By Chioma Gabriel, Emma Amaize, Kingsley Omonobi, Dapo Akinrefon, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Levinus Nwabughiogu, Joseph Erunke & Peter Duru
ABUJA—PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered security operatives to deal decisively with insecurity across the country.
He particularly gave security operatives marching orders to deal ruthlessly with the bandits terrorizing Zamfara State and its environs, as well as kidnappers and other security challenges confronting the country.
This is coming on a day 15 persons were killed, houses, cars and motorbikes burnt in Vaase, Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State by suspected armed Jukun youths and militant herdsmen.
Meanwhile, the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu, yesterday, shed more light on why banditry thrives in Zamfara State and other areas of the North-West resulting in several killings, saying many traditional rulers were involved in gold mining activities.
Also, the House of Representatives has asked President Buhari to address the insecurity in the country within 48 hours, noting that failure of the President to check insecurity in the country smacks of incompetence.
According to the Reps, areas of attention include inability of the President and that of his administration since inception to declare killer herdsmen as terrorists; inability of the armed forces under his watch to stop the recurring deaths of scores of innocent Nigerians annually from attacks by killer herdsmen and bandits and the gradual occupation of affected communities by these herdsmen despite countless assurances and statements by him promising to stop the attacks; his selective and ineffective responses to the killing of Nigerians by herdsmen, especially in Benue State and his immediate measure to dislodge the killers.
Also, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, the umbrella body of traditional rulers, leaders and stakeholders of the coastal states of Niger Delta, yesterday, urged President Buhari to overhaul the entire security architecture of the country, maintaining that the nation can no longer afford to toy with human lives.
On its part, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere said previous meetings convened by the President with security chiefs have not yielded any fruit, noting that all that is needed is a secured country.
Similarly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, while reacting to the Presidential order to service chiefs, said the order was okay but the root of the problem needs to be tackled.
It therefore, charged President Buhari to address the root cause of the killings and insecurity in the land.
Meanwhile, a team from the human rights community, under the banner of People’s Alternative Front, led by Mr. Femi Falana SAN, met with the acting IGP, Adamu and other top police officers at the Police Force Headquarters Abuja, yesterday, where they informed the IGP of their plan to embark on series of public protests if the Federal Government fails to take over the monopoly of violence from criminal gangs.
We’re revising our strategies — Defence chief
The order was given after a two-hour closed door meeting the President had with the Service Chiefs and some heads of security agencies at the Presidential villa, Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting, Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin said: “The security meeting we just had with Mr. President today (yesterday) is to review the strategy that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State and other places nationwide.
“This review strategy is to address all the issues including kidnapping, banditry and other associated issues confronting the nation and we are coming out with a revised strategy to handle those challenges.
“The marching order is for us to deal with the issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that all the bandits are immediately dealt with and all issues bordering on our security are properly addressed.”
Also speaking, acting Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mr Mohammed Adamu said that the Abuja-Kaduna Road has been cleared and is now safe for motorists.
The IGP said: “I want to assure Nigerians that Kaduna/Abuja roads are now safe. We have cleared the roads, we have arrested a lot of kidnappers and in confrontation with some of them, some were fatally injured.
“So the road is cleared. Our patrol teams, the combined security services that are patrolling the road are constantly there, 24 hours.”
The service chiefs at the meeting were, Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonishakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ibas, and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar.
Also present at the meeting included the National Security Adviser, Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, Director General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA and the Director General, Department of Security Service, DSS.
Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dangazzau and the Minister of Defence, Brigadier Gen. Mansur Dan-Ali were also part of the meeting.
Address insecurity within 48hrs, Reps tell Buhari
The House of Representatives, which tasked Buhari to address the nation within 48 hours, also want the inability of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, under his (Buhari) watch to immediately provide relief materials and rehabilitation of affected communities in line with their statutory mandate despite the N10 billion he announced had been provided; the inability of his administration through the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC and other relevant agencies or policy initiatives to enable proper communication network provision in affected communities and evidence of complicity of traditional rulers, political detractors and recently foreign miners in the perpetration of incessant killing of Nigerians to be address by the President.
