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I N S E C U R I T Y: Keep off Igboland, Ohanaeze warns killer herdsmen

•PDP chides Buhari over rising insecurity; PANDEF expresses alarm
•Nigeria needs retooling to tackle insecurity —Afenifere
•Politicians, traditional rulers aiding bandits – Defence Minister
•As Buhari orders security agencies to end cultism in Rivers

By Chioma Gabriel, Emma Amaize, Emma Nnadozie, Kingsley Omonobi, Dapo Akinrefon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dirisu Yakubu

ABUJA — Minister of Defence, Major-General Mansur Dan Ali has accused politicians and traditional rulers in the northern part of the country of being behind the current wave of insecurity, just as President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, condemned the resurgence of killings by cult groups in Rivers State and ordered increased community and law enforcement action against its escalation.

An indigene of Benue mourning the, killings of her relatives by the Fulani herdsmen during a protest at the National Assembly gate in Abuja Thursday . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan

He also condemned the recent attacks in Kaduna State, which led to the death of 20 members of the Adara community.

A statement by Col Tukur Gusau, Public Relations Officer to the Defence Minister said that “despite the concerted efforts of the Armed Forces and other security (agencies), some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations.”

It will be recalled that 21 persons were killed while 50 cattle were rustled in an attack by armed bandits in Banono and Anguwan Aku in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna on Monday.

According to the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mr Yakubu Sabo, three other persons were injured while 10 houses were burnt by the bandits, who he said “came in large numbers on motor bikes,” while no arrest has been made.

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Meanwhile,  Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics, ASUP, Afenifere and  Pan Niger Delta Forum  PANDEF, have urged President Buhari to demonstrate sufficient leadership by addressing what they called the escalated insecurity, particularly the killings, rising spate of kidnapping, banditry and acts of terrorism in various parts of the country.

President Buhari, while responding to reports of the resurgence of cultism leading to loss of lives in Rivers State, called on law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts to end the menace before it further escalates.

He urged quick and effective intervention by community and civic leaders in support of law enforcement efforts, in all such areas bedevilled by cultist attacks and inter-communal violence.

On the communal clashes in Kaduna State, President Buhari in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu in Abuja said: “These unfortunate deaths are the latest incidents between the Adara and Fulani peoples in the state, who have a long history of mistrust between themselves.”

President Buhari sued for peace and decries the on-going culture of ‘an eye for an eye’ that had fuelled a number of attacks and reprisals, with the two communities at different times, suffering casualties in Kajuru and Kachia councils in Kaduna State.

He appealed to indigenes of Kaduna and other Nigerians to refrain from comments in the traditional and social media, especially by people who have little knowledge of the history of the long-standing conflict.

The President said that such comments could fuel further conflict in the area.

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President Buhari appealed to traditional and religious leaders to be cautious in their comments on the conflict, insisting that whatever words they shared publicly should not be inflammatory but be inspired by an interest in peace.

He condoled with those who lost loved ones in the attacks, saying “the entire nation grieves with you. The Nigerian army and police are already in the area to ensure that peace and security are restored.”

PDP chides Buhari over rising insecurity

The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, yesterday, said: “The PDP notes that by every indication, the President Buhari-led Federal Government has no solution to the security challenges of our nation, which has festered under its incompetent watch.

“The PDP tasks the All Progressives Congress, APC, to give account of the whereabouts of the political mercenaries it imported into the country from neighbouring countries, particularly from Chad and Niger Republics during the build-up to the 2019 general election.

“This demand is predicated on fears in the public space of the possible involvement of the imported political thugs, who assisted the APC to unleash violence on Nigerians during the elections, in the heightened acts of banditry in our nation.

“Nigerians could recall that the PDP had raised a red flag on the dangers of the heavy importation of unscreened aliens by the APC to involve in its presidential election campaign rallies. The PDP and other well-meaning Nigerians had expressed fears that such aliens could be used by unpatriotic elements to unbridle violent acts against Nigerians.

“The party laments that the Federal Government has failed to exert enough commitment in protecting the lives of Nigerians and curb the blood letting and kidnapping of compatriots in Zamfara, Borno, Yobe, Kogi, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa, Plateau, Bauchi and other states.

We need to retool Nigeria —Afenifere

Reacting also,  the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said there was need to retool Nigeria and decentralise the Police before insecurity can be addressed.

