…More attacks in Plateau, Kaduna, Benue, others
…JNI condemns upsurge in killings, blames politicians, says govt must act fast
…CAN blames killings on the failure of govt to protect lives, property
…Killings in Benue, Plateau, others, function of a failed govt —MBF
By Levinus Nwabughiogu, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Peter Duru, Marie-Therese Nanlong & Luminous Jannamike
THE gale of killings in some parts of the country, especially Plateau, Kaduna and Benue states, in the last one week, has stirred anger in the polity.
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar 11, and the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, expressed concern yesterday that the Federal Government has failed in its duties to protect the citizenry.
They also feared that with this development, Nigeria was drifting toward a failed state.
Recall that close to 200 persons have been killed in the three northern states within the period.
The killings again forced lawmakers in the House of Representatives to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security in the country. They expressed anger against the President and heads of security agencies for failing to protect lives and properties in Nigeria.
They also called for the sack of the Defence Minister and National Security Adviser, NSA, for failing in their responsibility to the country.
These came on a day the Federal Government said it would soon unveil the identities of those behind the attack on Abuja-Kaduna bound train, which claimed the lives of eight passengers, injured at least 41 and abduction of scores of others yet to be freed by their captors.
Also reacting to the killings yesterday, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, which spoke through its youth wing, condemned the incessant killings and charged the Federal Government to work with those who claimed to know the bandits and their hideouts to identify and arrest the criminals breaching peace and security in the land.
In a communique jointly signed by the Chairman, Belusochukwu Enwere, and Secretary, Bako Elijah, at the end of the National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of the group in Abuja CAN warned that if the menace of insecurity was not checked, it would cripple farming and other economic activities in 2022 farming season and negatively affect the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections.
The communique read: “We express deepest concern and displeasure over the crimes and injustice against humanity by the unwarranted destruction of lives and properties in different parts of the country. This senseless killing must stop now.
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“We decry the increasing rate of insecurity in Nigeria, yet commend the efforts of government and security agencies in combating the nefarious activities of bandits, killer herdsmen, insurgents etc.; and further call on government and the security agencies to approach all persons who have made statements and assertions claiming to know the bandits, terrorists and criminals (and/or their camps or hideouts); to come and assist in fishing-out these evil people.
“Despite the efforts so far made in combating crime, we observe the urgent need to curb the rising wave of attacks, killings, destruction of lives, properties, farmlands and livelihood of innocent citizens within the Northern states, specifically within Christian communities.
“If this malady is not checked, there is every likelihood that farming and economic activities will be crippled in 2022 farming season , affect the smooth conduct of the 2023 general elections and do so much harm to our nation.
“We declare that enough is enough over this deadly episode oozing from all parts of Nigeria. Citizens are urged to collectively put a stop to bad governance and irresponsible leadership and this can be achieved by the collective resolve to utilize our PVCs and cause a change of these tales of woe in Nigeria.
“We demand the immediate release of all abductees and particularly the passengers on board the ill-fated Kaduna-Abuja train, who are still in captivity. We urge the Federal and Kaduna State government to expedite action towards their release.’’
JNI blames politicians, says govt must act fast
On its part, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar 111, blamed the recent upsurge in killings and kidnappings across the country, ahead of the 2023 general elections, on unscrupulous politicians seeking to grasp power by first destabilising the nation, saying this was propelling the country towards a failed state.
The JNI, therefore, lamented governments’ perceived inability to stop the carnage in the land.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, the Secretary-General of the JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar-Aliyu, maintained that both the Federal and state governments must wake up to their responsibilities of protecting lives and properties of Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution.
He said: “Once again, we condemn the repeated incidences of loss of precious lives and wanton destruction of property arising from well-coordinated attacks by terrorists in clear terms.
“We have always condemned these killings and never supported acts of terrorism. The whole country, especially the North, is invaded by armed terrorists and kidnappers who attack communities at will.
“It is most unfortunate that before general elections in the country, the trajectory of violent attacks goes up, because of the selfish ambitions of politicians who would stop at nothing, including destabilising the country, in order to increase their chances of attaining power.
