By Yemi Adebowale; email@example.com; 07013940521
Scores of people are slaughtered daily by the evil Boko Haram sect in Nigeria and all we are suddenly getting is the government and religious leaders arguing about the creed of the victims. This week, apparently reacting to claims by CAN, President Muhammadu Buhari reeled out statistics to show that Boko Haram had killed more Muslims than Christians, insisting that 90 per cent of deaths from attacks by the terrorists were Muslims. Haba! The man that should be leading the war to tame the monster called Boko Haram is busy reeling out immaterial figures to show that more Muslims than Christians have been killed. Honestly, I don’t understand what Buhari is trying to prove. Victims of Boko Haram are first human beings before creed. The life of every human being matters. Leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria should also understand this. Yes, CAN has the right to speak out for Christians, but this debate about whether more Christians than Muslims have been killed by Boko Haram is absolutely unnecessary. I am shocked that our President is involved in these shenanigans. Emphasis should be on how to destroy the bastards called Boko Haram. There should be no competition on the faith of the victims. The spokesman of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, was apt when he recalled that Buhari promised to ensure the protection of Nigerians when he was campaigning for office in 2015, adding: “How could the President, who was talking about competence some years back, who promised to secure Nigerians, now be telling us after five years that Boko Haram has killed more Muslims than Christians? How does that sound in the ear?”
The President has been rightfully receiving knocks over his heartless Boko Haram Statistics. The President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) who was a former member of the House of Representatives, Jonathan Asake, remarked: “Buhari’s statement goes to confirm that Nigeria is indeed putting up with a President who does not have regard for the sensibilities of people of other faiths, other than his. It is incomprehensible, appalling and totally disgusting to hear such utterances from the lips of a man that is supposed to be the father of all, irrespective of one’s ethnicity or religion.”
My take away from the persistent criticism of Buhari by CAN is that Buhari should perform his constitutional duty of protecting lives. The President of CAN, Reverend Supo Ayokunle, was very clear when he urged the President to rise up to his responsibility of protecting lives and property in the country.
By now, our President ought to have stopped this fiction that the terrorists had been degraded. He reiterated this in his recent article in “Christianity Today,” a United States-based magazine. Buhari wrote that since he assumed office in 2015, his regime had not relented in fighting the insurgents, adding that to a large degree, the insurgents had been weakened by the Nigerian Armed Forces. He said: “Boko Haram is no longer one, unified threat, but fractured into several rivals. These splinters are themselves degraded: reduced to criminal acts which target smaller and smaller numbers of the innocent. We owe thanks to the Nigerian defence forces, bolstered by our partnership with the British, American military and other countries that we are winning this struggle in the field.” Haba! For how long must this trickery continue? Only, recently, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State drew attention to the fact that three local governments in the state are controlled by the terrorists. They roam freely in virtually all the local governments in the state. Daily, the terrorists kill and maim score of soldiers and civilians. Military formations are not spared. Even the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, Major Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, was recently attacked and his driver killed. So, why is our Chief Law Officer still saying that the terrorists had been degraded? The security agents are evidently not making progress with this scam.
On the flip side, the dispatch to the federal government by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), calling for the adoption of stringent measures to tackle the deteriorating security situation in Kaduna State, deserves special attention.Kaduna can be conveniently described as the epicenter of abductions and banditry in Nigeria. At a point, traumatised residents of Rigasa, in Igabi Local Government Area of the state, had to go on the streets to protest the high rate of abductions in their community. Another Kaduna community persistently attacked by bandits and kidnappers is Kajuru.
I still remember how kidnappers walked into Engravers College, Kakau Daji, Chikun Local Government Area and cherry-picked six female students and two staff of the college. The victims eventually secured freedom, largely based on the efforts of the parents, concerned indigenes of the state and a retired Army officer, who mobilised N13.6 million. Many will never forget late Jeremiah Omolewa, the resident pastor of Living Faith Church, Romi New Extension, in Kaduna, murdered by abductor. Pastor Elisha Numan of Nagarta Baptist Church in Angwan Makiri, near Udawa, was also slaughtered by his kidnappers.
SOKAPU wants security agencies to do everything possible to protect residents of this state. The union’s spokesman, Luka Binniyat, said: The situation in Kaduna State is frightening. It is impeding economic and social activities in the area.”
