The return of terrorists
Few days to the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, banditry, kidnapping and unexplained killings which many had thought had subsided just before the general election reared its head again in a frightening dimension. The murderous ways of criminal elements who go about killing and maiming innocent citizens in Kaduna, Benue, Plateau, Anambra, Kwara and other states of the federation became again the order of the day.
The resurgence of the terrorist groups claimed no fewer than 40 lives of residents of Fungzai and Kubat Villages in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State during one of the weekends in April, while seven members of an advance team of the United States of America Consulate convoy were killed and two kidnapped by unknown gunmen at Atani Osamale Road, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The terrorists who had gone underground for a while and put on hold their senseless killing spree in some states, unfortunately, few days to the end of the administration of President Buhari rose again and went back to what it was, killing innocent mothers, fathers, toddlers in their hundreds and inflicting life threatening injuries on those who survive. It was also of note that the military and other security agencies are overwhelmed in the fight against the hoodlums. But what prompted the terrorists group to come out lately to unleash terror on harmless residents of the country remains a matter of concern to many.
40 killed in Plateau
It was a weekend of tears and blood in Plateau State when bandits, suspected to be terrorists invaded villages and killed over 40 residents, the joint security reinforcement in Plateau State after the bandit’s attacks arrested five suspects connected to the killings of mostly women and children in the state. The Plateau State Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Alfred Alabo, said the five suspects had so far been arrested and are currently in the custody of the STF.
He said AK 47 rifles, revolver pistol and cartridges were recovered from the suspects. The Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, CP Bartholomew Onyeka, said in the cause of the retreat of the attackers, two Hilux vans belonging to NSCDC were overran and vandalised by the attackers. One Captain Abdullahi Umar 07NA attached to sector 8 STF sustained bullet injuries and is currently receiving treatment at the STF headquarters,” Jos. The Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong condemned the attacks on the innocent residents of both villages who are mostly farmers.
Murder of 7 US Consulate team members
It was gathered that the advance team of the USA Consulate were on their way to visit Ogbaru Community to assess the level of erosion in the area as part of the humanitarian efforts of the embassy, but unfortunately, the local staff and Police Mobile Force Officers were burnt and two persons among them were abducted by the hoodlums. It took the intervention of the combined efforts of the Police, Navy, DSS and local vigilantes to rescue those abducted by the gunmen.
The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, condemned the attack, he described it as a clear indication of the attackers’ and/or non-state actors’ callousness and an act of wickedness to humanity, especially to their kinsmen who have been considered to enjoy aids and palliatives from the attacked diplomats. The act is indeed evil and inhuman.
250 killed on Palm Sunday in Benue
In the same vein, on April 27, 2023 it was a harvest of killing in parts of Benue State as assailants who had concentrated on Tiv speaking communities in Benue North-East and West before now, but the marauders’ attention had been shifted to Southern part of the state, where 400 people had been killed in the last three weeks. It was also gathered that on Palm Sunday, no fewer than 250 persons were killed in the Agatu and Apa axis.
The marauders bared their fangs on the people and turned the communities into theaters of war as numerous communities were either sacked or deserted by the inhabitants who fled for fear of being killed by the advancing herdsmen militia. The traditional ruler of the area and Chairman of Apa Traditional Council, the Edojo K’ Apa, Chief John Antenyi, had raised the alarm over the activities of the murderous armed herdsmen in his domain.
The monarch, who condemned the act, lamented that communities in his domain like Ikpobi, Odugbo, Akpanta, Ologba and Oyiji, among others, had been taken over by the invaders in ceaseless attacks on his subjects.
44 killed in Kaduna between March and April
Also of concern is Kaduna State which was one of the worst hit by tribal clash, especially the southern parts of the state, mostly dominated by Christians. The suspected Fulani militia had killed several residents in an attack on Runji community, Zango Kataf LGA of the state. The gunmen were said to have invaded the community in the wee hours of the night and opened fire on the villagers, most of whom were asleep.
