SIMON REEF ,MUSA
Less than 48 hours after the Kaduna State Government presented its 2020 Annual Security Report, daring bandits stormed the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation Afaka in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, and attempted mass kidnappings of both staff and students. In an unprecedented response operation, members of the security forces would later rescue no fewer than 172 students and eight workers of the school from the jaws of their abductors. As at last night when this column went to bed, no fewer than 30 students, comprising male and females, were still missing.
Unlike in other states where these adventurous fiends have herded hundreds of students without any form of resistance from security forces, the abduction of the Afaka students clearly indicates that with round-the-clock security vigilance, citizens can be assured that the victory of brigands in carrying out unrestrained kidnappings can only be temporal.
There is no doubt that since Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai declared his government’s position not to negotiate with bandits, these criminal elements are determined not to allow such a declaration go unchallenged by teaching him a lesson he won’t forget in a hurry. Therefore, it is expected that in the weeks and months ahead, these abductors may turn their full attention on Kaduna State in order to force him to chew his words.
Considering last Wednesday’s presentation of the Kaduna State 2020 Annual Security Report by the Ministry of Internal Security and Internal Affairs headed by Mr. Samuel Aruwan, it is incontrovertible that the administration of el-Rufai is irreversibly committed to the complete decimation of bandits and other criminal elements that have turned many states and the nation into a troubling vast land of insecurity. The highpoints of the annual security report has shown that from January 1 –December 31, 2020, no fewer than 937 person were killed, 1, 972 kidnapped and a total of 7,195 animals were rustled. Victims of banditry in the three senatorial districts, according to the report, showed that in Kaduna North, 34 persons were killed; 94 kidnapped and 413 animals were rustled. In Kaduna Central, 617 persons were murdered, 1, 561 abducted and 5, 614 animals were rustled. In Kaduna South, 286 were killed; 317 abducted by bandits and 1, 168 animals rustled.
From the report, most of the LGAs affected by banditry were parts of Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi and Chikun Local Government Area. Out of the 937 killed, no fewer than 152 were murdered in Igabi, and 144 were killed in Kajuru, with clear differences in the nature of security challenges in the two LGAs.
One striking note as unveiled by the report was that though its sources of information were from security agencies fighting banditry, it clearly stated that the figures may not be a complete reflection as families members of kidnapped victims are often pressured not to report such incidents to security personnel. The report also disclosed that some clandestine killings were also not brought to the attention of security agents. These secret killings, the report added, are more common with ethnic-religious conflicts. The declaration of missing persons during such ethnic crises, the report buttressed, is often indicative of missing persons not accounted for.
As he had earlier noted in an interview with the BBC Hausa, Governor el-Rufai on Wednesday reiterated his administration’s intention not to dialogue with bandits. According to him, “Our position in Kaduna State has been clear, unequivocal and consistent. Bandits, cattle rustlers and armed militias must be degraded and decimated to a state of unconditional submission to constituted authority. We will neither negotiate with criminals of any description nor support any grant of amnesty. Criminal gangs, bandits, insurgents and ethno-religious militias made a conscious choice to challenge Nigeria’s sovereignty and menace our citizens. These criminals must be wiped out immediately and without hesitation.”
However, like in the past, the many livewires sustaining insecurity are many, and only tough decisions are required to incinerate the pipes that give oxygen to these outlaws. Realising that boots on the ground are far inadequate and the hope for securing the country’s vast land may continue to be a wishful thinking, el-Rufai has called for the decentralization of the nation’s security syst
em that will give states the authority to run their own police.
For those concerned with the inadequate number of police workforce, the need for community policing has become imperative. As long as the Nigeria Police take directive from the Federal Government, so long will bureaucratic bottlenecks throw spanners in the works in tackling problems relating to insecurity.
The kidnapping of Afaka students yesterday should convince everyone that negotiating with criminals would never end abductions. What can end banditry and terminate further unleashing of terror on innocent and vulnerable persons is outright decimation of criminals. Anything less than this amounts to patting these brigands on the back.
Resolving the issue of insecurity is not the responsibility of government alone; citizens and critical stakeholders must be involved. It is commendable that members of the National Assembly are engaged in passing a bill for the establishment of state police. It is hoped that once such bill is passed, the hope for increased security surveillance can continue to blaze the trail in securing states and the country in general.
In pushing for a common coalition towards ending the dread of insecurity ravaging Nigeria, politics must be kept aside to emancipate our country from the jaws of these brutes that are becoming so daring and recruiting frightful citizens into their fold as informants. When the state cannot provide security to its citizens, criminals, using forces of coercion, can provide alternative options through taking advantage of desperate citizens.
We have witnessed such a scenario in the North-east that is presently enmeshed in insurgency and other forms of crimes. With current campaigns by military forces to drive down insurgents down the valley of annihilation, the hope for a new dawn of increased security has become a possibility. What the Kaduna State government needs is support and collaboration from both state and non-state actors to crush these unrepentant criminals that are targeting soft targets to carry out their nefarious activities.
The need to lay aside political differences and engage shared efforts in safeguarding lives and property of citizens have become very crucial. Constant efforts must be mounted by states to earn public confidence in the government’s vision in crushing these criminal elements. Most essential, the need for community policing will not only provide more boots on the ground, gathering of Intelligence has the capacity to unleash lethal destruction on bandits.
For security to be effective, it has to be owned by the community. The real security is when people coalesce with relevant government forces to enthrone safekeeping for all. In ethno-religious crises, states are encouraged to set up peace commissions to provide platforms for rallying estranged groups for reconciliation.
It is now commendable that many Northern states are increasingly becoming aware of the futility of negotiating with bandits. Those drumming for amnesty and dialogue with bandits are oblivious of the fact that states only strengthen outlaws when they negotiate with them.
We are presently living in a time of unwavering and frightening uncertainties as the present level of terror unleashed by kidnappers on our nation calls for urgency in tackling these monsters of insecurity. We must seize the opportunities provided by the moment to completely crush them. The rhythm of discord threatening our nation is becoming too alarming. Sparing these brigands and criminals is a sure pass to the enthronement of an imminent disintegration. Patriotic Nigerians and those concerned with creating a refreshing hope for the future must rise and wipe out these criminals that are setting our nation on a combustible path.