Banditry, Kidnapping, Killings & Cattle Rustling Remain The Ugly Face Of Nigeria
By Lawal Ogienagbon, The Nation
The Senate Chamber trembled on April 25 amid debate on the prevailing security situation. It was time for soul searching and the senators were frank in their assessment. Our country is going through a rough patch and it appears those in power do not have an answer to the problem. The people are at the mercy of hoodlums who have virtually taken over some parts of the country.
From Lagos to Lokoja; Kaduna to Katsina; Benin to Birnin Gwari; Abuja to Akure; Makurdi to Minna; Ibadan to Ilorin; Gusau to Geregu; Jalingo to Jos; and Yenagoa to Yola, Nigerians no longer sleep with their eyes closed. Whether on the road or at home, they are not safe. They live in fear of hoodlums who strike at will with venom. It is as if they have something against their victims. Going by what they say when some of them are caught, they do not. These hoodlums are only angry with the system, which has conferred undue privileges on rogues at the expense of the deserving.
It is this social imbalance that is at the root of our problems. The irony of it is that some of the beneficiaries of this rot were the ones engaged in the April 25 debate. They knew that it was in their enlightened self interest that a solution be found to the problem before it became too late. As a senator rightly observed, the hoodlums no longer discriminate in their choice of victims. ‘’The problem used to be for only poor people. Now, it has moved to the upper class of people…’’, said Senator Shehu Sani, who with 108 others, sponsored a motion on ‘’Senseless killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a holiday resort in Kaduna State by bandits’’.
Almost everywhere in the north today, the story is the same : ‘’bandits’’ have taken over. Who are these ‘’bandits’’? Are they the same as members of Boko Haram, the Islamic sect which has since 2009 turned the Northeast into its fiefdom? These bandits could not have dropped from heaven. They must be from somewhere and may have been living in their state of operation – Zamfara – long before they started wreaking havoc on the place.
Rather than confront the problem headlong, the government has reduced it to what it called the illegal gold mining going on in Zamfara. It consequently banned the illicit trade, but that did not solve the problem. That, in essence, should tell the government that the problem goes beyond illegal gold mining. Hear Senator Kabiru Marafa, who is from the state, at the April 25 debate: “There might be no Zamfara State in the next two years if something is not done about the insecurity in the state…there are over 3,000 kidnapped victims in the dens of bandits. Banditry is not reducing; it has become a business. There is technically no business in the north, except kidnapping’’.
The situation is dire and it is reflected in what has been happening since the Senate’s deliberation. On that same April 25, two Chinese nationals working on a road project were kidnapped in Ebonyi State, lending credence to the claim of Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu that such abductions were responsible for the high cost of some contracts. Why? According to him, construction firms were now factoring ransom payment into the contract cost.
Banditry, kidnapping, killings and cattle rustling remain the ugly face of our country. On Monday, kidnappers struck in Plateau, Osun, Borno and Ondo states, taking away five persons. Their victims were the sister of the registrar of Plateau State Polytechnic, a professor at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member and a man and his daughter. These are the ones reported by the media. There are many unreported cases, which we do not know about. It is a huge problem, which requires drastic solution.
A society where violence thrives cannot attain its potential. Nigeria has a lot of potential and all it requires is peace for it to turn this into greatness. Where there is peace, there will be development and a boost in economic activities. Investors will never come to a country where they are not safe. We must make Nigeria safe for our own good. Our population keeps growing by the day and as a nation we lack what it takes to build our economy on our own without external help.
For this external help to come, our country must be conducive for investors to stay. This onerous task falls on the police. I do not envy Acting Inspector-General (IG) Mohammed Adamu. A time like this calls for policing with intelligence in order to beat the bandits in their game. We have laws and we have men who can enforce these laws. The police and other law enforcement agencies should not yield the turf to these bandits. The wages of sin, the Bible says, is death.
A criminal is a sinner; so he deserves to be punished to deter others. The only way to make these bandits and their ilk know that violence does not pay is to bring them to justice. If the police fail to do this, these hoodlums will continue to sprout and torment the people.