Attacks On Soldiers, Police: Afenifere Expresses Concern … Suggests Ways Of Ending Kidnapping , Banditry

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and political organization, Afenifere, has expressed serious concern on the fatal attacks on police officers barely 11 days after a similar fatal attack on military personnel in Delta State, Nigeria just as it lauded President Bola Tinubu on how he made the country to appreciate the sacrifice of the gallant soldiers who were dastardly murdered.

The appreciation was contained in the announcement made by the President at the funeral of the soldiers in Abuja yesterday.

In a press release by the organisation’s national publicity secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi, Afenifere congratulated President Ahmed Bola Tinubu, Elders in the north, security agencies including the military as well as Kaduna and Zamfara State Governors for the safe retrieval of Kuriga and Sokoto kidnapped students.

Afenifere’s concern came on the heel of the latest abductions in the north (Kuriga in Kaduna and Tsangaya in Sokoto States), the killing of 17 soldiers and six policemen in Delta State, including the missing of another six policemen in the same Delta State within two weeks as well as the reported killing of two policemen in Okigwe, Imo State in this month of March.

On Monday, March 25, 2024, the Chief Imam of Iyara, Ijumu local government area of Kogi State, Sheikh Quasim Musa, was reportedly abducted by gunmen shortly after returning home from the mosque where he led the evening prayers.

Family members alleged that his abductors were herders operating in the area. This recalled similar incidents in parts of Oke-ogun, Oyo State and in Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Osun States.

Ajayi then submitted that banditry kept festering and manifesting in various forms because of six major reasons: People’s attitude, complicity, modus operandi of security agencies, capacity of security personnel, the judicial processes and requisite political will to frontally confront the challenge.

He explained further on each of the items as follow:Because of the decreasing communal sense among average Nigerians, many no longer see any need for them to prevent banditry from taking place by reporting to appropriate authorities that could take prompt action in that regard. Worse still, many now consider kidnapping as a lucrative business from which they make fabulous amount of illicit money. Their appetite for the huge sums coming from the nefarious activity has grown so big that they did not mind the incalculable harm they are doing to the society or indeed the risk to their own lives! Some people, especially in parts of the northern states, are complicity partly out of cowardice, partly out of ignorance and partly out of anticipated gain if they ‘co-operate’ or shield the bandits.

“The propensity for selfish gains is engrained in many people. Reports had it that a housewife, Rosemary Ubah in Abuja feigned her own kidnap in order to force her husband to pay N2 million.

Imo State Police Commissioner, Mr. Aboki Danjuma, spoke about gunmen who attacked Umualomoke Correctional Farm Settlement where they abducted the officer in charge of the farm and killed a police inspector there. Information by an insider or someone close to the establishment could not be ruled out.

Reference can be made to the case of the Kaduna publisher, Tukur Mamu, and his alleged connivance with kidnappers who is already in the hands of the Department of State Security (DSS).

The spokesman said that cowardice is implicated in the fear some people nurture for those in their areas who are known to be kidnappers. Fear of being targeted by these bandits. They were doing so perhaps because of their ignorance of flagrant disregard for that eternal maxim; if you see evil and keep quiet, you may eventually be a victim of that evil!

On the need to take a deeper look at the modus operandi of security agencies, Ajayi mentioned reports coming from the fields of operation including the disclosures by army chiefs.

He recalled that the army commander said that soldiers could not immediately deter bandits who attacked Benue communities on the eve of Christmas last year because the former were not accustomed to the topography as much as the bandits.

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Chris Musa on Monday, March 25, 2024, told Reuters news agency, that the military found it difficult to be ahead of bandits because of the advantages the bandits usually have once they got into the forests with their victims.

This normally occurred partly due to the misinformation they are given by the people and also because kidnappers knew the terrain more: “Once they go in there, getting them out is difficult. The aircrafts cannot see them quite easily”, the CDS lamented.

He added that Nigeria’s vast northern borders that are not adequately patrolled made the situation worse.Afenifere spokesman called on the government to pay attention to issues implied in the disclosure by the Chief of Defence Staff. One is the need to increase the numerical strength of security personnel so that they would be able to sufficiently and efficiently man all areas deserving to be manned. Second is the need to have necessary equipment.

“Note needs to be taken of the General’s disclosure that once the kidnappers get into thick bushes, they could not be easily traced. Why can’t they employ the services of modern technology that are specifically made for surveillance and apprehension – even in seeming remote areas?

”There is also the need to allow indigenes of specific areas to form the bulk of security corps of that area. If this is the case, the question of they not being familiar with the topography of the area would no longer be there. Same for the disclosure that informants often mislead the security agencies. If the local people largely form the bulk of the security outfit, it would be easy for them to know when they are being misinformed. This is another strong case to support the establishment of state and local government police services that Afenifere and others have been advocating for since a long time.

“We again call on President Tinubu to give a Presidential Order proclaiming the immediate establishment of State and Local Government Police and then follow this up with an Executive Bill to the National Assembly for the purpose. Thus, we wholeheartedly endorse the instruction by President Bola Tinubu that stakeholders’ meetings be held as disclosed by Senator Lawal Usman (Kaduna Central Senatorial District) after his visit to the President on the heel of the abduction of Kuriga school students recently”.

Ajayi recalled that this directive by President Tinubu is in line with Afenifere’s strident advocacy for a while that the federal government should give an order that stakeholders’ meetings be held in all the 774 local government areas in Nigeria to address all aspects of security situations in the respective areas including modern ways of cracking crimes and intelligence gathering. At such meetings, attendees should be told in clear terms of the danger inherent in their harbouring bandits and the severe punishments awaiting those apprehended doing so. This is why the government needs to summon necessary political will to ensure that bandits and their accomplices are not only reined in, they should be severely dealt with. Such should have no room for kid glove treatment of bandits and kidnappers.

“In this respect, Afenifere strongly supports Mr. President on his ‘No negotiation with or payment of ransom to kidnappers’ stand. There should be no sacred cow as the only person who could not be touched by the arms of the law is the innocent. If ransom is paid or bandits are treated with kid gloves in form of pardon etc, they are being encouraged to continue in their evil ways”, Ajayi asserted.

He added that the country’s judicial system needs to be rejigged to ensure that cases bordering on banditry including kidnapping are expeditiously dealt with. May be a special tribunal be created in each state for this purpose as a matter of urgency to meet the expediency of the moment.

Afenifere affirmed the capability of President Tinubu to summon the political will to tackle the menace of insecurity across the country including how respective communities can be made to be more involved in the security of their areas.

It therefore urged that this be done forthwith in line with the suggested steps mentioned above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *