Insecurity was heightened in the Northeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria, particularly with the activities of insurgent group, Boko Haram, which at a point in time held a swathe of territory where it proclaimed as Islamic state. Things, however, changed with the coming of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, which has been able to restore relative peace to the zone. BEATRICE GONDYI writes.
The most hit regions of the northeast by Boko Haram activities are Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States. Though Bauchi State was not an epicentre 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 frisked. But this seems to be a thing of the past now as these measures have largely been relaxed.
When LEADERSHIP Friday visited major markets and parks in Bauchi metropolis, the atmosphere was relaxed and peaceful. People could be seen going about their normal businesses with a sense of satisfaction with the security situation in the state.
A visit to the Central Market revealed that unlike the practice in 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 Friday that the market has the worst and 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 to Muhammadu, who spoke in Hausa: “Well the truth is concerning the security situation in Central Market here when insurgency was raging, we ensured there are checkpoints all over the market. Before you entered the market then, you had to be scanned and if you were carrying any device or weapon, the scanner would show and 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 okay, not only in Bauchi but also all over Nigeria.”
“Before we took these security measures, a bomb was planted in this market. The bomb detonated, killing both buyers and sellers, which was during Yuguda’s tenure. A whole block of locked 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 person or miscreant 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 Friday that their customers coming to transact one business or the other in the market were not comfortable with the checking, saying that this affected their sales.
“The reason for scanning is to ensure
safety but many people disliked it because it shows lack of trust. As a result, many people were not keen on coming to this market again, but when the situation abated and we noticed people didn’t like it, we discharged the scanning machines.”
For Isa Mohammed Yana, a security operative and fee collector at Wunti Market, also in Bauchi metropolis, the security measures implemented 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 of an incident that happened.
“There was this Kolanut seller who used to come 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 was 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.
“There was another time I was checking a car and one woman wanted to enter the market and I asked her to stop so that I could check her bag but she refused and ran away. Those were the only incidents that I encountered. So far, the market has been peaceful,” Yana said.
He further revealed that the police had commended him for his role in ensuring the safety of lives in the market. He said, “There was a time when 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, head of 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. 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 loophole to strike. We check everything and everyone before permission to enter 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 sensitised our drivers to cooperate with constituted authorities, to submit to the routine checks and the drivers don’t have any problem with that.
“Since we started, there was no 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,” Alhaji Kafinmadaki informed.
When contacted on the security situation in Bauchi State, the police public relations officer, Kamal Datti Abubakar, informed that since his assumption of office, the state has not witnessed any rise in criminal activities and the police command in the state is doing everything to ensure the lives and property of citizens in the state.
He added that Bauchi State has remained peaceful and though it is bordered by neighbouring states like Plateau, Kaduna the crises bedeviling those states have not threatened the peaceful atmosphere of Bauchi.
The monitoring of incoming and outgoing movements of people has really helped in securing the lives and property of people in this market
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