The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency in Kaduna State.
The forum said it decided to seek extraordinary measures to halt the state’s drift into anarchy because the governor, Mallam Nasir el- Rufai, had shown “gross incapacity” to maintain peace and safeguard the lives and property of citizens of the state.
National President of MBF, Dr Pogu Bitrus, who made the demand on behalf of the forum, expressed serious concerns at the “ugly security situation” in Kaduna State where communities across various local government areas (LGAs) have come under unending attacks, resulting in gruesome massacres, rape of women, destruction of property and incessant mass abduction of people.
Bitrus disclosed that the situation has been made worse by the demand for payment of ransom by the kidnappers to secure the release of abducted persons.
He lamented that while the above scenario has become the norm in Kaduna State, the political authorities seem either incapable of dealing with these security challenges or deliberately unwilling to stop the recurring bloody tide. According to Bitrus, the lukewarm attitude of the political leadership in the state towards the activities of the armed bandits suggested complicity on their part.
“More worrisome is the fact that attacks by these killer herdsmen and Fulani kidnappers on defenceless communities have led to massive displacement of people from their ancestral lands, thereby creating a catastrophic humanitarian crisis situation and rendering farmers unable to access their farmlands for agricultural activities.
Current attacks on schools have also led to the withdrawal of pupils and students from schools or outright closure of such schools.
The negative consequences of these on education and food security can only be imagined.
“The most worrisome is the attitude of Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai towards tackling the security challenges confronting the state.
While he has refused to negotiate with kidnappers, he has also not done anything to secure these weak communities against further attacks on vulnerable communities.
More than anytime, Governor el-Rufai has continued to provoke bandits through unguarded utterances that have further enraged them to unleash more terror attacks on various communities.
“On the other hand, kidnappers have taken over all the routes linking Kaduna State to other parts of the country where they have continued to unleash terror on road users.
These criminals are not only engaged in abducting farmers from their farmlands, but have also resorted to breaking homes at night to abduct people. Sometimes, members of an entire family are kidnapped and herded into the forest where relatives of victims are forced to pay unimaginable amounts of money in ransom.
“Oftentimes, some abducted persons are killed even after such ransoms are paid.
This trend has triggered massive relocation of residents who now abandon homes they had built with retirement entitlements and now squat in crowded neighborhoods only waiting to be further invaded,” he said.
A chronicle of some recent instances shows that two nurses were abducted from the Idon General Hospital in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State on April 22, 2021.
They are yet to be released even after the payment of N10 million to the kidnappers. On Monday, July 5, 2021, these daredevil kidnappers brazenly launched an attack on the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria where they abducted 10 persons, including five nurses, infants and their mothers.
Similarly, two lecturers and six students of the Nuhu Polytechnic, Zaria had been abducted and were only released on Friday after the payment of huge ransoms.
The Afaka students’ abduction on March 11, 2021 and the murder of five undergraduates of Greenfield University in the last week of April, 2021 and the payment of N200 million by poor parents to secure the release of their children have become reference points in the daring expedition of these armed bandits.
Most disturbing is the recent abduction of over 120 students of Bethel Baptist High School, Damishi, located on the outskirts of Kaduna. These minors are still being held captive in the forest with no food, shelter or medication