Tuesday, January 9, 2018

NIGERIA IN SECURITY LIMBO

Nigerians woke up last New Year's day to horrific stories of killings in Benue and Rivers State. Those killings were preceded, in that short space of time, by the Christmas Day killings in Southern Kaduna (just days after the state hosted dignitaries from home and abroad, in celebration of the centenary of its founding), followed by the killing in quick succession of two district chiefs/heads, one with his pregnant wife, while his son escaped with injuries meted on him by suspected Fulani militia, before they set their abode on fire. Adamawa, Benue and other states in Nigeria's North-Central region were also not left out. The blood letting continued after the New Year was ushered in, with killings in Benue, Adamawa and Taraba States, with the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, especially in Borno State remaining the ever present denominator of our times in terms of security challenges.


In the New Year Day massacre in which twenty three people returning from a Crossover Night service in Omoku, Rivers State, fingers were quickly and easily pointed to a (former) militant, Johnson Igwedibia, also known as, Don Wani,  known to have submitted himself to the AMNESTY PROGRAM more than once, only to return to his trenches thereafter and continued with his nefarious activities. Within a week, his new location in Enugu (where he was said to be living amongst neighbours, just like any law abiding citizen) was discovered, with the military spokesman stating that Don Wani and two of his lieutenants were shot and killed
when they made to escape through another exit, after they'd been cornered in their rented apartment.


While this is a plus on the side of the security agents, what shouldn't be lost on us, is the origins of the security challenge in Rivers State in particular, and the Niger Delta in general. The unhealthy mix of Resource Control (in this case, crude oil), the Agitation for same between host communities and the oil exploration companies, Cultism (more like gangsterism, that's almost taken in some of the communities to mean a "coming of age" for men), Politics amongst others, makes "Rivers of Blood" an appropriate cognomen for Rivers State, for which unless a holistic view is taken in tackling the issues headlong, the dream of peace in the Niger Delta region will remain but a fleeting illusion. With general elections afoot, the diatribes and counter accusations between the political gladiators (Governor Nyesom Wike and his predecessor, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi) in Rivers State, is currently setting a stage for the escalation of violence in the coming days, as both camps strategize to retain or grab power "by all means possible", at state level in 2019.


The other killings besides that in Rivers, is coloured by one factor only and that is the menace that the activities of Fulani Herdsmen have continued to be, to their
hosts, especially in the North-Central part of Nigeria. Sadly enough, it is officially referred to as "Farmers vs Herders Clashes", even when the attackers, have attacked their victims, including women (of which pregnant ones, even had their babies ripped out and killed) and children while they slept, in the night and wee hours of the morning, with subsequent razing of homesteads in the villages attacked. Most Unfortunate was the statement credited to the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris that "Communal Crisis" between the different ethnic groups in the area, was responsible for the killings, on New Years' day of over thirty persons in Guma and Logo Local Government areas of Benue State. No mention was made of Fulani Herdsmen, just like the statement from the presidency commiserating with the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, despite a statement credited to the Miyetti Allah cattle breeders association, that the attacks on some villages in Benue State  was revenge for the killings of their cattle by the host communities. Interestingly, the killings continued in Benue State, even after the Inspector General of Police, set up a "high powered" team to beef up security in the "affected areas", with police helicopters overhead to spot movement of armed groups, and act to nip their evil intentions in the bud.


The visibly frustrated Benue State governor, who declared days of mourning prior to giving the victims of Fulani Militia (said to be fourth on the list of terrorist groups in the world) a mass burial, appeared forlorn when he stated his intention to involve stakeholders regardless of political affiliations, to figure out a way forward, seeing that the security agencies have performed miserably in stemming the tide of constant killings in Benue State. To add salt upon their injuries, Benue state indigenes who'd stormed major roads in a peaceful protest, which later turned violent (as it was reported that the governor was pelted with stones), were rewarded with
tear gas and gunshots, that claimed the lives of two protesters (refuted, expectedly by the police), while several others were injured. Many have blamed Governor Ortom (whose convoy was obstructed on his way back to Makurdi after the last Christmas holidays from his village by a herd of cattle, crossing the road he was passing), for trusting security agents he lacked control over even as Chief Security Officer of his state (in one of the warped interpretation of Nigeria's farce of a federation), to execute the "Anti-Open Grazing Law", when in Ekiti State, Governor Fayose set up a task force for the same purpose to some success.


In Taraba State, the local response to the Fulani herdsmen issue, is the Bachama Militia, a reaction to government's reluctance to protect the indigenes, leading to unending cycle of reprisal attacks from both sides, while the security agencies stood aloof and watched, as the situation spilled over, extending even to Numan,
Adamawa State late last year, where some policemen drafted to quell the violence in some parts of the states, were butchered by suspected Fulani herdsmen. The introduction of the Nigerian Airforce into the melee, resulted into accusations by the indigenes, that victim communities were targeted by bombings while the Fulani militant locations were relatively free from bombardments. When reports made the rounds that an airforce jet was shot at by Fulani militia, it was clear to the discerning that the continued treatment of the Fulani militia, with kid gloves by the federal government and security agencies have strengthened the hands of the marauders (who seem to have notched up their horrendous activities since their kinsman became president), and unless something drastic is done to stem the tide, like Boko Haram, this will soon blow up in our faces, as it is becoming clear that there just might be more to what is happening than just "violent agitation" for grazing land and space for cattle. Already, in some sections of the Nigerian society, the word "Genocide" and "Ethnic Cleansing" have been used, and a meeting by some Benue indigenes delivered a communique, where they called upon Continental and International bodies and agencies, like the African Union, AU, European Union, EU, as well as the United Nations, UN amongst others, to come to the aid of the people of Benue. This is not without reason, as unlike the case in Rivers State, where the suspect was killed, not one Fulani herdsman has been brought to justice for any act of marauding and destruction of lives and property across Nigeria, yet when cattle rustling became rampant, President Buhari (dressed in full military fatigues)
went to Zamfara State to personally launch a military task force to tackle those making life hard for the Fulani and their cattle last year.


When the government of President Muhammadu Buhari lists security as one of the achievements of his government since coming to power in 2015, they mention the fact that no piece of Nigeria's territory remains under the control of the Islamic Fundamentalist group, Boko Haram. Reality on the ground suggests otherwise, as attacks by the group have continued unabated, so much so that the the same government which said it had "Technically Defeated" the insurgents (even handing over the flag of the group, recovered by the military from Boko Haram's operational base in "Sambisa Forest" to the Commander-in-Chief as evidence), got governors to approve the withdrawal of a billion dollars from the Excess Crude Account, to continue the war against the extremist group, to the chagrin of Nigerians, before the government changed tact by claiming that the funds will be used to stem security challenges allover Nigeria. Add to all the above, Kidnappings, Armed Robberies, Ritual Killings like the Badoo situation in Ikorodu in Lagos, and it will be quite obvious that security-wise, things have largely deteriorated, a reason why it came as a shock to many, when the President extended the tenures of Military Chiefs, when what is needed is the injection of fresh blood, of different faces at the helm of the security and intelligence agencies, with the view to combating the challenges we're currently facing differently, as apparently the current path we are towing seem not to be heading to that place we wish to be in terms of security, anytime soon.


'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- https://www.informationng.com
- http://scannewsnigeria.com
- http://oliviasgist.com




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