By Wole Olaoye
If the amalgam of violent criminals — kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers, hostage takers, terrorists, or whatever other name you call them — had their way, Governor Nasir el Rufai would have become history by now. It was Nasir who made national headlines after he confessed to realising that payment of ransom to abductors was futile.
He had caused a similar furore at the onset of his administration when he revealed that he had paid some princely sum to buy off a planned reprisal attack by some herdsmen. Many people who criticised his decision to negotiate with self-confessed killers or revenge seekers outside the ambit of the law at the time are now gladdened that the governor has come to the realisation that there is no point negotiating with evil. The only lasting solution is to stamp it out; extirpate it!
“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…We must put a stop to these criminal acts and enable our people to live their lives in peace and safety. This is a most urgent task”, says the governor.
The reaction of the criminals to the stance of the Kaduna State government is to make the state ungovernable by hitting soft targets and generally creating a feeling of insecurity in rural and urban centres of the state. If el Rufai’s government is defeated by the bandits, the attempted assassination of Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State will become a routine expectation. We shall enter the era of warlords controlling different patches of our country. It will not just be ‘farewell Kaduna’ but farewell Nigeria.
Criminals sometimes benefit from the collective myopia of their victims. That was certainly the case when Samuel Ortom, governor of Benue State, was nearly killed in an assassination attempt near his farm. Some sympathisers of cattle rearers who had been having a running media battle with the governor over the state’s ban on open grazing, openly celebrated.
A group known as the Fulani Nationality Movement (FUNAM) reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement by one Umar Amir Shehu. “Our courageous fighters carried out this historic attack to send a great message to Ortom and his collaborators: Wherever you are, once you are against Fulani long term interest, we shall get you down.”
The group also threatened to sponsor attacks on any state or individual that opposes the implementation of Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) — a threat which the Nigerian Governors’ Forum has condemned.
Remember the old saying that when a violent breeze carries away a garment hung in the room, everyone must hold tight to the one they are wearing lest they suffer the same fate? If criminals succeed in kidnapping a governor, they will escalate their adventure to the presidency.
If there is anything one has learnt in the multiversity of life, it is never to say never.
Come to think of it, those Latin American countries with a rich history of kidnapping and abduction didn’t achieve that status overnight. One kidnap led to another. With time, people merely shrugged. It became part of the vagaries of life. But in those climes, it is mostly tied to political triggers, not savage banditry orchestrated by illiterate merchants of violence under the patronage of an allegedly unseen godfather pulling the strings.
Neither government nor the military does its image any good with claims that bandits terrorising the nation are backed by some godfathers. Who are the godfathers? What is so sacrosanct about their names? If government knows them why are they still walking free?
In the global ranking of kidnapping hotspots as at 2015, the RiskMap Report on kidnap and extortion rates Nigeria as having climbed from being an outsider to rank Number five after Mexico, India, Pakistan and Iraq. ‘Notorious’ countries such as Libya, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Lebanon are considered relatively ‘safer’. Nigerians ought to be worried; very worried.
If we are to rid the country of this novel but lucrative crime wave, government has to live up to its name. There is no disease that death cannot cure. In the same vein, there is no criminality that government cannot wipe out. In this game of death, government ought to be the one wielding the sharpest sword of decapitation.
Unfortunately, in the midst of this unprecedented attempt to render the country ungovernable, some people are still campaigning for amnesty for bandits, claiming that they are freedom fighters like the Niger Delta militants. When you ask what these bandits are fighting for, you’ll be told that they want to be compensated for taking to the bush to fight for inclusion. Enough of the jokes! Let the military translate President Buhari’s latest order for total annihilation of the bandits, into reality.
You laugh at el Rufai, Ortom, Masari or any other governor at your peril. The joke will soon be on you and your children if the federal government doesn’t excise the cancer of banditry with the massive instruments of war at its disposal.
When you think you’ve seen the most ridiculous things in life, another comes up that leaves your jaw agape. Imagine a judge, chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, fighting in public! While I leave the substantive matter to law enforcement to unravel, I cannot extend the same privilege to Ibraheem Al-Hassan who describes himself as Head, Press and Public Relations of the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
In his attempt to exculpate his boss, Al-Hassan simply murdered the English language, and sneaked in some ethnic innuendoes, thereby exposing the low quality of some people working for government. Excerpts from the press release:
“Our attention was drawn on a report from some online publication with a video cliff suggesting Hon Chairman, Justice Danladi Y. Umar assaulted a Security Guard at Banex Plaza.”
“To start with, the said plaza has been his usual place of visits for the past 18 years for shopping and repairs of his phones, and in all these periods there have never been any time he had any turmoil with anybody.”
“Unfortunately, yesterday’s altercations started over a packing lot, which Chairman met vacant and it was directly opposite a shop he want to make a purchase and to fixe his phone, when the young Security guard sighted him, he ordered that Chairman should not pack his car in that particular empty space, but Chairman asked why, the security guard couldn’t convinced chairman, though Chairman didn’t identify himself, because to him is needless and is a place he visited often, but the boy was rode in his approached and threaten to deal with Chairman if he refuse to leave the scene.”
“Again, if Chairman had went there to cause trouble or intimidate some one, as suggested in the report, he would have gone there in his full official paraphernalia, but he went there alone with his younger brother.”
“The Police men seen in the video cliff were not the Chairman’s police team, they were policemen operating around the plaza whom at first instance intervened before the arrival of police team from Maitama Police station. As the few policemen in the complex were apparently overwhelmed by the mobs, consisting of BIAFRAN boys throwing matches and shape object to his car, which led to deep cut and dislocation in one of his finger, causing damage to his car, smashing his windscreen.”
“At a point he attempted to leave the scene, these same miscreants, BIAFRAN boy ordered for the closure of the gate thereby assaulting him before the arrival of police team from Maitama police station.”
“An incident like this when it happened, sympathy usually goes to the low personalities. Though is unfortunate as I said, it ought not to have happened.”
Now, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry!