11th December, 2021
DR ABUBAKAR ALKALI
Inna lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihin Rajiun
To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.
I commiserate with you and all of us in Sokoto state over the gruesome killing of 42 innocent travellers on 6th December 2021 at Gidan Bawa, Sokoto state by armed bandits. The killing and burning of the corpses of these innocent victims including babies, women and children to ashes is the most barbaric and callous act yet by these criminals. We pray to Allah (SWT) to grant the souls of these innocent victims and all those killed by these bandits Aljanna Firdaus and to give their families the fortitude to bear the loss Amin. We equally pray to Allah (SWT) to expose and deliver justice against the bandits in favour of the innocent victims Amin.
THE NEED TO THINK OUT-OF-THE-BOX
Your excellency, I hope that you will find time despite your busy schedule to give this letter the consideration it deserves. Sufficing to state that the recommendations herein are but a re-hash of those I presented two and half months ago -on 20th September 2021 and 20th October 2021.
Albeit this time I chose to write directly to you, hoping that it gets to you, and in the best state of health. I am confident that you will give this letter the deserved attention and for once, consider it as a simple apolitical letter and a contribution to the promotion of peace and development of our dear Sokoto state.
In my two most recent articles on insecurity in our dear Sokoto state, the first on the 20th September 2021 titled ‘Banditry and Insecurity in Sokoto State: The Challenges and the Solutions’ and the second on the 20th of October 2021 titled ‘The Goronyo Massacre and Insecurity in Sokoto State: The Need for the Sokoto State Government to Step Up its Efforts on Security, I made a series of recommendations on how the Sokoto state government under your watch can respond to the alarming state of insecurity in our dear Sokoto state. The measures recommended were a proactive approach that could potentially preempt some of the carnage we are witnessing today.
If we continue to pass the buck to the federal government and wait for the centre to fix the security situation in our dear Sokoto state, we may wait till eternity.
It is necessary that the Sokoto state government keys in and take control as much as possible within available resources and with respect to constitutional provision.
State governors are also responsible for security in their domain because the 1999 constitution in section 14,2(b) says ‘Provision of security to life and property shall be the primary purpose of GOVERNMENT.
The constitution didn’t say FEDERAL GOVERNMENT alone.
It says government (at ALL levels).
Both the local, state and federal governments shall do their bits and work towards the same objective. Of course, the judiciary and legislature have their own roles to play as well.
Your excellency, we must think OUT-OF-THE-BOX to fix the alarming state of insecurity in our dear Sokoto state that is threatening to consume us all.
To this end, there is the urgent need for the Sokoto state government to adopt the following measures in tackling insecurity in our dear state:
- Set up FOREST RANGERS (Local Vigilante) comprising of HUNTERS, CHARMERS, MARABOUTS, VOODOISTS, THAUMATURGISTS, WITCHES and WIZARDS to comb the forests, smoke out the criminals and work with the security operatives to decimate these outlaws.
- Set up ICT SECURITY CONTROL CENTRES in each of the 3 senatorial zones equipped with digital communications equipment (ICT) to monitor the activities of these bandits in real time. A dedicated mobile phone number for distress calls should be made available to members of the public to report any cases or suspicious activity.
- LEGISLATION: The state house of assembly should pass a law making kidnapping, banditry and related offences punishable by death even if to set a deterrent and convince these criminals that there is a government in Sokoto state.
- Amnesty or any form of Dialogue with the bandits should be taken OFF the table. Negotiation will N.E.V.E.R work. Amnesty will only WORSEN the situation. Only full force, local vigilante, information and communications technology (ICT) and appropriate reforms of the criminal justice system will stop the march of the bandits in Sokoto state and Nigeria at large.
- ULTIMATUM to all bandits and their collaborators to leave Sokoto state on or before 31st December 2021.