Some of the victims were said to have been burnt alive as the bandits set houses ablaze. Samuel Ache, president of the Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA), who confirmed the incident said 27 people were killed while several others sustained injuries. The local vigilantes in the community at- tempted to engage the attackers, but they were subdued and the military task force was said to have subsequently intervened and repelled the bandits. According to Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, did not state the numbers of casualty figure.
The commissioner said, “several lives were lost”, adding that preliminary reports indicate that “an unspecified number of houses were burnt down.” Governor Nasir El-Rufai who received the preliminary report in the early hours of Sunday condemned the killings as unacceptable and unjustifiable. And condoled with the families that lost their loved ones and prayed for the repose of the victims’ souls.
Responding at a time when there was an attack by bandits on Zamfara community, President Buhari in what had become his standard response to killings across the country warned the killers, saying, “These criminals should stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them.” “Such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.” The president had reacted to the incidents via a statement by his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, in Abuja, saying that “this insane and persistent violence against innocent people must stop.”
Era of uncontrolled killing
At the last count, 63,111 persons were killed in Buhari’s eight years. While 27,311 persons were killed in his first term, 35,800 were killed between 2019 and May 2023 According to data obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, NST, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa programme, there has been consistent rise in killings in the country, the deaths arose from terrorism, banditry, Herders/farmers clashes, communal crises, cult clashes, and extra-judicial killings among others.
When President Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, the cumulative number of people killed in Nigeria, according to the NST was 34,972. Since then, the death figure has risen to 98,083 as of May 16, 2023. Since 2015, Nigeria recorded the least killings in 2017 when 4618 persons died and the worst in 2021 when 10,575 lives were wasted. However, the death tolls have been going down since 2022 when 9079 deaths were recorded.
According to security expert and journal- ist, Mr. Raymond Tedujaiye, it is sad that at the tail end of President Muhamadu Buhari’s administration we are recording these series of attacks by killing innocent citizens in a cold blooded manner. Tedujaiye said the attack which occurred in parts of the North and Anambra and Benue State, where some staff of Americans Embassy were killed and the massacre in Plateau State called for concern.
“It is sad that Nigerians are taking the lives of their fellow human beings which they can- not create without reason. I have the belief that the incoming administration will do well in the area of security and tackle issues of security headlong. “I knew the incoming administration will be proactive in securing lives and property of the citizenry. In the team of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu he has retired IGP, top military officers, among them is Akeem Odumosu and several others.
“I also believe the new government has plans on how to tackle kidnappings, banditry, communal clash and other forms of insecurity, like the gunmen in the Southeast states.” Mr. Folorunsho Atta, a security expert said he’s not surprised that few days to the end of Buhari’s administration, it is greeted with massacres. “His regime started with massacres. So what do we expect at the twilight of the administration?
“The simple truth is that whatever a man sows, it’s what he will reap. Somebody once said he would make the nation ungovernable for another leader. No sooner he said so, terrorists and insurgents took sway. “When he came on board, kidnappers, assassins and other violent disgruntled elements who saw the insurgents and terrorists having a field day had no option than to join the train. Every discerning mind knows that some people in government of Buhari took pleasure in bloodletting.
“We have the means to suppress these massacres, but some devilish persons just can’t do without the blood of their fellow human beings. There is hope in the incoming administration to be led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. For the fact that Tinubu is pragmatic when it comes to issue of security. “Tinubu needs to redesign the nation’s security architecture just like he did to “Operation Sweep” in 1999 as soon as he became Lagos State Governor. He then revived the moribund “Operation Sweep.”
He also changed the name in accordance with democratic norm to Rapid Response Squad, RRS. “Prompt payment of allowances due to security operatives under Tinubu were never toyed with. This is why the operatives performed optimally to suppress armed banditry and ethnic militias.” He further said Equipping the police with the necessary logistics, arms and ammunitions, paying allowances as at when due to policemen and sisters’ agencies operatives would help to curb violent crimes such as murder, kidnapping, insurgency and ritual killings.
