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INSECURITY: BUHARI PLEDGES CHANGE IN NORTH EAST AS 10,366 ARE CONFIRMED KILLED IN 2021

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• Killings in Nigeria hit 2,085 in Q4 2021 – SBM report
• Send fighter jets to flush out terrorists from hideouts, Senate urges FG
• Our security forces overstretched, need support, says Abdulsalami
• #SecureNorth: Media owners lament insecurity, begin sensitisation in 19 states
• Nigeria in state of war, Afenifere challenges FG, NASS, govs over rising terrorism
• Makinde, Abiodun meet in Ogun over insecurity, to install CCTV on highways

Assailed on all sides by escalating insecurity in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, assured Nigerians, particularly residents of the Northeast, that in the coming months, they will see a change from the subsisting protracted insurgency to an era of peace and development in their respective communities.

The President made the pledge in Abuja while speaking at the inauguration of the Presidential Committee on Repatriation, Return and Resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Northeast of Nigeria, which preceded the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

In a report released yesterday by SBM Intelligence, a socioeconomic research firm, in its Media Reported Killings in Nigeria report for Q4 2021 (October to December 2021), it said at least 2,085 persons were reportedly killed in Nigeria in the fourth quarter of 2021 in violent incidents, including attacks from Boko Haram, militia herdsmen, abductions, gang clashes and terrorists, raising the tally of deaths to 10,366 in 2021.

Buhari said his administration was embarking on a revised approach to addressing the 13-year insurgency in the region and would not relent in efforts towards a return to peace and normalcy in the Northeast and return it to the path of development and growth.

‘’To the people of the Northeast, particularly the children, who are the future of the region, we will never forget you and your courage, sacrifice and endurance, which has been exemplary.

‘’I pledge to you that in the coming months, you will begin to witness a shift away from a protracted insurgency to peace building, stabilisation and ultimately development in your respective communities as we embark on a revised approach to addressing this conflict,’’ he said.

On the terms of reference for the committee, the President emphasised that it entails a shift from managing the situation to activating a permanent solution for effective and practicable restoration.

He said the committee, among others, is expected to develop a concise three-year action plan by the end of March 2022 that incorporates national and state level plans, providing a clear pathway for the restoration of peace.

President Buhari directed the committee to submit monthly progress report, while the first progress review meeting would be held in the first week of March 2022.

Members of the committee are: Ministers of Finance; Budget & National Planning; Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice; Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development; Interior; Foreign Affairs and Defence.

Others are the National Security Adviser; Inspector-General of Police; Chief of Defence Staff; Director General, State Security; Director-General, National Intelligence Agency; Director-General, North-East Development Commission; Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants & Internally Displaced Persons; Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency and Chief of Defence Intelligence.

ACCORDING to the SBM Intelligence report, the 2,085 reported deaths mean Nigeria experienced a 47 per cent increase in media reported killings, from 7063 fatalities in 2020 to 10,366 in 2021. Of the 10,366 casualties of violent deaths last year, Kaduna State alone recorded 1, 192 at the hands of bandits.

A breakdown of the Quarter Four (Q4) numbers revealed that civilians made up nearly half of the reported violent killings at 972, followed by Boko Haram at 629, terrorists at 288. Forty policemen were reportedly killed in the same period, followed by 35 soldiers, while members of the proscribed secessionist IPOB group recorded 20 casualties.

Borno State recorded the most casualties in Q4, at 618, followed by Kaduna at 355, Sokoto at 225 and Zamfara at 144. The highest-ranked southern Nigerian state for the quarter was Anambra State at 54 media reported deaths.

In a statement, SBM warned that recent killings in Zamfara last month “put government’s effort at addressing insecurity in the region using force under severe scrutiny.”

Reports reveal that some victims were killed by fleeing terrorists escaping aerial bombardment by the air force as the army, trying to minimise personnel loss, has refrained from carrying out operations too deep into terrorist encampments, inadvertently giving them time to regroup after aerial bombardments.

“Little progress has been made in attempts to coordinate the security agencies to achieve a shared strategic outcome. On another note, this non-coordination could also be due to lack of discipline and professionalism exhibited by officers of various agencies.

“Furthermore, bandit activity appears to be spreading in parts of the country that hitherto were not dealing with such incidents. This is evident in abductions in Kwara, Plateau and Taraba states. This is not surprising as it speaks to the proliferation of armed non-state actors across the country and how weak and overstretched the security architecture is,” the report stated.

MEANWHILE, the Senate has urged the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, send fighter jets to flush out terrorists in their hideouts who are behind the kidnappings and killings of Nigerians. The call was made, yesterday, during plenary in resolutions reached following a point of order raised by Senator Bello Mandiya (APC, Katsina South).

Relying on Order 41 and 51 of the Senate Rules, Mandiya noted that the act of banditry and kidnapping has become a daily occurrence in Katsina with huge consequences of loss of lives, means of livelihood and displacement of communities.

The lawmaker recalled that on Sunday, January 31, gunmen struck Ruwan Godiya, a community in Faskari Local Council of Katsina State, where 38 residents were kidnapped.

Worried that the continuous security challenges and related attacks by bandits on towns, villages, and communities have meted untold hardship on the people and have subjected the affected areas to serious survival threat, he said if this menace is not drastically and promptly addressed, the consequence is going to be huge on food sufficiency, since the affected communities are mostly farmers.

Contributing, Senator Kabir Abdullahi Barkiya (APC, Katsina Central) faulted the inability of the military to contain the situation despite several calls for it to act.

