With just eleven months to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the spate of terror attacks, killings by gunmen and kidnapping for ransom has continued unabated across the country.
LEADERSHIP recalls that President Buhari had come to office on the platform of the then opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, vowing to tackle the three problems of insecurity, corruption and economy; however, with less than one year to go, Nigeria is still grappling with terror attacks, kidnappings and killings on a worrisome scale.
Just last month alone, non-state actors killed no fewer than Nigerians and abducted 265 in 421 attacks recorded between May 1 and May 30, 2022.
According to a report released yesterday by Beacon Consulting, a leading indigenous intelligence outfit, the attacks happened in 201 local government areas in 36 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The report, however, stated that there was a decrease of 58.1 percent in abductions and 36.3 percent fatalities compared to what was recorded in April.
The report partly read, “In May 2022, the government’s efforts significantly reduced the security incidents, fatalities and abductions compared with the figures for April 2022. A month-to-month analysis of the changes in the figures recorded in April 2022 and May 2022 show significant decreases of 58.1 % in abductions and 36.3% in fatalities. A comparison of the incidents that occurred in May 2021 and May 2022 reveals an 82.2% rise (231 – 421), a 39.3% decrease in abductions (437 – 265), and a 09.3% increase in fatalities (835 – 913).”
A breakdown by geopolitical zones indicated that 109 fatalities, representing 11.9% of the deaths for the month, occurred in the North Central ,196, representing 21.5%, in North West , South South 67 (7.3%,), South East 79 (8.7%) and South West 34 (3.7%).
30 Wedding Guests Kidnapped In Sokoto
Over the weekend, bandits abducted no fewer than 50 wedding guests travelling along the Sokoto-Zamfara road.
Among those abducted were telephone marketers at the popular Bebeji Plaza in Gusau, Zamfara State.
They were said to be returning to Gusau after attending a wedding of their colleague in Sokoto State when the incident happened between Tureta-Bakura Road at about 6pm on Saturday.
The vehicles conveying the wedding guests were a Toyota coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), a Gusau Local Government Secretariat staff vehicle and two other private vehicles.
The secretary of the Union of Communication in Zamfara State, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the abduction of 30 members of the union by bandits along Sokoto-Gusau Road.
Addressing newsmen in Gusau, the state chairman of the union, Kabir Muhammad Mukhtar, lamented that members of the union numbering about 50 were attacked by bandits while returning to Zamfara from a wedding fatiha in Sokoto State.
According to him, the members conveyed in Coaster Bus were attacked by the bandits who kidnapped 50 persons instantly but 20 of the abductees escaped.
“I can confirm to you that about 30 persons are now with the bandits in the bush,” he said, adding that already Governor Bello Matawalle had directed security agents to rescue the victims.
Police spokesman, Superintendent Muhammad Shehu, also confirmed the incident.
Zurmi, while narrating the incident to newsmen in Gusau yesterday, said one of the vehicles conveying the guests developed a fault at Tureta in Sokoto State and it was fixed by an automobile mechanic after about 40 minutes.
He said the bandits ambushed the vehicles after they repaired the faulty vehicle along Tureta-Bakura road and over 50 persons were abducted.
Zurmi said more than 20 persons later managed to escape, while some of them sustained various degrees of injuries.
“We have identified 30 members that are still in captivity, luckily today they used phones of those captives (about five of our members) to call us; they only notified us that they are with them.”
According to him, no ransom has been demanded yet by the bandits
The secretary of the union also suspected that informants might have informed the kidnappers about their movement
“Definitely something like that happened; we have that in our minds that there was an informant that gave the information to the bandits to attack them because it was just only them, other passenger cars were passing but they did not care about them; they only concentrated on the coaster bus that has Zamfara Government number.”
Zurmi appealed to relevant authorities for urgent intervention and to ensure safe return of the abductees.
He also gave a 48-hour ultimatum to security agencies and government authorities to ensure the rescue of the abductees.
Owo Attack: South West Governors Revisit State Police, To Strengthen Amotekun
Meanwhile, Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu yesterday insisted on the creation of State Police to further confront the insecurity facing the country.
Akeredolu stated this while receiving his Osun State counterpart, Mr Gboyega Oyetola, at the government house, Alagbaka, Akure, the state capital.
Oyetola was in Akure to commiserate with Governor Akeredolu over last Sunday’s terror attack on an Owo church.
Governor Akeredolu, while thanking the Osun State Governor for his visit, acknowledged his several calls since the incident occurred.
He said the last Sunday attack was better imagined.
“Our security architecture, we have to do something about it. What we are talking about now is the issue of state police. Restructuring is what we should be discussing. The police command in Abuja cannot ensure the security of the country.
“We face so many dire situations in this country and it is time for us to sit up, not the time for us to jump to a conclusion. We are the ones that will have to protect our people.
“Ekiti State Governor, Dr Fayemi has assured that the Amotekun in Ekiti will join hands with the ones in Ondo. Also, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State has promised to deploy some of the Amotekun vehicles in his state to Ondo state to help us track these criminals.
“We must pursue this cooperation in the Southwest. If there is an attack on any of us, we must mobilise Amotekun in other Southwest states.
“We believe our forest is invaded. We believe there will be an end to this terrorism. Terrorism of the highest order is what we are facing now in this country. Losing 40 people in a day is devastating,” he said.
Earlier, Governor Oyetola said there is a need to interrogate the security architecture in the region, adding that insecurity will not be allowed to fester in the Southwest.
“We have done so much in our zone in terms of cooperation on security, especially on Amotekun. Amotekun is doing well in the southwest, particularly Ondo State. Amotekun has been very active. We need to intensify efforts in ensuring that Amotekun is strengthened.”
