For How Long will Killings, Abductions Persist?

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RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

I woke last Tuesday morning with my pillow drenched in tears; tears for the unending killings and abductions in our country. I sat on the edge of my bed asking numerous questions and agonising about the burden on families of victims. Why is it that evil people hide within our country, repeatedly abduct, rape, collect ransom and are hardly apprehended by security agents? Why is it that some lunatics go about killing and maiming in the name of bandits, killer herders and Boko Haram, and they are hardly captured? Why is a country not at war losing such a large number of people to violent deaths?

Is guilt not gnawing the souls of those charged with the responsibility of protecting hapless Nigerians? Are those being paid to protect us not ashamed of their unending failings? Why is it that our security agents persistently come out bald-headed, claiming to be on top of the situation, whereas, they are far away from it? I often grimace at their words. Even President Buhari and his team don’t seem to know the way out of this mess.

Abduction has become big business, with security agents showing frightening ineptitude. Captors communicate with families of victims for weeks, using telephones, yet, security agents are unable to track and smoke them out. The latest in Nigeria’s orgy of killings and violence is the attack on 26 Federal Road Safety Corps officers last Monday while traveling from Sokoto and Kebbi States Command to Enugu for training at the FRSC Academy in the state. The bandits waylaid them somewhere in Nasarawa State, leaving in its trail deaths and anguish. Two of the hapless Nigerians have been confirmed dead. As at press time, some of the FRSC officers were still with their abductors who are demanding ransom. Not even one of the bandits has been apprehended. One would have expected attack helicopters hovering over the crime scene to smoke out the criminals. Nothing of such is happening.

In this same country, last week, a 33-year-old officer of the Department of State Services, Sadiq Bindawa, who was on a visit to his native Katsina, was traced to his house and abducted. His colleagues at the DSS offices in Katsina and in Abuja, (he worked at the DSS HQ) could not save him. It is a big shame that the DSS could not even save one of their own. How then will they save the rest of us – civilians? After Bindawa’s friends and relatives paid N5 million as ransom, he was murdered by his abductors, who wanted N13 million. His corpse was dumped at Kurfi area of the state last Sunday. One of his friends lamented: “We went to Kurfi on Sunday hoping to pick him as directed but we saw only his corpse with parts of the body riddled with bullets. We reported the incident at the Batagarawa Police Station.”

The family of a retired American army officer of Nigerian descent, Major Jide Ijadare, spent most of this week negotiating ransom for his release. If they rely on the police for his rescue, they will probably wait till kingdom come. He was abducted early this week on his farm (one of his staff kidnapped with him), in Ijan Ekiti by gunmen, who also killed one of his workers at the farm. Ijadare returned to his native land to develop his community by setting up a palm oil-producing factory. This is what he got for returning to motherland. Ijadare was freed yesterday after paying an undisclosed amount of money as ransom. In this same Ekiti State, gunmen walked into the Ado Ekiti residence of a director in the Ekiti State Local Government Commission, David Jejelowo, and killed him. No trace of the killers yet. It may never happen.

Even at funerals, people are abducted in Nigeria. That was what happened when four persons were kidnapped at a burial in Bonny, Rivers State last Sunday. Seven days after, there is still no trace of the abducted men. Their families are in pain with security agents not helping matters.

In Kaduna State, bandits entered Prince Academy located at Damba-Kasaya village in the Chikun Local Government Area and cherry picked three female students, a male student and a female teacher. That was almost four weeks ago. The parents and the school authorities are on their own, negotiating ransom with the abductors.
Kaduna State is in such a big mess. A 14-year-old girl, an official of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and a police officer, who were abducted by bandits at their homes at the Mararaban Rido area of Kaduna metropolis on August 28, were last week killed by their abductors after collecting ransom. Kaduna State remains a killing field.

Even Abuja, the headquarters of all our security agencies now record cases of abductions. Bandits entered Tunga Maje area of the FCT last week and abducted 20 people. The hostages, including Onyinyechi Eze, a 100 level student of University of Abuja had to pay for their freedom. Captors demanded N20 million for Onyinyechi, before the family and members of her church – St John The Beloved Catholic Church, Tunga Maje – sent an undisclosed amount to secure her freedom.

Anarchy still reigns supreme in Katsina and Zamfara states, with scores abducted or killed daily in these areas. Fulani militias have been inflicting pain on Hausa farmers, unhindered. In Buhari’s home state, bandits have made Faskari their headquarters, maiming and killing. The Dutsinma-Yantumaki road has become a no-go place. In neighbouring Zamfara, two Shariah court judges kidnapped two weeks ago are still in captivity. The kidnappers are demanding N20 million ransom. The judges, Salihu Abdullahi and Shafiu Jangebe, were abducted on their way back to Zamfara from Maradi in Niger Republic. In neighbouring Sokoto State, bandits, early Thursday morning, killed the Divisional Police Officer of Gidan Madi police station in Tangaza Local Government. The gunmen also killed another police officer said to be the DPO’s orderly before abducting two wives of a prominent businessman in the area. The policemen were ambushed and killed while trying to rescue some abductees.

