There’s excruciating pain in the land as insecurity ravages. Samuel Ajayi writes
Unconfirmed reports had it that security agents killed at least 250 bandits in Kaduna on Thursday. Ordinarily, that should be gratifying.
But the scepticism, with which Nigerians received the news, if at all it was true, was an indication that Nigerians no longer trust the nation’s conventional security set-up to protect them.
This might be far-fetched, but the statistics are scary and Nigerians have every reason to worry over the worsening security situation in the country.
Since the beginning of the year, there have been over hundred cases of kidnappings across the country with the majority of them happening in the northern part of the country. Apart from kidnappings, there have been bandits’ attacks in villages across the Middle Belt states especially, Benue State.
In Adamawa State, Michika Local Government to be precise, Boko Haram insurgents were said to be having field day attacking villages and taking away their foods and cattle while many agrarian towns and villages are facing food shortages as farmers could barely go to farm. For instance, in Kaduna State, the state government banned felling of trees randomly to save the environment and the forest and preserve young trees from being felled before they reach maturity.
However, this directive has been observed in abeyance as felling of trees has continued unabated. But what government directive has not been able to achieve, kidnappings have achieved that.
A Kaduna resident told THISDAY last week that as a result of spate of kidnappings, loggers don’t go to the forest again. The resident, who did not want her name in print, said they defied government’s directive but kidnappers have forced them stay off the bushes.
“When government gave the directive, they didn’t obey. However, they have now stopped going to the forest to fell trees, because kidnappers have turned the forests to their operating bases and people are being kidnapped in random and as a result of that, many loggers have now stayed away from the tree felling.”
In January alone, Kaduna State has the highest number of kidnappings since the beginning of the year. But it was not only Kaduna State.
On January 2nd this year, herdsmen and suspected militia stormed the village of Tawari in Kogi Local Government area of the state and killed more than 20 people. The invasion took place in the night and 19 people died on the spot.
The attack, many claimed, was a reprisal for killings of four suspected kidnappers, who were of Fulani extraction. Vigilantes from Tawari were said to have tipped off security agents, who killed these suspected kidnappers in the Lokoja-Abuja expressway. In Benue State, few weeks ago, about ten people were killed by same suspected herdsmen in Adayohor village along Uver-Giv Sevav road in Gaambe-Tiev, Logo Local Government area of the state.
A 45 year-old farmer was killed by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen in Karaji community in Lokoja Local Government area of Kogi State around same period.
In Michika Local Government area of Adamawa State, Boko Haram and herdsmen are said to be having a field day in the area as they usually storm the villages in the area and storm out as they like to either kidnap villagers or steal their farm produce.
Senator Elisha Abbo, representing Adamawa North Senatorial District in the National Assembly said he could barely go home.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate, he said his step-mum, a nursing mother, was kidnapped by Boko Haram members and farmers were either killed or ran out of their farms.
Last year, July to be precise, same Senator had his uncle killed by gunmen.
Just last month, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi, and a soldier were dispatched to the great beyond. Their deaths came following their abduction by insurgents.
As if that was not enough, a student of the University of Maiduguri, Ropvil Dalyep, was killed along Maiduguri-Damaturu road on his way to Maiduguri to resume school. Last week, the Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, said he would immortalise the slain student.
In same Borno State, the electricity company serving the state capital said the insurgents had cut off electricity supply to the state capital effectively removing the city from the national grid.
On January 23 this year, a popular traditional medicine practitioner, Alhaji Yusuf Oko Oloyun, was brutally murdered in Oyo State while commuting between Oyo and Ejigbo. His killers are yet to be found.
Just this last Thursday, four people, including two mobile policemen were killed by armed robbers in Ile-Oluji, in Oluji/Oke-Igbo Local government area of Ondo State when the robbers stormed two banks in the state.
The banks were branches of First Bank and Polaris Bank. Ironically, the policemen were in the town for a different function entirely, when the robbers spotted them on the way to the banks to carry out their dastardly act.
They opened fire on them and killed the two officers instantly. Two other customers were also killed during the operation. In Zamfara State, many local governments have been taken over by bandits, who cross the border from neighbouring countries without any hindrance. In Niger State, some members of National Assembly had to send an SOS to the federal government to save them from bandits, who terrorise them on daily basis.
The only safe highway connecting Yobe and Borno State, the Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, has been taken over by bandits especially, the Boko Haram insurgents.
While these security challenges are proving overwhelming for security agencies, governors of the South-west region came up with Operation Amotekun, a security initiative, in December last year to combat insecurity in the region.
After initial political bickering over the initiative, all is now set to roll out the initiative with Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, announcing that forms for intake into the security outfit would be out next week.
Thus, with the recent purchase of three helicopter gunships by the federal government and the intervention of the National Assembly, hope is high that the ugly trend might subside in the weeks ahead and ultimately, stamped out.