We Have Done A Lot To Tackle Challenges – Defence
Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Lucky Irabor has revealed how security operatives averted what could have been the most devastating terror attack in the history of Nigeria in Kano.
He stated that the catastrophe was averted in Kano State the same week gunmen opened fire on worshippers at a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State.
He stressed that the security situation in Nigeria had improved in the last one year, adding that the incident in Owo does not take away that fact.
General Irabor disclosed this yesterday during his appearance on a Channels Television’s special programme, tagged ‘Democracy Day: Giving Hope To Nigerians’ monitored by LEADERSHIP.
He said, “Perhaps, you may not know that just only the same week of the Owo incident, in Kano, for example, given the intelligence available to security agencies, we were able to botch what would have been the most catastrophic incident within our country.”
The CDS, while soliciting the support of Nigerians and relevant stakeholders in tackling insecurity further, urged them to focus on things that matter.
“I will say that a lot has happened; there’s been quite a lot of improvement in terms of the armed forces and other security agencies doing all that is necessary to bring peace to the various troubled regions of the country.
“I can tell you that from last year till now, we have had quite a lot of improvement; from the North East to the North West, North Central, South South, South East and South West. Of, course, there still remains a long haul in terms of addressing the nuances that attend to insecurity in Nigeria.”
Recounting how the process went, he explained, “In that operation, we recovered Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) making materials.
“We recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition and other materials which, of course, the criminals were intending to use in various parts of the country, including Abuja. That the Owo incident happened does not imply that improvements have not happened.
“Let me state that this is a process, and if you could take a look at the war stage in countries around the world, you will find incidents of violence and criminality in one way or the other.”
Governors Canvass Restructuring, Deepening Of Democratic Values
However, in their Democracy Day messages, governors across the state of the federation have suggested good governance, restructuring and deepening of democratic values to address the numerous challenges facing the country.
Among the state chief executives who called for the restructuring of Nigeria yesterday is Ondo State Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu.
He identified restructuring as the only panacea for the array of challenges confronting the nation, particularly insecurity.
The governor in his June 12 message, said it is time to deepen the democratic values that the Democracy day represents.
The governor said, “This day represents a watershed in the history of democracy in our country. It also symbolises a total rebirth of hope and aspiration. It reinforces not just an enduring hope, but resilience in the face of daunting challenges.
“The symbol of the June 12 struggle paid the supreme sacrifice. Our people must not continue to pay the ultimate price in vain. It is devastating. Let us deepen our democratic values by devolving power to the sub-nationals. It will strengthen governance and make us stronger.”
“As we celebrate this year’s June 12, our mood in Ondo State is melancholic. Our hearts are still hurt. These mindless elements behind the Terror attack at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo drew a dagger into our hearts. Our flags are still flying at half-mast. We are still in shock. Our loved ones who fell to the bullets of these terrorists will never be forgotten,” he said.
His Kwara State counterpart AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said June 12 was a product of a people’s struggle through the ballot box.
The governor, in his June 12 message, said his administration aligns with the dream of the ordinary person who simply yearns for a life more abundant.
“This explains our focus on giving every Kwara child the right foundation to attain their full potential, providing affordable and qualitative healthcare, pioneering a decent safety net programme for the vulnerable poor, giving equitable opportunities to all genders, and steadily bridging the huge development gaps in our state.
“This day reminds us of a chapter in our history when Nigerians forged a common front for democratic rule in expectations of a greater homeland,” AbdulRazaq stated.
Also, Imo State Governor Hope Uzodimma has congratulated Nigerians for keeping faith with democracy during the June 12 struggle , noting that the day resonates the collective struggle and resilience of the people to enthrone and sustain democracy.
The governor stressed that the fact that Nigeria has experienced 23 years of uninterrupted civil rule speaks to the collective desire of the people to sustain democracy.
He, however, challenged Nigerians to search their consciences whether, by their behaviour, they have truly internalized the spirit of June 12.
Lalong Admonishes Nigerians To Reject Pull Down Barriers On Ethnic Lines
On his part, Plateau State governor Simon Lalong has admonished Nigerians to reject and pull down barriers that seek to divide the people along ethnic, religious, political, social and other lines, saying they must strive to uphold equity, fairness and justice at all times.
According to Lalong, democracy cannot thrive in an atmosphere of hatred, mistrust, unforgiveness, injustice and lack of equity as he stressed that if God loves us and does not discriminate against people, nobody has the right to erect barriers to stop others from achieving their goals for happiness, progress and freedom.
The governor explained that in the past seven years of his administration, his government had done their best to unite the citizens of Plateau State and provide platforms for dialogue, engagement and genuine reconciliation based on mutual trust and respect.
“The results show that we have achieved a lot as substantial peace has returned to our state and confidence has largely returned. What we are dealing with now are purely criminal activities,” he said.
11 Killed, Scores Injured As Herdsmen Attack Benue Community
No fewer than 11 persons were reportedly killed and scores injured following the invasion of Igama, Edumoga Ehaje communities in Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State by suspected herdsmen.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Catherine Anene, who confirmed the attack, said Information about the attack was received by the command, but she was yet to get the exact number of people killed.
She said more officers had been deployed to the area to assist Okpokwu Division in managing the crises, but “I am yet to receive details”
According to the locals, the herdsmen invaded the yesterday community yesterday evening and started shooting sporadically at anyone in sight, killing and burning houses, killing 11 people on the spot. Some other reports however put the casualty figure at 30 killed.
Some of the community members who spoke to our correspondent through telephone said almost all buildings in Igama Community were razed by the attackers.
At the time of filing this report, people in neighbouring communities like Ogege are fleeing their homes out of fear of the rampaging gunmen.