A new band of illicit business, Kidnapping, is fast gaining ground across the country. In the North-East, it is being carried out by Boko Haram terrorists. In the North-East and North-Central, it is being carried out by the so-called bandits (a convenient name for terrorists). In the southern part, it is carried out by the criminal Fulani herdsmen, most of who were dubbed armed mercenaries from Libya, Niger, Chad and other troubled countries within the Sahel Region. But these criminals have a common trade mark: pick individuals either systematically or at random, keep them away in the forests, get in touch with their kinsmen or government agencies and collect ransom.
In the north, the target have shifted to just the unfortunate ordinary people to mainly school children and traditional rulers. In the southern part of the country, everyone has kidnap value and so could be the victim. This criminal act has been going on for years. Patriotic-minded persons have spoken, media houses have done several editorials in condemnation of this dastardly act, but, our so called political leaders don’t seem to appreciate the enormity of the sad situation, why have scared stiff the ordinary man.
Yes, our political leaders evoke shock even on a kindergarten by their handling of the issue. Our leaders seem to treat such criminal matters as if certain persons – especially the political class – are insulated from becoming a victim; but this completely misplaced.
The recent kidnapping of school children in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states, have opened new assessment points on kidnapping, banditry and terrorism in the country. Statements by the renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has ruffled feathers and seem to have exposed frontiers through which our security agencies could bring the entire criminality to a halt.
Recall that shortly before the 2015 Presidential Election, the Boko Haram terrorists had nominated President Muhammadu Buhari, among their chief negotiators when then President Goodluck Jonathan attempted to negotiate with Boko Haram just like the late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua did with theNiger Delta Militants. It should be stated that Gen. Buhari had promptly rejected his nomination to be Boko Haram’s chief negotiator or to be part of them in whatever manner. Buhari said he has no idea who they were. It must be stated that the philosophy of the Niger Delta Militants and Boko Haram or kidnappers are not the same: The Niger Delta Militants are identifiable, right up to their family houses; Boko Haram terrorists or the bandits have remained anonymous. They are hooded, and could probably be the proverbial dog that eats bone hung on its neck, if the hood is removed.
However, recent statements by Sheikh Gumi, who had visited the enclave of these dangerously armed criminals, took photo sessions and showcased the dangerous weapons at their disposal in a most bizarre manner, somehow, gives a tip that some respected Nigerians know more than they are willing to disclose.
For Sheikh Ahmad Gumi to have dubbed journalists as “criminals” for filing reports on the activities of the bandits, gives him out as a desperado who perhaps, has much to say on the rising insecurity in the country. The Islamic cleric by his utterances and actions (going on to negotiate the release of abducted school children), when he is not a state actor, speaks volume.
It should be pointed out that Sheikh Gumi and perhaps several other personalities actually know much on the rising criminality in the country. The AUTHORITY urges the security agencies to do the needful.
In case they forgot what to do, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI), among several other patriotic bodies and citizens, have unmistakably advised the security aparatuses, especially the Department of State Security (DSS) on what to do.
For the avoidance of doubt, Chris Isiguzo, the National President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), said “Sheikh Gumi, being a non-state actor, involved in negotiations with criminal elements, should have been behind bars”.
The NUJ added: “By insulting the Press as “Criminals” Sheikh Gumi has exposed himself the more as an intolerant person who will not want his activities closely scrutinised. By embarking on such an errand and choosing to speak for the bandits, the Press will continue to scrutinise his activities and also hold him accountable for his actions as enshrined in the Constitution”.
The IPI though it’s Executive-Director, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, did not say any much less. Several distinguished Nigerians, including Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) and Dr. Chidi Odinkalu, have advised the nation’s security agencies to act fast before the degenerating security situation gets worse.
Last week, the debilitating actions of unpatriotic citizens were again exposed by the governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum. Just two days ago, Prof. Zulum, in another of his unannounced trips, showed up at the Mohammed Goni College of Islamic Legal Studies in Maiduguri, where Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from Abadam Local Government Area of northern Borno were being camped. Immediately he arrived shortly after midnight, he sealed entrances to the IDP and supervised a headcount to identify the actual number of IDPs, to put a stop to rampant cases of dubious residents pretending to be displaced, whereas they spend daytime at the IDP camps to share food meant for the IDPs, and at night, return to their homes. Zulum’s mission, which ended about past 1am, revealed that out of the so-called 1,000 households in the record of humanitarian officials, 650 household were ghost household, while only 450 households were real IDPs. Zulum’s midnight headcount was conducted alongside an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Air-Commodore M. T. Abdullahi and two commissioners (Agriculture, and Local Government and Emirate Affairs). What this means is that Zulum has exposed a massive fraud, using just one IDP. And The AUTHORITY believes that similar unpatriotic act have largely been responsible for the protracted level of insecurity in the country.
Also, since Boko Haram terrorists said they detest Western Education, and want all educational institutions closed down and through kidnapping of school children forced several parents to permanently withdraw their children from school and state governments shutting down educational institutions, then the Boko Haram ideology is gradually succeeding.
They want education to be halted, dubbing it as sinful and they are succeeding, whether they are terrorists or bandits. The point here is that the social, political and economic implications are quite grave. If certain people appear to be benefitting from such atrocious activities, the time to put them under strict surveillance and halt them should no longer be prevaricated upon.
What is happening across the country is unacceptable and for Nigeria to come out of this debilitating mess, non-state actors who know more than ordinary people should be interrogated and action seen to have been immediately taken on them. Anything short of that will only be like applying plaster on a deep wound; one can only succeed in covering up the nauseating sight, but the ailment could get worse.