Saturday, 2nd December 2023

Kaduna train attack: Security threats rising, need new strategies, says Niger president

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Odita Sunday, Terhemba Daka, Ernest Nzor (Abuja), Saxone Akhaine and Abdulganiyu Alabi (Kaduna)
01 April 2022   |   4:31 am
Niger Republic President, Mohammed Bazoum, has said African countries battling terrorism need to come up with new strategies for dealing with the challenges. Bazoum spoke with State House correspondents, yesterday, after his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.

• El-Rufai restates call for bombardment of forests inhabited by terrorists
• HURIWA: Military’s reluctance to deploy Tucano jets shows tolerance for terrorists
• Outbursts by el-Rufai, Amaechi confirm complicity of APC leaders, PDP alleges
• Amaechi should apologise to Nigerians, resign – Ajulo
• Shehu Sani, Rep want Nigerians to bear arms
• Anxiety as police defuse bomb in Kaduna community

Niger Republic President, Mohammed Bazoum, has said African countries battling terrorism need to come up with new strategies for dealing with the challenges. Bazoum spoke with State House correspondents, yesterday, after his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari, in Abuja.

The Niger Republic leader said the West African region is battling an increased level of security threats, especially in the wake of recent attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train.

He thanked President Buhari for his support towards the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), saying Nigeria’s financial intervention has made the operation successful.

“The MNJTF is a model initiated by countries that are facing the same kind of security challenges and we want to replicate this model in countries of the Sahel, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad,” he said.

“This model has allowed us in the Lake Chad Basin region to address a common threat, we are very much satisfied with the situation because it has allowed us to contain it and we want to replicate the same in our countries.

“Let’s say if Nigeria accepts to do the same in the Northwest in the fight against insurgency, we will gladly accept because Nigeria almost entirely funds the operations and that means it will reduce the economic and financial burden of the fight against insurgents.

“I must commend the efforts of the governor of Zamfara State. What happened recently in Kaduna indicates that there is an increase in the level of threats we are facing and we have to design a new strategy to be able to address these threats.”

GOVERNOR Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, yesterday, restated his call for massive bombardment of all forests inhabited by terrorists.

He said this would contain current security challenges in the country. The governor made the call at a stakeholders meeting in Giwa, Kaduna, where terrorists had been invading communities in the last five days, with many people killed and kidnapped.

“We have been pressing for the past two years for the military from the air and ground to bomb these forests, while soldiers on the ground kill all those that escape the bomb. I do not believe that there is any innocent person in the forest.

“It is my intention to see Mr President to reiterate this and to also ask that a military theatre command headquarters be established for the Northwest zone,’’ he suggested.

According to the governor, the magnitude of the present security challenges in the Northwest is much more than what was witnessed in the Northeast. He said farming had become impossible, while lives were being lost to incessant attacks by terrorists.

“It is time for the Nigeria Air Force and Nigerian Army to bomb the terrorists out of existence. With the declaration by the Federal High Court that these bandits are terrorists, there is a need for security agencies to take extreme actions to terminate these bandits,’’ el-Rufa’i stressed.

He commiserated with the people of Giwa Local Government Area over the five days of persistent attacks by terrorists.

HOWEVER, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has carpeted the military over its failure to deploy the 12 Super Tucano fighter jets against terrorists turning the Northwest zone to another killing field like the Northeast zone. HURIWA also reminded the Federal Government that the terrorists are fast approaching the Federal Capital Territory and have struck many times very close to the political capital of Nigeria.

The group, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, said the military has shown its tolerance for the terrorists by failing to bomb their hideouts five months after a Federal High Court designated bandits as terrorists, paving the way for the Nigerian Air Force to bomb the locations of the terrorists with the Tucano fighter jets acquired in 2021 from the United States of America.

HURIWA also noted that Governor el-Rufai, on Wednesday, indicted the military over its reluctance to deploy the fighter jets when he said the military knew the location of the bandits wreaking havoc but was refusing to bomb their lair.

It said the military had given series of excuses for its failure to deploy the fighter jets but the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on November 25, 2021, obtained a judgment designating all gunmen in the Northwest as terrorists. This was said to be a condition by the United States government for the deployment of the aircraft outside of the Northeast. The order was later gazetted, paving the way for the deployment of the fighter jets in Northwest.

IN response to the outcry over free reign of terror on Kaduna residents, the joint intelligence service, yesterday, said it has uncovered scores of makeshift facilities and forest settlements serving as camps for bandits and kidnappers terrorising travellers along Abuja-Kaduna highway and train routes.

An emergency intelligence meeting coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) after the attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train identified three locations as destinations of bandits after most attacks, within the axis.

The locations identified by the intelligence service as bandits dens are Rijana, Katari and Kasarami. The locations have proximity to the Kaduna-Abuja highway and rail lines.

“These locations are abodes to kidnappers, armed bandits, drug addicts, gun runners, prostitutes and fleeing Boko Haram terrorists,” a senior intelligence source revealed.

The officer disclosed that a massive joint security operation will commence in the areas, simultaneously with the support of recently acquired drones.

