Bandits siege on Nigeria: Enough of the Empty Rhetoric!

This continued orgy of murderous abductions across Northern Nigeria is appalling. The kidnap of 317 girls in Jangebe, Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State by terrorists on Friday February 26, 2021 came on the heels of the February 17th abduction of school children in Kagara, Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State. This has again put in sharp focus the deteriorating security situation in the country, and the discernible scandalous incapacitation of government and security agencies in tackling the issue of terrorism and banditry in Northern Nigeria.

From Dapchi in Borno to Zabarmari in Zamfara, Kankara and Mahuta in Katsina, Kagara in Niger to Jangebe in Zamfara and other parts of Northern Nigeria, bandits have been spreading sorrow and tears; turning into a routine occurrence with no end in sight, the wanton killing of innocent Nigerians and kidnapping of school children. The bandits’ dastardly brazenness coupled with the government's ineptitude in solving this grave problem exposes a shocking disregard for the life of Nigerians, young and old. 

Disappointingly, the Federal Government, various northern state governments, and the security apparatus that ordinarily should be alive to their constitutional responsibilities to protect lives and properties have abdicated same. The government and our security agencies appear to have, rather, found unsettling comfort in working with emissaries negotiating on their behalf to appease the criminal gangs and even pleading their cause for amnesty. The disastrous consequence of rewarding bandits with money is the rapidly increasing wave of kidnappings as evident in the total number of 768 school children abducted between December 2020 and February 2021. Shockingly, a period barely three months!

It is worrisome that rather than act to end the siege of bandits in northern Nigeria, the Nigerian government and its security apparatus have, sadly, demonstrated inertia and incompetence in allowing these criminal elements a free reign. The Nigerian Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, further assaulted the sensibilities of defenceless Nigerians when he called on Nigerians to defend themselves against marauding bandits. Imagine the cheek! This is just another insensitive and reckless display of government officials who are completely out of their depth and who should have no business holding such positions of responsibility. In saner climes, this minister would have resigned by choice or pushed by the shock and outcry brought about by his abdication of duty and responsibility in defence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

Worse still, certain prominent northern Nigerians have attempted to justify the actions of these criminal elements through warped narratives. These inelegant logic and inchoate suggestions being pushed by state actors and non-state actors with wide range of influence has further stoked dangerous primordial tribal and religious sentiments. Wilful or inadvertent, this continued unwise mainstreaming and accommodation of marauders and killers as victims of society is dangerously pushing Nigeria to the brinks of utter chaos, breakdown and potentially breakup! 

The kidnapped and the killed are the victims! It is only a crass state of unforgivable injustice for these criminals to get paid by families for the life of their loved ones and then have the government with community and religious leaders give these same criminals red carpet treatment and undeserved monetary rewards. This is only encouraging more criminality. More kidnappings. More killings. The Nigerian government and security agencies are increasingly complicit. You have the blood of innocent Nigerians on your hands and your conscience. Northern Nigeria deserves justice and security and not compromising with the terrorists and criminals making life a nightmare for the people. 

The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has taken note of comments attributed to President Muhammadu Buhari (including the latest after the Zamfara tragedy) promising to “deal with insurgents, bandits and kidnappers”. However we are compelled to point out that Nigerians have had enough of these perfunctory pronouncements which largely remain ineffectual. The President should by now realise that his failure to deal with kidnappers of innocent school children is no longer acceptable to Nigerians. It is not enough to simply rejoice when kidnapped children are returned without expected consequences for the kidnappers. He should live up to his sworn responsibility as the Commander-in-Chief, and rally the various state governments and give the appropriate matching orders to security agencies to arrest the unbridled decline into anomie especially in northern Nigeria.

The bandits through their activities have declared war on Nigeria and its people. Therefore the Nigerian government must respond robustly and decisively to put an end to this cyclical show of shame. Terrorist bandits have invaded Nigeria from within and the government and its security agencies cannot continue this comatose rhetoric of zero effectual action. Kidnapping under the guise of banditry has become a lucrative industry in Nigeria. It is utterly defeatist to negotiate with or appease the criminal elements behind it. Is ransom reward not the purpose of kidnapping in the first place? So how exactly does the government think that delivering ransom and red carpet celebrity to criminals will stop the criminality?

We call on the Federal Government and the various state governments to end all forms of negotiations directly or by proxy with these reprehensible gangs, and clamp down on them using legitimate and determined compelling force of law and justice. It is incumbent on the Nigerian government to make it clear in unmistakable actionable terms that it would no longer condone kidnapping of school children and other citizens by crushing these networks of terrorists, kidnappers and bandits..

While the release of the kidnapped school children of Kagara and Jangebe is cheering news, the government must deploy all necessary forces towards apprehending these criminal elements and put them on trial for their crimes against the Nigeria state. This is what is expected of a serious leadership. Appeasement hardly discourages criminality. It only rewards the murderous. In the same vein, rhetoric’s is not a viable solution for defending the territorial and security integrity of a country. Nigerians have had enough of the rhetoric. Nigerians are fed up with this continued disregard for the life and security of Nigerians. 

We add our voice to the continuing and rising outcry:

#SecureNorth
#SecureSouth
#SecureNigeria

Abiola Owoaje
NAS Cap’n
Abuja


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