Sequel to a state of emergency proposed to the federal government by the Zamfara State government, the apex northern sociocultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said there is nothing bad in the government negotiating with bandits if that will better the lives of Nigerians.
But the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), on its part, said the declaration for a state of emergency in states ravaged by insecurity was long overdue.
ACF, in its reaction through the national publicity secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, also said the federal government had no powers to declare a state of emergency outside the stipulations of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
It averred that all the emergency rule declared by former President Olusegun Obasanjo were illegal under the Constitution, adding that those states that went to challenge it in court got judgments in their favour.
According to ACF, “There is a constitutional provision for the process of declaring a state of emergency in a state. The president cannot just wake up and declare a state of emergency even in one state, not to talk of the whole northern region, which the 1999 constitition recognises as 19 states.
“If he does it and somebody takes him to court, the person will win and the president will lose.
“We have always believed in dialogue. If the government negotiates with the bandits and Nigerians are better off, what is wrong with that,” it said..
But the AYCF, through her national president, Yerima Shettima, said, “It is a worthy call; declaring a state of emergency is long overdue.
“The federal government at some point said they knew sponsors of Boko Haram and up until now, nobody has been exposed, brought to book or prosecuted. Declaring a state of emergency is about the only option we have now, particularly in states where the governors cannot handle the insecurity.
“Government must not fold it hands to allow innocent people to be killed with reckless abandon and people losing their valuables either through ransom payment to bandits or outright destruction by same bandits. For us in AYCF, the call for a state of emergency is apt,” he said.
We Have Been Clamouring For Emergency Rule – CNG
On its part, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) said, “The CNG as a group will support any policy or move that will bring lasting peace to the region and the country at large. Our only issue with the statement is the timing.
“One negotiates when he or she has the upper hand which will then tilt the terms and conditions of the negotiation in his favour not when it’s at its lowest like now. This also raises the question ‘why did they oppose the motion when Sheikh Gumi brought it up? Why did they oppose it when we brought it up?”
According to Dr Mohamed Nawaila, director of cyber research and data management of CNG, who spoke with LEADERSHIP last night, “One cannot but doubt the motives or is it because now they understand the level of risk they too are in? This also vindicates us on the issue we keep raising that our leaders are playing politics with the life and property of the masses.
“For a long time, we have called on the government to declare a state of emergency on security but the government ignored the call. But now that the bandits have the might to attack military formation (one of the strongest if not the strongest for that matter) was when they think it’s the right time.
“The real issue is that the government is myopic and lacks forecast, will and might to tackle the issue but concentrate solely on how to borrow and embezzle money,” he said.
For Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, the northwest coordinator of CNG, “The call to declare a state of emergency in Northern Nigeria is long overdue, lives are being lost on a daily basis with formal and informal IDPs everywhere, today, life and livelihood have become difficult in Nigeria.
“Insurgency reached its peak, concerning negotiations with bandit, so far has made no impact in any way, but a venture where some people enriched themselves, but whatever way, be it kinetic or non- kinetic, all we are appealing for is peace to be restored in Northern Nigeria so that farming activities and pastoralism can be restored,” he stressed.
However, the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has rejected the call by Zamfara State governor, Bello Muhammad Matawalle, for the declaration of emergency rule in the entire Northern states and for negotiation with bandits.
According to the MBF, if a state of emergency is declared, martial law will be imposed and even the governor will cease to be in office.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP last night, the president of the forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu said bandits should be treated as terrorists, even as he insisted that the Nigerian military had the capacity to uproot them from the bushes. He, however, there is the lack of political will to deal with the matter.
“When a state of emergency is declared, martial law will be imposed. Military will take over and Matawalle won’t be governor. State of emergency means loss of democratic rule and total take over by the military, which is not good under a democratic system.
“It is obvious the governor doesn’t know what state of emergency means. State of emergency is not acceptable today,” Pogu said.
On the call for negotiation with bandits, Pogu said it is just a conspiracy theory, adding that the Nigerian military can defeat the bandits.
“The military has the capacity to defeat the bandits but the political will is not there. We say no to negotiation with the bandits. If the military want to deal with them, they can bomb them in the bushes. There should be political will for the military to bomb them and not negotiation. What we have today is just a conspiracy,” Pogu added.
Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State had urged the federal government to declare state of emergency in the Northern part of the country as a means to end acts of banditry in the region.
Receiving the assistant inspector general of police (AIG) in charge of Zone 10, Ali Janga, Governor Matawalle said the declaration of a state of emergency to deal with banditry was the best option to contain the security challenges facing the states in the zone.
According to him, the security challenges facing the zone had reached an alarming rate and ought to be faced with all seriousness.
He stressed that, the sum of N17 million was recently released to the security agencies to mobilise their personnel to insecurity prone areas.
On the recently abducted people from the state, Matawalle said that government was making efforts to secure their release.
