Northern leaders yesterday upped the ante in their quest for an end to the insecurity that has become rife in the region with a call for more measures to combat terrorism, banditry and kidnapping.
The issue of security also dominated talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Algerian President’s Special Envoy, Mr Sabri Boukadoum, yesterday in Abuja, with the president saying that there can’t be development in an insecure country.
At a meeting in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, governors in the North-east demanded that the federal government should cede the power to prosecute suspected insurgents to states as the present system of relying on the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, for the prosecution of those arrested for terrorism is cumbersome.
On his part, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, expressed concern over the spate of insecurity in the North, saying that it has made the region the most unsafe place to live in Nigeria.
However, the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has assured the region that banditry and insurgency will soon end as defence authorities have stepped up both kinetic and non-kinetic operations to combat crimes.
But despite the repeated claims by the federal government that terrorists have been degraded, a report by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has again ranked Nigeria the third most terrorised country in the world, with the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increasing by 25 per cent from 2018 to 2019.
The Chairman, North-east Governors’ Forum and Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum, at the opening of the meeting of the governors, canvassed an amendment to the law that invested sole authority on the AGF to prosecute terrorists.
He said: “As we deliberate on the scourge of terrorism and terror groups within the North-east, we need to fashion out ways of facilitating the prosecution of those charged with terrorism activities.
“At the moment, the process is a bit cumbersome as all suspects charged with terrorism and terrorist-related offences
have to be transferred to Abuja for prosecution, as only the Attorney-General of the Federation has the statutory powers to prosecute terrorists; according to the provisions of the anti-terrorism law.
“We need to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the attorney-general to enable us to prosecute those charged with terrorism in our respective states, instead of referring them to Abuja.”
He added that governors in the region need to take far-reaching measures to ensure that the incidence of house kidnapping as reported in some states, does not extend to the North-east.
“As a result, inter-state road travel is becoming a virtual impossibility for the people, because of the palpable danger of abduction along most of the major roads. It is, therefore, a matter of strategic imperative for us to give considerable
attention to how to deal effectively with the problem and give our people a sense of sufficient and sustainable protection whenever they travel out.
“Unless we regard it as a matter of urgent priority, the phenomenon may escalate, as it is currently happening in some states, where there are persistent reports of innocent people being daringly kidnapped even within the safety of their homes. This is already happening in states like Kano and Kaduna. I hope the Committee of Attorneys-General, which has been given a special assignment on the issue, would come up with concrete and appropriate legal framework to deal with the phenomenon,” he added.
Zulum stated that the most alarming and worrisome challenge confronting the North-east remains the daunting issue of insecurity with the prolonged Boko Haram crisis.
“There is, however, absolute need for us to seriously look into how to stimulate and renew the confidence and trust of our people in the ability of our security forces to contain the palpable threats, being posed by the continued presence of the insurgents. This is to ensure that our people are adequately protected and sufficiently guaranteed to open up and go about their normal socio-economic and business activities, without fear of being attacked or kidnapped or even forcefully being recruited by the insurgents.
“Another frightfully shocking social problem, which, unfortunately, is becoming widespread in our sub-region, is that of rape. We must find a way of protecting our women and girls from the intolerable and aggressive demeanour of rapists.
“While it is essential to embark on a massive enlightenment campaign on the dangers associated with rape, there is need also to domesticate the federal law against rape, in our respective states, based on the peculiarities and special circumstances of each state,” he said.
Zulum also expressed concern about emergent criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping in the North-east and called for concerted efforts to check the criminality.
He said: “Another issue, which unquestionably needs to be urgently tackled is the almajiri phenomenon and its associated challenges, which are increasingly having a telling effect on the overall socio-economic development of the society.
“Unless the almajiri system is completely overhauled along the lines of its original objectives, we may end up having to deal with an army of perhaps untrainable youths who inadvertently become vulnerable to the influence of social misfits like kidnappers and bandits and even terror groups like the Boko Haram insurgents.
“It is a problem common to all of us and it needs both multi-dimensional and individually selective approach, based on the general and specific peculiarities of the system in each state.”