Its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “The rate of insecurity in the country is becoming worrisome. We read in the newspapers the daily killings going on in the country.

“The way forward is very clear. Nigeria, as it is, has become a failed project. We need to retool Nigeria. Simple policing has failed, the police in Nigeria have failed, we have to decentralise the Police. The states must have their own police. The governor of Zamfara State recently said that he was no longer the Chief Security Officer of the state owing to the continuous killings in the state. We must also address the issue of poverty and human misery.

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“It is not about going to the market, like the Vice President, to distribute N5000 in the markets. That is not how to address poverty. There is so much poverty and misery in the land. We must address the economy clearly; there is no one in government today that is talking about fixing the economy. We must address all those things.”

PANDEF expresses alarm

Also, National Secretary of PANDEF, Dr Alfred Mulade, who spoke to Vanguard on the security situation in the country, said: “The primary essence of any government anywhere in the world is to provide security and welfare for its citizens. A situation where the citizens are not sure of what befalls them the next moment, in terms of security of their lives and property, is completely unthinkable in any decent society.

“The security situation in most parts of the country, as we have it today, has become extremely worrisome.  Rising cases of killings, adoption of innocent persons and general insecurity in the country is totally condemnable.

“Never has it been so bad than now.  Perhaps, if the determination, dexterity, enthusiasm and  military precision with which the soldiers and other security forces deployed by the Federal Government for mere election duties, particularly, in the just concluded 2019  general election was rather applied to tackling the dangerously worrisome security situation confronting the country, the situation could have some respite.

“One can hardly say which part of the country is considered safe at the moment. All these point to one fact- failure of government. Government should therefore, rededicate itself and be alive to its primary responsible of providing security for the citizenry. All these further give credence to the fact that there is the urgent need for security architecture of the country to be reconfigured, so that, states should be given powers to exercise in the security system.

“This is a critical aspect of restructuring being advocated by PANDEF. This will confer functional responsibility on every state governor to provide security within his domain, instead of merely being referred to elegantly as ‘security officer’ of his State, whereas, he does not have even an ordinary catapult, in real terms.  The killings in Zamfara, Kaduna South and other parts of the country in recent times are incidences that are unmentionable,” he said.

Ohanaeze warns killer herdsmen

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on the killings by herdsmen in the South East, through its National Deputy Publicity Secretary, Chuck Ibegbu said: “We cannot tolerate the killings of our people in our land, as we notice the chopping off of the hand of a business woman in Ogbhor Hill, Aba, Abia State and the butchering of some people in Anam in Anambra State by herdsmen.

“Herdsmen rearing their cattle in towns, government houses and along highways is something that is not seen an where in the world except in Nigeria.

“The states from where these herdsmen hail and the Federal Government should also provide lands for fishermen, farmers and tradesmen from the South and Middle Belt to carry out their occupation.”

Be alive to your responsibility, ASUP tells FG

Also, ASUP, in the communiqué by its National Publicity Secretary, Chris Nkoro said: “The NEC (National Executive Council) equally observed the rising cases of armed banditry and kidnapping in the country, a situation that has made people prisoners in their homes.

“The NEC therefore, calls on government at all levels to be more alive to their responsibility of safeguarding the lives and properties of Nigerians irrespective of social strata or creed.

“We condemn the pockets of violence in various parts of the country during the elections,” it added.

Royal fathers aiding insecurity in North West —Defence Minister

On his part, Minister of Defence, Major General Muhammad Ali blamed traditional rulers, highly placed politicians and warned other sponsors of armed banditry in the North-West for fanning the killings and other insecurity in the area to retrace their steps as security agencies are now out to visit the full wrath of the law on them.

A statement by Col Tukur Gusau, Public Relations Officer to the Defence Minister, noted that the Ministry was concerned about the security challenges in the North West particularly, in states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna State.

He said: “Due to the recent prevailing security situation in the states, the Ministry through the Nigerian Army is now conducting Exercise Harbin Kunama IV simultaneously in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto states.

“The purpose of the exercise is to effectively flush out the activities of criminal elements in the North West. The Nigerian Air Force has also intensified air strikes against the bandits in Zamfara.

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“So far, the combined efforts have yielded lots of successes leading to the killing of many bandits, rescue of many innocent persons, including the renowned Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmad Suleiman. The government is also addressing the remote and immediate causes that gave room to high spate of armed banditry in the states.

