This Jungle Called Nigeria

4

Ring true

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By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

Unending tales of abductions in Nigeria are dizzying. Just imagine your daughter going for the mandatory National Youth Service and few weeks later, some coldblooded bastards call to say that she had been captured by them and you need to pay N50 million ransom for her freedom. That was the shock the parents of Chinwe Faith Onyiwara got last week when the poor girl, who was serving in a village in Epe, on the outskirts of Lagos, was captured and her abductors called them for ransom.

Chinwe was abducted on November 29 on her way to attend a Community Development Service (CDS) meeting. The unfortunate girl was kept in a swampy forest for seven days in dehumanizing condition. Kudos to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, who coordinated the team that rescued Chinwe last Monday. We were told that the ring leader of the kidnap gang, 31-year-old Moses Ofeye, was arrested with gun wounds. I would like to see punishment dished out to this bastard and other members of his gang in full. This is the only way to halt this ugly abduction trend in Nigeria. Culprits must be seen to have been punished.

Mother Nigeria has become a jungle where, daily, people are abducted and killed, and the perpetrators of this heinous crime are barely apprehended and punished. Kidnappers not only take people on the roads but in the comfort of their homes. Let’s flip to Niger State where the District Head of Madaka, Alhaji Zakari Yau, his wife, as well as the village head of Koki and five others were kidnapped by bandits on Tuesday night. The bandits strolled into the communities and cherry-picked eight people. Security operatives arrived hours after the bandits had disappeared. This is Nigeria for you.

This same Koki village was attacked by bandits last Monday, with 11 villagers killed and 20 others injured in an operation that lasted more than five hours. This is the third time Koki will be attacked this year. Many of the victims are at Kagara General Hospital. In his usual rhetoric, Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, said security operatives had been mobilised “to carry out air and land surveillance with the sole aim of tracking and arresting the bandits that have again been terrorising the communities.” That is where the story will end until another attack takes place.

The wife and kids of Dr. Abubakar Idris, a lecturer with the Federal University, Dutsinma (FUDMA), Katsina State, are still anxiously hoping that he would return home, over four months after his abduction. Idris, who lectures at the Department of Languages and Linguistics of the institution, was abducted on August 2, 2019 at his second residence in Shagari Low-cost Housing Scheme in Kaduna State. The abductors have neither called for ransom nor disclosed any reason for his abduction. The FUDMA Public Relation Officer, Habibu Matazu described the scenario as inhuman, adding, “the Management of FUDMA has reported the missing of Abubakar Idris to all the relevant security agencies in Katsina and Kaduna states” without result.

When lawbreakers are not arrested and chastised according to the law, they are emboldened to commit even worse crimes. This is precisely what has been happening in mother Nigeria of today. There are numerous examples of the ineptitude of the police in this regard. My heart bleeds whenever I remember the killing of two NYSC members in Bayelsa State and the police’s failure to apprehend the killers. In March this year, gunmen stormed the residence of a private school proprietor in Swali, a suburb of Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, and shot three members of the NYSC staying in a lodge provided by the school’s proprietor.  While two of them died in the attack, the third one was critically injured. Popoola Olamide, a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University/indigene of Oyo state and George Onokpoma from Delta State were murdered by these bastards. The walls of the room were riddled with bullets while blood soaked the floor; the blood of innocent young Nigerians, whose only crime was heeding the call to serve motherland.

The Police in Bayelsa State have been behaving as if a grievous crime had not been committed. Two months back, they paraded those who bought items stolen from the murdered NYSC members and not their killers. I checked yesterday to know if any progress had been made but there was no positive story from the Bayelsa State Police Command. The so-called manhunt for the gunmen who killed the hapless NYSC participants was just a pretense. The murderers are still at large. I am again challenging IG Adamu to smoke out the killers of Olamide and Onokpoma. The culprits must be arrested and brought to justice.

Few weeks back, kidnappers walked into Engravers College, Kakau Daji, Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State and cherry-picked six female students and two staff of the college. The girls and their teachers spent 23 days in the dungeons of their captors. The victims eventually secured freedom, largely based on the efforts of their parents, concerned indigenes of the state and a retired Army officer, who mobilised N13.6 million to meet the demands of the kidnappers. Several weeks after the release of the Engravers’ girls and their teachers, no word yet on apprehending their abductors. Like in previous cases of abductions, it may never happen. Those who inflicted pain on those children, their parents and teachers are enjoying their loot.

Many will never forget the story of late Jeremiah Omolewa, who was the resident pastor of Living Faith Church, Romi New Extention, in Kaduna. Jeremiah, and his wife, Oluwakemi, were abducted along the notorious Kaduna-Abuja Road on August 10. He was murdered by his abductors. No news yet on the arrest of the bastards that killed this clergyman and extorted money from his family. The pain inflicted on the Omolewa family was massive.

