Security is the backbone of any meaningful development in any society. In this report BEATRICE GONDYI writes on the giant strides of the Bauchi state government in the area of security.
The Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, is calling on the investing public to come to Bauchi state because it is safe, secure for business.
The governor’s call is hinged on the belief that with adequate security in place, business will thrive.
Nigeria is presently faced with security challenges that seem to have overwhelmed those saddled with the responsibility of protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.
Fully mindful of this, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar as soon as he assumed office as Governor of Bauchi State accorded top priority to security. This priority was concretised in the purchase and distribution of 25 Toyota Hilux patrol vehicles equipped with high-tech communication gadgets to security agencies in the State. The agencies included the Army, the Police and the State Security Service. This measure was not a one-off affair as the governor has remained consistent in his attention to security matters in the state making Bauchi the safest state in the North-east region and one of the safest in the country.
The Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who was in Bauchi early this year on routine and administrative visit to see the troops and the infrastructural developments that are currently going on within the barracks in the state, attested to the peaceful security situation in the state.
He explained that the reason why Bauchi State is peaceful amidst attacks by insurgents in other states in the north east, is the cooperation of residents and the collaboration of security agencies working in the state.
He commended the people of the state and the security agencies for the peace enjoyed in Bauchi, which is a huge departure from the current experience of other states in the north east which are still under pockets of attacks by Boko Haram.
Speaking with journalists at the Command Guest House, Bauchi, the COAS, who was in company with the GOC 3 Division, Jos, Major General Benjamin Ahanotu and other principal officers of the Nigerian Army headquarters, said: “It is interesting that there have been cordial relationship between the members of the public and the Nigerian Army here in Bauchi.
“You can see for a long time there had been a very peaceful co-existence and they are doing their job and the security situation in Bauchi has greatly improved through the collaborative efforts of all the security agencies – the Police, the DSS, and NSCDC, and most importantly the public are cooperating with us.”
Though Bauchi State was not an epicenter of Boko Haram onslaught on the Nigerian state, the state, which prides itself as Pearl of Tourism, had its own taste of terror attacks, with pockets of attacks on Winners’ Chapel at Yelwa and Central Market both in Bauchi metropolis and Azare town, the headquarters of the Katagum zone of the state.
With what people experienced in these places, stringent security measures were put in place to ensure the safety of lives and property in places like churches, mosques, markets, among others. With the measures in place, people could not enter any of those places without being thoroughly checked. But this seems a thing of the past now as these measures have largely been relaxed.
When LEADERSHIP Weekend visited major markets and parks in Bauchi metropolis, the atmosphere is relaxed and peaceful. People can be seen going about their normal businesses with a sense of happiness over the security situation in the state.
The former Chairman of Traders and Artisans Association of Bauchi state (TAABS), Alhaji Salisu Garba Maisuga commended Governor Mohammed Abubakar over the security situation in the state.
He said there is no security threat in the state. He added, “even when there are threats, it is quickly addressed by the governor.”
He said Bauchi citizens have cordial relationship with her neighbours and are living in peace.
A visit to the Central Market shows that unlike the practice in the recent past when security personnel manned every entry point into the market to frisk anyone coming in or out, buyers and sellers were seen moving in and out of the market freely without being subjected to any security screening.
The chairman of the market, Muhammadu SB, explained to LEADERSHIP Weekend that the market has the best security measures, saying that while the activities of Boko Haram insurgents raged in the North-East, management of the market ensured that there were checkpoints at various parts of the market to ensure that people were screened before coming into the market. According Muhammadu, who spoke in Hausa: “Well the truth is the security situation in Central Market here when insurgency was raging, we ensured there are checkpoints all over the market. Before you enter the market then, you must be checked with scanner and if there is any device or weapon you are carrying the scanner would show, then we would apprehend you and hand you over to the authorities. “That was how we operated for months, but now by the grace of God, the situation is now okay, not only in Bauchi but also all over Nigeria.”
Narrating what led to the security measure being put in place in the market, Muhammadu, described how insurgents attacked the market about a year and a half ago, stating that, “before we took these security measures, a bomb was planted in this market. The bomb detonated killing both buyers and sellers. “That was during Yuguda’s tenure. A whole block of lock-up shops was burnt and assets worth millions of naira were destroyed. This happened about one and half years ago.
“This led us to introduce those security measures and even though we are not checking people again, we have equally put in place plain clothes detectives in every part of the market who are vigilant and observe every person entering the market and if they are not comfortable with you they ask questions. “We have a security outfit in the market; we give them reflective jackets with the inscription ‘Security Central Market’. They go round the market to ensure everyone is safe and if they find any suspicious persons or miscreants disturbing the peace, they hand them over to the police.”
Despite the fact that the measure was put in place in the first instance to ensure safety of lives and property, the chairman told LEADERSHIP Weekend that their customers coming to transact one business or the other in the market were not comfortable with the checking, informing that this affected their sales. “The reason for scanning is to ensure safety but many people disliked it because it shows lack of trust,” Muhammadu said, adding, “As a result many people were not keen on coming to this market again, but when the situation abated and we notice people don’t like it, we have now discharged the scanning machines.”
For Isa Mohammed Yana, a security operative and fee collector at Wunti Market, also in Bauchi metropolis, the security measures the state government is taking have really curtailed the activities of the insurgents in the market.
“The monitoring of incoming and outgoing movements of people has really helped in securing the lives and property of people in this market because there was an incident that happened,” he said. “There was this Kolanut seller who normally comes here to stand at the gate and observe what I was doing pretending to be selling his Goro. By merely looking at him I knew that kolanut selling is not his profession. God so kind, one day around 5:30 pm he brought his kolanut as usual and security operatives came and surrounded him and it turned out he was an agent of Boko Haram.”
He further revealed that he had been commended by the police for his role in ensuring the safety of lives in the market. He said, “There was a time the Area Commander himself came and enquired why we stopped checking and I told him it was as a result of the relative peace and he told me that over 70 Boko Haram members who fled Maiduguri were arrested in Bauchi metropolis and said we should continue with the checking.”
On his part, the chairman of government bus operators at Yankari Express Park, popularly known as Tashan Mass, Maidawa, Alhaji Kafinmadaki, management of the park takes the issues of security in the park very serious.
“We thank God for peace in our park. If you look round you will see that people are being checked before coming in,” Kafinmadaki said.
“Although we have relaxed a little bit, we cannot relax completely even if the state is peaceful because the evil minded person is ever on the alert looking for any loopholes to strike. We check everything and everyone before you will be allowed into the park and if you are suspicious you will not be allowed in.
“Passengers, drivers and other people have been very cooperative with the security measures we have taken. They encourage us to continue and on our part, we have sensitized our drivers to cooperate with constituted authorities, to submit to the routines checks and the drivers don’t have any problem with that.
“Since we started, there has not been any attack in the park. The only incident was with a mad woman who left her bags which caused commotion among the people who thought it was a bomb. The police were called and it was discovered that it belonged to the mad woman.”
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