The House resolved that failure to address the people within the stipulated period of 48 hours would leave it with an impression that the president and his “administration are incapable of permanently curtailing the incessant killing of innocent Nigerians by killer herdsmen.”
The parliament also said that it would mean that the president and his administration have failed in their primary constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria.
The resolutions were reached by the members of the House at plenary, yesterday, after considering and adopting a motion entitled “Resurgence of the Incessant and Annual Massacre of Innocent Nigerians Across the Country by Alleged Bandits and Killer Herdsmen, the Gradual Occupation of Affected Communities by These Attackers And The Lack of Adequate Rehabilitation and Relief Materials,” sponsored by Mr Mark Gbillah, representing Gwer East and Gwer West federal constituency of Benue State.
Gbillah, while moving the motion, told the members that the people were disappointed that the government and the armed forces have failed to protect them.
On a similar note, the House mandated its committees on Army, Human Rights, Justice and Police Affairs to probe the killings of some ad-hoc staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in Rivers State during the last general election. The decision was sequel to a motion by Mr Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State.
Again, 15 killed, houses, cars, motorbikes burnt in Benue
No fewer than 15 persons were feared dead, yesterday morning, when armed men dressed in black alleged to be Jukun youths supported by armed herdsmen invaded and sacked Vaase community in Ukum Local Government Area of Benue State.
An eyewitness, who said he narrowly escaped death in the latest attack which came on the heels of a recent peace initiative by the federal and state governments, said the armed invaders stormed Vaase as early as 6a.m., yesterday, shooting sporadically and burning down houses and farmlands in the community.
The witness said: “This morning (yesterday) over 150 well armed men dressed in black marched into Vaase from neighbouring Taraba State. It was as if they were prepared for war. Sporadic gunshots were fired from different directions and people who were woken up by the sound of the gunshots ran for safety.
“They mindlessly shot at anyone they caught up with, including women and children who were unarmed. They did not stop there, they burnt down over 50 houses and looted the people’s property after which they retreated to Taraba State. As we speak, 15 corpses have been recovered from the deserted community but the number may increase because we are still searching the neighbourhood for more bodies or survivors.”
Corroborating the account, a former state Commissioner of Trade and Investments, Prof. Terso Kpelai who is an indigene of the area, said he lost loved ones in the fresh attack.
Kpelai said: “They attacked my village this morning (yesterday) about 6a.m., and killed several persons. Three cars and 11 motorcycles were burnt and so many houses were razed. From what we gathered, it was a combined team of armed herdsmen and Jukun militia that are working on one strategy to unleash mayhem in our communities and it is a serious matter.
“Before now, I had called on the Security Adviser to ensure the deployment of security personnel there because we got prior information that they planned to launch an attack on the community.
“The chairman of the local government council also met the Commissioner of Police over the matter and on Wednesday, the Deputy Commissioner of Police was there to assess the situation and promised that he would reinforce his personnel because the team he took there was small but before the deployment of more personnel, the people struck this morning (yesterday).
“Those killed were of the same grandfather with me because we have a large family,” Kpelai said in an emotion-laden voice.
When contacted, the State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Catherine Anene, disclosed that police personnel were actually moved to Ukum on Wednesday for deployment to various flash-points, adding that the command was yet to receive information from the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Ukum on the latest development.
Revolutionize entire security apparatus, PANDEF tells Buhari
Also, PANDEF, in a statement by its National Secretary, Dr. Alfred Mulade, said: “There is no wisdom in concentrating all the service chiefs and the security infrastructure in one part of the country.
“Security is too expensive to be handled from a particular section of the country. Again, this resonates the question of restructuring of the country. State policing is an integral part of the restructuring, which the President should implement without further delay.
“The present structure has failed. Instructively, the National Assembly is fully in support of the state policing. The president must devolve powers to the federating states so that the governors would also have the authority to exercise requisite security responsibilities to secure their respective states.
“There is no going back on this if Nigeria must experience peace again, given the very clear inability of the national police and the central security system to effectively secure the peoples of Nigeria.
“Further delay in securing the lives of the citizens is a clear demonstration of failure on the part of FG, which retains and monopolises the ineffective ‘franchise’ of providing security of Nigerians.