Besides Zulum, other governors at the meeting were governors of Adamawa State, Hon. Ahmed Fintiri; Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed and Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya. Yobe and Taraba States were represented by the deputy governors, Alhaji Idi Barde Gubana and Mr. Haruna Manu, respectively.
Buhari: There Can’t be Devt in Insecure Country
The issue of security also dominated talks between President Muhammadu Buhari and the Algerian President’s Special Envoy, Mr Sabri Boukadoum, yesterday in Abuja.
The president, while hosting Boukadoum, who is his country’s foreign affairs’ minister, stressed the importance of security in national affairs, saying that there can’t be development in an insecure country.
Besides, the president, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, queried the legacy a leader would bequeath to the next generation if he fails to guarantee his country’s security.
According to him, the onus lies on African leaders to secure their country.
He said: “Unless you secure your environment, you can’t manage it well. We should all secure our countries because if we don’t, what do we then bequeath to the next generation? We can’t grow or develop in an insecure environment.”
Buhari emphasised the need for peace, tranquillity and security in African countries.
The president noted that projects such as the Trans-Sahara road, international gas pipelines and other areas of economic cooperation would be given attention for the good of the people of Nigeria and Algeria.
On his part, the special envoy, who described Nigeria as the pillar of Africa, said he brought messages from his president “so that we consult and see what we can do together.”
Insecurity Has Made North the Worst Place to Live in Nigeria, Says Sultan
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, has expressed concern over the spate of insecurity currently ravaging most parts of the North, turning the region the worst place to live in Nigeria.
According to him, bandits are fast overrunning the North, carrying out their activities openly and moving from house to house unchecked.
The Sultan, at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja, said yesterday that bandits now move about freely, armed with AK-47 rifles, without any challenge from the security agencies.
He lamented that the North has become the worst place to live in Nigeria because of the “completely” collapsed security system.
He said: “Security situation in northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation, regretting that no strong media platform could report the story to the world. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there alongside the governor to commiserate with the affected community. “Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North.
“We have accepted the fact that the North doesn’t have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.
“People think the North is safe, but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country. Because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK-47 and nobody is challenging them. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it.
“I am not only a traditional ruler; I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the North in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem, otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.”
The Sultan said as religious leaders, they are expected to promote peace, love, unity and tolerance among their followers.
According to him, their discussion at the close-door session of the meeting was meant to come up with suggestions for government on how to fight insecurity.
He also spoke on the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), saying that the withdrawal of the security outfit may have resulted in increase in crime.
“We heard people calling for the scrapping of SARs; the president scrapped SARS and the same people came saying they should bring the police back because there is insecurity everywhere. We cannot do without the police.
“We cannot do without our security agencies; no matter how bad the agency is, there are still so many excellent people within that agency what we need to do is to fish out the bad elements from these agencies and then reform the agency and have a better force,” he said.
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, in his remarks, said the recent increase in petrol price has added to the pain Nigerians are undergoing, adding that the federal government should quickly reverse the hike in fuel price
and electricity tariff.
“That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible,” he added.
Ayokunle cautioned Nigerians against interpretation of the recent EndSARS protest ethnically or religiously, stating that doing so could be misleading and insincere.
“As a man of God, I never see the EndSARS protest coming. It came to us all unaware. Initially, I thought that the protest was organised by bad boys in the society but when I began to see and read stories of police brutality, I was surprised and supported their actions.
“But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot be attributed to any religion or ethnic group,” he stated.
On his part, Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, His Grace Ignatius Kaigama, expressed worry at the rate at which Christians and Muslims antagonise each other.
“It is very worrisome that at the slightest feeling of provocation, we take to violence that leads to death and destruction. We use the social and conventional media today to deepen the wounds of distrust, suspicion and violence,” he said.
SGF: FG is Addressing Youths’ Demand
While speaking at meeting, the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, said despite all efforts, including the deployment of enormous resources, the country still faces insecurity.
He said: “As you are aware, the president accepted all the demands made by the protesters.
“The government has, in keeping with its promises, set in motion the machinery for the implementation of actionable aspects. There is no doubt that these protests tested the very fabrics of our sense of security, respect for culture, tradition and governance down to the community levels”.
