Who is Safe in Nigeria? II, by Prof M.K. Othman

Insecurity: Who is Safe in Nigeria? II, by Prof M.K. Othman

Deep Thought with Othman

In the last three months of 2024, the insecurity monster has direly reared its ugly head in several corners of Nigeria. People’s in-depth cries of horror, hopelessness, and desperation reign in numerous Northwest, East, and Central communities. Insecurity and economic hardship caused by inflation and devaluation of the Naira have knocked people to their knees, making them behave like they are drowning in a deep blue sea without an iota of savior. What a pity.

Aside from the Northwest, the Federal Capital Territory has emerged as a significant abduction hotspot. Other hotspots of this crime are the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway in the southwest and Ekiti State. On Monday, January 29, 2024, tensions in Ekiti rose as a result of two distinct kidnapping instances. Three monarchs were abducted while traveling back from a security meeting in Kogi State in Oke-Ako. The abductors were well-armed and used the area’s poor roadways to further their evil plans. Two of the monarchs, Olatunde Olusola of Imojo and Babatunde Ogunsakin of Esun-Ekiti, were shot. The third monarch in the group, Adebayo Fatoba of Ara-Ekiti, escaped into the jungle. The same day, bandits kidnapped five pupils and four teachers of the Apostolic Faith Group of Schools in Emure-Ekiti. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100 million to free their victims. However, the police arrested five suspects. Early this year, kidnapping became topical in the FCT when bandits abducted about 19 people from an estate in Bwari. They later killed Nabeeha al-Kadriyar, a 400-level undergraduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the daughter of a notable lawyer, Monsur Al-Kadriyar, in Bwari, FCT. January 28, 2024, and Folashade Ariyo, 13, and two other persons because of the delay in paying a ransom. After the killings, the bandits increased the ransom to N700 million. On January 18, police rescued Segun Akinyemi, who was abducted at the entrance to his Abuja home in Kaduna State. Similarly, a notorious kidnapper, Bello Mohammed, the murderer of Nabeeha, was arrested in Kaduna State.

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Between February and March 2024, about 500 people were kidnapped in a series of mass abductions in Borno and Kaduna States alone. On February 29, suspected Boko Haram members abducted over 150 people, primarily women and children living in IDP camps. In the North West, at least three incidents of mass abductions not linked to Boko Haram occurred in quick succession in March 2024., when gunmen raided a school and abducted 287 pupils in Kuriga in the Chikun local government area of Kaduna state. The pupils were in the assembly ground around 8:30 am when dozens of gunmen on motorcycles rode in, eventually taking away 187 students from a secondary school and 125 from the local primary school. Two days later, on March 9, gunmen abducted 15 children from an Islamic school in Sokoto. With authorities and communities still reeling in the aftermath of these incidents, on March 12, armed bandits reportedly struck Kaduna again – this time in Kajuru – taking with them 61 people. The most dare-devil and dastardly act of banditry was the kidnapping and instant execution of Alhaji Lado Mairua when he was observing the Ramadan Tarawih prayer on Saturday, March 23, 2024, in his residence around 8:00 pm. The assailants abducted his wife and daughter after his assassination.

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There have been several incidences of kidnapping, robbery, and other acts of terrorism reported and unreported across the country. There has been an upsurge in crime in recent years. The Civil Society Joint Action Group reported the abduction of 1,872 people in the last 12 months. The situation has become an epidemic, and urgent attention is needed to stall it. Nigeria lost 24,816 citizens under the Buhari administration between 2019 and 2023 https://punchng.com/2423-killed-1872-abducted-under-tinubu-csos/.
I can endlessly write about several incidences of kidnapping and banditry activities enough to make discerning minds sleepless. No one seems immune to being a victim of this godless act. One can be a target, be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or unknowingly be among the wrong people. It is a cause for concern. There are many implications of this deadly insecurity. First, a country cannot develop under serious threat of insecurity, and the agricultural sector is already a victim. The report of the World Food Program is a pointer in this direction; it says, “The number of food-insecure Nigerians increased significantly, from 66.2 million in Q1 2023 to 100 million in Q1 2024 (WFP, 2024), with 18.6 million facing acute hunger and 43.7 million Nigerians showing crisis-level or above crisis-level hunger- coping strategies as of March 2024”. All important sectors – education, health, industry, and others are affected by insecurity. How did we reach this situation? What and who contributes to the current catastrophic moment in Nigeria? The

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The ongoing ransom payments make the illegal business extremely profitable, luring regular people and security personnel involved. A wealth of evidence demonstrates the cooperation and collaboration of state actors in enabling kidnapping operations, including the provision of weapons and logistical support as well as financial gain from ransoms paid to terrorists and bandits. These actors include military personnel, security agents, government officials, and local community leaders. The government must quickly restructure its security apparatus to fish out the rotten eggs among the security personnel and quickly combat this heinous crime. Fortunately, Tinubu’s administration is strenuously reviewing its security structure and hopes it will address the problem headlong.

As a country, we need to confront these heinous crimes head-on: kidnapping, banditry, and insurrection. The losers of these acts of terrorism are the people who committed them, as well as the entire country. Living in the jungle, bandits, rebels, and kidnappers experience constant terror, uncertainty, and worry. Living by the hour since they never know what will occur in the following one. Many of them want to go about their daily lives, but they can not since the blood of their helpless victims looms large over them. They should stop these crimes against their fatherland, family, and friends. Society ought to be willing to forget and forgive for this nation’s glorious future. The unrepentant among the criminals should bear the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to the potential criminals. The law should punish unrepentant offenders severely to discourage future offenders.

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A conspiracy theory indicates that some external and internal forces are facilitating the activities of these criminals; if not, how are they acquiring their arms, fuel, food, and basic facilities in the forests? Recently, Dogo Gide, a notorious fugitive sought for his series of heinous crimes, was gunned down by armed forces but was clandestinely taken to the hospital by a security official who was apprehended and detained. Gide’s appearance at the hospital prompted concerns about potential compromise within the security forces. However, Dogo Gide’s successful eradication is a huge success for Nigeria’s security forces and demonstrates the cooperative efforts of 1 Division and 8 Division of the Nigerian Army.

In conclusion, the Nigerian government must start the process of finding a long-term solution to stop these terrorist attacks. To address the problems, the government can employ both rewards and penalties. Providing a gentle landing to kidnappers, bandits, and militants who genuinely wish to repent should be considered. Nigeria must be ready to deploy the stick to obtain sufficient security personnel, tools, and necessary workforce development. Less than 700,000 police officers work in Nigeria, serving over 200 million people across 91 million hectares of the country’s geographical area. The population needs to be policed more effectively and efficiently by a larger number. Several unemployed graduates who would be ready to serve Nigeria in any arm of the security forces are roaming our streets. President Tinubu should think along this line. Massive employment of youth is highly desirable at this moment.

Professor Othman is the Executive Director of National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), ABU Zaria.


The opinions and views expressed in this article belong solely to the original author and other contributors. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or opinions of Neptune Prime.

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