“Recently,  the government acted on the advice of the Ministry of Defence to suspend all mining activities in Zamfara State and environs, following intelligence report that suggests close collaboration between the activities of the bandits and illegal miners.

“It is instructive to mention here that insurgency and terrorism are global phenomena that cannot be addressed through military actions only. The whole society has to rise in unison to support the government’s efforts to address the problem.

“However, despite the concerted efforts of the Armed Forces and other security (agencies), some unpatriotic persons including highly placed traditional rulers in the areas were identified as helping the bandits with intelligence to perpetuate their nefarious actions or to compromise military operations.

“The Ministry of Defence therefore, wish to warn any person or group of persons who choose to connive or sympathies with the bandits to perpetuate crime against the law abiding citizens to henceforth, retrace their steps or face the full wrath of the law.

“The Armed Forces of Nigeria have been directed to deal decisively with anybody identified helping the bandits under whatever guise no matter how highly placed the person or persons may be.”

Accusing fingers point at politicians

The resurgence of killings in different parts of the country, just few weeks after the general election, has been widely attributed to criminals who worked with politicians. Investigations carried by Vanguard revealed that most of the criminals who served as thugs and guards to politicians especially at more intense areas of the country have converted their ‘tools of trade’ into personal use.

Police sources hinted that the authorities are very much aware of this ugly development and have been making great efforts to match them in their trade.  According to sources, “it is just like those using vehicles to do ‘kabu-kabu’, the only way they can benefit is to quickly settle their masters and convert same to personal use. That is just the summation of what is at play in many parts of the country now.”

The source said: “This thing happens everywhere.  Politicians use them to achieve their selfish ambitions.  They equip them with all sorts of dangerous weapons and after the elections, they fail to recover those weapons. This is what the criminals use to terrorise the people.  The police are very much aware of this and have been making efforts on how to curtail the development.  The worst will still come because the development is more intense where politics was bloody in contest.  Check out states where these killings are taking place and you will discover that they were those hotly contested ones where politicians acted in a do-or-die manner.

“In a place like Rivers State, we are yet to see more killings because those thugs politicians armed are still having their weapons and they are now going to unleash terror on the citizenry.  The biggest question is how prepared is our security agencies to face the challenges ahead? If not, more killings will be carried out.”

A top police source told Vanguard that the identifiable factors underpinning insecurity in Nigerian are:  Illicit weapons illegally procured by desperate political actors now in the hands of their thugs, Inter and intra communal conflicts around the country, rise in poverty and hunger, unemployment and its attendant effects on the youth, lack of adequate manpower in the police, poor funding of the police with its adverse effects on logistics and operational capability and increasing globalization of criminality in the form of transnational organized crimes.

However, police sources at the Force headquarters intimated Vanguard that the authorities are not resting on their oars.  According to the sources, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Adamu Mohammed, in realisation of the huge challenges ahead, set up ‘Operation Puff Adder’ and has been at the frontline with the Deputy Inspector General  in -charge of Operations, Abdulmajid Ali in the execution of the operation.

“He has embarked in on-the-spot assessment of identified troubled areas in the country by visiting Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, Sokoto and Zamfara.  He has also engaged in police community partnership through mobilization of relevant stakeholders – traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth organisations, NGOs and other civil groups.  Thirdly, he has intensified inter agency collaboration and synergy towards the fight against insecurity by deploying operational and intelligence assets of the Force nationwide.  Special Forces have also been deployed with Tactical Squads to North West and North Central and other troubled areas across the country.”

A security chief interviewed by Vanguard, Mr. Daniel Ibuzor said: “Better working tools should be provided to improve the operational capability of the Police; there should be improved working conditions and enhanced welfare of the Police personnel while the legislation on police reforms and Trust fund which are aimed at providing alternative funding for the police force should be passed.”

When contacted, Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Frank Mba, who said he was on duty with the IGP and other top officers in Zamfara State and other troubled areas, told Vanguard: “The NPF is committed to solving the security problem in Kaduna.  Currently, we have massively deployed our special forces to the affected parts of the state.  We have also deployed special intelligence operatives to the affected areas.  We are deepening our synergy with local communities, building confidence and increasing collaboration with sister security agencies.  However, to achieve a lasting solution to the crisis, we will require investigations in multiple security and law enforcement level, political, communal, economic and socio-cultural levels,” he stated.

 

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