– Wonder why Sheik Gumi has unfettered access to bandits
By Rapheal Izokpu
Some eminent elders across the country have taken a look at the security situation in the country and come out saying it is time for President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation.
The elders under the auspices of Conference Of Nigeria Elders For Peace And National Unity (CNEPNU), also urged the president to immediately declare a state of emergency on security.
They said the cycle of violence is fast turning the country into what many consider a failing entity and called for an urgent intervention.
The elders in a statement signed by Engr Zana Goni (North east elders for peace and development); Prof Chika Madumere (Coalition of South East Professionals Network), as well as Prof Ganiyu Jakande, also backed demand by Ohaneze Ndigbo’s position for a review of appointments of service chiefs to reflect the country’s federal character principles and to enshrine equity and fairness.
According to them, the continued exclusion of Igbo nation, being the third largest ethnic group in the country, was against the spirit of not only the founders of the country but also the writers of Nigeria’s constitution who they noted, had made provision for adherence to the federal character principles in appointments.
Noting that inclusion of Igbos in federal appointments was not negotiable considering that the constitution was explicit on the need for it, the elders said the skewed appointments especially in the security sector in favour of some ethnic groups without the igbos is legally, morally and spiritually wrong.
The concerned elders said the level of tension in the country today, could only be likened to the 1967 – 1970 scenario, hence all should be involved in getting a solution.
While suspecting conspiracy on the part of authorities, the patriots wondered why respected Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, who is not a state official, would have unfettered access to armed bandits operating in very deep forests.
They have, therefore, charged the military and security agencies in the country on the need to show more commitment to the onerous task of addressing the myriad of security challenges confronting society, especially insurgency, armed banditry, cattle rustling, kidnap-for-ransom, and drug addiction.
The respected citizens, who waxed philosophical, said that when a people fail to plant trees to stop the wind, they inadvertently prepare the ground for the whirlwind, which has more devastating effects than the former.
This was as they further drew attention to the socio-economic effect of insecurity, which is occasioned by lose of means of livelihoods such as businesses, farms among other essentials.
“We rise as elders to condemn in its entirety the worsening state of insecurity in our dear country, which has not only led to needless lose of lives and property, but also threatened her fragile and delicate balance”, the elders said in the statement.
According to them, a situation where a proscribed group such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) will be running a security outfit in the name of Eastern Security Network, which by all means is illegal, does not add up, hence the need for South East Governors to offer unparalleled support to the military, to smoke the outlaws from their hideouts. The Governors can consider setting up a regional security outfit within a legal framework to support the security agencies operating in the Southeast.
In the same vein, the senior citizens have admonished authorities to also beam their searchlights on other parts of the country, with a view to identifying, isolating and arresting persons and groups constituting security threats.
This development, they argued, will clear the doubt in many quarters that the South East geo-political zone is an entity suffocating under the weight of oppression.
The statement reads in full: “We are alarmed by the increasing attacks on members of the public, especially acts of insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry, rape and the like, thereby portraying Nigeria as a ship that has lost its compass.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari to give vent to his oath of office by protecting the citizens from attacks perpetrated by non-state actors, who seem to be having freedom of action that suggests abdication of responsibility on the part of authorities.
“Our concern is that Nigeria may be heading down the path of Somalia and other failed African nations, if nothing concrete, decisive and urgent is done to reverse this ugly trend.
“As an immediate measure, therefore, we call on Mr. President to address the nation in a manner that will restore public confidence, which has since been lost, as seen in the resort to self-help by many citizens and groups, who feel – rghtly or wrongly – that government has failed to protect them against unwarranted attacks.
“Again, the President must hand down a marching order to the new Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, as well as other heads of relevant security and law enforcement agencies, to reclaim the space from the enemies of state.
“We fear conspiracy on the part of security operatives, as nothing explains the fact that, while it seemed all the while that bandits, terrorists and other criminal elements were spirits, respected Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, has been traversing the ‘forests of evil’, meeting, discussing and taking photographs with the evil men.
“With due respect, the way bandits and other criminal elements are allowed to operate today is appalling, as only in a dysfunctional society would you see criminal elements dictating to government what it must do.
“The new order of bandits’ invasion of schools, culminating in the forcefully taking of school children, whose only ‘sin’ attempt to acquire basic education, must be halted with immediate effect, if our future as a nation must be assured.
“Lastly, we support the ongoing joint military operation in Orlu forest, Imo State, to take out outlaws threatening the peace, and urge Governors of the five South East states to openly identify with this cause, to demonstrate statesmanship and responsible conduct.”