Justice Chioma Iheme-Nwosu of the Court of Appeal, Benin, Edo State, regained freedom after spending 15 days in the dungeon of her abductors. She was kidnapped in Benin and her police orderly, Inspector A. I. Momoh, killed by the gunmen. Yes, an Appeal Court judge was snatched in Nigeria and security agents are yet to smoke out the criminals. It is even more painful that while the kidnappers were communicating with the family of this judge, our security agents could still not track their location. The family of this judge paid a ransom to secure her freedom.

What about the PDP Woman Leader, Mrs. Acheju Abuh, killed during the Kogi State Governorship election? When will security agents apprehend her killers? These crimes reoccur because criminals are hardly apprehended and brought to justice in Nigeria. Enough of rhetoric. Our security agencies must track down culprits and make them pay for their crimes.

On the flip side, weird killings have been going on in Boki Local Government Area of Cross River State for weeks, unrestrained by our security agents. This area is plagued by incessant cult activities, land and boundary disputes and kidnapping, resulting in scores of innocent people being killed. IG Adamu needs to send a special force to Boki.N672m Vehicles for Zamfara Legislators ?

At some point, I thought Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State would do things differently from the profligate Abdulazziz Yari. I thought he would be a bit decent in managing the resources of this poor and traumatised state. I thought the state’s legislators would show some respect for the poor people of Zamfara State by shunning extravagant lifestyle. My hopes have been dashed by Governor Matawalle with the alleged splashing of N672 million on official vehicles for the lawmakers. Each of the 24 Zamfara lawmakers got a Toyota Camry 2018, V6 Limited Edition. Apart from the official vehicle to each of the 24 lawmakers, the six Principal Officers of the House got additional Toyota Prado.

The 24 Toyota Camry purportedly cost the state government N420 million. The six Prado supposedly cost N252 million. Each of the Toyota Camry was procured at N17.5 million. This is simply profligacy. Poor Zamfara should not be seen spending this much on official vehicles. Governor Matawalle did not even buy the cars assembled in Nigeria to encourage our local industries. He did not patronise PAN Nigeria or Innoson Motors.

At the end of their tenures, the lawmakers will purchase the vehicles at a give-away price; perhaps, a N100,000. In all, N672 million goes down the drain in a state where many go to bed without meals and wake up not sure of breakfast. Imagine what N672 million would do the poor people in Zamfara State. Imagine the impact of this money on the state’s tattered public hospitals and schools. As I pen this piece, thousands of Zamfara indigenes are battling with hunger, ailments and lack of shelter. In this same state, N672 million was released for the purchase of official vehicles. These politicians are simply coldblooded.

Excesses of Federal Revenue Generating Agencies

Kudos to the Auditor-General of the Federation, Mr. Anthony Ayine for drawing the attention of Nigerians to the provisions of Section 162 (1) of the 1999 Constitution which stipulate that “the federation shall maintain a special account to be called the federation account into which shall be paid all revenues collected by the government of the federation.” Revenue generating departments and agencies of the federal government have persistently ignored this aspect of our constitution, while recklessly spending revenues generated for the country. I am shocked that the state governors are not protesting. This money should be going into the federation account to augment what they will get at the monthly revenue sharing meetings.

Ayine revealed that out of the N6.4tn generated by just three big revenue collection agencies in 2017, about N1.5 trillion was deducted and not remitted into the federation account in violation of the provisions of the Constitution. The Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation, disclosed this in its audit report for 2017 which was released on Wednesday in Abuja.

Ayine said the money was deducted by three agencies without authorisation. The agencies are the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Department for Petroleum Resources. The 320-page report said that while the NNPC generated N2.41 trillion, it made a deduction of N1.3 trillion before remitting the balance of N1.07 trillion into the federation account.

For the DPR, it said the agency generated N733.05 billion, deducted and paid N26.77 billion into a royalty account before remitting the balance of N706 billion into the federation account. The report also said that the FIRS generated N2.66 trillion but paid about N2.45 trillion into federation account.

Ayine in the report expressed concern about the deductions, stating that it had impacted negatively on the funds available for allocation to the three tiers of government.

For me, all deductions at source by all departments and agencies should be stopped as they violate Section 162 of the 1999 Constitution. The federal government should make provision for the running of these agencies in its recurrent budget expenditure. Going forward, heads of all defaulting agencies involved in unauthorised deductions should be removed, and new ones with clear mandates engaged. This is the only way to truly fight corruption. For the governors, I expect them to swiftly tackle the federal government over these illegal deductions by its agencies.