The state of insecurity in the country has clearly gone beyond control. The recent events in the country have continued to put a lie to the recent claims by the federal government that the security situation has improved. The situation is not only worrisome, but also is every day escalating to an alarming proportion. To say the federal government has failed would be stating the obvious. In fact, as they say in local parlance when a situation is beyond control; e don red.
Recall that, some few weeks ago, the presidency was between a spate of two weeks thumping its chest as having done more in the area of securing Nigeria than its predecessors. Some of the bogus claims by the presidency is that Boko Haram, ISWAP et al have been decimated. We were told that the leadership of these murderous groups have been decapitated and so, all signs are that before long Nigerians can begin to sleep with both eyes closed.
Well, Nigerians have since learnt to take with a pinch of salt narratives coming from the presidency, because the reality before us speaks of the very opposite.
Recently, some state governors have been speaking on the need to decentralize the police and make it more effective, responsible and responsive to the increasing challenges facing the country, but for political expediency, the federal government is insisting on holding on even when that is no longer practicable and effective.
The Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, signed into law a bill for the prohibition and punishment for banditry, cattle rustling, cultism, kidnapping, terrorism and other incidental offences 2022.
The executive bill was sent to the House of Assembly a few weeks ago. The bill is part of the state government’s new measures to stem the tide of banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling that have bedeviled the state for over a decade.
Matawalle had earlier directed residents of the state to get personal firearms against bandits and kidnappers following the spate of attacks in Bakura, Bukuyyum, Tsafe, Gusau and Maru local councils.
Signing the bill into law at the Government House chamber, the governor insisted that his directives for citizens to obtain firearms against bandits were to assist security agencies in addressing the menace.
After over a decade of incessant cases of criminality, and after about three years of fraternizing and placating criminals, Matawalle is just realizing the wisdom in the saying that when you ride a tiger, you risk ending up in its belly.
When Matawalle was strolling in and out of the hideouts of these criminals with the connivance of the Islamic scholar, Ahmad Gumi, visiting Zamfara forests to speak with bandits, he simply refused to see the foolery in his pursuit, even when the people of the state and the rest of the country were kicking against his romance with the terrorists.
In February 2021, against the wishes of the people, he said his dialogue with bandits had significantly reduced killings in the state. He thanked Gumi for visiting forests in the state to speak with the bandits and urged other clerics to take their messages to the forests.
Protesters in the state had accused the state government and some traditional rulers of underreporting their ordeals with the gunmen who attacked their communities at will. They called for the termination of the government’s dialogues with the bandits and demanded to be allowed to carry weapons for self-defence. But Mr. Matawalle insisted the policy was working.
“My administration inherited the insecurity from the past administration but with peace dialogue initiative, the situation has been reduced to a minimum level, which now makes citizens of the state move freely without any fear of attacks or kidnapping as was the case before,” he had claimed; a position which was then contrary to the reality on the ground.
One year and a few months later, Matawalle is raging and calling for the people to bear arms to forestall the incursions of these insurgents who have taken over several of his communities. This is learning the hard way. For allowing Gumi with his publicly avowed sympathy for these criminals, it has cost the state resources that would have been channeled to other use; loss of lives and property and the problem has escalated and become more ferocious.
Of course, Matawalle was not alone and without support, as the federal government of President Muhammadu Buhar, was also treating the bandits with kid-gloves and pretending not to know the implication of treating a cancerous sore with analgesics.
It also took the Buhari government seven years to designate these bandits as terrorists. They unsuccessfully tried to ignore widespread calls from Nigerians to deal decisively with the festering social menace. Now, it has grown to a ferocious monster and Matawalle can no longer sleep.
And as though they had been listening to the presidency and their empty boasts of winning the war against insurgency, some dare-devil insurgents or are they terrorists or bandits; the confusion continues, stormed the Kuje Prison, located within the precincts of the seat of power in Abuja and freed about 994 inmates held in the facility.
Speaking on the prison attack, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, on Wednesday, said all the 64 members of the Boko Haram terrorists fled the facility.
Magashi said there are strong indications that terrorists invaded the facility to free their members being held in detention. This is the same Abuja that we have been told repeatedly that it is more secure now.
Meanwhile, elsewhere it has been cases of kidnappings for ransom, killings and bombing. The recent Owo massacre of innocent Catholics is still fresh and yet it has been one kidnap or the other of Catholic priests and other clerics.
Now, if you think that these are soft targets then what do you make of Tuesday’s, same day with the Kuje jailbreak, attacks on the President’s convoy to Katsina, where they were moving in advance for the planned visits of the president to observe the Salah holidays? That is a daring and a bold statement to mere mortals that if it can happen to the president, then we have only God to look up to for support and protection.
Meanwhile, the terrorist group, Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the Tuesday night’s attack on Kuje Prisons.
The terrorist group, in a short video released Wednesday, said it succeeded in freeing dozens of prisoners. The 38 seconds video released by the Islamic State’s A’maq Agency had a caption in Arabic, translated as “Fighters of Islamic State attacked Kuje prison in Abuja yesterday and succeeded in freeing dozens of prisoners.”
The message these outlaws have simply passed is that President Buhari’s Abuja seat of power is not immune, just as his home state, Katsina, is not safe. People are now afraid to attend public gatherings and church services for fear of the unknown. People can no longer travel by road. For those who want to fly, not only are the roads to the airports not secure, the ever-escalating cost of aviation fuel and the free fall of the naira against the dollar has ensured that the cost of flying is out of the roof. From all indications, there is no open declaration that the nation is at war, yet every citizen is apprehensive and afraid and are afflicted with the trauma of a war. Indeed, e don red!