Who Will Stop These Killings?


The security agencies are ineffective. They are due for overhaul

Nothing highlights the desperate situation in which Nigeria has found itself today than the harrowing words by the governor of Sokoto, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal on the tragic incident last Wednesday in his state: “We buried 32 people yesterday but when we were leaving the area, they brought additional seven bodies…these marauders invaded Tabanni village, killing and maiming people. They never took away even a chicken; they only came to kill.”

What is very clear today is that the Nigerian state is losing the dominance of the machinery of violence to non-state actors. With the Boko Haram devastation still on in the North-East and free-wheeling criminalities in the south and middle belt, it is safe to say that Nigeria has fallen so badly short in peace and security. There is therefore an urgent need for the federal government to apply the wedge and pull the nation back from the brink. Until that is done, the body count will keep mounting to our collective shame.

As we have repeatedly stated on this page, perhaps aside the 30-month civil war, Nigeria has never been so threatened by security challenges as it is today. This year alone, there have been over a dozen deadly attacks at different locations across the country, claiming hundreds of lives. Yet, it is the blatant failure of the authorities to pursue these murderers and bring them to book that has directly encouraged further commission of such heinous crimes in different locations across Nigeria.

Against the background that the killings in Sokoto and Zamfara States have put paid to speculations that the violence in the country today is targeted against a section of the country or worshippers of a particular religion, it is important for the nation to rally if we must defeat the demons that trouble our land. But while we condemn in the strongest terms the violence, we are particularly worried that these incessant attacks come at a delicate period in our history. The sad reality is that our country is almost becoming a bandit territory with all manner of criminals on the loose, taking the lives of innocent citizens without any provocations.

Unfortunately, that the authorities place little premiums on human lives is demonstrated by the number of policemen drafted for yesterday’s gubernatorial election in Ekiti, one of the smallest states in Nigeria. When politics takes precedence over national security, it is no surprise that the lives of ordinary citizens now count for little in our country. That should worry the current administration that came to power with the promise to address the challenge of insecurity.

In a 2013 report titled “Leave Everything to God: Accountability for Inter-Communal Violence in Plateau and Kaduna States, Nigeria”, released by the United States’ Human Rights Watch, the federal government was accused of ignoring every “horrific sectarian violence” even when children and women were victims. The report put much of the blame for the culture of impunity in the country on “an already broken criminal justice system” while “the Nigerian authorities have taken no meaningful steps to address underlying grievances” or bring to justice those responsible for the bloodshed.

What the foregoing says quite clearly is that this culture of impunity persists because the relevant security agencies have allowed free reins to the entrepreneurs of violence who now ply their nefarious trade all over the country, without being challenged. And under the current atmosphere, it is difficult to persuade investors that Nigeria is good for business. After all, no one would want to take his business to a dangerous zone with no guarantee for safety of investment, life and property. That is why we reiterate the call for a total overhaul of our entire security architecture so it can effectively combat the challenge of the moment.

To the extent that the right to life is the ultimate measure of all rights, it should worry President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigeria is gradually descending to the Hobbesian state of nature where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.

It is the blatant failure of the authorities to pursue these murderers and bring them to book that has directly encouraged further commission of such heinous crimes in different locations across Nigeria