The need arises to set up a very strong VIGILANTE FORCE (FOREST RANGERS) in the mould of AMOTEKUN in each town and village in Sokoto state in phases starting with the flash points- Sabon Birni, Isa, Goronyo and Tangaza local government areas- to work with the security agents -Police and the military – under community policing to strengthen security in our dear Sokoto state. Recruitment into the forest Rangers should be drawn WITHIN the communities because the inhabitants including the youths in those affected communities know the terrain, will assist greatly in intelligence gathering and are ready to defend their land. They are the major stakeholders.
These Forest Rangers should be placed on appropriate remuneration including a motivating salary package and can be trained and exposed to weapons under the supervision of the military and the police.
Quite honestly, it will be easier for the federal government to come to the aide of the state in terms of funding but not in terms of boots. The federal government may have some funds but do not have enough boots.
I strongly believe that the federal government will support the Sokoto state with funds to establish the FOREST RANGERS if the right commitment is proven. Your excellency, as you stated during your address yesterday when the federal government delegation led by the national security adviser visited, Nigeria is grossly under-policed and this is the more reason why the Sokoto state government should come in and set up the FOREST RANGERS to cover the obvious gap in security personnel in the state just like the Amotekun Corp in the South – West.
Your excellency it is obvious that the under-policing is because the total number of policemen in Nigeria is 370,000 which cannot effectively cover Nigeria’s population of 206.1 million.
Even based on the United Nations recommended ratio of one police operative for every 450 citizens, Nigeria is under-policed and should have at least 458,000 policemen when you divide 206.1 million by 450. This means that Nigeria is currently short of 88,000 policemen.
The federal government recently announced the recruitment of 10,000 policemen ONLY to beef up security. This is not good enough especially when juxtaposed with the current dire security situation in the land particularly in Northern Nigeria and especially in Sokoto state. Nigeria needs at least 1 million policemen and 500,000 soldiers to combat the current astronomical levels of insecurity. Only a high number of operatives can dominate and take over these forests and other flash points used by bandits to perpetrate evil.
There is no gainsaying the fact that our dear Sokoto state has snatched the gold medal from Zamfara state as the hub of banditry and insecurity in Nigeria. All hands must be on deck to reverse this trend. Nobody can come to Sokoto and fix insecurity for us. Only a home-grown solution could effectively stop the march of the bandits in our dear State. Sokoto is a border state with Niger Republic and this makes it a fertile ground for influx of foreign bandits, cross border arms infiltration from Libya, Chad etc and more prone and susceptible to attacks.
It is fair to say that a lot of the successes recorded by the military in the push against Boko haram in Borno state could be attributed to civilian JTF. This can be replicated in Sokoto state by setting up the FOREST RANGERS before it is too late. It is not late in the day today to fix the security situation in our dear state but it could be late when the criminals start moving into Sokoto city itself to carry out major abductions. These bandits have almost completely dominated the eastern plank of Sokoto State.
They could be marching into the central zone before moving up to the southern zone. Obviously, there are enough forests and hide outs for these criminals all over Sokoto State.
We have seen the AMOTEKUN corps in the South-West which is a state cum regional security outfit. It is disheartening that the 7 governors in the North – West geopolitical zone couldn’t set up a security outfit in their zone or even agree on a modus operandi to tackle these rampaging bandits while it took the governors of the south west few months to set up Amotekun which everyone has seen on the ground. The North – West needs a security outfit more than the South- west but we don’t have one while they do. Since the North- West governors cannot agree on how to tackle the bandits, Sokoto state should focus on its peculiar security challenges and form its own FOREST RANGERS.
The imperatives of the FOREST RANGERS is more so when juxtaposed with the fact that the locals know the terrain and can spearhead the much needed INTELLIGENCE GATHERING to the conventional security forces-Military and police.
Setting up the FOREST RANGERS will also help in getting the affected local communities more involved in the counter-banditry operations.
Your excellency, I know you have your reasons for sticking to your position that the federal government should come and solve the insecurity problem in our dear Sokoto state. Certainly the state government can also do so much within the realm of the 1999 constitution (as altered).
