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By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Saad Abubakar, has expressed concern over the spate of insecurity currently ravaging most parts of northern Nigeria.
He lamented that bandits were fast overrunning the north, carrying out their activities openly and moving from house to house unchecked.
In the same vein, president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Samson Ayokunle, and the Catholic Archibishop of Abuja, His Grace Ignatius Kaigama, also expressed dismay at the level of religious intolerance in the country.
The Sultan who spoke at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), in Abuja, on Thursday, said that bandits now move from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK 47 openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items without any challenge from the security agencies.
He lamented that north had become the worst place to live in Nigeria because of the “completely” collapsed security system.
He said: “Security situation in northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation, regretting that no strong media platform could report the story to the world. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there alongside the governor to commiserate with the affected community. Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the north. We have accepted the fact that north don’t have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.
“People think north is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country. Because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and no body is charging them. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it.
“I am not only a traditional ruler, I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the north in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would loose sleep because of insecurity,” he said.
Sultan said that as religious leaders, they are expected to promote peace, love, unity and tolerance among their followers.
He said that their discussion at the close door session of the meeting was meant to come up with strong suggestions for government.
The Islamic leader also spoke on the scrapping of the Special Anti Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS, saying that the withdrawal of the security outfit may have resulted in increase in crime.
“We heard people calling for the scrapping of SARs, the President scrapped SARs and the same people came saying they should bring the Police back, there is insecurity everywhere. We cannot do without the Police, we cannot do without our security agencies, no matter how bad the agency is, there are still so many excellent people within that agency, what we need to do is to fish out the bad elements from these agencies and then reform the agency and have a better force,” he said.
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, in his remarks, said the recent increase in petrol price had added to the pain Nigerians were undergoing, adding that federal government should quickly reverse the hike in fuel and electricity tariff.
“That’s not what we sent them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible,” he said.