases and 90 people killed in Benue State. He said most of the murder cases recorded in the North are linked to banditry and communal violence.

In his breakdown, Adamu revealed that at least 1,071 persons lost their lives in crime-related cases across the country in the first quarter of 2019 and observed that the crime statistics showed that between January and April, at least 685 persons were kidnapped across the country and that 767 of those killed were from the North.

The Police boss said North-West topped the death list with 436 while North-Central came second with 250 and the South-South recording 130 deaths. In relation to banditry, he said, a total of 175 deaths were reported between January and April, with Zamfara State topping the list with 104 reported cases, followed by Katsina State with 21 killed by bandits and Sokoto with 19 cases.

On kidnappings, IGP said 546 or 79.8 per cent of the national total were recorded in the three northern geopolitical zones.

He said the highest zonal prevalence rate occurred in North-West, where 365 persons were reportedly kidnapped within the period under review.

But on Wednesday, a day after Mohammed reeled out the statistics, residents of Birnin Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara State, cordoned their emir’s palace and killed seven suspected bandits. The armed bandits were said to be in the emir’s palace for a peace talk after their cows were confiscated following an airstrike on their base in Birnin Magaji forest. The same day, Mr Musa Umar, district head of Daura, Buhari’s hometown, was kidnapped by four unidentified gunmen.

The kidnappers stormed Umar’s Daura residence at 7pm and started shooting into the air as bystanders scampered to safety.

Umar had just returned from the mosque where he took part in the evening prayer when the incident happened. Umar, who is reportedly the father-in-law of ADC to Buhari, was sitting in front of his house with some people when the gun totting men came. Same Wednesday night, bandits terrorising the North-west were at the height of their criminal enterprise as they attacked Government Girls Secondary School, Moriki in Zuru Local Government Area (LGA) of Zamfara State, where they kidnapped six persons, including teachers.

Earlier on Monday, chairman of Universal Basic Education Commission, Mr Mohammad Abubakar and his daughter, Yasmin were kidnapped on the notorious Abuja-Kaduna highway and his driver killed by gunmen.

The incidents are countless with prominent Nigerians expressing fears that Nigeria is going the way of Somalia if drastic measures are not immediately taken.

Speaking on the state of insecurity in some parts of the country, Secretary-General, Yoruba  Council of Elders (YCE), Mr Kunle Olajide raised fears that Nigeria may turn into another Somalia if the Federal Government does not take drastic measures to address the situation. He regretted that while Nigerians are still battling to contain the scourge of insurgency, herdsmen and armed bandits have joined the list of those making life hellish for the people.

He said: “Many states in the country are now under the siege of bandits, herdsmen and kidnappers. Lives of citizens are now endangered on a daily basis. This is sad, and very unfortunate. We have to do something fast to restore sanity. We can’t just continue like this. The nation’s founding fathers would be turning in their graves because this is no more the Nigeria envisaged by the founding fathers.

“The question we should ask our leaders is this, how did we get to this present situation? It is very unfortunate that anarchists are on rampage. Something fast has to be done because if the present situation continues, then Nigeria faces disintegration and this is why the President working in hands with the members of the National Assembly and other stakeholders have to do something urgent  to restore sanity.”

For constitutional lawyer, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, Nigeria is becoming a failed state, as indices  to support that are manifesting in the country. His words: “If you look at the data of failed states produced by International Crisis Group, it has categorised this nation in diverse ways, and Nigeria is second from bottom on the categorisation. A failed state is a state where certain institutions of government are no longer functioning, and one of the most critical is when the government is unable to secure lives and property. The security architecture of Nigeria is very strongly challenged, and so we need to ask, why is this happening? It is happening because we have timid and redundant security apparatus, not trained, no equipment, and the results we get are exactly the same. I’m not shocked that we are getting poor results – Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, killings everywhere because we don’t have the wherewithal, the modern capacity to deal with these serious security challenges.”

Also, former Chairman of Nigerian Chapter of Transparency International, Mr Ishola Williams, said the insecurity situation will continue to get worse and called for the immediate decentralisation of the police. He stressed the need to decentralise crime fighting to the states and local government level, saying it would reduce crime to the minimum because the states will be doing their responsibilities.

 

Sun

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