“Human life is too sacrosanct to gamble with. The President must act now to save lives of innocent Nigerians, who are being hacked to death in their numbers. This clearly goes beyond political or regional considerations and exigencies. It is lack of capacity and wherewithal to deal with the situation.”
We’re not interested in meetings but a secured Nigeria —Afenifere
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “We are not interested in their meetings; this is not the first time they have been meeting. All we want is for Nigeria to be secured. We want an end to banditry that is going on all over the country. The kidnappings, killings and banditry are enough, although there is a fundamental issue we have to address in Zamfara and some Northern States.
“Now that we know that gold is the main issue in Zamfara, we want to know what the gold is bringing to the federation account. We cannot be sharing money from oil in the Niger Delta or sharing money from Value Added Tax and only bandits and unknown people are making money from gold deposits in Zamfara and other places. That has to be addressed.
“The most important thing we need now is a secured country; we are not interested in meetings. We want Nigeria secured.”
Root problem needs to be tackled —Ohanaeze
Reacting through its National Deputy Publicity Secretary, Chuks Ibegbu, Ohanaeze noted that the attempt by armed herders to seize the land of host farming communities is the root cause of the killings by armed herdsmen.
“Our porous borders that facilitate entry of foreign herders who join their local kin to perpetrate anarchy in the country is also a factor.
The overhaul of the security architecture in the country as in some cases, security agents look the other way when these killers operate. We however, commended some security agents who have at the risk of their lives resisted these killer herdsmen.
“Other forms of insecurity in the land such as rituals, cult- related killings and armed banditry, should be blamed on economic factors, do or die politics, failed values, get-rich -quick syndrome, wickedness in low and high places and there is need for a moral revolution in Nigeria.”
Northern Elders tackle FG over worsening insecurity, quality of lives
Key Northern leaders, yesterday, converged on Zaria, Kaduna State, and reviewed the security situation in Nigeria, with a damning verdict that the Federal Government has not done enough to check the spate of killings and destruction of property across the land.
In a communiqué at the end of the meeting by the Convener of the NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, the elders questioned the undue priority given by the government to politics over human lives, blaming it on what it calls ‘weak political will and monumental political corruption.’
He said: “Today, the North still lives under horrendous Boko Haram threats, a situation, which has been aggravated by threats of banditry, kidnappings, armed robbery, marauding youth gangs, herders and farmers mini-wars and seemingly overwhelmed or indifferent governments.
“Agriculture, our pride and national economic comparative advantage, the greatest employer of labour and leading contributor to GDP is in ruins as animal husbandry and crop and roots farming are in the throes of war and damage.
“Our rural folks live in perpetual fear of attacks from sundry terrorist assassins without any reprieve. Our major highways and transportation systems are being abandoned as they have become death traps.
“Should the Nigerian people continue to run and hide from criminals under an administration that has enjoyed and received support especially from Northern Nigerians that it cannot address their existential and developmental challenges?” the elders queried.
Traditional Rulers in Zamfara involved in mining of gold — IGP
The acting AGP, who spoke at a meeting with Strategic Police Managers (Zonal AIGs & Command CPs) which he summoned to evolve new approaches that will be potent enough to effectively mitigate the insecurity in the country, particularly Zamfara State, said “We saw a kind of nexus between activities of the bandits and the mining fields. That is why the Federal Government banned mining.”
He disclosed that the launch of Operation Puff Adder was conceptualized and launched on April 5, 2019 to address in the shortest possible time, the threat of kidnapping, armed robbery and armed banditry in Kogi, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states as well as FCT.
Falana threatens public protests over State of insecurity
Falana, who expressed the concern of the human rights community over the worsening security situation in the country especially the increasing rate of armed robbery, kidnapping, killings, terrorism and banditry in the land, however, informed the acting IGP of the human rights community plan to embark on series of public protests if the Federal Government fails to take over the monopoly of violence from criminal gangs.
Thanking the group for the meeting, the police boss gave detailed explanation on the combined efforts of the police and other security agencies to confront the security challenges.
On the new strategy of the police force, Mr. Adamu noted that the police now works with human intelligence, in collaboration with the Air Force and other sister security agencies, including the Civilian JTF, whom he maintained have been of immense assistance to the various security agencies in the onerous task of securing the nation.