“Why can’t our politicians play politics as it is done in other civilised countries? Our politicians must ensure that 2023 is not going to be business as usual.
“However, the fact that the authorities are perceived in some quarters as either helpless or uninterested in dealing decisively with these terrorists has added more confusion.
“So, we implore the government to take all genuine calls for an end to the killings in good fate so as to move the country forward, as development in whatever guise, is utterly incomplete without security.
“We also call on the Muslim Ummah to use this spiritual month of Ramadan to intensify prayers, seeking Allah’s intervention for an end to these repeated killings, because prayers remain the most powerful instrument upon which we beseech Allah (SWT) for His intervention in dealing with our collective enemies.”
Killings, function of failed government —MBF
Reacting in a similar manner, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, described the recent killings in Benue, Plateau, Kaduna states and other parts of the country by bandits as a function of a failed government.
National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who spoke in Makurdi, lamented that the killings were becoming too much for Nigerians.
Dr. Pogu said: “It is an unfortunate development; it is a function of a failed Federal Government, a government that cannot protect its people, a government that has failed in its primary responsibility as provided in our constitution, which is the provision of security and welfare for the people.
“This thing has become too much for Nigerians. I remember before the recent killings in Benue and Plateau states, three major incidents happened in Kaduna, which were the attack on the airport, the attack on the train and the attack on the community in south of Kaduna.
“It is only a failed government that would allow such a thing to happen in a country unchecked.
“It is unfortunate because their failure to put an end to these killings is gradually making the average Nigerian hate a Fulani man. And may God forbid that day when the Nigerian will rise against innocent Fulani because of the failure of this government, so they had better do something and quickly too.”
On the call by Governor Samuel Ortom on the people to defend themselves, Dr Pogu said it was proper.
“I support the call for self-defence but the unfortunate thing is that our people do not have the wherewithal. If they have the wherewithal, I can assure you that they will defend themselves,’’ said MBF.
Reps angry with Buhari, security agencies, renew call for a state of emergence
Also yesterday, the House of Representatives called for a state of emergency on security in Nigeria, while expressing utter disappointment in President Buhari and the head of security agencies for failing to secure the country.
Recall that the House penultimate week, also expressed its disappointment in the same leadership, following reports of mass killings in Minna, Niger State, which occurred alongside Kaduna airport and train attacks.
The House had through a motion, called for the resignation of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
The Leader of the House, Ado Doguwa, had on the heels of the motion, asked that Nigerians should be allowed to bear arms to defend themselves.
In another motion on the recent killing of about 80 Nigerians in communities of Kanan and Wase local government areas of Plateau State, the House renewed its call for the sack of the NSA and the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi.
The House was also expressed dismay at the apparent inability of the present government to end insecurity in the country.
Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Yusuf Gagdi, at yesterday’s plenary, raised the motion, titled “Terrorist Attack on Kanam and Wase Communities of Plateau State” under matters of urgent public importance.
He said: “On Sunday, April 10, 2022, around 10a.m, terrorists unleashed terror on the people of Kanam Local Government and neighbouring communities, killing 92 persons, injuring over 20 people and destroying properties in Kukawa, Kyaram, Gyambau and Dungur among other communities.
“A total of 41 houses, 86 shops and eight motorcycles were completely burnt, leaving a total of 3,413 persons displaced.
“Over 20 victims that sustained various degrees of injuries are currently receiving medication at Garga Primary Health Care, Dengi General Hospital, Federal Medical Centre, Bauchi, and Jos University Teaching Hospital respectively.
“Dengi, the headquarters of Kanam Local Government Area, Jarmai, Garga, was among the locations housing displaced persons. Wase, the headquarters of Wase Local Government, is housing over 40 displaced families.”
Gagdi, who lamented that despite intelligent reports, the security agencies failed to act, added: “Despite intelligent reports by the Department of State Service, DSS, on the influx of terrorist fleeing to Plateau and other neighboring communities of Wase and Kanam Lo cal Government Areas, no proactive measures were initiated by security agencies to avert these ugly terror attacks.
