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Residents Choke as Kaduna’s season of gnashing of teeth persists

By Saxone Akhaine and Abdulganiyu Alabi, Kaduna
03 April 2022   |   3:00 am
Until recently, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government never admitted that an inch of the Nigerian territory was under the control of the terrorists, even when the outlaws strolled into schools...

• Buhari, Military Chiefs Should Resign For Superintending Siege On Country – Sani
• el-Rufai Tackling Security On Newspapers – CAN Chairman
• Govt’s Failure Responsible For Incessant Attacks — Arewa Defence League
• FG’s Capacity To End Reign Of Terror In Nigeria Suspect – Arewa Leaders, Others 

Until recently, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government never admitted that an inch of the Nigerian territory was under the control of the terrorists, even when the outlaws strolled into schools and communities and shepherd away tens of individuals in a manner that questions the country’s security strategies and the capacity of our intelligence agencies. The country only admitted that much after the clan of terrorists that were taking territories, hoisting their flags, and forcing Nigerians to pay taxes to them kept on expanding exponentially.
  
Be that as it may, what appeared like painting a true picture of the national calamity, after about seven years of downplaying the severity of the security crisis (since May 2015) was when presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, on Friday, admitted that Nigeria is at war. 
  
In a piece titled, “They Hate God, They Loathe Humanity,” Adesina described the attack by terrorists on an Abuja-Kaduna train, last Monday as a “carnage” and a “premeditated murder from the very bottom of hell.” 

   
“Whoever or whatever they are, terrorists, bandits, it doesn’t matter. They sow evil, and they will reap it. They do not deserve to live. Not in this world, nor the next. They need to be sent to their master, the Devil, and speedily too,” he wrote.
  
Adesina, who said that the attacks on trains were affecting the country’s rail revolution, stressed that the insurgents abhor any form of progress or development, just as he alleged that some Nigerians were facilitating the mayhem through their utterances.
  
“The role of some Nigerians in perpetuating anomie in the country is worrisome. Through their tongues. They say evil about the country, utter negativity, thinking they are saying it against the government of the day. I mean even bishops, pastors, imams, commentators, talk show hosts, all sorts. They are engaged in a war of tongues with Nigeria. They don’t know that the more they say it, the more evil happens. The cup fills up and runs over.
  
“Let’s change our tongues. Change our hearts about our country. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Let’s begin to bless our country, rather than a curse, and sow negatives in the hearts of people.” 
“Those who visit evil on society do not deserve to live, no matter what some activists may say. They should be sent to hell, and I join the president to plead with our security agencies: wipe them out. Kill them. Eliminate them. They have declared war against the country and its people. We are at war, yes we are. They do not deserve to live. They have lost their humanity. Wipe them out. Kill. Eliminate,” he admitted. 
    
More than anything else, Adesina’s position resonates with the bedlam that is unfolding in Kaduna, where the terrorists are having a field day as reflected in the daily, unabating killings in Southern Kaduna, the recent disruption of flight operations at the Kaduna International Airport by a 200-man strong army of terrorists, and two train attacks by terrorists in as many days all point to the fact that the state is bleeding, while law and order are observed in the breach.
  
Before last week’s bloodbath and train attacks, Kaduna State has been in witnessing endless kidnappings and killings of innocent passersby and residents on the highways and in their homes to the point that some residents who spoke to The Guardian said that they can no longer sleep with their two eyes closed because they do not know who the next victim would be. 
  
Worried by the endless bloodbath in the state, Arewa leaders under the auspices of Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) recently cried out that the region was now under siege. 
  
According to the ACF Secretary-General, Mallam Murtala Aliyu, the forum is tired of crying out over the precarious security challenges facing the nation, without the Federal Government finding lasting solutions to it. 
  
Aliyu said: “We received with shock, the tragic incident in which passengers lost their lives, with the whereabouts of the abducted yet to be ascertained, as a result of an attack on the Abuja-Kaduna bound train, on Monday, March 28, 2022. 
  
“The forum commiserates with the souls lost, sympathises with the wounded, and prays for an end to such ugly menace, not only in Kaduna State, but all over the federation,” adding, “as a guardian and custodian of the welfare and integrity of the North, the ACF is tired of crying out over the issue of security, and other challenges in the northern part of the country. Curiously, a train carrying almost 1, 000 passengers is exposed to the kind of situation that we found out on the fateful Monday evening, without any precautionary measures
taken.”
  
