In the last one week, more than 700 Nigerians have been killed by non state actors known as bandits, which a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, Justice Taiwo Taiwo has designated as terrorists.
From Zamfara to Kebbi to Niger and Sokoto ,the inhabitants of the local communities in these areas live in perpetual fear of imminent death.
Last week, the Islamic State of West Africa, a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, in a brazen, daring move attack a large police formation and Army University in Biu, Borno State, incidents that led to casualties on both sides.
The state of insecurity has gone so bad that outlawry is fast spreading further afield as reports of kidnapping seems not to be the exclusive preserve of northwest alone.
There are reported intermittent cases of kidnapping in southeast, southwest and south-south.
In the last two weeks, in the south alone according to police report, more than 30 people were kidnapped.
It was a frustrated Buhari that ordered the Army high command to use maximum force to flush out bandits in Niger, following reported killings of 30 people in rural communities in Shiroro local government.
In Kaduna but for the gallantry of the troops, many would have been kidnapped, in spite of that , more than 10 were kidnapped and about 15 bandits neutralised by the troops.
These are indeed trying times for the nation, and for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration; this is a time for deep reflection, given the groundswell of opposition against the administration over worsening insecurity in the North in particular, and Nigeria in general coming from the president’s adopted constituency, the ordinary Northerners, backed by the conservative but powerful clerical class, the Northern Elders Forum, the Arewa Consultative Assembly, and northern youth organizations.
The breakdown of amity between the president and the Northern Elders did not start today. As early as December 2020, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) had called on President Buhari to resign for failure to combat increasing insecurity in the country.
Northern Elders, in a statement then by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, noted that life had lost its value under the present administration due to the absence of political will to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and other threats such as banditry, rustling and kidnapping.
Referring to the massacre of innocent farmers in Zabarmari, the Forum regretted that Buhari had failed to listen to concerns from many Nigerians about the level of insecurity in the nation.
It lamented that killings had been greeted by “most insensitive response” by spokespersons of the President and described as a lame excuse that murdered farmers did not seek permission from the military to harvest produce.
“These killings and the reality they expose will make relocation of citizens and resumption of economic activities a lot more difficult to achieve even for leadership that attaches priority to them, and this administration does not.
Signposting a significant dose of anger in the North where life, according to Professor Hassan Ahmed, a political scientist, “has become brutish, short and of no value, due to incessant killing by bandits – the influential northern newspaper, Daily Trust, penultimate week wrote a scathing leader where it lashed out at the administration for near anarchy in the North. The Editorial states:
“No fewer than 15 worshipers killed as they prayed in a mosque at Ba’are village, Mashegu Local Government Area of Niger State. A Commissioner in the service of Katsina State, Dr. Rabe Nasir was gruesomely murdered in his own house located at Fatima Shema Quarters in Katsina city, while a housewife identified only as Salamatu, was killed as bandits abducted six others during a raid at Piri community in Kwali Area Council of Abuja.
“But the horror and barbarism of these killings is only one thing. The frequency with which these gruesome killings occur and recur is another. The Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, summed up the sorrow and grief-stricken mood of the region and the nation, when he said, shortly after these events, that, “if I continue talking about the insecurity in the North, we will not leave this room… There is no single day that passes without people being killed in the North especially in the North West now, but we don’t hear it,” even as bandits continue to kill and maim in part of Katsina State and elsewhere in the North…”
According to reports, many popular and influential folk musicians in the region who composed songs celebrating the cult of personality around Buhari and his seeming larger than life integrity have now turned around denouncing him, and regretting their role in his election.
To show their distaste with the administration, a couple of them in an ironic spite have turned around to celebrate the chief bandit tormenting the Buhari administration, one Kachalla Bello Turji.
A song celebrating Turji, is now trending in northern Nigeria to the indignation of many residents who have suffered from the ongoing atrocities of bandits in the regions.
The about 14-minute long song was rendered in Hausa by a man who identified himself in the song as Adamu Ayuba with the female chorus hailing Mr Turji as a hero among heroes Mr. Turji, from Shinkafi in Zamfara State, is said to lead gangs terrorizing communities in Sokoto, Zamfara, and parts of Niger Republic.
The gangs are blamed for the killings and displacement of hundreds of residents, the gangs were said to be responsible for the December 6 massacre of travellers who were burnt alive in the bus in which they were commuting in Isa Local Government Area of Sokoto State.
For the past two weeks, there has been uneasy calm over threats by some civil society groups and northern youth to protest over growing Insecurity in the North. The youth observed that following the security challenge that has engulfed Nigeria, most especially Northern Nigeria which is now the epicentre of kidnapping-for-ransom, the best option for President Muhammadu Buhari is to humbly resign.
They said Nigeria is deeply soaked in blood bath and lately, turned into an abbatoir where humans are roasted alive for the crime of daring to travel on roads that were constructed from the taxes they paid to the government.
Isah Abubakar, President, Northern Youth Council of Nigeria, said in a statement penultimate Friday decried the state of affairs in the region.
