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SECURITY REINSTATEMENT IN NIGERIA

OUR HEARTS ARE HEAVY WITH GRIEF AND OUR EYES FULL OF TEARS

By: Prof. Usman Yusuf

1. A lot has been said and written about Nigeria’s deteriorating state of insecurity that one wonders what difference another voice will make. But, dark as the clouds may appear, depressing as the news may be, hopeless as the situation may seem, giving up is a luxury we can not afford. We owe it to our future generations to continue to raise our voices for the voiceless among us in the hope that things will change.

2. The deafening silence in the North to our people’s sufferings is not only morally wrong but it nourishes, validates and perpetuates the failings of our political leaders. Today, Northerners have literally become orphans with a living father on account of our silence.

3. I believed then as I do now that, no meaningful national development will be possible without security and if things do not change to halt the slide into this dark abyss very soon, the country may plunge into anarchy.

4. When I write about insecurity in the north, I write from the vantage point of one whose close friends and relatives have been victims to these marauding bandits. They roll into our villages in large numbers, three on each motorcycle, high on Tramadol and Cannabis, carrying nothing more than machetes and rusty AK-47s. They spend hours maiming, killing, burning, looting, raping, rustling cattle and kidnapping villagers for ransom.

5. These bandits are now literally the law in some of the rural areas in north western Nigeria simply because of the absence of any form of government in these villages. They roam the local markets with impunity carrying AK47 rifles slung over their shoulders.

6. On Friday 13th November 2020, BBC Hausa Service reported how farmers in some parts of Northern Nigeria now pay bandits tax and harvest fees before they can have access to their farms or avoid being abducted. This is exactly the same tactics used by Al-Shabaab in Somalia which is now a failed state.

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7. On Tuesday 17th November 2020, BBC Hausa Service again aired the story of the kidnapping of twelve Police Officers who were on their way for special duty from Borno to Zamfara state. It was distressing to hear the voice of the wife of one of the officers recounting how the bandits called her demanding ransom payment.

8. On Tuesday 16th November 2020, Radio France International Hausa Service also aired an interview with a Member of the House of Representatives from Niger state on the state of constant fear, frustrations, terror and hopelessness that his constituents are in due to repeated attacks by bandits.

9. Abuja-Kaduna highway, a 200km stretch of federal highway has now become the highway to hell because of repeated kidnappings by bandits. This highway is the most important artery in northern Nigeria connecting nine northern states to the federal capital and southern part of the country. Those that can afford to, are avoiding the highway by traveling by train with all it’s limitations.

10. On Saturday 14th November 2020, armed men invaded the official staff quarters of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria, Kaduna state, where they kidnapped a lecturer and two children.

11. On Sunday 15th November 2020, armed men kidnapped nine students of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria returning from an excursion on the same Kaduna-Abuja highway. These bandits demanded a ransom of N270 million. The students were freed after seven days in captivity.

12. In a village called Kanoma in Zamfara state on Friday 20th November 2020, armed bandits stormed the village on motorcycles in broad daylight killing five worshippers and kidnapping the Imam and 40 worshippers during Juma’at prayers at the main mosque. Kanoma is a community kidnappers target due to the number of relatively rich sugarcane farmers.

13. These stories are but a few that make the news, there are several of such incidents happening all across the rural north that go unreported. The Government’s response to these tragedies have largely been defensive, dismissive and oftentimes trivialisation of people’s sufferings. How else can one explain the Hon. Minister of Police Affairs’ statement that bandits have been “degraded” or the Military leadership visiting the Abuja-Kaduna highway to disprove the news that the highway is deserted due to the activities of bandits?

14. Whereas six weeks ago Nigeria’s insecurity was predominantly in the three geopolitical zones of the north, the aftermath of #ENDSARS protests have stirred the hornet’s nest and opened up new theatres of insecurity in all the three geopolitical zones in the south resulting in the whole nation being consumed by this national tragedy.

15. Southern Nigeria will see an upsurge of insecurity as an aftermath of #ENDSARS protests for the following reasons:

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{A}. The Police are not fully back on duty following the lynching of their comrades and ransacking of their stations and barracks.

{B}. Criminal elements are now in possession of AK47s that they stole from the ransacked Police stations.

{C}. Convicted criminals that were released from prisons by protesters are still at large.

{D}. Gang wars between Cults will increase as was seen recently in Benin City.

{E}. Armed robberies will flourish as was seen in the daylight robbery of a bullion van in Lagos.

{F}. Non-state actors will fill the vacuum created by the absence of law enforcement agencies resulting in warlords caving out their territories.

{G}. Any attempt to discredit Nigeria’s Police Force and it’s Armed Forces by tribunals, foreign organizations and the media will negatively impact Nigeria’s National Security going forward.

16. RECOMMENDATIONS

{I}. Government should as a matter of urgency, restrategise the war effort as the status quo is not working.

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{II}. Government should mobilise the whole nation on a war footing to tackle this menace by actively involving all stakeholders: Traditional rulers, Clerics, Community leaders, Youths, Political leaders and Security Agents.

{III}. Forest Rangers should be created using the youths in the affected communities who would be trained and supervised by the Military to be the boots on the ground in our unprotected forests where the bandits use as their hideouts.

{IV}. Unregistered SIM Cards: Should as a matter of urgency be blocked because bandits use them to communicate for ransom. There are numerous of them still in circulation, and appropriate sanctions should be meted to mobile operators for non-compliance.

{V}. NDLEA, Customs and Pharmaceutical regulators should clamp down on illegal importation, sales, distribution and use of Tramadol which is the drug of choice of bandits, Boko haram insurgents, Armed Robbers, kidnappers and Cultists.

{VI}. Sale of Petrol: Bandits use motorcycles that use petrol, so Petrol Stations should be mandated to stop the sale of products in Jerry Cans in affected areas or face stiff sanctions.

{VII}. Cattle markets: Bandits sell cattle they rustle in local markets, so the sale of cattle should be monitored and certificate of origin provided by local traditional rulers and the Police or DSS.

{VIII}. Local Intelligence must be cultivated as a vital tool in this fight.

{IX}. Political thuggery and Cultism should be banned and made illegal by the federal government.

{X}. Youths Unemployment: Needs to be addressed urgently.

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{XI}. ASUU Strike: Government should attend to the legitimate demands of ASUU to enable classes to resume in our Universities.

May God Almighty make it easy for us, Amin.

Usman Yusuf is a Professor of
Haematology-Oncology and
Bone Marrow Transplantation

#EAZYLEAEN

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