He continued: “It would be recalled that a few months ago, there was a blast on the same route and the government promised to take concrete measures to avert any future occurrence. That is yet to materialise. With both air and rail transportation out of Kaduna State compromised, it was expected that a sensitive government should have protected the Kaduna-Abuja highway, which is the only route that is remaining. But that has not been done.”
  
Aliyu continued: “The ACF has described as unacceptable, the frequency of such attacks on our towns, villages, highways, and now train tracks and the airport. Currently, banditry and terrorism have excised the North, and the major economic activities of the North East, and North West, with a new ploy to block the main gateway (Kaduna State) to the northern part of the country.” 
   
The forum “regrets that despite all efforts by security agencies and governments at various levels to put an end to banditry and terrorism, a lot of grounds have not been covered as indicated by the bloody scenarios.
  
As the worsening insecurity continues to defy all solutions that have so far been applied by the government, another school of thought thinks that a declaration of a state of emergency in the state could help matters. 
 
But the former scribe of the ACF, Elder Anthony Sani, said that the “absence of a state of emergency does not prevent security agencies from taking their task of securing the nation seriously. He also added that the imposition of a state of emergency does not also cause people to improve their security consciousness or be collectively responsible for the security of their communities.
  
He remarked: “I, therefore, do not see the value of a state of emergency that would be added to the campaigns against insecurity. We say this because Nigeria saw how a state of emergency was declared in North East for six months in the past but to no avail. A state of emergency appears to be superfluous in so far as campaigns against insecurity are concerned.

While I agree that the spread of well-trained and well-equipped security personnel who are well motivated to secure the nation is too thin, I am not sure it is right for the media to say the state has been overwhelmed.”
  
Sani continued: “I think both the federal and state governments have been doing their best with the resources at their disposal, and there have been signs of some improvements in the security situation. That there have been attacks at the airport and on the train tracks and coaches recently should not suggest that non-state actors that are bent on promoting violence, instability, and harmony are prevailing. Certainly not. This is because winning a battle does not mean winning the war. See the responses of the Armed Forces to the attacks on the train and the search, as well as the bombing of the hideouts of the bandits that are yielding results. What I would say is that situation is not beyond redemption.”
  
Also reacting to claims that the worsening may likely derail the 2023 general election, Sani noted: “If governments and the people sustainably determine to rid the nation of insecurity substantially, I do not see how the level of insecurity will affect the upcoming elections negatively. Mind you, Boko Haram became violent in 2009 and since then, there have been elections in 2011, 2015, and 2019. That of 2023 will not be an exception if purposeful leadership is brought to bear, alongside everyone giving their best.”    
  
But for a former member of the National Assembly, Senator Shehu Sani, President Muhammadu Buhari, and his military chiefs should be blamed for the widespread insecurity, stressing that they should have resigned after the Abuja-Kaduna train attack by the terrorists. 

According to Sani, if the Federal Government dares to sack the Super Eagles technical crew for failing to qualify for the Qatar World Cup, the president and his military chiefs should resign for allowing terrorists to foist a reign of terror over the country. 
   
The senator who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the Eight Senate told The Guardian, yesterday that “the Federal Government has lost the confidence of Nigerian to govern them because it has consistently failed to tackle bandits and terrorists that have been operating within the Kebbi, Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states axis.”
    
Sani wondered how, “unfortunately in this 21st century, bandits are making calls to families of victims, and there is no action on the side of the government to track those making the calls, and you simply wonder what is wrong with the country.”
  
The former lawmaker, who claimed that it was the same set of terrorists that attacked the Kaduna Airport that also carried out attacks on the train tracks, as well as attacks on villages between Kaduna, Abuja, and Zuba Barracks in Suleja, Niger State, noted that “these People move between 200 to 300 of them on motorcycles. So, how can the government say that it could not hold them down? It is unbelievable and unthinkable in a serious country.” 
 
Also baring his mind on whether the declaration of a state of emergency in Kaduna could help matters, Sani said that “whatever needs to be done should be done if it will solve the problem at hand. But let me also ask, what kind of emergency do they need to declare in a state like ours with all the military facilities that we have in place yet people are not safe.
  
“Look at how bandits are attacking and killing people massively in Southern Kaduna; look at how they are kidnapping people in their numbers in Zaria; look at how they have surrounded Kaduna city itself. Now, look at the bomb attacks on roads, trains, and the airport that have happened.”

  
The civil rights activist stressed that more than anything else, “Nigeria needs a purposeful leadership to confront the challenges facing her at this time. We have not just learnt our lessons. 