Responding, AIG Ali Janga lauded the financial and moral support being extended to the police and other security agents.
He said the police would continue to discharge its duty of protecting the lives and property of the people.
AIG Janga called for more support and cooperation from the government and the entire people of the state to the police in the fight against banditry.
Also yesterday, Governor Matawalle urged the federal government to consider the use of peace and reconciliation with the bandits as the best option to end the current banditry.
In a broadcast to the people of the state on the outcome of the enlarged security meeting held on Monday, Governor Matawalle recalled that the use of dialogue was the best option ever to resolve crisis and misunderstanding amongst warring factions.
“Ever since, peace dialogue was use in resolving crisis and ending wars”, he added.
According to him, 10 years before the coming the present administration, bandits had been terrorising the state.
“It was on record that several towns and villages were under the watch of the bandits”, he said, adding that the activities of bandits during the previous administration had led to the closure of several weekly markets.
According to him, as soon as he assumed leadership of the state, peace reconciliation initiative was initiated by the state government between the bandits and local vigilante group.
Governor Matawalle stated that peace and reconciliation initiative recorded relative peace in the state for good nine months.
According to him, various wars, be them religious or tribal, mostly ended through peace and reconciliation, but not through gun battle.
Matawalle,however, attributed the resurgence of banditry to the politicisation of the war against the menace.
“We have no doubt recorded huge successes in the peace and reconciliation initiative, a situation that poses threat to some unscrupulous politicians”, he said, even as he restated that peace dialogue was the best option to end the current banditry and that his government would continue to pursue dialogue with the bandits.
He reiterated the call for the federal government to key into the peace dialogue initiative with the bandits as the best option to end banditry.
Military Probes NDA Attack, Abductors Demand N200m Ransom For Major
Meanwhile, the Defence Headquarters has denied the report of soldiers sleeping on duty when bandits attacked Nigerian Defence Academy, killing two and abducting one officer. He, therefore, directed the Academy to constitute a board of enquiry to unravel the immediate circumstances surrounding the breach.
The director. defence information Major General Benjamin Sawyerr, stated this while reacting to an online report alleging that the soldiers monitoring the CCTV cameras were sleeping when the bandits attacked.
He said, “The Nigerian Armed Forces wish to state categorically that the allegation is untrue and, hence, challenge the medium to publish forthwith a verifiable proof of personnel sleeping during the incident.
“Let me use this opportunity to reiterate that the NDA authorities, acting on the directive of the Chief of Defence Staff, had constituted a board of enquiry to ascertain the remote and immediate cause(s) of the breach of security with a view to sanction any personnel found culpable and also prevent future occurrence.”
The bandits had on 24 August, 2021, attacked the officers’ residential quarters of the NDA, killing two officers and the abducting one other officer whose fate remains uncertain for over 24 hours.
The director, therefore, cautioned the online medium to guard against being used as a propaganda tool by enemies of the country.
He said the medium should not consciously or unconsciously collaborate with unscrupulous elements to spread unverified stories on the unfortunate event that occurred at NDA Kaduna while tarnishing the good image and reputation of personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) in the eyes of the civil populace.
“It is perhaps important to mention that the AFN as a professional force consist of highly trained personnel who are dedicated to their duties of protecting lives and property of all Nigerians.
“Let me also assure that we shall continue to update the general public as events unfold as we are all aware the search and rescue of the abducted officer is still on.
“Troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria will continue with its operations to ensure all those involved in the dastardly act are brought to justice,” he said
The authorities of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) at the prompting of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has set up a board of enquiry to probe the breach of security at the Academy with of view of punishing any personnel found culpable.
NDA attack motivation to end banditry, says PMB
The attack launched on the facility of the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) on Tuesday, rather than throw a dampener into the morale of our Armed Forces as it is intended to, will buoy their determination to make a decisive end of criminality in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.
Noting that the attack, which led to loss of lives, came at a time that the military had put insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, and other types of criminals on the retreat, the President in a statement by Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said the heinous action would accelerate the total uprooting of evil in the polity, which members of the Armed Forces are solidly resolved to accomplish in the shortest possible time.
Commiserating with the families who lost their loved ones, and praying God to comfort them, President Buhari vowed that the deceased would not die in vain, as the degenerate act would have consequences that will eventually clean the country of vermin, and emancipate the polity from deliberate, targeted and contrived atrocious acts.
The President thanked all Nigerians who value and appreciate the efforts of our military, and urges those playing hateful politics with the dastardly act to desist, noting that rather than recriminations, this is the time for all patriots and people of goodwill to support and encourage those who are in the vanguard of the battle against wickedness in the land.
Army Not Recruiting Repentant Terrorists
The director, Army public relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, has allayed fears that repentant Boko Haram terrorists are being enlisted into the Nigerian Army.