For example, there is the need for you to use your enormous powers to inspire and mobilise the Sokoto state house of assembly to enact a law making banditry punishable by death. Niger State has already enacted a law to that extent.
ICT SECURITY CONTROL CENTRES
Obviously, Nigeria is the only country on planet earth where a criminal will abduct someone, take them into the forests or elsewhere, uses the mobile phone to call the victim’s family or loved ones to negotiate ransom payment for months on end and the criminal is not tracked or digitally demobilised. This is the height of failure of the government to tackle insecurity. Also, this issue strikes right to the heart when juxtaposed with the fact that the criminal has not taken his victim to space or to another country. He is in Nigeria making calls and sending text messages for ransom payment while our so-called communications experts watch helplessly.
To effectively rid our dear state of banditry and kidnapping for ransom, the Sokoto state government should set up ICT SECURITY CONTROL CENTRES in each of the 3 senatorial zones to monitor the bandits through digital call tracking and monitoring in real time. Satellites can also be installed to cover these forests and provide the required surveillance and information to the security agencies for counter-banditry operations.
ULTIMATUM TO BANDITS:
Your excellency, despite your tight schedule please find time to declare these criminal bandits ‘PERSONA NON- GRATA’ in our state and give them a TWO WEEKS DEADLINE to leave your state. The deadline expiring on the 31st December 2021.
Your political profile will rise and be richly blessed if you can declare the notorious bandits leader Bello Turji officially WANTED DEAD or ALIVE. This notorious bandit kingpin seems to be the medulla oblongata of all the major bandits mass killings and violent operations in Sokoto state just as he overlaps into Shinkafi axis of Zamfara state to launch attacks. In fact, the criminal bandit Bello Turji who moved in from Zamfara state, has turned our dear Sokoto state upside down and is threatening to deal with all the indigenes of the state inside out. Your excellency, If you can cut Bello Turji out and get him to where he belongs, you will be a hero to all of us and we will campaign for you to any political office in political 2023….but not before we fix the banditry problem in our dear state.
A strong message from you will go a long way to remind these sub-human bandits that there is a government in place in Sokoto state. After the TWO WEEKS deadline of 31st December 2021 for all bandits to leave Sokoto state, a major military operation has to happen in Sabon Birni and Isa local government areas of Sokoto state to smoke out all bandits and get them decimated for good.
One very important aspect of any military operation is that the armed forces need to take the fight to the bandits. Waiting for the bandits to strike before responding will never win the fight. Our military needs to as much as possible comb the forests and smoke the criminals out. Air strikes cannot permanently wipe out the bandits. Only ground forces can permanently eradicate banditry and dominate the forests.
With the visit of the federal government delegation led by the NSA to Sokoto and Katsina states, people ask ‘is a STATE of EMERGENCY hovering in the air for Sokoto and Katsina states? This is a question on the lips of many. Any possibilities of a state of emergency can be averted if the Sokoto state government demonstrates beyond doubt that it is doing the needful to tackle insecurity in our dear state.
Your excellency, as someone who wish that you succeed, (obviously your success is success for the entire Sokoto state), i respectfully ask you to suspend ALL your 2023 political activities pending when normalcy returns to our dear Sokoto state.
With no intent for repetition and belabouring but for emphasis, I say again that waiting for the federal government to fix the insecurity problem in Sokoto state will mean waiting till eternity.
Your excellency, you are the one directly close to the good people of Sokoto state so it is the Governor they know NOT Buhari. Sokoto state wants to see more action and policies from you to stop this ongoing bloodshed.
You will write your name in gold if you can rid our dear state of these monster bandits who have now resorted to roasting people alive including babies, women and children. Most of the eastern plank of Sokoto State is obviously under the control of the bandits as they install village heads and run riot in local communities. Killing, raping and abducting people in their wake. They burn farms belonging to the residents, impose taxes and run the courts on both civil and criminal cases. This is incredible!
Your excellency, get into it, you will come out unscathed and a hero.
May Allah (SWT) guide you to do the needful for our dear Sokoto state Amin.