Lawless kids and fears of terrorism in Kano
“And fear the fitnah (affliction and trial) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong.” – Quran 8 verse 25
The above is a verse from the Holy Quran, which my late father, Imam Abdulhameed Shuaib Agaka, usually cited when trouble brewed and the community kept silent. The Qur’anic verse cautions against failure to act when atrocities are being committed because the repercussions of silence and inaction could be severe, not only for the perpetrators but society.
Since the return to a democratic system of government more than two decades ago, Nigeria has witnessed unbecoming violent attitudes that were seemingly tolerated before they later snowballed into the nightmarish monsters that we have today.
For reasons, including cultural, religious, social and political dispositions, society displayed a nonchalant attitude to most of the ills that have come to afflict it. One wonders if the past inactions of the government, community leaders, traditional institutions and activists were not the enabling factors for the perpetration of the rot we are witnessing.
We remember the introduction of ‘political sharia’, rather than true Islamic Law, in Zamfara State in 2000. It imposed discriminatory punishments, such as the amputation of hands and limbs of the poor, for lesser offences of theft. But the rich, politicians and public office holders, who rob the people of their collective patrimony, get a slap on the wrist. They get bail when caught, the first step to their gradual discharge. Today, Zamfara is the headquarters of banditry.
We can recall the activities of the lawless kids of Maiduguri many years ago, which influenced my article in 2006 (“Killing in the Name of the Devils”) when they killed non-indigenes and destroyed their assets over flimsy excuses. The incident triggered reprisal attacks. Today, Borno State, with Maiduguri as its capital, is regarded as the epicentre of terrorism in Nigeria.
Kaduna, previously one of the most peaceful and secure states, has also tasted the fruit of lawlessness. After the massacre of Shiites in December 2015, including pregnant women and kids by soldiers, young miscreants sought recourse in looting the assets of the dead, yet the government and community kept mum as if the carnage was no big deal. Today, Kaduna hosts the dens of kidnapping kingpins and is the location of recurrent ethnic flares of violence.
In the South-East, we noticed how ferocious secessionist activities were condoned and celebrated in the past, but the region has woken up to the reality of control of non-state actors and vicious armed groups who have imposed a sit-at-home order every Monday. This has been going on, alongside some of the most ruthless campaigns of extermination of civilians and security personnel on a regular basis.
In the North-Central, farmers and cattle herders, who initially co-existed peacefully, have become victims of the antagonism of political crusades. In recent decades, states like Plateau and Benue often make the news due to communal clashes. I can go on about how governments, community leaders and society failed to act decisively when the inappropriate attitudes of youths were giving cause for concern.
At this point in our collective experience, I am seized by a sense of foreboding in contemplating the disturbing activities of lawless kids and youth following the election of Abba Kabir Yusuf as governor of Kano State under the platform of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
Immediately after the election, as if in some coordinated assault on the social order, the properties of politicians, and celebrities like the popular musician Dauda Kahutu Rarara, were not only looted, they were also vandalised by youths in broad daylight, without being checked by security agencies. That early period also witnessed a frenetic spate of daylight robberies, including phone snatching.
At Governor Yusuf’s inauguration, suspected NNPP supporters heckled the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero and his younger brother, Emir of Bichi, Alhaji Nasiru Ado Bayero. As security operatives scrambled to rescue the descendants of the most revered and longest-ruling Emir of Kano, the late Ado Bayero, urchins and guttersnipes kept shouting derogatory remarks at the humble traditional rulers.
A few days after the May 29 inauguration, Governor Yusuf gave a marching order to security agencies to immediately take over all public properties believed to have been unduly sold by the previous administration of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.
By midnight, the new state government rolled out bulldozers for the demolition of what it described as illegal structures, towards “restoring” the Kano master plan. Some of the structures pulled down included multibillion naira hotels, business premises, residential accommodations and even monuments.
Youths from far and near invaded some of the sites, vandalised and looted the premises, while others removed valuable building materials. In fact, in some of the videos that were trending at the time, a number of the miscreants could be seen fighting the police and other security personnel who were trying to stop them from their insidious plunder.
Worrisomely, they now stay awake at night, either stationed close to/following bulldozers to planned demolition sites. The majority of these wretched-looking kids are drug addicts, poor, unemployed and untrained. It is also shocking that school children have joined them in the looting spree called ‘Ganima’ or ‘Ghanima’, an Arabic word for “spoils of war”, which may include land, wealth, cattle, women and children.
The governor’s spokesman, Comrade Sanusi Bature explained that the ongoing demolition across Kano was not an act of vendetta against any individual or group and emphasised the demolitions were the first set “of many to come in fulfilment of the governor’s campaign promises”.
This article is not about the merits or demerits of the governor’s actions but rather the hasty manner the directives, neither sanctioned by the state executive council nor the legislators, are being carried out. It is about the fear of what would become of Kano if more destruction is unleashed under the guise of restoring a master plan when those at the receiving end are folks who actually have lawful approvals.
While the administration of Abdullahi Ganduje ensured the safety of residents from banditry and terrorism, Governor Yusuf should concentrate his energy on employment generation, wealth circulation and urban development to enable survival and prosperity in the state. It is doubtful if potential investors would be willing to put their money in Kano if the current confusion persists.
It is necessary to point out that most activities of banditry and terrorism are engineered by victims of injustice, inequality and the burning desire for vengeance. As many might be aware, the targeted abductions of the family members of politicians, public officers and the rich in neighbouring states are usually perpetrated by faceless aggrieved sponsors.
I urge the new Kwankwasiyya administration to re-examine its actions and not to allow lawless youths’ deeds to degenerate into what we are witnessing in Borno, Katsina, Kebbi, Kaduna, Niger, Plateau, Taraba, Zamfara and others. The governor should implement programmes for social and economic inclusion, youth empowerment, improved local governance, reconciliation and conflict mitigation, for a more peaceful and prosperous Kano.
Shuaib is the author of ‘An Encounter with the Spymaster’ firstname.lastname@example.org
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