Mr. Amaechi Anakwe is one of Nigeria’s finest professional broadcasters who works with African Independent Television (AIT) – unarguably the most independent-minded privately funded television station.
Today, I had the privilege of appearing on one of the programmes through an invitation by Anakwe. The agenda of the programme was incidentally termed ‘agenda setting’ for the president elect Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) as he then was. But we were setting this agenda, the president himself jetted off to London the United Kingdom on a ten days private visit rumored to be his way of consulting his London based doctors. Going forward, yours faithfully expressed strong reservations with the uncoordinated and ineffective approach that the current government adopts in tackling the huge existential challenge of the widespread break down of law and order that is replicated all across Nigeria.
It would seem that president Buhari who initially in 2015 got elected based on the fact that as a former military General he promised to focus exclusively on how to restore security all across the country and battle the scourge of terrorism waged by boko haram islamists. But he has spectacularly failed to discharge this mandate. This made me call on the president to return to the drawing board and to fashion out innovative ways of changing the strategies of battling the menace of insecurity.
The call for a refocusing towards achieving a holistic confrontation of the hydra-headed monster of insecurity of lives and property of Nigerians has become much more urgent going by the ugly scenarios of violence and killings that characterized the just ended general elections.
Speaking about killings during elections reminds us all of the unfortunate events that played up in some flash points such as Kogi, Bayelsa, Rivers and Lagos states.
Sadly as soon as the elections were done and dusted the country seems unperturbed about the high number of Nigerians that were killed just so that some persons can be railroaded into political offices. But it is necessary that we talk about these premeditated killings especially in Kogi and Bayelsa states with a focus on the forthcoming elections in which there would be hot contestation between the All Progressive Congress and the People’s Democratic Party.
Moreso, there is the need to clearly state that the involvement of security forces directly in the handling of the just ended elections led to mindless killings of innocent Nigerians by some of those security forces in Kogi state. The Kogi state government came under greater focus for allegedly inflicting bloody violence against political opponents which resulted in fatalities
Infact prior to the election, there were cases of arrest of persons who smuggled weapons and military uniforms in Kogi state but that line of story has been killed in the usual practice of hiding such heinous crimes under the carpets especially if the powers that be have any hand in these crimes.
But the governorship polls in Kogi and Bayelsa which will come up in November is being headlined as events in which there would be violence going by what transpired at the last elections and which are yet to be treated to a logical conclusion.
Those who kill for politicians in the last elections are still armed and dangerous and indeed are moving around amongst the civilian population even as the government which benefitted from these choreographed violent acts do not have the political will to resolve these killings and to bring the perpetrators to face the full wrath of the law. A reading of the recorded killings that occurred during the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa looks like a horror movie in Hollywood. Sadly, these individuals seem to have been left to die just like that and the killers empowered to shed more blood in the coming elections.
Nigerians of all walks of life owe Nigeria a duty to demand accountability from President Muhammadu Buhari and to insist that those who killed so that some politicians could manipulate the electoral process to gain political offices, are prosecuted and punished so as to forestall a reoccurrence. Buhari cannot afford to continue to sleep on duty as rightly put by the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Yola, and the sharia council of Nigeria.
Indeed, as stated by Senator Shehu Sani, the North has become the hot bed of criminal entrepreneurs who are now killing millions and destroying lives.
The Catholic Bishop of Yola Diocese, Rt Reverend Stephen Mamza, rightly said the unabated killings, violent crimes, and conflict across the country indicate that President Muhammadu Buhari has been sleeping on duty as the nation’s Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The Catholic bishop, who spoke on the occasion of Easter, regretted the recent attacks on Adamawa, Benue, Zamfara, Nasarawa states and Southern Kaduna.
He described as unfortunate the inability of security agencies to stop these attacks despite available information to them before the attacks.
Mamza said, “We are really in a dilemma. We (Nigerians) are feeling that we don’t have protection. From all indications, there’s nothing being done. There have been calls from all over the country. Look at what is happening in Zamfara State; look at what is happening in Benue periodically, in Nasarawa State and now in Adamawa (Southern Adamawa).
“If there is a government in place then the government should listen to the people and address the security challenges. We have mass burials from time to time and there’s no sign the government cares about what is happening.” The cleric noted that it “is the constitutional duty of the government to provide security for its citizens but that is if such government really cares.”