“The security agencies have reliable information at their disposal of the various camps of this terrorist in Kambari forest in Taraba State as well as Bangala in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State where these terrorists use to organize and coordinate attacks on innocent citizens of Plateau State and other parts of Nigeria.
“The House of Representatives passed a resolution on a similar motion on December 14, 2021, and many other security resolutions in the past and have communicated all the resolutions to government and all security agencies but unfortunately, no action was taken by the government.
“If no stringent security measures are taken to safeguard the lives of our people, in compliance with chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), particularly Section 14 (2) (b) which clearly states thus: that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, then the nation is heading for rocks.’’
Speaking further, the lawmaker said the powers to secure Nigerians squarely falls on the President.
He said: “Who’s responsible is the question. We have governors. We have National Assembly members. Who’s responsible for the safety, security of lives and properties of the people of this country? Without fear of political misrepresentation, it’s Mr President.
“We must ask ourselves questions. Insecurity issues will never be discussed correctly if you don’t detach political affiliation from them. Is Mr President aware of what is going on in this country? Before people are killed, one of the operational commandants must be responsible.
“Who allowed that thing to happen? Who are the various security agencies that are supposed to protect the lives of the people, of course, the armed forces, call them? We vote money to these agencies every year and we provide a supplementary budget to them.
“We must hold someone accountable, there must be someone somewhere that has neglected his responsibility.’’
Contributing to the debate, Bamidele Salam (PDP, Osun), said the parliament must rise to hold the government accountable.
“We have come to a situation in this country where evil is perpetrated and no one is held accountable for the perpetration. We are the privileged class. We move around with convoys and security men. We are being paid to occupy this position of privilege by the sweat and taxes of some people.
“The part of this motion that touched me was the reference that there were early warning signals, the information given to security agencies about the plans by some terrorists to attack innocent persons and this information was not acted upon by the security agencies.
“Is it that they feel the information is not important or that there are people they can’t touch? We must get to the root of this matter. This has to come to a stop. It appears there’s an absence of government from the executive level. The parliament must rise to that responsibility,” he said.
In his contribution, Fatuhu Mohammed (APC, Katsina), accused the security agencies of abdicating their constitutional mandates.
“I advise that we, the National Assembly, need to do more than we think we are doing. When it’s the appropriation period, we don’t take things seriously. These people will come and present their budget and we approve and they move on.
“There’s no oversight, so how do you checkmate them? It’s business, there’s no military coup, so they know the only way they can make money is through this. In my constituency, no security agency is doing its job.
“They all ask for money. None is willing to come out and protect the lives and properties of Nigerians. I don’t understand what is happening in this country,” he said.
In his remarks, the Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase (APC, Plateau), who presided over the plenary, regretted that the early warning signals were not heeded.
He also revealed that police personnel was supplying uniforms to bandits.
“The early warning that was given is not being followed. I brought the motion and it was well debated. This situation is not about politics. Anyone that wants to politicise this is making a huge mistake. In my own community, we heard a soldier, who was supposed to be in Zamfara, given a pass for consecutively six months, was giving uniform to the bandits.
“Till this moment, he has not been taken to court. I want you to understand the complicity of security agencies in this matter. Why would you give your personnel six months pass? Even when we raise motions, it’s sufficient for security agencies to act but they are adamant. Drastic actions must be taken against some officers,” he said.
On his part, Bello Kumo (APC, Gombe), suggested that the NSA and the defence minister should be relieved of their duties for not being diligent in their duties.
“I believe the President of the country is responsible for every action or inaction that happens in the land. He took an oath that he was going to perform his responsibilities and duties without fear or favour. I believe he’s old enough to give this country the leadership it requires, but why I blame the President is, why would he believe in the monopoly of knowledge.
“Why would you continue maintaining one national security adviser all these years of your government? The NSA is supposed to present to the President an executive summary of the security situation of the land, and the President will act on his advice.
“So, why keep someone who cannot think outside the box? If the President means well for this country, he must sack the National Security Adviser and the Minister of Defence. A minister that cannot move to Kaduna when there is train attacks, how can he coordinate the defence apparatus?”