The statement reads:”The Northern Youth Council of Nigeria is constrained to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to humbly resign since it is obvious that he has run out idea on how to subdue the terrorists that have taken over significant parts of Sokoto, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Zamfara states and the busiest Kaduna-Abuja expressway on one side, and recently, the daring moves attacks by Boko Haram/ISWAP which has continued unabated.”
“It is embarrassing that President Buhari is idly watching the terrorist elements reigning supreme in in our country, imposing taxes on his supposed citizens, stopping them yet, he is unperturbed. This is the clear characteristics of a leader that has runout of steam.”
“In the alternative where he fails to eat the humble pie, we wish to call on the National Assembly to expedite action and initiate processes of impeachment against the President. Nigerians will certainly stand with them. This will equally help in redeeming the damaged reputation of the National Assembly.”
“Where the above recommendation fails, Nigerians should do everything possible to defend themselves, we can’t continue to watch anarchist reign supreme over us, while we seat like cowards to be killed. It is better you are arrested and kept in prison for daring to defend yourself than to be buried in grave because you didn’t dare to do something. Enough is enough!”
Just as the youth were heading to the venue in Kano where the protests were billed to begin, the operatives of the department of State Security and the police swooped on the venue and sealed it off.
The action drew condemnation from Nigerians and international community, including Amnesty International, The Human Rights Watch among others.
The latest criticism of the administration’s handling of security situation in the country came from the influential and popular northern Nigerian actress, Rahama Sadau, who lashed at the President Buhari-led government for its failure to tackle the worsening security situation and incessant killings in the north and the country at large.
Ms Sadau, who said this on her Instagram handle on Monday, said “unless the government steps up to the occasion, Nigerians could be pushed to revolt”. She also described Nigerian leaders as “cruel and disregarding”.
Her posts partly read, “The poor Nigerian cannot stay at his home comfortably, he lives in fear. If we are all killed, we will then see who will vote for them again.”
Sadau’s post comes on the heels of a protest by Coalition of Concerned Northern Nigerian Groups in Abuja on Tuesday.
All these protesters are demanding an immediate end to the killings going on in the region. They are also lamenting the gruesome killing of over 40 bus passengers at Gidan Bawa village in Sokoto State.
#NorthIsBleeding hashtag has trended all week with calls by prominent northern personalities and Nigerian celebrities calling for mass protests against President Buhari’s government over the mindless killings in the northern region.
For the administration, we are moving towards a requiem for it, given its growing unpopularity among Nigerians.
The most worrisome is that in the new year, kidnapping seems to have birthed in the Southwest in a renewed vigour.
Eight days after the last operation by kidnappers on the Lagos-Ibadan highway, during which a driver was killed and four passengers abducted at Onigari axis, the bandits struck again last Saturday and ended up kidnapping three victims at Ishara-Remo axis in Ogun State jurisdiction.
Business Hallmark learnt that the bandits, about 10 in number, emerged from a bush along the road dressed in military uniform and started shooting sporadically as usual, directing the shots at vehicles and their occupants.
While some were able to escape, including a Nollywood actress, Bimpe Akintunde, who wrote a report on her Instagram page, a source said that a man was caught by the kidnappers but miraculously, he managed to escape from their grips later.
Meanwhile, staff members of a company who went to attend a ceremony and were returning home were not so lucky as one of the three vehicles conveying them broke down and the other two vehicles waited for the one that broke down.
It was learnt that while repairs were being carried out on the faulty one, the kidnappers suddenly emerged from a nearby bush and abducted three of the occupants of the vehicles.
Recall that Aminu Masari had for the second time in one year advised residents of Katsina State to buy guns and defend themselves against bandits since it has become clear according to him that security officials alone cannot tackle insecurity in the state.
Katsina, like other North-west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto and Kebbi, has witnessed incessant attacks by terror groups.
Hundreds of people have been killed or kidnapped in Katsina this year with thousands more displaced from their homes.
Speaking during a media parley with journalists at the Muhammadu Buhari House in Katsina, Mr Masari said the number of security personnel is not enough to tackle the situation.
“It’s Islamically allowed for one to defend himself against attack. One must rise to defend himself, his family and assets. If you die while trying to defend yourself, you’ll be considered a martyr. It’s surprising how a bandit would own a gun while a good man trying to defend himself and his family doesn’t have one,” the governor said.
Mr Masari said the state government would help those who plan to own arms with the view to help bring an end to banditry.
“We’ll support those who come with the initiative to procure arms because residents need to also complement the efforts of security agencies. These people (security agents) don’t have the number to protect the people. When President Buhari came, he even tried by increasing the number of our security agents but it’s inadequate. Count it yourself, how many policemen do we have in this country? How many soldiers do we have?
“Even if we say every policeman should go back to his home state, it’ll still not be enough. So, if we fold arms and decide to do nothing, we’ll be the ones to suffer most,” he lamented.
Mr Masari said the police would register all guns bought by the residents to ensure they are put to the right use.
As it is now, the country is morphing into an ungovernable, anarchic state.