In a bid to tame the rising insecurity in the country, the federal government has expressed its intention to place a ban on the use of motorcycles as well as mining activities across the federation. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami disclosed this recently.
According to him, such action would eliminate sources of funds for the terrorists and bandits in Nigeria who use money from those sources to empower their criminal activities. Malami further said that these logistics used by the terrorists include motorcycles used for movement and mining which provides them with the money to fund their arms supply.
In the opinion of this newspaper, these measures will in no way tame the rising incidences of banditry and terrorism in the country. Besides, President Muhammadu Buhari had, in March last year, declared Zamfara a no-fly zone. The president had also approved a ban on mining activities in the state. The steps then were taken to curb the rising insecurity in the state.
It is sad to note that these steps taken to curb insecurity in Zamfara and its environs among other places have not yielded the desired result of checking the activities of these criminals in parts of the country. In May this year, bandits killed at least 55 persons in separate deadly attacks in two local government areas of Zamfara State.
Also, from 4th to 6th January 2022, over 200 people were killed by bandits in Zamfara State, Nigeria. This was the deadliest terrorist attack in recent Nigerian history. Sadly, Zamfara which has been the epicentre of banditry in the North west and some of local governments in the state suffering from insecurity have very little mining activities.
Bandits have killed scores of people in Katsina and Kaduna in areas where there are insignificant mining activities. Not too long ago, the Kaduna State government announced that non-state actors killed 645 people in Kaduna between January and June 2020.
No doubt, bandits use motorcycles to ease movement in the forests. According to reports, the terrorist that attacked Kuje prisons in Abuja came on motorcycles. Also, several eyewitness reports in villages say some of the terrorists arrive in hundreds of motorcycles. In some cases, the bandits request motorcycles as ransom.
However, we are persuaded to argue that the reasons given by the government on this issue are not weighty enough considering the fact that motorcycles serve other purposes that are legitimate especially in small and medium enterprises. Motorcycles have been in use before the onset of terrorism in the country. Besides motorcycle is the main mode of transportation for people and goods in rural areas.
Much as we join other members of the society to condemn the bad name terrorists are bringing to motorcycles, we resist the urge to throw the baby away with the bath water. In the event that the government goes ahead to implement this proposal, what are the alternatives for those who will be displaced in the process? The action may worsen the already bad situation among the segment of the society that depend on that means of transportation.
Also, as it concerns mining, it is important to point out that the terrorists get funding from sources other than mining. We recall that in February this year, the Federal Government had said the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit uncovered 96 financiers of terrorism as well as 424 associates and supporters of the financiers.
Sadly, more than five months after, no significant progress has been made as regards prosecution of the terrorists’ financiers. Arresting and prosecuting the financiers and enablers of terrorism will go a long way in ending the war.
Regrettably, most of the measures taken by the federal and state governments to stem the rising insecurity have not yielded the desired results. The carrot and stick approach is clearly not working. State governments have tried amnesty and rehabilitation of repentant terrorists, yet it has not solved the problem. If anything, it has conferred on the terrorists some level of legitimacy that has continued to embolden them even the more.
In our considered opinion, the proposed ban on motorcycles and mining activities will just be another cosmetic solution in a country where government policy decisions, in most cases, turn out to be paper tigers observed more in the breach. Instead of an outright ban, the government may consider registering all motorcycles on the roads and also insist on what it will be used for. Because, presently, a good number of those machines do not exist in law and are not traceable when infractions occur. In the case of mining, the promoters of such activities in the country are so powerfully and exceedingly politically connected for the government to be able to effectively implement the decision if eventually taken.
There is no denying it, in our view, that insecurity has become big business with the existence of security contractors who will do everything to stay in business. Government should also look at gun runners who supply the sophisticated weapons used by these terrorists.
In our opinion, solution to terrorism and banditry lies in a holistic approach that must be dictated by a political will on the part of the government itself. At the moment, such disposition is lacking, unfortunately. So, it is our view that placing a blanket ban on motorcycles and mining activities will exacerbate the employment and security challenges already in place. We are not sure the government wants that.