Adopting the motion, the House called for the sack of the security heads.
It also urged the President to, as a matter of urgency, direct the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence Staff, the Inspector General of Police and the Director-General of the State Security Service to initiate a coordinated joint security operation and provide aerial surveillance support to flush out the terrorists, destroy their camps, particularly at Kambari in Taraba State and Bangala in Wase Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The House also urged the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, to establish military bases in the affected communities in Angon-Gyero, Kyensar in Munbutbo, Garga, Kyaram, Gyambau, Kukawa, Dada areas of Garga, Dugub in Kanam Local Government Areas; Zurak Pinau, Zak, Sabon gari, Dogon-ruwa, Gimbi, and Yuli of Wase Local Government Area; Gwamu, Barkin amar, Kwata, Nanido, Tungan Shishsi, Gora, Kurmin shofol.
The parliament urged the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, to immediately deploy mobile police force squadrons to maintain law and order and provide Mobile Police Force Squadron formation in the affected communities.
It equally urged the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development through the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to immediately provide relief materials to victims of the communities attacked within Kanam Local Government Area.
The House mandated its Committees on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness, Armed forces (Defence, Army, Navy, Air force), Police, National Security and Intelligence as well as Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance and furnish it with a weekly report until the insecurity was brought under control.
FG to unveil those behind Abuja-Kaduna train attack —Gen Magashi
Meanwhile, the Federal Government said yesterday it would soon unveil the identities of those behind the attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train.
The government also blamed the unfortunate incident on what it described as an unholy handshake between Boko Haram and bandits operating within the area.
It said that although security agencies were still working hard to unveil the group behind the attack, a preliminary reports showed that the criminal groups were collaborating, urging Nigerians to also collaborate with the government to smoke them out.
Recall that Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had revealed that the attack on the train was carried out by Boko Haram terrorists, working in collaboration with some bandits operating in Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto Niger, and Kebbi states.
But responding to questions from State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, retd, and his Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, assured that government was on top of the matter.
Magashi, while responding to a question on whether the government had identified those behind the attack, said: “Honestly, I think the security chiefs are working hard to unveil those involved, and we will tell you very soon those carrying out these attacks.
“On both attacks in Jos and Kaduna, we will come and explain to the public what is really going on and our efforts to ensure that all these activities are stopped once and for all. We are really on top of the situation, we are planning hard and we will get it out as soon as possible.”
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Mohammed, said: “What is happening now is that there is a kind of an unholy handshake between bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
“Preliminary reports of what transpired at the Kaduna train attacks showed that there is a kind of collaboration between the bandits and the dislodged Boko Haram terrorists from the northeast. I can tell you very confidently that the Federal Government is on the top of this matter.
In the 72 hours ultimatum by families of victims of the train attack to secure their release or take their fate into their hands, and what the government was doing to meet the ultimatum, Mohammed said: “I think the Minister of Defense has already addressed the issues.
“One, what the Federal Government is doing won’t be the subject matter of a press conference, because we have lives at stake.
“The various arms of security are working night and day to unravel the mystery surrounding the attack as a whole. On the kidnapped people, what I can assure you is that the respective arms of government are working to get those victims released.
“It’s natural for anybody, who is a father or a mother of a kidnap person to be worried and to be concerned. But at the level of government, we appreciate that and we are leaving no stone unturned, but we’ll not give you the specific steps we’re taking.
“I think it will be counter-productive and will not help those who were kidnapped or help the security forces, who are tracing and ensuring that there’ll be no repeat of such attacks.”
Peter Obi on killings
“The reported killing of over 100 people in Plateau State and over 20 persons in Benue State is horrific and totally unacceptable. Such violence questions the government’s ability to protect lives and properties. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of these wicked acts.
“As a nation, we cannot be insensitive to the ongoing bloodletting and targeting of the most vulnerable and helpless in our society. Security measures must be proactive and holistic, more so, in areas close to ungoverned rural and urban communities. Nigeria must cease to be a killing field. These numbers are human beings and loved ones of many families.”