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‘A thief is a thief, regardless of ethno-religious connection’

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Captain Umar Babangida Aliyu (rtd)

Aliyu Umar Babangida, a former military intelligence officer and Chief Executive of Goldwater and Riversand Consults speaks on characterisation of major crimes, especially on the highways, to herdsmen, insisting that a thief is a thief, regardless of where he/she is from or how he/she worships God; ditto all other crimes.

How would you react to the insinuation/attribution of all or most highway attacks, especially in the South and Middle Belt, to herdsmen?
The attribution of highway attacks in the South and Middle Belt areas of the country to herdsmen is just on the one hand, an indication of how very simple things come across as complex to us in this part of the world, while on the other hand, it is an indictment of our President, under whose watch these ugly trends of armed banditry and herdsmen menace has festered.

Does it amount to profiling or stigmatisation and how does it affect the Fulani in general and herdsmen in particular?
It is sad and indeed very low grade, when we forget the act or crime and haggle over mundane, irrelevant things, such as ethnicity, nationality or religion of the perpetrators of a crime anywhere on Nigerian soil. Nigeria and her leaders don’t come across as serious people when acts of crime take the back seat, while docile persons in public offices get busy appending an ethno-cultural, religious or even regional profile to the crime as was committed.

For God’s sake, a thief is a thief, regardless of where he/she is from or how he/she worships God; ditto all other crimes. There is no politics in crime and security threat situations. A crime is a crime, a threat is a threat. Period!
It is a no brainer. Alas!

But how are we sure they (herdsmen) are not really involved in these attacks and what could the Fulani elders and Miyetti Allah leadership do to make sure their people/herders don’t get involved in criminal activities as they move their stock about and across the country?
Be they herdsmen or the devils men, persons who break our laws should be brought to book. If found guilty, their punishment should be bold and decisive enough to strike fear into the minds of others like them anywhere in this country, from herdsmen to bandits to kidnappers, etc.

The problem remains sheer docility and/or unwillingness by political office holders, particularly the legislators and judiciary, to bell a kitten that has now grown into a gruesome feline.

Are some herdsmen employed by Miyetti Allah members or herds owners actually non-Nigerians? If yes, how do you think they come into Nigeria and how are or how can they/their activities be monitored to ensure they don’t engage in criminal activities?
The way things are, proffering solutions here would amount to wasting words, as these solutions hardly get any attention from institutions that remain largely antagonistic to wake-up calls and criticism of whatever kind. The simplest thing we are yet to do is to first and foremost, OWN OUR BORDERS!

Why have government policies failed to address farmers/herdsmen clashes?
I should in all fairness leave Mr. President’s questions to Mr. President.I wouldn’t answer such a question for him. He is the President… he should.

Why must the federal government sponsor farming activities, which many see as private business?
This line of questioning bores me. I am a national security aficionado. Don’t forget that. If the government decides to sponsor animal husbandry or anything else for that matter, it is left for the experts in such fields to analyse. What I see, as a security practitioner, is a poorly managed approach to problem-solving, with possible dire and conflagratory effects.

From grazing route to grazing reserves to ranching to Ruga, all to no avail. What next?
That question is for Mr. President and his team to answer.

What is your take on the threat by the northern youths to southern state rejecting Ruga, northern elders’ advice to herders to return home if they feel unsafe in the south and federal government’s order for herders to remain where they are?
I really don’t take these so-called threats seriously. All the so-called youths across Nigeria issuing threats don’t know anything about war. Wars are not fought on social media or by word of mouth; wars are fought for decades, with entire generations wiped out like flies.

All Nigerian youth and most of the warmongers that are spitting words have no idea and have never seen war, nor did they read about the civil war in school…

History was taken off schools curriculum for some two or so decades and has just of recent been restored. They think a war is a movie…

Those who were privileged to see combat in Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda as part of Nigeria contingent to those mission areas should do the talking. Honestly, I don’t think they know war beyond its dictionary definition. I do, and know, a lot they will never know about war, because if one happens, they won’t survive it,As I said earlier, we have a chronic case of zero courage to bell our cats, not less so a high propensity of inflammatory verbiages obscuring our nationhood and focus.

Our leaders must address it, whichever way you choose to look at it. Nigeria and Nigerians require bold decisive leadership. We presently have neither of either.

What is the way out or permanent of lasting solution?
There is no such thing as a permanent solution to anything, anywhere on our three dimensional existence as earthlings on this planet. Our planet evolves, so do we. Solutions are proffered to meet our futuristic and ever-changing present needs. Solutions are proffered in the now to meet short, mid or long-term challenges, as the case may be. We are yet to show any propensity to do that as a people.

“Permanent solution,” as you put it, does not make sense… It is nonexistent anywhere. I have never heard it used anywhere, except by Nigerian politicians and public office holders. Only constant change is permanent… Ironically, it is yet to dawn in this part of the world.

What is your take on the rising insecurity in the country, incessant attacks on the highways and even farms, youths involvement in cult and other criminal activities and kidnapping across the country?
It is more than anything else, as a result of lethargy, amongst our various and overwhelmed law enforcement agencies, nay a seemingly indulgent leadership, whose allergy to a result-driven approach for security solutions across board is clear as day.

Excuses, such as poverty and unemployment, remain glad havens of blame, even when one needs no telling that the rather diluted and mild response to crime these past four years is not only a shocking diversion from what Nigerians expected from a so-called change mantra, but has also emboldened criminal activity nationwide to unprecedented and lucrative levels.


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