He charged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government to wake up to its responsibilities of protecting lives, noting that the impression out there was that government did not seem to be in control of the insecurity situation in the country. “Why are we living in a country where it seems there’s no government in place?” the Catholic Bishop lamented.
Incidentally, rising from its pre-Ramadan meeting recently in Kaduna under the leadership of its President, Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad, and the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) has said that it is unhappy with the federal government over poor efforts in tackling insecurity in the country.
The meeting which was attended by about 80 Muslim leaders from 25 states across the country issued a 5-paragraph communiqué which was signed and read by the SCSN Secretary General, Nafiu Baba Ahmad, emphasizing on the need for federal government to change tactics in dealing with security challenges. They particularly noted that government’s effort in checkmating insecurity in North Eastern States and in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba and Benue States, “is grossly inadequate”.
To this end, the Islamic body advised that government should live up to its responsibility by reviewing current security strategy as well as holding security chiefs accountable for their actions and inactions.
The communiqué reads in part, “That the security situation in the country has reached an alarming state, in addition to the north eastern states and now states like Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Taraba and Benue, where cases of kidnapping, banditry, and Boko Haram are unleashing terror with impunity. “The effort in tackling the situation is grossly inadequate”.
The Council is accordingly calling on the government to braze up to its basic responsibility by reviewing its current security strategy and holding the security chiefs accountable for their actions and inactions. On its part, Amnesty International reports that the armed group Boko Haram continued to carry out attacks, resulting in hundreds of deaths.
Reports continued of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, and torture and other ill-treatment, which, in some cases, led to deaths in custody. Conditions in military detention conditions were harsh. Communal violence occurred across the country. Thousands of people were forcibly evicted from their homes.
Amnesty international also said Boko Haram carried out at least 65 attacks causing 411 civilian deaths, and abducted at least 73 people. Sixteen women, they said, including 10 policewomen, were abducted in June when Boko Haram ambushed an army-escorted convoy on the Maiduguri-Damboa road. In July, Boko Haram ambushed a team of oil prospectors in a village in Magumeri. Three oil workers were abducted and at least 40 other people were killed, including soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force. On 6 May, 82 Chibok schoolgirls, abducted in 2014, were released by Boko Haram fighters in an exchange deal; 113 girls remained in captivity. In November, six farmers in Dimge village in Mafa were abducted and beheaded. There remained at least 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa; 39% lived in camps or similar settings and 61% in host communities. The UN said that 5.2 million people in the northeast remained in urgent need of food assistance; 450,000 children under five were in urgent need of nutrition. In July, Doctors without Borders reported that 240 children had died from malnutrition in Borno state.
A British national, Faye Mooney, was among the victims of the attack on Kajuru castle in Kaduna last Friday by unknown gunmen who also abducted three others. The victims were said to have travelled from Lagos to have some fun at the resort when they were attacked around 11pm.
Mooney, who worked with a non-governmental organization, Mercy Corps, was killed alongside Mathew Oguche, a staff member of an international NGO, Safety Organization. The British High Commission in a statement by the Head of Communications, Policy & Corporate Lead, Department for International Development, David Smith, in Abuja explained that the deceased Briton’s next-of-kin had been notified. The Commission stated that it was offering consular assistance to her family while also engaging with the Nigerian authorities on the incident.
While offering its sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of the victims of the attack, the Mission said it would not comment or speculate on the motive or nature of the attack ‘at this time.’
The statement said, “The British High Commission is aware of an incident involving the death of a British national and a Nigerian national in Kaduna State, late on Friday evening. Mooney was killed on Friday, 19 April 2019 in an attack at Kajuru Castle, near Kaduna, alongside a Nigerian national, Oguche. Mooney was employed in Nigeria with the NGO Mercy Corps. Oguche worked for the International NGO Safety Organization.
“Her next-of-kin has been notified and we are offering consular assistance to her family. We are engaging with the Nigerian authorities, and we understand an investigation is underway.” What needs to be done is that Nigeria needs holistic police reforms to make the policing institutions effective and efficient. Currently, the Nigerian police force has failed.
Again, the prosecutions of arrested killers are most times compromised. The rule of law must prevail and the dispensation of justice must have fast tracked.
The killings of civilians by armed security forces should be handled by an independent investigative authority which should be headed by a judge and answerable only to Nigeria people similar to what obtains in UK and New Zealand.
*** Emmanuel Onwubiko is head of Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).