INSECURITY: DARK DAYS RETURN AS BANDITS, KIDNAPPERS UNLEASH TERROR AFTER ELECTIONS

  • Highly sophisticated gang behind insecurity – Experts

BY TIMOTHY AGBOR, BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, MAYOWA SAMUEL AND BRIGHT JACOB

Security experts and critical thinkers have disclosed that some highly sophisticated gang of Nigerian elite may be behind the seemingly intractable wave of banditry, kidnapping, terrorism and general insurgency ravaging the land.

They expressed worry that what looked like a season of respite during the recent general elections has quickly given way to unprecedented attacks in a coordinated manner that has confounded everybody.

They equally vouched that the reprieve Nigerians had during the just concluded elections may be due to cash crunch challenges.

The security experts also have harsh words for President Muhammadu Buhari, who they claim, failed to tackle insecurity as he promised Nigerians before he was voted, adding that Buhari’s failure would leave a blot on his personality even after exiting office in May.

They further argued that the Buhari’s administration will not be able to tackle the security challenges before its expiration.

A public affairs analyst, Mojeed Animashaun, of the Fountain University, Osogbo, in an interview with The Point, said people had thought Nigeria had overcome insecurity challenges during the polls owing to the relative peace Nigerians enjoyed.

He said that the naira and fuel scarcity would have contributed to the low security breaches, noting that sponsors of insecurity are privileged elites in high places.

“For a very long time, there has been an issue about the culpability of certain privileged people in Nigeria in the security challenges that we have in the country. Certain people believe that politicians could actually be funding some of these insurgency activities probably to score political points and you might not throw away that argument with a wave of the hands because Nigerian politicians as you know them, can go to any extent to achieve their aspiration. While I am not hell-bent on proving that it is true, we have had certain instances in which you could believe that the theory might be true,” Animashaun opined.

Asked if there could be some sophisticated and highly placed gang sponsoring attacks in the country, the University don, said, “It’s quite possible because during the election, there was problem of cash and fuel scarcity and those who are sponsoring terrorism relaxed, but now, after the election, the economy has stabilized again relatively and it is as if they are back to business. Those who are behind these security threats were conscious of their environment, during the elections, they relaxed their activities and after the elections, they simply went back to business.

“It’s possible that there is a highly sophisticated gang of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping sponsors because if it were not so, how do these terrorists get their weapons, where do they stay, how do they feed? They live within certain communities, it’s not as if they live outside Nigeria or they live in the air. The truth is that some people know where these terrorists, bandits and kidnappers operate. There might be some measure of unholy alliance between the immediate communities in which these people operate and the criminals themselves. There is no denying the fact that they have highly privileged people supporting them. That is my conviction.

“These criminals use weapons, where and how do they get them? Weapons are not things that you buy over the counter. How do they access the weapons and the resources to buy them? Sometimes, people tend to believe that the ammunition in the possession of these criminals is more sophisticated than that in the custody of the regular security operatives. So, there is complicity of the elite class in this argument, unless we don’t want to admit it,” he submitted.

He further argued that “If President Muhammadu Buhari had the courage and the political will to tackle insecurity, he would have done it a long time ago. I am not convinced that he would be able to put up any heroic performance between now and the next few weeks that he will exit the government and that will be a big blot on his administration because he did promise us that he was going to face insecurity frontally. He would tell you that he had done his best but his best is not good enough for Nigerians,” Animashaun said.

Also speaking, a security expert, Akin Adeyi, alleged that some politicians sponsor terrorists and bandits, adding that it was possible that politicians would have appealed to insurgents and other criminals to refrain from further attacks during the last election because of their political dreams.

He said, “The reduction in the level of attacks by insurgents during the last elections is a pointer to the fact that politicians were busy. These insurgents and criminals have been engaged by politicians, or at most, their disguised and secret handlers have appealed to them, saying, ‘let me have my election, don’t disrupt it.’ That’s why the suspicion is rife that some of them are the sponsors of all these acts against us. Why is it that when their interest is threatened, we will have less security challenges in the country?”

National Publicity Secretary of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Ken Robins, blamed it on unemployment.

He argued that during the elections, those who perpetrate the criminal activities were ‘busy’ but as soon as they were done with the election and idle, they must engage themselves.