Amnesty International reacts
Also reacting to the security concerns and what must be done to change the tide of killing under the new administration, the Executive Director, Amnesty International (Nigeria) and Chairman, Board of Trustee, Mr. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), said the continued militarisation and securitisation of elections have paved way for corruption and undemocratic tendencies and practices by security officials in Nigeria.
He said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the hands of militias and non- state actors necessitated by porous borders and insecurity have become a growing concern in Nigeria with resultant counter-productive investment in Defence and the security sector. He said, “Delayed review of laws and processes in defence procurement process has contributed to the lapses that encourage corruption in Nigerian Defence and security sector.
“The criticality of defence and security sector has positioned it as the centre of sustainable democracy and governance process in Nigeria. “Manipulation of payroll, abuse of selection process in career progression, and other unaccountable payment systems across non-military engagements and commercial ventures constitute unattended but serious threats to Defence and Security integrity and accountability.”
While urging the current administration to have a total departure from the negative ways of the past, the human rights advocate noted that human security is key in complementing effort and resources geared towards sustainable national security. “However, security vote has been institutionalised to enable uninterrupted and prolonged diversion of funds.” “While Nigeria suffers a high-risk incidence of corruption in defence and security sector, susceptible areas in the sector are procurement, personnel administration, operational, finance and political engagement.
“Uninterrupted and unchecked diversion of defence and security funds into private pockets have continued to exacerbate precarious effects passed from one administration to another. “Discouraging and unsupported whistle- blowing mechanisms in defence and security sector hampers defence spending and procurement accountability in Nigeria. “Despite the growing allocations hitherto to the defence sector, unchecked corruption in the sector has contributed to funds mismanagement, prolonged violence threats, high casualty rate, personnel mental/health disorder, grave security risk, weak response to crisis, and repeated weapons diversion.
“Huge annual budgetary appropriation to the defence and security sector has not translated into sustainable security of lives due to pervasive corruption in the sector which is a major factor undermining military’s ability to curb security challenges confronting the country. “Defence corruption are enabled by opacity and secrecy, procurement complexity, vested interests and weak oversight of the sector.”
He however recommended that effective oversight of Defence and security sector remains critical to sanction misconduct, misappropriation and mismanagement within the sector. Adding however that ambiguity and needless complexity of key provisions in the existing laws like Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2011 hamper deeper engagement and successful oversight. This has to be reviewed as adequate oversight of the sector to ensure total accountability, noting that proper checks and balances is pivotal to an improved national security.
“Ensure immediate priority for committed and unbiased representations from this administration to allow for inclusivity and ownership and to ensure objectivity and quality public service delivery to the country. “Denormalise the unprofessional use of security personnel for personal engagements to optimise objectivity, transparency and accountability in securing lives and property of the citizens.”
Human security provision in Nigeria, he said, is paramount to complementing and enhancing the overall national security. “Uphold total integrity in Defence sector through transparent and accountable procurement process, payroll systems, and credible and meritorious selections in career progression.” He called for centralised procurement systems across Defence spectrum to enhance oversight activities for more accountability in funds allocation and spending.
“Institutionalise whistleblowing mechanisms in the Defence sector for anonymous reporting of suspected mismanagement, leveraging the latest technology and other independent reporting systems. “Revisit the defence welfare and deployment systems to mitigate reported high incidences of personnel mental and health disorder which is due majorly to prolonged deployment to battle fields. Independent review of various military operations and missions to ascertain their relevance to the current needs and realities of national security.
“Application of adequate sanction for misconduct of personnel and for mismanagement of security and operational votes through appropriate legal framework to enable declassification and strict adherence to accountability in procurement and spending. “Amendment of existing laws to address gaps and resolve ambiguous provisions disrupting effective oversight of the sector.” “Adequate attention to technical capacity in appointment of elective and appointed members of various Committees/Agencies through comprehensive Constitutional provisions to ensure competence in oversight activities.”
