Chaos as Boko Haram, Bandits Spread Tentacles

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

RingTrue BY Yemi Adebowale  Email: yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com    08054699539

Kebbi State was the most peaceful in the entire North-west until few days ago when that serenity was shattered by bandits who invaded Sakaba Local Government Area of the state and killed 12 people, including the Divisional Police Officer, SP Jimoh Abdullahi, eight of his men and three local vigilantes. Makuku area of Sakaba was the precise slaughter house when the bandits attacked last Sunday, April 25. The policemen were overwhelmed by the better-equipped attackers. It was the first time any community in Kebbi State will come under militia attack since the guerrillas commenced their murderous activities. Seven days after the heinous crime, not even one of the attackers has been apprehended. So sad! Kebbi State has joined the inglorious club of bandit-ravaged states.

Boko Haram has also, for the first time, berthed in Niger State. They are in Kaure, a community that is about two hours’ drive from Abuja. Governor Abubakar Sani Bello spent most of this week lamenting: “I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements here in Niger State, here in Kaure. I am confirming that they have hoisted their flags here, meaning they have taken over the territory. The wives of the villagers have been seized from them and forcefully attached to Boko Haram members. I just heard that they have placed their flags at Kaure. This is what I have been engaging the federal government on. Unfortunately, it has now gotten to this level. If care is not taken, even Abuja is not safe. We have been saying this for long. All our efforts have been in vain.”

The Niger State Governor is asking for a more coordinated military activity to flush out Boko Haram from Kaure. Where will that come from? The military is already overwhelmed, poorly-equipped and poorly-motivated. Otherwise, Boko Haram would not be moving deeper and deeper into other states. There is really no formidable force to stop them. That was why the terrorists returned to Geidam town in Yobe State last week, killing and maiming. The military post in the town simply tipped and there was no help from other formations. As at press time, the terrorists were firmly in control of the town.
Boko Haram also reentered Adamawa State nine days ago with an incursion into Kwapre, a village in Hong Local Government Area of the state. Thousands of people were displaced with scores killed. During the attack, so many houses, worship centres, markets and schools were burnt. There were also reports of massive abductions in Kwapre by the guerrillas.

Last Monday, the terrorists attacked Gwoza, Borno State, leaving behind blood, tears and pain. The previous week, they took the battle to an Army Super Camp in Mainok, Borno State, killing an officer and scores of soldiers. The terrorists are manifestly spreading their tentacles to other parts of the North-east and beyond, with ease. Is it that they have more men than our military? This is not true. Boko Haram fighters are not more in number than Nigerian soldiers. However, they have showed that they are better equipped with better intelligence network. What the terrorists further found out of recent was that the barriers against their expansion did not really exist. They were obviously surprised by the ease with which they could move beyond their current strongholds. That was why they advanced further.

It is shocking to see terrorists move in convoys for several kilometres unchallenged in our towns and villages. So, what has happened to the Directorate of Military Intelligence? Is the Department of State Security dead? What about the intelligence departments in the various police commands? It is obvious that intelligence gathering has also collapsed in all security agencies. With the way Boko Haram, Fulani militias and bandits are spreading their tentacles, the entire North may be consumed. I heard Governor Bello warning that Abuja itself is no longer safe. The Fulani militias and bandits are already in so many southern states, with so many abductions recorded daily.

Has President Muhammadu Buhari suddenly forgotten that he took an oath to protect Nigerians? He has refused to rise and perform his constitutional responsibility of shielding Nigerians. Our security agencies evidently lack the capacity to end Boko Haram’s madness. They lack the capacity to stop Fulani militias, bandits and other terrorists ravaging this country. President Buhari seems unaware that the pain across Nigeria is unbearable. He has refused to act, perhaps, waiting for the whole country to be consumed by terrorists? My submission on what should be done to stem terrorism has not changed: We must hire the best brains from anywhere in the world to assist our military end this war against Boko Haram, bandits and Fulani militias. The ultimate aim is to decapitate them and bring peace to our country.

The strategy for getting result against these terrorists is obviously largely through aerial power. Technology, quality equipment and quality manpower will be needed. It requires quality fighter jets, quality armoured attack helicopters and quality attack drones. Our gallant military lacks the competence, manpower and equipment for these. So, this country must hire Israeli or Russian mercenaries to finish these terrorists. This is the only way forward for Nigeria.