This bombing also happened last year October and I was one of the victims. At that time, if serious action was taken, we would not have found ourselves where we are now.” 
  
Also lamenting the predicament faced by residents of the state, a resident, Adamu Saqid, who plies Kaduna- Zaria road to and from work daily said: “I’ve left my security on this highway in the hands of God because everyone has given up on government. I’m only following this risky highway every day because I need to feed my family and so must go to work.”
  
Another resident, Mr. Solomon Moses said: “I can’t sleep in peace anytime that I hear the sound of a helicopter hovering across my roof. Things were not this bad a short while ago. The Kaduna State that I used to know used to be peaceful, so the government must urgently do the needful. 
  
On his part, the Chairman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab, urged the state government to swallow the humble pie and carry everyone, including concerned stakeholders along in search of solutions to security challenges ravaging the state. 
  
He also sympathised with Governor Nasir el-Rufai, over the incessant attacks and killings in the state, saying: “Security is every man’s business. Security is not about exclusion; you don’t tackle security by excluding some people. I think that Governor el-Rufai’s team is tackling security on the pages of newspapers, but when it comes to sitting down with the people, they feel that some people in Kaduna shouldn’t contribute. If you keep excluding other people and you are not getting results, does that not tell you that you need to carry everybody along?
  
“Can the government be humble enough, swallow its pride and make inclusive consultation because in society criminals thrive when people are silent. People are silent when they are afraid to speak, or they are not sure whom to report to. The way and manner that Kaduna is governed, citizens of Kaduna are not comfortable saying what they see.
  
“The day that enemies of Kaduna State see that the state government has eventually made friends with everybody, is the day they will run away from Kaduna State, but once they realise that the governor is fighting and accusing everybody, they will continue to attack so that they will provoke everybody and make people angrier,” he said. 
  
“Looking at insecurity in Kaduna, it is not about soldiers because we have soldiers and we have security operatives. It is about whether these security outfits have the peoples’ support and cooperation. Kaduna State has been divided,” Hayab said, adding, “Kaduna has what they call the Kaduna Peace Commission, but the peace commission is not uniting the people. The peace commission is supposed to reach out to the people and gain their confidence, but they’ve chosen to become a tool for the government. If the governor doesn’t like you, the peace commission won’t talk to you and that is why we are wasting money on the commission and wasting money on security agencies when nothing is working.
  
The CAN chief continued: “Every day in Kaduna State we are mourning and we are living in fear. Tomorrow, they will tell you that there is an attack here and there. Whether it is true or false, such information will thrive. When people live in fear, they will begin to say what they ought not to say. We need to do something to help people to overcome fear. In a community where people are living in fear, there can never be productivity at all.
   
“Honestly, I sympathise with the governor, but I want to appeal to him to carry people along. During the era of Governor Makarfi, Kaduna State suffered so much violence, but the moment Makarfi grabbed the vision and started reaching out to the people, the story of Kaduna changed from a state of despair to success,” the CAN chairman said.

    
Also giving his perspectives, the President of the Arewa Defense League, (ADL), Murtala Abubakar, noted that the frequent bandits’ and terrorists’ attacks on rural communities and other soft targets in the North are a clear indication of our collective vulnerability as a people and the government’s failure to understand the dynamics of the present security challenges to design robust strategies that will nip such criminality in the bud.
   
According to him: “I don’t think the current wave of intensified attacks is politically motivated. Anybody who has been following the operational pattern of these bandits will agree with the fact that such coordinated attacks as we have witnessed recently were perpetuated not once, not twice in the past. The bandits usually retreat after getting away with such heinous crimes. After this, they wait for a while and return for yet another round of audacious and wicked attacks on their select targets.
   
“From the look of things, our security agencies are overwhelmed as current governments at all levels appear to have exhausted all possible strategies to reestablish state authority in many ungoverned spaces that have been lost to the criminals.
  
“Secondly, a rural economy that has largely been affected by this crisis will continue to suffer as a result of which poverty and insecurities will spread to other parts of the country, and worsen the country’s economic instability There are also the fears that elections may not hold in many areas during the forthcoming 2023 general elections if things continue the way they are. If that happens, many would-be disenfranchised. 
  
Abubakar, however, urged the government to overhaul the country’s security architecture by strengthening its intelligence-gathering techniques, with an emphasis on community policing strategies. “Very important too, President Muhammadu Buhari should be seen always to show leadership because what the country lacks most in the current fight against insecurity, in all its ramifications, is the absence of leadership,” Abubakar noted.