ENDING THE VIOLENCE IN THE NORTH

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President Buhari must do more to secure the country

Despite the repeated claims by the military that Boko Haram has been degraded, the dreaded terror group has continued to unleash a reign of terror on lives and property in the North-east. The increasing wave of bloody violence, particularly in Borno State, heightened within one week in June, where 17 attacks were reportedly carried out, most of which were fatal. For instance, Boko Haram killed 81 in Faduma Kolomdi in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State on 9th June and barely four days later, the extremist Islamic group launched another attack, killing 29. Last March, 29 soldiers were killed by the insurgents in a single attack. As a result of the deteriorating security situation, even the hitherto supportive Northern Elders Forum (NEF) led by Professor Ango Abdulahi came out recently to accuse the president of not doing enough to safeguard lives and property.

Indeed, that the security situation is getting out of hands is perhaps an understatement. According to many reports, Boko Haram insurgents have killed no fewer than 40,000 Nigerians since 2009 while 2.4 million other citizens have been displaced. Sadly, most of them can no longer reunite with their families.

Meanwhile, the activities of the terror group have brought Nigeria into a group of extreme countries as it was ranked 12th on Open Doors World Watch List 2020 released recently. Nigeria was ranked among “extreme” countries where there is the highest level of religious intolerance, and where many are exposed to unnecessary deaths.

Nigeria, as highlighted by the group, was in the same league with Syria (11th); Saudi Arabia (13th); Iraq (15th); Egypt (16th) and Sri Lanka (30th). The development generated concerns in the United Kingdom as a group of over 100 British parliamentarians from different political parties from both the House of Lords and the House of Commons on the platform of All-Party Parliamentary Groups (APPG) on International Religious Freedom or Belief on June 16, said it was worrisome that Nigeria, a Commonwealth country, could be ranked among “extreme” countries. The group, in a 56-page report, decried the level of killings in Nigeria without any appropriate response from the authorities.

As the reign of terror continues unabated in the North-east, bandits have also continued to unleash mayhem in the North-west where herdsmen are killing, raping and maiming innocent people. Last month, bandits hacked over 70 citizens to death in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State, while scores of others were killed in Southern Kaduna and their communities burnt. To underscore the unbearable level of killings and destructions being meted to Nigerians in various parts of the country, Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, has become a protest ground in recent times. Last week, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) organised a massive protest and threatened to mobilise yet more protesters to carry out rallies over insecurity across Northern Nigeria.

As things stand, it is not enough for the president to threaten security chiefs as he did during a recent security council meeting. The real news is that the president acknowledged the failure of the service chiefs, yet still refused to do what is needed. He must yield to popular demand to relieve the security chiefs of their duties and inject fresh blood into the armed forces. We therefore task President Buhari to demonstrate his commitment to security matters by putting in place measures that will restore confidence of Nigerians that they are indeed safe. Without that, faith in our democracy and commitment to core national values will be permanently jeopardised by the state of insecurity.