Despite security challenges being experienced in Nigeria, Nasarawa State, a state in the North Central, where insurgency, banditry and kidnapping is rampant is adjudged to be one of the most peaceful states in the country. The relative peace being enjoyed in the state wouldn’t have been realistic without the sacrifice and painstaking efforts of the present government under Governor Abdullahi Sule, who has been keeping guard over the state since assumption of office on May 29, 2019.
Before Governor Sule came on board on May 29, 2019, there were pockets of skirmishes and silent killings in some parts of the state, especially at the border communities of Benue in the Southern Senatorial District of the state.
Nasarawa, Toto and some communities in Akwanga and Nasarawa Eggon and Wamba Local Government Areas in Nasarawa West and North Senatorial Districts of the state were not left out in these pockets of skirmishes, silent killings and attacks when Sule took over the mantle of power from his predecessor, Tanko Al-makura.
These pockets of violence elicited public outcry amid silent killings of people, particularly farmers, either on the farm or targeted attacks on families and individuals in isolated places and on the roads in most cases.
Worried by the ugly development, Sule evoked political will and hit the ground running by taking practical steps in addressing the security situation. As one of his first functions in office as governor, Abdullahi Sule met with his Benue State counterpart, Samuel Ortom, where the two leaders discussed ways and means of addressing the persistent herdsmen and farmers clashes along the borderlines of the two states.
In the same vein, Sule also took his peace initiative on the Plateau when he met with Governor Simon Lalong to tighten security on the borders of the two states respectively.
Sule had held several security meetings with security chiefs and traditional rulers during his early days in office to appraise the security situation and to get first hand information about security situation in the state and to know the needs of the various security agencies with the view to supporting them.
At first, Sule purchased and distributed vehicles kitted with gadgets to security agencies in the state to strengthen their operational capacities to deal with the violence being experienced in some parts of the state at that time. Sule believed that keeping guard over the state would not only secure the lives and property of citizens of the state alone, but to create a peaceful and enabling environment for investors to come to the state and invest for socio-economic development of the state.
Soon after these bold steps, Nasarawa State started experiencing some kind of peace and tranquillity, particularly in communities hitherto faced with complaints of silent killings, especially on farms and along borders lines of the state. The governor again moved into action when he received intelligence report on activities of some group, Darul-Salam, reportedly camped at Uttu forest in Toto Local Government Area and ran to the presidency and briefed President Muhammadu Buhari over the situation during which he requested for more security personnel to be sent to the state, a request, the president obliged.
Having been satisfied with the number of the security forces sent to the state, Sule wasted no time and using the appropriate political will, he mobilised a combined team of security forces and engaged the Darul-Salam terrorists in a fierce battle. At the end of the successful operation, scores of the Darul-Salam terrorists were killed and 778 terrorists’ wives and children were rescued and brought to 4 Special Forces command, Nigerian Army, Doma, where they were formally handed over to the police and State Security Service (SSS) in a colourful ceremony attended by security chiefs, governors and traditional rulers, among others in 2020.
The rescued wives and children of the terrorists were from Sokoto, Yobe, Gombe, Niger, Jigawa, Borno, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kogi, Kwara, Kebbi Taraba, Katsina, Zamfara, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. The then Commander, 4 Special Forces command, Nigeria Army, Doma, Major General Gadzama Ali, told Journalists at a press conference during the handing over of the rescued family members of the Darul-Salam that the Darul-Salam group had lived for seven years in a camp in the forest and were engaged in kidnapping, armed robbery, abduction for slavery and sex, ransom and cattle rustling. After the successful operation Sule continued to engage security chiefs, traditional and religious leaders, including leaders of various tribal associations to preach peace and to unite the people for development and progress of the state.
Just a fortnight ago, Sule distributed 30 vehicles to security agencies, including traditional rulers, faith groups, Ministries and Departments to compliment government’s efforts in securing the lives and property of the citizens for socio-economic development of the state.
In his introductory remark at the event, held at the Government House, Lafia, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) of Nasarawa State, Barr Aliyu Ubandoma, said the total number of vehicles of different brands so far purchased and distributed to security agencies and others was put at 129.
Ubandoma said that the gesture was in line with the commitment of Sule’s administration to support security agencies and others in carrying out their duties more effectively.
He said: “Since assumption of office, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule, on May 29 2019, has continued to accord priority attention to the provision of security vehicles for the protection of lives and property of our people as well as creation of desired environment for socio-economic development of the state.”
“By placing security in the front burner by this administration, Nasarawa State is today rightly acclaimed as one of the peaceful states in the country, which has continued to attract investment from within and outside the country.”
“Today, I must say your efforts in this direction has so far brought the relative peace that we are enjoying today, believing that development cannot take place in an atmosphere of rancour and threats of security of lives and property” “Let me at this point acknowledge that since the assumption of this administration, His Excellency, Engr Abdullahi Sule, has remained consistent in the provision of vehicles to our security agencies, Ministries and Department, faith organizations to enhance performances and accelerate realization of government policies and pro- grammes for socio economic development of the state” The Secretary to the State Government (SSG) said that the total number of vehicles purchased and distributed so far to security agencies and others is put at 129, comprising Hiluxes, Land Cruisers, Buses and other exotic cars.
Speaking at the event, Sule said that his administration would continue to support security agencies in the state by providing them with vehicles and other logistics support to protect the lives and property of the people for socio-economic development of the state. He said that government had to shut down schools in the state when it received information of threat by criminal elements to attack schools and thanked the institutions and students for cooperating with government over the shutdown.
The governor stated that the security agencies have begun covert operation across the state to rid the state of criminals with the aim of safeguarding the state for socio-economic development. He said: “I want to use this opportunity to thank our security agencies, traditional rulers and religious leaders and the good people of Nasarawa State for the collective effort we have had for us to be considered one of the safest states in the country”
“Recently, we were told of threats of possible attack by some criminal elements on our schools. So, we decided to shut down our schools and with the help of God Almighty, we did not have any problem whatsoever as a result of the shutdown. We thank those institutions for their cooperation as well as the students for accepting the shutdown of those institutions.
“Recently, we have had so many covert operations by our security agencies, vigilante, our hunters and the good people of the various communities, where these operations took place. We just concluded an operation in Awe and we are going to commence operation in other places”
Continuing, Sule said: “We will continue to work with security agencies in these areas and then specifically, with the traditional rulers for their continued support because none of these operations were carried out without the knowledge of key stakeholders, the traditional rulers, religious leaders and Community leaders in such places”
The governor therefore, called on the people of the state to cooperate with government and security agencies to make the state a peaceful one for socio economic development of the state.