Imperatives Of Being Firm, Swift, Decisive Against Terrorists – By Yemi Adebowale
Fourteen days after the heinous murder of pregnant Harira Jibril and her four children by terrorists strongly believed to be IPOB in Isulo, Anambra State, their killers are yet to be apprehended. Daily, the lamentations of the devastated husband of Harira, reverberate in my head. “I’m now left with nobody; they have wiped out my entire family. I am so worried and in trauma, there is a need for the government to do something,” are some of his cries that remain indelible. Unfortunately, like most previous cases of attacks by terrorists across the country, the bastards that killed Harira and her children may never be caught. This is the tragedy of a country I persistently talk about. The message the Buhari government has been sending out to terrorists with this ineptitude is that they can persist with their odious crime with assurances by the state that nothing would happen to them.
Nigeria’s Commander-in-Chief has the military, police, DSS, NSCDS, NIA, yet, he has failed woefully to send the right messages to terrorists. There is a lot wrong with the ultimate commander. For me, there is no real war against terrorists ongoing in beloved Nigeria. Any government committed to taming terrorism must be firm, swift and decisive in tackling them. This is what has been missing in the last seven years of the Buhari government. This federal government that is in charge of all security agencies persistently fails to send out the right message to terrorists. This is why the killers of Deborah Yakubu are walking freely 24 days after they murdered her. Deborah, who was a student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State, was killed and her corpse set ablaze by Islamic extremists for allegedly blaspheming Prophet Mohammed (Pbuh).
It is this same failure to send the right messages to terrorists that has kept 67 adducted Abuja-Kaduna train passengers in the dungeon of terrorists for 69 days. The terrorists boldly parade the abductees in videos while mocking government. I wept for this country early this week while watching a fresh video of the traumatised abductees appealing to the federal government to come to their rescue before they die in captivity. In the new video, a masked terrorist carrying an AK 47 was seen giving instructions to the captives, the men kneeling and the women sitting on a mat. Many of the abductees, elderly people, women and children are in very bad shape as confirmed by one of them who said, “Most of us here are sick and we are not in good condition and every day the situation deteriorates.” How can this be happening in a country with a government? The Nigerian state has failed these abductees woefully.
Let’s flip to the notorious Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway. Here, terrorists run a government of their own. They enjoy free rein and hardly hide. Everybody, except security agencies, knows that terrorists are on virtually the entire stretch of this road, killing and maiming. Just last Tuesday, the terrorists abducted scores of travellers (largely students) on this highway. The abducted students were heading to the School of Health, Kaduna State University (Makarfi campus), for admission examinations.
During the attack that lasted over an hour, eight vehicles were set ablaze by the guerrillas after abducting their passengers. No help came from security agents while the attack lasted. The Chairman, Birnin-Gwari Vanguards for Security and Good Governance, Ibrahim Abubakar Nagwari, laments: “In the last four days, terrorists laid siege on motorists on Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway, abducting as well as killing and wounding many innocent citizens. The authorities have shown no interest in the deteriorating security situation on this highway. The political will by the authorities to honour their oaths of office to protect lives and property of our citizens remains a mirage.”
The Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna highway debacle is replicated on the Abuja-Kaduna road, where, daily, scores are killed and abducted.
Two weeks ago in Borno State, 32 young men were killed by Boko Haram while sourcing metals in a deserted community in Dikwa Local Government Area of the state. Security agents are yet to arrest a single one of the killers. I doubt if they will ever be arrested. This evidently emboldens terrorists. In the same Borno State, Boko Haram and ISWAP roam around with so much impunity because Buhari has not been firm and decisive. Some local government areas are under very strong control of the terrorists.
Extremists stroll in and out of Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State, wreaking havoc. Few days back, they attacked St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Gidan Maikambu (Marabar Kanya) and kidnapped Reverend Father Stephen Ojapa and Reverend Oliver Okpara. Church members are still struggling to raise the N100 million demanded. Of course, the terrorists will eventually collect the ransom and get away with the crime.
When talking about a leader that has not been firm and swift against terrorists which bolsters them, the pathetic story of Shinfida community, in Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State is pertinent. In Shinfida, no fewer than 13,500 people were sacked by Fulani militias from their ancestral homes early this year and are currently taking refuge in neighbouring Niger Republic. Yes, terrorists sacked and burnt almost all the buildings in the community. Till date, not one of the terrorists that carried out the atrocious crime in Shinfida has been arrested.
I guess that was why the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) declared after the murder of Harira and her children that “this cannot be the dream country of those who fought for Nigeria’s independence from the colonial masters,” adding, “it is disheartening and unfortunate that nowhere is safe again in the country, as killers, bandits, terrorists, and kidnappers are on rampage in every nook and cranny of the country and all the government is able to do is to issue periodic statements condemning them without any decisive action to bring culprits to book.”
The perpetrators of terrorism in Nigeria must be brought to justice by Buhari as recently demanded by the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres. This is the only way to end killings in Nigeria. We must all continue to put pressure on Buhari to do the needful.
The contribution of Bamidele Salam, a federal lawmaker from Osun State, along this line last Wednesday, is quite commendable. He held a one-man protest walk against insecurity in Nigeria in Abuja. Salam, dressed in black, walked barefooted from the Unity Fountain in the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory to the National Assembly Complex. The lawmaker wrote on his placard: “President Muhammadu Buhari, please do more to secure freedom for the Kaduna train abductees and other citizens in captivity.”
The Commander-in-Chief should unflappably reexamine reports on killings, and if indeed he wants an end to terrorism, seek help in fruitful climes, to enable him act swiftly and decisively. Our security agencies lack the abilities to end terrorism.