Insecurity: Experts proffer solutions as bandits murder over 160 Nigerians in one week

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By Ochogwu Sunday

For 12 years, insecurity has been the bane of Nigeria. Since the symbolic bombing of the police headquarters in June 2011 and the UN building a few weeks later by Boko Haram insurgents, the problem has degenerated into an existential threat that has swept across the North East, turning the region into killing fields and displacing millions of people.

Despite the government’s effort to curb the problem, there has not been a respite, as other non-state actors such as ISWAP, killer herdsmen, cultists, unknown gunmen and bandits joined the fray, unleashing bloodletting on the country.

As of today, no part of the country is safe from kidnapping, and no day will pass without the sad news of killing. The South-East region, which had previously enjoyed relative security, is ravaged by the so-called “unknown gunmen” that continually unleash mayhem sporadically across states.

There is no further evidence that Nigeria is at war with itself than the disturbing fact that various military operations are going on across the country.

The failure to tame insecurity has become an albatross hanging on the necks of successive governments. In retrospect, it was what led to the electoral defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan, whose opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, campaigned vigorously on ending the insecurity siege.

Sadly, as he bowed out of office on May 29, 2023, life turned full circle, and Buhari’s biggest failure was still insecurity, despite spending over N5 trillion on defence.

The day he handed over the reins of power and returned to his hometown of Daura, the country was not any safer than it was eight years ago.

Therefore, the biggest expectation of Nigerians from the new administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the assurance of safety and security for the citizenry.

However, the first 12 days of the new government were fraught with the same old problem of insecurity, with no less than 170 Nigerians killed in various attacks and more than 160 kidnapped.

At least 50 people died in Sokoto, 49 in Zamfara, 40 in Benue, 17 in Rivers, six in Katsina, three in Plateau, two each in Kaduna, Ogun, Delta, and Oyo, while Ondo and Lagos states recorded one death each.

Some of the worst killings were recorded in Zamfara State, where over 31 villagers were slain in Janbako and Sakida villages of Maradun Local Government Area on June 3 by armed men suspected to be bandits.

Benue also recorded heavy casualties on the same day, when over 25 people were reportedly killed in an attack by unknown gunmen at Imande Mbakange and other neighbouring communities in Mbacher Council Ward of Katsina-Ala Local Government Area.

Sokoto State was also among the worst-hit states of the week, with 50 people reported killed in cold blood across two local governments by gunmen suspected to be bandits.

The spate of killings has become worrisome for Nigerians, leading to pessimism that the problem will not end anytime soon.

Speaking with DAILY POST, the President of the Eagle Crime Awareness Prevention Initiative, ECAPI, Samuel Eniola Adam, said the solution to the problem requires that citizens work in concert with the government to fight crimes.

He ascribed the failure to curb the problem thus far to the lack of credible intelligence, which in turn, he avowed, is due to the poor relationships between Nigerians and law enforcement agencies.

According to him: “Security is everybody’s business. What is the strength of the law enforcement agencies in Nigeria? We can’t put the blame entirely on security agents. We have to be part of the security―ourselves and our families have to be part of the security. Curbing crime in our society is a collective job. Many people fail to have a good understanding of law enforcement, and this is why we are having challenges.”

He avowed that security operatives are not magicians, stressing that “we in society know these bad guys, but we compromise with the criminals all because we are scared of being arrested if we report crimes to law enforcement agencies.”

He said further: “We don’t have good rapport with the security agents. I’m calling on Nigerians to be open to security operatives. You and your family members should be close to law enforcement, and then we will have a very peaceful society.

“If you ask those residents what their DPO’s number is, they cannot provide it; they don’t have contact with the police commissioner. This is where we are having issues. It is not about the law enforcement agencies.”

He summed up his position thus: “It is not the government’s problem; it is our problem, and we are the ones that can solve it.”

Security columnist Ben Okezie, in his contribution, dismissed the insinuation that the recent spate of killings across the country was orchestrated to frustrate the current administration.

“It is the same attack that has been going on; nothing is new,” he affirmed.

According to Okezie: “President Bola Tinubu needs to rejig the security system. And I think that is what he is already doing because he has already called the security chiefs and told them what he expects to see soon.

“I believe he is currently watching their performances before making some changes to bring in more vibrant and capable people that can handle the situation.”

He, on the other hand, argued that curbing the menace is in the hands of security agencies.

“I have always been advocating that whenever attacks happen, hold the security chief in that jurisdiction responsible. For instance, if there is an attack in Kubwa, the government should go straight to those in charge of security in that area; the security personnel in charge of the area should know when bad people are coming in and what is going on in that immediate community. They should be held responsible for any incident,” he stated.

Okezie expatiated further: “For instance, when you hold a Commissioner of Police responsible for an attack, he will also hold the Area Commander responsible, and he will [in turn] also hold the DPO responsible.

“By the time you are not satisfied with their efforts, you can sack them. By doing that, you will see that many of them will sit up. But in a situation where you are not punishing anybody despite whatever attack that occurs, people will keep dying.”

In the meantime, Nigerians have been watching every move of the new president, and many are optimistic that he will solve the problem.

In his inauguration speech, the president declared that “security shall be a top priority of our administration.”

Another encouraging gesture from him was his recent meeting with the security chiefs, during which he tasked them with coming up with a new template for the country’s security architecture.

Many, however, believed he has not matched rhetoric with action because of his failure to appoint the National Security Adviser (NSA), which they believed should be among his first few appointments.

Presently, there are speculations that former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, is favoured for the position, but Nigerians from all walks of life have faulted it, with various theories advanced as to why he will be a square peg in a round hole.

While most Nigerians are not mentioning names, they prefer the President to appoint someone with a military background who could bring experience and the required acumen to coordinate the fight against insecurity and put an end to the nightmare.

Other names being mentioned as candidates for the NSA include retired generals AbdulRahman Dambazau, a former Minister of Interior, and Mohamed Buba Marwa, the present Chairman and CEO of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA.

For now, the killing of Nigerians by various criminal elements goes on unabated, and the new government has yet to show any seriousness in tackling the problem beyond rhetoric.

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