Insecurity and Calls for State of Emergency

Insecurity and Calls for State of Emergency

The increasing spate of insecurity, which has almost brought the country to its knees,  has made the calls on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on security to persist, Adedayo Akinwale writes

It is obvious that the biggest problem Nigeria currently faces beyond the parlous state of the economy is the general insecurity. From North to East and West to South, it has been a story of sorrow, tears and blood as the lingering insecurity pervades the land. No day passes by without a story of one Nigerian killed or kidnapped by the blood-thirsty bandits whose modus operandi is to kill, maim and kidnap for ransom.

Initially, their nefarious activities and heinous crimes were restricted to the North-west where mining cartels fuel banditry to keep their businesses running. This was done primarily to divert the attention of the government. Most states in the North-west where people have suffered banditry for years was as a result of mining activities going on in the affected states.

The criminal elements later graduated to kidnaping secondary school and university students for ransom in the northern part of the country. Later, they permanently relocated their crime base to the highways where they kidnap scores of travellers almost on a daily basis with reckless abandon. 

While a lot of people minimised their travelling because of kidnapping, the bandits decided to hunt for their prey in their houses and kidnap them for ransom.

It was based on this alarming trend that 48 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria under the auspices of the Civil Society Joint Action Group last Monday called on President Bola Tinubu to declare a state of emergency on kidnapping and other forms of terrorism.

The coalition lamented that at least 2,423 people have been killed, while 1,872 persons have been abducted since the beginning of President Tinubu’s administration.

The coalition was of the opinion that the president should promptly prosecute the 400 sponsors of terrorism arrested under former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Moreso, it called on the president to uncover and prosecute those responsible for the misappropriation of the $460 million earmarked for the provision of CCTV cameras in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The coalition lamented that over the past decade and a half, insecurity in Nigeria has spiralled due to a variety of violent phenomena, including but not limited to terrorist activities in the entire northern region of the country, terror pillages otherwise known as ‘banditry’ in the North-west, killing of farmers in the Middle Belt including the Benue Valley, secessionist struggles in the South-east, piracy in the southern coast of the country, inter-communal attacks, political violence, cult-gang violence and kidnapping. 

It noted that these forms of insecurity have jeopardised the security and wellbeing of Nigerians, and have progressively deteriorated over the years.

For instance, recently, 30 villagers were abducted in an attack on Tashar Nagule village of Batsari Local Government Area (LGA) of Katsina State. This came on the heels of the abduction of 23 people in Kawu community in Bwari Area Council of the FCT on January 11. 

Similarly, 50 people, including 36 women were abducted in an attack on the Magizawa community in Kaura Namoda LGA of Zamfara State. 

Over 400 people were also killed in repeated attacks on communities in Mangu LGA of Plateau State, including the gruesome massacre of over 200 people in communities in Bokkos and Barkin-Ladi LGAs on the eve of Christmas in 2023.

Meanwhile, 30 passengers were abducted near Katari along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, 45 passengers were kidnapped in Orokam on the Benue-Enugu route underscore the gravity of the situation. 

The story was the same in the nation’s capital where several communities in the FCT and neigbouring communities with Niger State are under siege, as entire families and in some cases, communities are taken hostage. 

The gory story also continued on Monday with the kidnapping of five pupils of Apostolic Faith Group of Schools, Emure Ekiti, and four staff members. At the moment, their abductors are demanding N100 million as ransom for the release of the nine victims.

Their kidnapping followed the killing two Ekiti monarchs — the Onimojo of Imojo, Oba Olatunde Olusola, and the Elesun of Esun Ekiti, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin, while the Alara of Ara Ekiti, Oba Adebayo Fatoba, narrowly escaped.

The traditional rulers were returning from a function in Kogi State when their vehicles ran into the suspected kidnappers who were operating on the highway between Ipao and Oke Ako in the Ikole LGA of Ekiti State.

Unfortunately, banditry, terrorism and kidnapping have adversely discouraged farmers from going to their farms, thereby not only fuelling hunger and poverty.

However, the ugly trend received the attention of the National Assembly on resumption of plenary last Tuesday after one month break for the New Year. The lawmakers lamented the spate of insecurity in the country and noted that urgent actions were needed to avoid escalation.

To this end, the Senate re-invoked its earlier resolution to summon the service chiefs and heads of security agencies in the country to find out efforts being made to address the situation and what had been hampering their works.

At the same time, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, has urged President Tinubu to take tough decisions to curtail the rising insecurity in the country

 “Indeed, the time has come for the president to demand greater performance and accountability from our service chiefs and all security and enforcement agencies. I implore the president not to shy away from making the tough decisions,” Tajudeen noted.

The spokesman for the House of Representatives and lawmaker representing Ekiti North 1 (Ikole / Oye) Federal Constituency, Akin Rotimi broke down in tears on the floor of the House over the killings of two traditional rulers in Ekiti State.

The lawmaker noted that there has been an increase in criminal activities in Ekiti North 1 (Ikole / Oye) Federal Constituency in recent times, resulting in the loss of lives and property.

Surprisingly, while the federal government was quick to freeze the bank accounts of donors and recipients of funding for #EndSARS, it has failed to take concrete action to protect citizens against organised crime. 

Against this background, a former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has slammed Tinubu for going on a private visit to France while insecurity had taken over the country.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2023 election, who took to his verified X account, however, asked Tinubu to step aside if he could not handle the affairs of the country, saying Nigeria “doesn’t need a tourist-in-chief” at this time.

He lamented the spate of kidnapping and banditry, which he claimed had overtaken the country, while the president was in France.

Atiku said: “Tinubu is playing fiddle while Nigeria is drowning in the ocean of insecurity. To imagine that the Commander-in-Chief is on a so-called private visit while kidnappers kill a nursing mother and grandmother in Abuja for failing to pay N90 million ransom and two monarchs killed in Ekiti, among other regular tragedies besetting Nigerians.

“If the shoes are too big for Emilokan, he should step aside. Nigeria does not need another tourist-in-chief. The country needs 24/7 leadership to confront the pervasive insecurity and collapsing economy.”

In swift response, the presidency lambasted Atiku for accusing President Tinubu of fiddling in the face of mounting security and economic challenges confronting the country, insisting the president was on top of domestic affairs.

“President Tinubu did not travel without informing Nigerians of his whereabouts. He announced a private visit to France and announced a return date,” Onanuga said.

With the new low that the country has attained, no one can deny the fact that the country is gradually sliding into chaos. Apart from declaring a state of emergency on kidnapping, which has been canvassed for by Nigerians, the federal government should designate kidnappers as a terror group. 

If the federal government is serious about making any headway and putting an end to kidnapping and banditry in the country, it must go after their sponsors and bring them to book.

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