“It’s troubling, it points to the fact that I’ve restated again and again that joblessness, lack of what to do and young people who are vibrant are without anything to do become ready tools for criminality and acts like what’s going on. It’s surprising, perhaps explainable that during the election these things were not there and then, immediately after the elections, these occurrences are coming up again. That could be said that during the elections, they had things to do, as political thugs or one thing or the other, and so, they were engaged.

“Do we want to say that perhaps they were paid to be quiet at that time? It’s funny but it’s sad that people could just be killing innocent people as if they are not human beings, and this is happening in Nigeria.

“Clearly there are elements that are just bent on ensuring that Nigeria is undermined. You’ll see that these occurrences happened in specific areas, in Benue State for instance, and then some areas in Sokoto. There are people who see this as a trade. It’s an enterprise, from just kidnapping to destruction of farms now to multiple killings. They want Nigeria to be unsafe, they are sending a message to Nigerians to put it in a state of fear. The government and security agencies seemed to be overwhelmed. But if you again look at the number of security personnel we have in the country, including the military, the police and other security agencies, they are grossly understaffed as it were, in a country of over 200 million people. We are told that all our security personnel put together are not up to a million. So, how can they secure a country like Nigeria when there are issues all around the country? Boko Haram in the North East, banditry in the North West and then these crazy killer aliens operating in the Middle Belt areas, and of course, insecurity in the South East, Niger Delta and the South West.”

To attribute the lifting of the cashless policy to the resurgence of kidnappings and others, will be outrageous. Those who wanted that for whatever reason will want to use it as an excuse for the evil implementation of that policy. It was unnecessary and it had nothing to do with the cash crunch. Is cash readily available now? It’s not; people are still queuing at ATMs and banks to get money.

“It will be unrealistic to expect Buhari to be able to address the insecurity. This government that has failed to do anything reasonably decisive in the last seven years, will do anything drastic in the remaining days? What we hope for is that the incoming administration will be more decisive, more committed to safeguarding the lives and properties of Nigerians.

A political analyst, Ifeoma Ogbonna, said the President would not do much now because his handover date was drawing closer.

According to Ogbonna, government activity usually becomes indolent when handover dates are close by, with officials only interested in “last minute personal businesses.”

Ogbonna, who is also an economist, said that prior to the election, she was “impressed” with the way criminal activities reduced drastically but she is shocked at the recent upsurge. She said the recent cash crunch was likely responsible.

Ogbonna also said that criminals may have been “bought over” to stop their criminality temporarily before the election.

She said, “I don’t think that the President can do much now. He has a little over a month to preside over the nation’s affairs and during this time when governors and presidents are about to hand over, they don’t do so much again. There’s this indolence that takes over governance and everyone there is only interested to do last minute personal businesses.

“Whoever is waiting for the president to do anything may be left disappointed. The man already said that he is tired and wants to go and take a rest,” Ogbonna said.

Clement Aaondo, a resident of Gboko in Benue State told The Point that the state is under siege even when the people thought respite had come.

“What is happening now is most worrisome because we believed here in Benue State that after the elections, these killings will stop but we were wrong. In the past weeks over 400 people have been killed by these terrorists. Then what is the benefit of election when it’s clear that the APC government we voted massively for is not able to end these senseless killings or they do not want to end it. What we are seeing is that the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will leave this problem for the incoming government and there is no assurance that they will be able to end it because it’s still an APC government.

Meanwhile, the Ekiti State Governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has expressed concern over recent kidnapping incidents in the Okemesi/Ido-Ile axis in the state.

Oyebanji, who said that the ugly trend should be reversed as a matter of urgency, urged the chairmen of the three local governments and development areas in the axis “to collaborate with residents of the area and government at all levels to ensure an end to criminal activities in their area.”

The governor, according to a statement on Monday by his Special Adviser on Media, Yinka Oyebode, spoke at his Ikogosi-Ekiti country home on Sunday while receiving the chairmen and leadership of Ekiti West Local Government and Ekameta and Okemesi-Ido Ile Local Council Development Areas.

He said, “Let me appeal to us on security because I heard that kidnappers are resurfacing in some areas. We must sit down as a community and as a government to ensure that we don’t allow it to happen because where there is no security, people will run away from such places.

“I will sit down with the chairmen of the local governments to find a lasting solution to that place, we must not allow them. My own vision is Ekiti State where everybody will be able to live well and live a worthy life,” the governor said.