Mustapha urged NIREC to use its traditional and religious capacities to further escalate its outreach to all Nigerians, especially, the youth at the grassroots.
End Near for Banditry, Insurgency, Says DHQ
Also yesterday, the Defence Headquarters said the menace of banditry and insurgency would soon be over as military authorities have stepped up both kinetic and non-kinetic operations to check criminality.
It said the various operations against the criminals have continued to “progress satisfactorily”.
Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, at a briefing on military operations yesterday in Abuja, gave no timeline for the defeat of the insurgents, but assured Nigerians that “it is no longer a hopeless situation.”
He added that troops have sustained the onslaught against criminals in their various areas of operation.
According to him, in Katsina State, the epicentre of the banditry, operatives of Department of State Services (DSS), Katsina State Command, arrested a couple, Usman Shehu and his wife Aisha Abubakar, of Rimi Local Government Area of Katsina State.
The suspects, he said, were intercepted at Abukur village conveying large cache of ammunition, including 14 magazines, 61 rounds of 9.6mm caliber ammunition and 399 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition, to Katsina metropolis.
He stated that in the North-west zone, “troops of Operation HADARIN DAJI and other subsidiary operations have sustained various aggressive operations in the North-west zone of the country with tremendous successes. The gallant troops within the period carried out series of raids, aerial, ambushes, clearance operations and confidence building patrols.”
Again, Nigeria Ranked Third Most Terrorised Country in the World.
Meanwhile, despite the repeated claims by the federal government that terrorists have been degraded, a report by the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has again ranked Nigeria the third most terrorised country in the world. The report also put the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram as rising by 25 per cent between 2018 and 2019.
GTI’s latest report noted, however, that despite the rise in the number of casualties from Boko Haram attacks in the North-east, Nigeria is the second to record a fall in violent deaths after Afghanistan in 2019.
GTI said 2,043 people died from “terrorism-related acts” in Nigeria in 2018 but only 1,245 deaths were recorded in 2019. In the overall, deaths from terrorism world over fell by 15.5 percent from 2018 to 2019.”
However, The Cable reported that the study ranked Nigeria the third most terrorised country in the world for the sixth consecutive time.
“Nigeria had the second largest fall in total deaths, owing largely to a 72 per cent reduction in fatalities attributed to Fulani extremists.
“Despite this decrease, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 per cent from 2018 to 2019.
“Renewed activity by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, remains a substantial threat to the region,” it stated.
The report also said Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings killing 68 people.
“In 2019, Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings causing 68 fatalities. Suicide bombings accounted for six per cent of all terror-related incidents by Boko Haram in 2019, marking an 89 per cent decline from their peak in 2017.
“Boko Haram was responsible for Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist attack in 2019 when assailants attacked a funeral in Badu, Borno State.
“At least 70 people were killed and 10 others were wounded in the attack and ensuing clash. The two main factions of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and the followers of Abubakar Shekau, are both engaged in an insurgency campaign against the Nigerian government.
“Violence by the two main factions of Boko Haram has taken a large toll on the civilian population, particularly in North-east Nigeria, where continued attacks have internally displaced more than two million people and caused a further 240,000 Nigerian refugees to flee to neighbouring countries,” it added.
This year’s report ranked Nigeria, for the sixth consecutive time, since 2015, as the third country with the worst impact from terrorism, globally.
Afghanistan is top on the list, followed by Iraq.
Syria, Somalia, and Yemen are ranked fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.
Others among the 10 countries most impacted by terrorism are Pakistan (seventh), India (eighth), Democratic Republic of the Congo (ninth), and Philippines (10th).
“Despite an overall decline in terrorism, Boko Haram, Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist group, recorded an increase in terrorist activity mainly targeted at civilians. Terror-related deaths and incidents attributed to Boko Haram in Nigeria increased by 25 and 30 per cent respectively from the prior year.
“Over the past year Boko Haram increased attacks on military targets, with deaths rising from 26 in 2018 to 148 in 2019,” the report said.
The report said suicide bombing by Boko Haram fell significantly in 2019, just like the previous year.
Credit: This Day