The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, said the repeated cases of kidnappings and killings make it imperative for the military to “wake up” to protect Nigerians.

He wondered why full-scale action was yet to be carried out by the military in spite of increased funding for security in the 2022 budget. “The expectation of the Senate is that there is supposed to be a remarkable difference in success in terms of the fight against insurgence, banditry, and militancy in Nigeria.

“The military is getting better funding from the government and what we expect is to see an improvement in output. I know the resources are not enough, but recently for one and a half years, the government has up-scaled the level of funding for our military.

“When we declared the bandits as terrorists, my understanding was that they are going to be dealt with ruthlessly. I wonder whether that is the case. The military needs to wake up. We want to see a difference because we have made a difference in terms of funding.

“I know funding alone will not be enough, but funding can make a difference and we expect a difference in outcome,” Lawan said.

Accordingly, the Senate urged the security agencies to comb all known hide outs of the kidnappers in a bid to rescue the 38 persons abducted by gunmen in Ruwan Godiya. It also called on the Federal Government to send enough military personnel and fighter jets to apprehend the bandits and restore normalcy in the affected areas.

RELATEDLY, former Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar, has called for the support of Nigerians in tackling insurgency and other forms of insecurity, saying the nation’s security forces are overstretched. He made the call yesterday in Niger State during the 38th Founders Day and 30th convocation ceremony of the Federal University of Technology, Minna.

“We are facing a very hard time security-wise, where the war front is everywhere and this is a war without any morality. The old and the young are slaughtered without cause,” Abdulsalami said.

“Indeed, our security forces are overstretched. So it is left to all of us to join hands in making sure that we provide information where possible so that these insurgents could be chased out of our country.”

Besides security, the former ruler also spoke about the 2023 general elections, suing for peace. He stated that as the campaigns are about to begin across the country, politicians should conduct themselves in an orderly manner.

MEDIA owners in the Northern region, under the aegis of Northern Broadcast Media Owners Association (NBMOA), have equally expressed frustration over the activities of terrorists, bandits and other social vices bedeviling the region.

The association has, however, announced the commencement of media advocacy and crusade against some of the ills confronting the North and the nation at large.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, acting chairman of the association, Alhaji Abdullahi Yelwa, said media practitioners in the North have been in the eye of the insecurity storm.

He said: “We daily report the news of bandits writing demand notices to communities for ransom or payment for permission to go to farms. We hear about executions of abductees for failure to pay for their freedom. We hear governors express their frustrations or confessing that some parts of their communities are no longer under their control. We report about a people, who once were self-sufficient but are now languishing in IDPs camps.

“The Northern media have been at the helm of reporting these challenges. Some of our members have indeed been victims of insurgency. We shall in fulfillment of our sacred duties continue to hold government accountable, even as we offer our platforms for all shades of opinion on the search for a secure North and Nigeria.”

ALSO, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, yesterday, lamented the high rate of rising abduction, arson, terrorism, sacking of villages and other forms of insecurity in the country, saying Nigeria looks like a country in the state of war.

Challenging the Federal Government, National Assembly and governors on the need to rise to the occasion, the group advocated the democratisation of the police force to stem the menace that is about to consume the whole nation.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, Afenifere expressed regret that the more insecurity seems to be enveloping the country, the more the government appears to be losing grip of how to deal with the menace.

The group berated the National Assembly, which recently voted against the empowerment of state governments to set up police. The body urged governors and members of the states’ Houses of Assembly to mount pressure on President Buhari and the federal lawmakers to allow state police “if they are sincere in putting an end to the menace of insecurity and terrorism in the country.”

The spokesperson said the immediate strategies to end the scourge are to quickly allow states and local councils have their own police force, strengthen the existing security forces and motivate security personnel adequately.

“Government should also create the atmosphere for youths in the country to be productively engaged, respect the rule of law, including fundamental rights of the Nigerian citizens as well as stop treating terrorists and bandits with kid gloves.”
WORRIED by these developments, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State and his Ogun State counterpart, Governor Dapo Abiodun, met in Abeokuta over the rising spate of kidnapping, robbery and other security challenges affecting the states.

Makinde arrived at the Presidential Lodge, Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta, where he was received by Abiodun and other top government functionaries around 11:00a.m.

The two governors thereafter went into a meeting to discuss the need for an Ogun-Oyo joint security arrangement, where they have resolved to install closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) on highways between the two states to check the activities of criminals.

Rising from the meeting, the two states in the seven-point communique read by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Oyo State, Oyelowo Oyewo, agreed to set up a Joint Border Security Task Force “with membership drawn from various security agencies in the two states, to patrol the border communities to ensure the security of lives and property for the residents and commuters.”

The communique read: “To jointly collaborate on emergency/distress calls, especially on the highways that connect the two states.

“To effectively engage, cooperate and collaborate with all the stakeholders, including but not limited to the Federal Government, state, and non-state actors (traditional institutions, religious groups, community development associations, etc.), whose input and support are required for improved security in the two States and around the border communities.

“The meeting also agreed to implement the following initiatives in the short term: Threats assessment and analysis along the border corridors; deployment of CCTV on the interstate highways; setting up of outposts along the border communities for the use of the Joint Border Security Task Force; harmonisation and mainstreaming of voluntary police and informal security outfits.

“Timeous and diligent prosecution of criminals to signify the resolve of the governments of both states to clamp down on criminality. In this wise, the Attorneys-General of the two states should ensure synergy between law enforcement agencies and their prosecution departments or directorates during the investigative and prosecution phases of cases.”

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