“If these bandits as we hear are not Nigerians, why can’t they be fished out and flushed out? Where are the joint security formations that are always swift to brutalize other less threatening elements in other regions of the country”

Barely two months after the abduction of over 300 schoolboys in Kankara, Katsina state, another abduction of a yet to be ascertained number of students from Government Science Secondary School, Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger state by suspected bandits, reminds all those who care to listen that all is not yet well with the country. The insecurity situation, despite recent reshuffle in the leadership of the country’s security agencies, seems to be on an alarming rise.

Just like the Kankara episode, same Act and Scene were played out by these bad guys. The armed men, as reported, invaded the school premises at about 3am, killed one, and abducted an unknown number of students, staff member and their children. In like manner, gunmen had in December last year, invaded  Government Science Secondary School, Kankara and carted away students. Although the Kankara boys have been recovered, one would think that we would have learnt our lessons.

It is no exaggeration to say that the nation is boiling onto anarchy. It looks like the insecurity situation is growing by size and scope, beyond the government’s imagination. Except for the gallant appearance of the nation’s security agencies, one would imagine that they are already overwhelmed. There is Boko Haram in the North East, Banditry and Kidnapping across the North West and North Central, Herdsmen palava in the South West and South East, and pockets of Niger Delta militancy in the oil-rich South-South region. For all these, those piloting the affairs of Nigeria appear to be in a confused state of mind, as per how to crush these audacious criminals.

As it stands, Niger state is fast joining the leagues of states serving as beehive for terrorism. To make matters worse, it has some of the worst roads in the country. Insecurity has never gotten this worse in Nigeria’s history. Insurgents operate with such swagger as though there is no government or security apparatus in place. The government itself reflects a convincing unwillingness to fight. It is a case of the more you look, the less you see.

Kankara, after gunmen attack

Banditry seems to be a profiting business in the north. It is as if the kidnappers whenever they go broke, they abduct, and bait the government or family members of victims to negotiate and pay the ransom. The body language and public utterances of the northern leaders suggest that they are not ready to take proactive measures towards ending the insecurity. The northern leaders prioritize power over good governance. To them, whichever way they rule is inconsequential, so long as they hold onto power. You can’t put a crown on a clown and expect him to rule like a king.

Renowned Islamic scholar,  Sheikh Mahmoud Gumi recently held peace talks with bandits in the Shinkafi forest of Zamfara state, so he claimed. The bandits in response to the Sheikh said they were doing bad things because the security agencies were killing their loved ones without recourse to due process of the law and that their cattle were being rustled. Gumi further assumed that these armed bandits learnt the act of Kidnapping from the Niger Delta militant and that the two are no different from each other.

Gumi said: “Let there be peace; you all have a legitimate concern and grievances, and I believe that since the Niger Delta armed militants were integrated by the Federal Government and are even in the business of pipelines protection, the Federal Government should immediately look into how something like that will be done to the Fulani to provide them with reasonable means of livelihood including jobs, working capitals, entrepreneurship training, building clinic and schooling.

“We didn’t take a different route of trying to solve this problem and that is why we are still here today. And when we say amnesty, we don’t mean that anyone proved to be involved in murder should go free as such.

“They learnt kidnapping from MEND. I do not see any difference. They were the first victims of rustling. Their cattle is their oil.

“What we are seeing now is more of an insurgency than banditry. I can say 10 per cent of the herders are criminals, not 90 per cent, in the end, they took up weapons to protect themselves from extinction. They themselves can take care of the little remnants of criminals among themselves because they don’t want anybody to bring mayhem to them”.

Bauchi state Governor, Bala Mohammed was also quick to rise to the defence of Fulani herdsmen wielding Ak47 riffles, saying it was their means of self-defence. After Gumi’s meeting with the bandits, there were rumours that a certain governor in the north gifted the criminal’s cars and cash gifts. It was probably a huge cashout. The day the northern leaders want to put an end to the menace, they surely will, they will find a way. The master will always be able to tame his dog, with or without a bone.

In Kagara, the children of Gumi have done it again. If these bandits as we hear are not Nigerians, why can’t they be fished out and flushed out? Where are the joint security formations that are always swift to brutalize other less threatening elements in other regions of the country? Can’t they be deployed to crush the bandits? Of what deterrent will the federal government’s act of pardoning and tagging these elements as “repentant” be to the others? Are these acts orchestrated in pursuant of the Presidential Amnesty Programme promised by Garba Shehu and Abubakar Malami?

In the Kankara abduction which happened vis-a-vis President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to his home state of Katsina, one of the victims, Usama Aminu Mali said he overheard one of his captors ask in a phone call, “Sir, should we release or kill them?” And then an order came through saying “Keep walking”. This was a clear case of a fictitious operation.

Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has also been involved in unfruitful negotiations with bandits. Last year, a picture of him flanked by an AK47 wielding bandit and an Army personnel flooded Nigeria’s social media space.

Meanwhile, President Buhari has directed security agencies to ensure the immediate and safe return of all the students abducted from the Kagara school. This order note was reeled out by his Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad in a tweet hours after the abduction. He said Buhari has dispatched to Niger state, a team of security chiefs to coordinate the rescue operation.

The Niger State Governor, Abubakar Bello on his part, has ordered the immediate closure of all boarding schools in Rafi, Munya, Shiroro and Mariga Local Government Areas of the state.

 


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