MEANWHILE, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has maintained that outbursts by Governor, el-Rufai and the Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, were confirmations that some leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) knew the whereabouts of the terrorists but failed to act.

After the attack on the Kaduna-bound train on Monday, el-Rufai said “we know where their camps are, we know where they are, the SSS has their phone numbers, they listen to them and they give me report.”

Similarly, Amaechi, while expressing frustration on the incident stated that he had made a failed request for the installation of security surveillance equipment to avert terrorist attack on the Kaduna-Abuja rail track.

But in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Debo Ologunagba, the PDP noted that “these revelations from high-ranking APC public officials who are in the position to know is troubling as they are unequivocal confirmation that APC leaders are in league with terrorists.”

The opposition party noted that the fact that the Buhari-led government’s “refusal to act despite having full intelligence on the whereabouts as well as the plans of the terrorists confirms grave complicity and conspiracy against our nation at the very top level of the APC government’s security command and control coordination structure.”

The party claimed that such developments “also confirm that the APC government has conceded sovereignty over a part of our country to terrorists who, as a former APC leader confessed, were brought from neighbouring countries by the APC as ‘political mercenaries’ to rig the 2019 general elections.”

Also, constitutional lawyer and former National Secretary of Labour Party, Dr Kayode Ajulo, has called on Amaechi to resign over the statement he made in the aftermath of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack. In a statement on Thursday, Ajulo said the Minister should tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians over the unfortunate incident.

“The statement of the Transport Minister is apparently skewed to cover up dereliction of duty and culpability. This voluntary confessional statement is not only infantile and unguarded but most unfortunate to indict the President, his colleague-in-council as well as to subvert a prescribed due process.

“Such rail contracts considering our notorious security challenges ought to be all-encompassing and broad in view. I am therefore intrigued on why the integrated security surveillance and monitoring solution were not part of the project deliverables in the said contract from the outset.

“It’s equally worrisome that the train with the background of what the minister revealed would be allowed commercial operations without the requisite installation of security appliances and complements.”

The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Rep. Ado Doguwa (APC-Kano) said yesterday that it was time Nigerians are allowed to bear arms to defend themselves.

“With all sense of responsibility, I think Nigerians at this moment should be allowed to bear arms. Nigerians must be allowed to take arms in defence of their innocent souls and to defend their hard-earned resources and property,’’ he said.

Doguwa was contributing to a motion moved by Rep. Shehu Balarabe (APC-Kaduna) in plenary on the need to curtail increasing banditry in Brinin Giwa Federal Constituency in Kaduna State.

“When killing and kidnapping continue like this on daily basis, those of us who are representatives of government become speechless in the discharge of our duties to defend the actions of government.”

Moving the motion earlier, Rep. Balarabe said that Brinin Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State had been ravaged by terrorists who killed, kidnapped, raped, robbed and destroyed lives and property.

He said between March 24 and March 28, there were a series of attacks in the area in which no fewer than 178 people were killed, 136 persons abducted, 10,463 people displaced and more than 250,000 houses, burnt.

The lawmaker said that properties such as vehicles, motorcycles and animals worth millions of naira were destroyed. He said that there was no response from security agencies during the attacks and that the displaced persons were now taking shelter in public schools.

THIS call was reiterated by a former federal lawmaker, Shehu Sani, who yesterday, said with Nigeria’s worsening security situation, Nigerians should be allowed to officially carry weapons in defending themselves.

Reacting to the recent security situation, Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the eighth Senate, noted that the government’s alleged inability to tame terrorists demands that people be allowed to protect themselves.

He said: “If the government and security agencies can’t crush these terrorists and Bandits kidnapping and killing our people in Northern and Southern Kaduna, people should be officially allowed to carry same weapons and let’s see who owns the land.”

The civil right activist said that President Buhari and his military chiefs should have resigned on account of Abuja-Kaduna train attack.

According to Sani, if the Federal Government has the courage to sack the Super Eagles coach, Austine Eguavon, for losing the World Cup qualification to Ghana, the President and his military chiefs should resign their positions for allowing terrorists to put Nigeria under siege.

The Senator, who spoke with The Guardian yesterday, said “the government has lost the confidence of Nigerians to govern them.”

According to him, the government has consistently failed to tackle these terrorists who have been operating within the axis of Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states.

MEANWHILE, the anxiety in Kaduna continued yesterday as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted in the Rigasa community of Igabi Local Government Area was successfully disabled by the police. Spokesperson of the Kaduna Police Command, ASP Mohammed Jalige, confirmed the discovery to journalists. He, however, did not give details.

Residents said the police disabled the IED, which was found in Shanono area of Rigasa community. Many residents thronged the area to see how the police disabled the explosive device.

According to a resident, it was concealed inside a bucket and kept near a stream at about 6:30a.m. on Thursday. “The bucket was sealed with cellotape, which aroused suspicion. We immediately alerted our community leaders who called the police and DSS. The anti-bomb squad arrived and disabled it. It produced a big bang. There were wires connected into the sealed bucket,” the resident explained.