According to him, appointment to the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) should be opened to all Nigerians with the requisite qualification and expertise to deliver, while periodic audit of arms procurement for greater accountability would help in no small measures.”
Tinubu must deviate from Buhari’s style
Also speaking, a certified Protection Officer, Mr. Frank Oshanugor said it is interesting to note that in Chapter Two of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), under the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, it is the duty of the Federal Government to provide for the security of the citizenry. Section 2 (b) expressly states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
He said, “if this constitutional requirement from whoever is in charge of the Federal Government at any time is anything to go by, I would say that Bola Tinubu as the new President of Nigeria has the responsibility of ensuring that security of every Nigerian or any one resident in Nigeria is protected, safe and secure.” He said this automatically means that incidence of insurgency, unknown gunmen attack, herdsmen unprovoked attack, kidnap for ransom, cultism, armed robbery, cyber-attack should be things of the past.
The new administration, he said, should therefore ensure that all the mistakes or lapses inherent in the Buhari administration caused by wrong appointments, nepotism, insincerity, corruption, misplacement of priority, are not allowed to repeat themselves. “The President in appointing the service chiefs and heads of other security and anti- crime agencies should be guided largely by the principle of competence, track record, patriotism, without pandering to ethnic or religious tendencies.
“From my own assessment with available evidence, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration failed largely with respect to providing security for Nigerians due to those mundane tendencies. “In spite of the modest efforts made in containing the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East of the country, the regime of ram- paging killer gunmen in the North West, North Central and even in parts of the South in which hundreds of innocent lives have been lost, seriously portrays Buhari’s administration as the worst in recent time.
“His government’s inability or incapacity to checkmate activities of the gunmen, kidnappers who go for ransom and all other masquerading blood tasty criminals, clearly indicts Buhari as a failure with respect to security.” He said a conservative estimate of the number of people killed by terrorists, kidnappers, gunmen and Fulani herdsmen in various parts of the country were over 60,000 within the eight years of his leadership.
This is a frightening figure that clearly poses a disincentive to attempt in attracting foreign investors. “Many school girls taken into captivity by terrorists in the North East are still missing without any trace by Nigeria’s security forces and their chapter seemed to have been closed as far as the administration is concerned. “It was during Buhari’s administration that Nigerian Correctional Facilities and police stations became the commonest centres of attack by gunmen for reasons not quite explicit to Nigerians.
Matters are not helped with the lackadaisical manner that the government was handling security issues due to ethno-religious considerations. “This was evident in several reported cases of identification or arrest of certain persons behind some of the killings, no sooner had the news settled than the entire matter is discarded or manipulated in such a manner that nobody hears of it again. “There was a time Nigerians were told via the media that some persons behind terrorism and other killings particularly in the North had been arrested.
Nigerians demanded disclosure of their identities and prosecution, but till today nobody could tell what has happened. “A lot of evil practices associated with security of lives and property occurred during the Buhari era and much of it has remained concealed with the perpetrators shielded by the government. One of such was the brazen display of thuggery and attack by agents of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) in a place like Lagos where the likes of MC Oluomo would brazenly threaten the Igbos even in presence of the police for attempt not to vote APC presidential and governorship candidates in the 2023 election.
“Following the threat, lives were lost during the election and the perpetrators are still walking freely without the law enforcement carrying out their duties accordingly as they have been compromised.” In the history of Nigeria, there has never been a time killing of innocent citizens has ever taken place like such witnessed in the last eight years, particularly in the North Central, where the Fulani herdsmen have strongly entrenched themselves and continuously kill the natives who oppose them for destroying their farms.
“I will conclude that the money spent on Security by the Buhari administration cannot be justified with the low level of performance with respect to his Government’s constitutional obligation as earlier mentioned. Therefore, the Tinubu administration has a humongous challenge to right the wrongs of the Buhari administration if he wants to go down in history as a President whose election was mired in controversy, but ultimately led Nigeria on the part of progress, peace, orderliness, security of lives and property.”