Regrettably, Buhari still does not understand the significance of hiring foreign military contractors. Begging him to seek help from abroad has not yielded any result. There is no point continuing with this futility. The other option is to urge the Senate to impeach Buhari. Unfortunately, senators who believe in this don’t have the number needed to impeach the President. We have a coldblooded (rubber-stamp) National Assembly. This is why this country is in a quagmire. For how long will the slaughtering of Nigerians by terrorists continue? A tough question begging for answer. Nigeria is in a big mess. We are in a “one chance” bus.

On the flip side, Fulani militias are still striking with frightening ease in Kaduna State. They roam freely, enter anywhere they like, kill and cherry-pick those to take away. That was how, few days back, they attacked Haske Baptist Church in Chikun LG, killing a medical doctor while four other worshippers were abducted. In the same Kaduna State, in a show of sheer callousness, the militias have so far killed five of the students abducted at Greenfield University in cold blood. The terrorists are still holding on to 18 other students, while insisting on N800 million ransom. Just under the first four months of this year alone, 35 persons have been killed while 145 other members of the Baptist Church in Kaduna State alone were kidnapped by the militias. It can only happen in Nigeria.

Opeyemi Bamidele and Federal Character Quagmire
The endless lopsidedness in federal appointments by the Buhari government is the major factor stoking agitations for Nigeria’s breakup. This is the truth that must be told. President Buhari is unperturbed. The more we shout, the more he does it. How do you explain the situation whereby virtually all heads of military and paramilitary agencies are from a section of this country? Why should most of the key federal government departments and agencies be headed by people from a section of this country? This must not continue in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society like Nigeria. Buhari evidently cares less about the unity of this country.

It was heartwarming hearing a key voice from the Senate joining this clamour for the respect of Nigeria’s federal character law. It was the voice of Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, cautioning Buhari against further lopsidedness in federal appointments in the country.

During the screening of Justice Salisu Garba Abdullahi, as Chief Judge of High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Bamidele specifically asked the presidency to henceforth adhere strictly to the federal character principles in further appointments to all the arms of government. He insisted that the provision of Section 14 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as altered), as it affects the issue of federal character, must be adhered to at all times: “The need for merit and compliance, in the consideration of citizens for an appointment, including the ones that will come before the Senate for confirmation, must be re-emphasised for the record.

“Adequate care must also be taken to ensure that the federal character principle established by virtue of the clear provision of the 1999 Constitution is not undermined. For the avoidance of doubt, the above-cited Constitutional provision clearly states that ‘The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
Bamidele tasked those who participate in the process of executive and judicial appointments in the country, especially individuals and bodies saddled with the responsibility of making recommendations to the President, to ensure compliance with both the eligibility criteria and the federal character principle.

He argues that the federal character law was put in the Constitution, “to avoid heating up the polity unnecessarily and eroding the unity and strength of our country and in the process, weakening the foundation of our country as well as the hope of its federating units.”
Bamidele added: “We have an extremely bright and exciting future in one indivisible and indissoluble nation that is propelled by unity in diversity and all hands must be on deck to ensure this aspiration is guided jealously. This shall remain our guiding principle in the 9th Senate under Senator Ahmad Lawan’s watch as we continue to guard jealously the spirit and letters of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which we all swore to protect in the overriding public and national interests.

“May I also add that it is not only morally and politically correct to ensure compliance with Section 14 (3) of our Constitution, establishing the federal character principle. It is in fact, a fundamental obligation imposed on government and all its functionaries as contained in the preceding Section 13 of the said 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered), which unequivocally states that ‘it shall be the duty and responsibility of all organs of government, and of all authorities and persons, exercising legislative, executive or judicial powers, to conform to, observe and apply the provisions of this Chapter of this Constitution.”

Those around the President, who genuinely believe in the unity of this country, should pass Bamidele’s message across to him. In a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like ours, federal appointments must be balanced. This ensures sense of belonging for all.

Buhari Should Swiftly Sign Amended AMCON Bill
In beloved Nigeria, bank debtors live big and file all sorts of court cases to frustrate repayment. Many of them fly around in private jets while their debts remain unattended to. More often than not, these borrowers do a lot of diversions of the facilities obtained from the banks. The amended bill of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, passed this week, which empowers the corporation to seize all assets of debtors, whether used as collateral or not for the loan, should address recalcitrance of debtors.

The amended bill empowers AMCON to, amongst others, take possession, manage or sell all properties traced to debtors, whether or not such assets or property are used as security/collateral for obtaining the loans. It also empowers the corporation to access the Special Tribunal, established by the Banking and Finance Act 2020, for dealing with financial matters. Stringent measures are clearly needed to recover loans from unruly debtors. The amended bill would help AMCON recover over N10 trillion with these defaulters.
Buhari’s assent is urgently needed for this bill. The President should do the needful so that AMCON can get down to work.