John Shiklam in Kaduna and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) yesterday took to the streets in Kaduna, Bauchi, Niger and Kano States to protest the escalating security challenges facing the North.
In Kaduna, the protesters who marched peacefully from Waff Road to the Kaduna State House of Assembly Complex demanded an “immediate end to banditry, terrorism, and Kidnappings in Northern Nigeria.”
They carried placards and banners with various inscriptions such as: “Stop the killings in the North,” “Empower SWAT to end insecurity,” “End Boko Haram now,” End Banditry Now,” “The North is Bleeding,” and “Stop Rape Now.”
The protesters were received by the Chief Whip of the Assembly, Hon. Shehu Yunusa.
Addressing the Chief Whip, the coordinator of the protest, Mr. Sa’ad Bako, said the CNG was compelled to protest the unending insecurity in the North.
The group lamented the recent violent attacks on innocent people in Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Borno, Adamawa and other northern communities and other disturbances across the North.
“This sadly, has ultimately placed the current federal administration of President Muhammad Buhari and a section of the northern political, cultural and spiritual leadership on the wrong side of public opinion – and history.
“The rise in the spate of banditry, kidnappings, cattle rustling and bloodshed in the North has become a major trying point for everyone but the authorities – who have remained detached from the reality,” Bako said.
The group demanded: “An immediate and comprehensive improvement of security in the nation, most especially all over Northern Nigeria.
“The federal and state administrations should address major failings in their perception of the current desperate situation and their response to the people’s demands for their rights to security.
“A total overhaul of the leadership of the national security agencies, a review of the entire national security architecture and the national security committees in order to inject higher levels of competence, integrity and accountability in the manner they deal with the security challenges in the nation and particular the North.
“The promulgation of legislation to compel the review of the salary and general incentive packages of all men of the security services.”
However, hundreds of suspected thugs disrupted the protest, organised in Kano by the CNG against the lingering security problems in the North and petrol price and electricity tariff increment, among others.
Two journalists and scores of others were injured in an attack by the suspected thugs during the peaceful protest tagged #EndInsecurityNow, along the Kabuga to Kofar Famfo area in the metropolis.
The protesting youths carried various inscriptions on the placards written “Arewa is Bleeding,” “Stop the Killings in the North,” “Empower SWAT to Stop Killings, Kidnappings, Rape,” and so on.
The two injured journalists identified as Mr. Aliyu Samba and Mr. Abba Gwale are working with local media organisations in the state.
The incident occurred when the protesters were gathering at their meeting point along Bayero University Kano road to proceed with the protest.
It was gathered that some hoodlums descended on them and dispersed them.
One of the leaders of the protesters, Mr Usaini Adamu, said the thugs, brandishing dangerous weapons, invaded the gathering, at the opposite BUK old campus and started attacking members of the CNG.
According to him, “Only a few of us sustained some minor injuries because security operatives promptly intervened and dispersed them.
“We were grouping here; suddenly these thugs descended on us and started beating us. Most of us scampered for safety while some of us resisted until security agents arrived and dispersed them.
“Now the security agents have given us a cover to read our press statement and leave,” said Adamu.
The spokesperson of Police Command in Kano, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, said the incident has been reported and promised that investigations to reveal the persons behind the attack had commenced.
In the press statement signed by the CNG’s spokesman, Mr. Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, the group said the protest, which would spread across the North-western region of the country is to show concern over deteriorating national security and other pressing issues.
Youths in Bauchi and Niger States under the aegis of CNG also staged a protest yesterday morning to demand an end to insecurity, poor road infrastructure, and the epileptic power supply in the North.
The protesters visited the government house and the state police command in the two states to deliver their messages to the government.
They also backed the creation of Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) team, saying it is in a better position to tackle various forms of security threats such as killings, banditry, kidnapping, rape, and Boko Haram terror attacks in the region if they are fully equipped and trained.
In Niger State, the protesters decried the poor condition of road infrastructures in the state, which they describe as death traps.
“This peaceful protest is not against any movement, it is not against any government, we are here to only show our grievances that as Nigerians we are not enjoying what we should enjoy,’’ they noted.
They urged the federal government to fix all its roads and address poor power supply in the entire Northern states.