Asks AGUNLOYE ADEWUNMI BASHIRU
The security situation in Nigeria in the past four years is worrisome. It has been a frequent occurrence of the deadly strike of Boko Haram sect, while the news of herdsmen carnage, kidnapping, banditry, cultism and many other violent related activities have been having their own free days.
All the above security challenges have now placed Nigeria on number three spot as the most terror – affected country as reported by the Global Terrorism Index. Kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, gang wars are the greatest challenges that the country is now facing.
The security situation in Nigeria at the moment can be compared with a Yoruba adage that says “Eewu be loko longe, longe fun ara re, ewu ni”, which literally means “there is danger in the farmland of Longe (Longe is name of a Yoruba Legend), Longe himself is a danger”. This can be used to describe the situation in Nigeria today.
Unlike the Boko Haram insurgency that affects mostly some parts of North -East states of Borno, Yobe and others, herdsmen violent that have resulted in heavy human and material losses in the middle belt of Nigeria, particularly in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Taraba States. Kidnapping is now the most virulent form of banditry in Nigeria. Individuals, groups, mostly school children have been kidnapped in various parts of the country. Kidnapping has also made travelling by road around the country to become very dangerous.
Records show that Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnapping for ransom cases among the countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
At the moment, Nigeria is in the grip of a kidnapping crisis because the tide spans every region and is cutting across every socio-economic class.
According to the Nigerian Police, 685 kidnappings occurred across the country in the first quarter of this year alone. Thousands of Nigerians have fallen victims and millions of naira paid as ransom, while those unlucky kidnapping victims lost their lives in the course of their abduction or rescue operations, many of who were not made public by the authorities.
In the words of one-time United States of America’s Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell: “Nigeria is experiencing a wave of kidnappings. In the past, kidnapping has often had a political dimension. The current wave is different. It is nationwide, rather than confined to a specific region. It appears to be purely mercenary; the goal is to extract the maximum ransom possible rather than advancing a political agenda. Kidnapping victims now include the entire social spectrum, rather than being confined to those with some money or property. Nobody is exempted.”
Interestingly and very unfortunate, the situation whereby the Nigerian Government itself paid ransoms to kidnappers in high profile cases called for sober reflection and the question arises that “where are we heading to as a Nation?”
This is a country where the police that supposed to protect the citizens are underfunded and men of the Force are equally under-trained to nip the current tide of kidnappings across the regions of the country in the bud. Also in a country where the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, declared that “only spiritual warfare can help defeat Boko Haram, negating the previous claim by the military that the terrorist group has been defeated.
Boko Haram continues to destabilise the North-East where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced goes contrary to the statement of the President Muhamadu Buhari that the Federal Government would bring an end to the national suffering inflicted by the notorious terrorists groups. Eight local governments in Borno State are today said to be under the control of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province and the groups have established foothold in those areas.
Human rights activist, Dr. Joe Odumakin, disclosed in an Interview with the Sunday Independent Newspaper of October 20, 2019 (page 10) that “in the last four years ,they have told us different kinds of lies that they have defeated Boko Haram in Borno State. I was speaking with some guys who are from Borno State recently and they said everybody in Borno State knows where the headquarters of Boko Haram is. It is in Borno State. No security man would ever go there. So, the will is not there”.
Herdsmen carnage in the Middle Belt that involved the attacks of predominantly Christian’s farmers by herders pose another serious problem to Nigeria survival as a nation. In 2018 alone, over 2,000 people were killed in such clashes and many thousands displaced.
God forbid, Nigeria may be heading to what leads to the activities of Boko Haram if not well managed and it may result into protracted unending conflict soon; the conflict that occasionally involving the Islamic Movement of Nigeria with Ibraheem Zakzaky as leader. Since 2015 when the leader of the sect was arrested, over 400 members of the group have been reported to have been unlawfully killed.
According to the Amnesty International, the security forces’ use of automatic weapons and horrific use of force were excessive. Also, the Human Rights Watch reports that on July 22, 2019, Nigeria Police fired apparently unlawfully on a peaceful protest by the Islamic Movement Group in Abuja, killing 11 protesters including a journalist and a police officer, while dozens of others were wounded.
We should not forget in a hurry that the clampdown on the sect was how Boko Haram insurgency group started in 2009.
In my opinion, with the way our security challenges are being handled and managed by the Nigerian Government, there is no assurance of any lasting solution to the unending problems soon.
.Agunloye wrote in via [email protected]
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