Former Senator Shehu Sani asserts: “Northern governors are still playing the ostrich, afraid of confronting the federal government and taking independent action to protect their people while the killings and the kidnappings go on. The north has become a region of endless funerals and perpetual bereavement. Bandits in the north have become a state; they impose fines and taxes, send notices, control spaces, determine life and death and operate without much challenge. Banditry has further impoverished the north and turned it into a cemetery.

“The lives of ordinary people in the north have become cheap, dispensable, disposable and ordinary. The pervasive insecurity in the north is reinforced and sustained by the silence and sycophancy of its elite as much as the inaction of the government. Muslims are not much being seen as victims of the killings in the north because many Islamic leaders prefer to massage the image of the government in the face of the killings of their followers, while Christian clerics are leading protests in the streets. The north must wake up, buckle down or perish.”
Clearly, our dear country is drifting towards a failed state, and according to Olusegun Obasanjo, firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.

Playwright and Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka was apt when he said, “Nigeria is a suppurating slaughter slab, and it boggles the mind that supposedly wise and lettered men, sheltering under any religious mandate, would go into a solemn huddle to ‘legitimately’ augment the toll of mindless killings that now plague the land.”
He adds: “Does anyone deny that it was this president who went to sleep while communities were consistently ravaged by cattle marauders, were raped and displaced in their thousands and turned into beggars all over the landscape? Was it a different president who, on being finally persuaded to visit a scene of carnage, had nothing more authoritative to offer than to advise the traumatised victims to learn to live peacefully with their violators?

“And what happened to the Police Chief who had defied orders from his Commander-in-Chief to relocate fully to the trouble spot – he came, saw, and bolted, leaving the ‘natives’ to their own devices; any disciplinary action taken against ‘countryman’?”

The level of clumsiness of our security agencies is sickening. A total overhaul is necessary if we want result. To do this, the present leadership of the security agencies must make way for a result- oriented one that will address the issues of equipment and quality manpower. As for our President, he should be ashamed of these unending killings in Nigeria. The buck stops on his table. Buhari should shape in or ship out.

Samuel Ortom

Why is Ortom Wailing over Gana?
Blubbering by anybody for the Benue bandit and mass killer Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana, is obscene. Weeping for a terrorist, rapist, mass killer, robber, kidnapper and destroyer? That’s what Governor Samuel Ortom has been doing since the death of Gana. He is not pleased with how the military ended Gana’s life. Ortom is even asking for the release of the arrested “repentant militias, vehicles and other items” confiscated by the army during the operation against the terrorists. Is this an indication that Ortom benefitted from Gana’s lawlessness while his reign of terror lasted?

Was this governor one of the politicians using the bastard called Gana during elections? I just hope it’s not true. This evil man had access to the governor while the masses of the people can hardly access him. Gana was the most wanted and feared criminal in Benue State, with plenty of blood on his hands. At a point, he was the most dangerous in the entire North-central. Hundreds of Gana’s victims in Ukum, Logo and Katsina-Ala LGAs are celebrating his killing and deservedly too. Their state’s governor is the only one not celebrating.

In 2015, Ortom granted amnesty to Gana and 500 other terrorists with huge cash attached. They deceived the government by dropping a bit of their weapons. Gana and his boys returned to his life of terror just after few weeks, forcing Ortom to place a N10 million bounty on him in 2016.

So, Ortom’s argument that Gana was coming to embrace another amnesty when he was killed does not hold water. Why weren’t soldiers and other security agencies carried along? This fraudulent terrorist was simply coming to deceive the people of Benue state again, if indeed, he was on the way to cuddle amnesty. He would have returned to his life of crime and kidnapping because he knows no other occupation.

At a point, Ortom told a bewildered nation that the terrorist was picked from a government convoy heading to Makurdi and killed by the Nigerian Army. Haba! What was Ortom trying to achieve? The military’s account that he was killed in battle sounds plausible. It is obvious that Gana and members of his gang engaged soldiers in a gun duel. The governor’s fear that Gana’s killing may intensify terrorism in the state is tripe. Some also argue that the army could have spared Gana and then extract useful information about his terror gang. What more information do they need about this terrorist and his gang? Why didn’t the United States spare Osama Bin Laden so that they could get more information from him? The killing of Gana sends out a strong message to other terrorists in Benue. They will eventually be killed if they refuse to give up terrorism.

The military should go all out and clear Gana’s boys. More good news came on Monday that troops had destroyed his hideout at Adu, in Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State. His camps in forests surrounding Benue and Taraba states should all be destroyed.