Nwachukwu stated while reacting to a viral video by a comic actor Young Elder comparing Nigeria with the collapse of Afghanistan.
In the video, Young Elder in a comic way expressed worries about the surrendered terrorists.
Nwachukwu said while it is understood that the situation in Afghanistan calls for concerns by any right thinking person or organisation, the manner in which the comic Young Elder presented it shows his lack of basic knowledge on the subject.
He said “Our attention has been drawn to an online video doing the rounds in the social media by one Young Elder and produced by Anthony Jay.
“In the so-called Young Elder attempted to draw conclusion from the collapse of the Afghan military and trying very hard to relate it to the ongoing surrender by the Boko Haram/ Islamic State West Africa Province.
The amateurish production conjured some unfounded and baseless claims that only exist in the pigment of their imagination, claiming that surrendered terrorists where going to be absorbed into the Nigerian Army (NA).
For the avoidance of doubt, the NA does not have any repentant terrorists joining its ranks and does not have any plan for that.” he said
The director said there are teaming able-bodied Nigerians that are willing to join the NA and genuinely help in the fight against terrorism and other violent crimes.
He added “the NA is not desperate for prospective recruits to stoop so low and engage the services of former terrorists. As a general rule, it is not even recommended to absorb former fighters into the services of a regular military.”
Nwachukwu said the NA under the leadership of the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, will continue to operate within the dictates of the law.
“Surrendered terrorists will be received, processed and passed to the appropriate Government agencies that are saddled with the responsibility of handling them” he said
He therefore appealed that matters related to security should be left with those who have the requisite expertise and experience.
He also called on the comic actor focus on contributing towards nation building and not engaging in campaign of falsehood.
PDP Asks NASS To Summon PMB Over Insecurity
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked members of the National Assembly to call off their vacation and summon President Muhammadu Buhari over the worsening security situation across the country.
The national publicity secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the security situation in the country has gone so bad that the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) Kaduna was desecrated by bandits to the extent that bandits entered the academy and snuffed live out of three officers and took one away effortlessly.
Addressing a press conference yesterday, Ologbondiyan recalled that just last Tuesday 39 helpless Nigerians were killed in Plateau state leading to the closure of University of Jos while several state governors are currently evacuating their citizens.
He said children can no longer go to schools while farmers cannot go to farms.
“As a party, we are calling on the National Assembly to cut short their vacation and return to plenary, and apply their drastic legislative instrument by summoning President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly in an open session to come and tell Nigerians, why our nation has bled, this much, and how the security apparatus of our country had totally collapsed in the hands of Mr President, and the All Progressives Congress.
“We call on the Nigerian Governors’ Forum and all stakeholders across the country to wake up and rescue our country. Time is running out. Terrorists and bandits have taken over our land” PDP said.
The party lamented that the nation is collapsing under the watch of President Buhari as bandits and criminals are operating freely from every party of the country, including the home state of the President.
The party further pointed out that the security situation has so much deteriorated that governor of Katsina State, Buhari’s home state, had to ask his citizens to seek for any means to protect themselves.
“The Katsina state governor had announced in the state that citizens who have no gun, who have no means of defence, to come up and defend themselves against terrorists, assailants and bandits. This situation appears to have overwhelmed Mr President and it is very painful.
“His administration has not demonstrated any capacity to protect the lives and property of our country.
“We cannot continue this way. We cannot continue to put our hope on nothing. The situation that our children cannot go to school, a situation where farmers cannot go to their farmland is unacceptable,” PDP lamented.
Reps Minority Caucus Demands Forensic Investigation
Also, the minority caucus in the House of Representatives has demanded an immediate forensic investigation into the circumstances that enabled the invasion of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and subsequent killing and abduction of officers.
This is just as the caucus expressed displeasure over escalated acts of terrorism and bandit attacks across the country particularly Monday’s invasion of the NDA.
The caucus in a statement by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu noted that attacks on military formations and mindless killings and maiming of innocent Nigerians by bandits and terrorists in various parts of the country had increased, despite the assurances of the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration.
Elumelu said it was lamentable that hardly a day passes without the nation being jolted by reports of gruesome mass killings, abductions, arson, and mindless plundering by terrorists and bandits who are now freely operating on our highways, schools and communities in various parts of the country.
“The situation has become extremely horrifying in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Kano, Yobe, Benue, Borno, Niger and other states across our nation where killers and kidnappers are now having a field day raiding communities and killing our compatriots.
“On yesterday night, 35 Nigerians were reportedly massacred in Yelwan Zangam in Jos, Plateau state, barely a week after innocent travelers were ambushed and brutally murdered in the state.
“Our caucus is distressed that every day, families are deprived of their breadwinners, scores of children are orphaned, wives are turned to widows, husbands turned to widowers, parents are made to bury their children hacked down in their prime, with others languishing in their captors’ dens and family source of livelihood destroyed,” the statement reads.