Kaduna State surely deserves special attention. Just last week, the wife of a Kaduna-based doctor, Philip Ataga was found dead, barely seven days after she was kidnapped alongside her two kids. She was abducted after gunmen broke into their home at Juji community in Chikun Local Government and killed over the inability of her husband to pay a N50 million ransom. The bandits slaughtered Mrs. Ataga, dumped her corpse, called her husband and directed him to pick the corpse at a particular location. The woman’s bullet-ridden body was found inside a bush in Kakau area along Abuja- Kaduna highway. Thereafter, the bandits made a demand of N20 million ransom for the release of the children. An undisclosed amount was paid before the two kids were freed.
Few weeks back, gunmen stormed the hostel of The Good Shepherd Major Catholic Seminary, Buwaya, Kaduna, and abducted four students. After an unrevealed ransom was paid, three of them were freed. The last victim, Nnadi Michael, was killed and dumped in the bush. Early in January, bandits attacked 10 Gbagyi communities in Chikun and Birnin Gwari council areas of the state and kidnapped 58 people. The bandits also attacked Gora-Gan village in the Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of Southern Kaduna on January 17, killing and maiming. The gunmen had invaded the village market square and opened fire on the youths, killing two of them on the spot. Governor Nasir El-rufai has to rise above religious sentiments and tackle the crisis in this state.
Full Complement of S’Court Justices Pertinent
As I pen this piece, there are only 13 Justices left in the Supreme Court of Nigeria. The 14th member, Justice Amiru Sanusi retired last Monday. The Constitution provides for a full complement of 21. It is not enough for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, to keep complaining that he and his colleagues at the Supreme Court are overworked. He has to swiftly initiate the process of appointing additional Justices for the apex court. President Buhari must also act quickly, as soon as Justice Muhammad does his own side of the job. Besides, the President is yet to act on the list of four Justices of the Court of Appeal already recommended by the National Judicial Council and sent to him for appointment to the Supreme Court since October 2019. Those recommended then were Justices Adamu Jauro, Emmanuel Agim, C. Oseji, and Helen Ogunwumiju. Buhari should please, do the needful in the interest of Justice by forwarding the names of the nominees to the Senate for confirmation. It’s over four months now and still nothing has been done. There is already a gap of eight Justices in the apex court, thus creating a harmful burden on the existing 13 Supreme Court Justices. This is why appeal cases pile up for years at the nation’s apex court. The President and Justice Muhammad must save this country from this avoidable discomfiture.
That Awkward N238bn Budget Approved for Customs
I still can’t understand why the Senate approved over N238 billion as expenditure for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for 2020 financial year, amid so much suffering in this country. If it meets its revenue target of N1.5 trillion, it simply means the NCS will spend almost 15 per cent of the revenue it collected. This is preposterous. The NCS ought to be a revenue generating agency, not revenue consuming one. Some of the things they plan to spend money on in 2020 are outrageous. The NCS now has humongous N124 billion to spend on capital expenditure. I really can’t comprehend the capital expenditure the NCS is talking about. Yes, the NCS will be spending so much on E-Customs project, the construction of new zonal offices, multipurpose theatres, warehouses, barracks and other accommodation across the headquarters, Zones and Area Commands.But it should not be for N124 billion. This is money that should go into the Federation Account. Recall that Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, while objecting to some items in NCS budget, as contained in the Senate committee’s report, queried the allocation of over N120 million for the purchase of television units. The NCS is evidently milking the masses of this country. The borders they monitor remain very porous. NCS officers are about the wealthiest civil servants in Nigeria.
Deregistration of 74 Political Parties
The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to deregister 74 out of the 92 registered political parties in the country was good riddance to rubbish. Giving justification for INEC’s action, INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu said that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) under the fourth alterations vests in INEC the power to register and regulate the activities of political parties based on clearly laid down rules. Yakubu has been aroused from his slumber. The 74 deregistered parties have breached the rules. I have spent years, canvassing for the reduction of the number of political parties in this country, based on this law.
One of the biggest problems INEC created for itself in the 2019 elections was the large number of political parties it registered. It was the first time in the country’s history that ballot papers had 91 political parties, which evidently created logistic glitches for the umpire. For the voters, it was horrendous, as they spent time sifting through the long list on the ballot papers clogged with all manner of political parties. Yes, it is part of democracy to allow as many political parties as possible, but for now, this country lacks the capacity to manage such a large number. Our election umpire does not even have the capacity to monitor the large number of political parties. The constitution amendments carried out by the 8th National Assembly substantially addressed the problem of multiple unusable political parties in Nigeria. I am very happy that Yakubu and his men have decided to activate the amendments to Section 225 of the 1999 Constitution. For me, there should be further amendment of the constitution to reduce the number of political parties to not more than five.