The recent bandit attack in Kaduna State at the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Igabi Local Government Area (LGA) witnessed the kidnap of more than 100 male and female students.
The institution was said to have been invaded Thursday night, 11:30 pm with the kidnap of both students and staff. Although troops of the Nigerian army successfully rescued 130 male students, 42 female students, and 8 staff, the bandits still made away with about 30 students.
The outlaws on Saturday released three videos showing the students abducted as they demanded a ransom of N500 million before releasing the victims. The bandits also decided to show their many weapons as they threatened to kill hostages if their demand was not met or the government chooses to use force to gain their release.
100 miners operating between Anka and Maru Local Government Areas of Zamfara State were abducted on the 2nd of March. Bandits on the 3rd of March kidnapped about 60 women and children at Gidan Baushe village of Zamfara state.
Bandits also invaded the staff quarters of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Kaduna on the 6th of March abducting six family members, a woman, and two children. Sokoto State Police Command reported the killing of about 13 persons following a bandit attack in Tara village, Sabon Birni Local Government Area of the state. On Friday night, March 12, Bandits attacked Erena town in Niger State which led to the killing of one person as six others were abducted.
On March 12, bandits attacked three local government areas namely Igabi, Giwa, and Chikun in Kaduna state killing seven persons while others were said to have sustained injuries. Mr. Samuel Aruwan, State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs had earlier reported that not less than 937 persons have been killed in the state, with about 1,972 persons kidnapped while 7,195 cattle were rustled in 2020.
The security challenge of the country continues to gain momentum as banditry and kidnapping have become a sustained activity of which the nation seems to be adjusting to its frequent occurrences. Despite the long and ceaseless years of Nigeria’s security challenge, nothing substantial has been done to curb the menace.
In Niger State, the state government issued a directive on the closure of all schools in the state for two weeks. This is to begin Friday, 12th March 2021 to 29th March 2021. Not less than eight northern states have ordered the closure of schools and suspended boarding.
The rising attacks on schools and the frequent mass abductions of students is worsening the already deplorable education system in Northern Nigeria. This has adversely affected farming and other sectors such as transport, commerce, investment, social life among others.
The president while addressing the National Council of Traditional Rulers stated that his administration has recorded a lot of success in the Northeast and South-South parts of the country. According to the government, 2,403 insurgents in the Northeast were routed between March and December 2020. This however seems not to scare whoever are out there constituting a nuisance to the nation.
The repeated occurrences require that the issue must be handled with more stringent and tough measures than what has always been employed. The government continues to retain the usual means, deploying more forces to handle the criminals.
Due to the seemingly uncontrollable situation, there have been calls for the government to negotiate with bandits. The Northeast governors in one of their recent meetings in Bauchi appealed to the federal government to involve foreign mercenaries in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists and other insurgents in the region. The Federal Government however expressed disapproval over negotiations with bandits or hiring mercenaries to handle the situation.
“While government is not averse to talking with these entities, it also has to fully apply its weight. You can’t negotiate with people who are unreliable and who will continue to hurt society. We will apply the full weight of the government to deal with these criminals”, General Monguno stated.
Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi also disapproved the payment of ransom and granting amnesty for bandits saying such a move would encourage criminality in the country.
“By paying a ransom, you’re paying people who aren’t productive. People are making money without being productive. To pay people for going into crime is unacceptable. If you’re going to pay kidnappers and grant them amnesty for committing a crime, you’re simply asking everyone to take to crime.”
General Monguno disclosed that Nigeria has both the personnel and equipment to conquer the security challenges. It is still a wonder why the country continues to fall prey to banditry if the government has all it takes. The consistent and increasing cases of banditry have proved that the government is lacking in sufficient means to handle the country’s insecurity challenges.
Doyin Okupe, former presidential aide urged Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), National Security Adviser to adopt the use of satellite imaging in areas majorly prone to banditry, kidnapping, and insurgency. He stated that provisions be made for rapid response capabilities alongside adequate funding as means to tackling insecurity.
Okupe urged the government to “increase ground intelligence and paid local intelligence monitors all over these areas. Fund Police formations and tactical units in these areas. Increase force deplorability and create standby joint crack security teams in each local government area in the affected states.”
“In addition to State Police Commissioners working with military authorities, appoint military commanders in each state to jointly coordinate security within each state, with the state police Commissioners.
It takes no less than 1hr for any serious school kidnapping to be executed. It also takes traveling fairly long distances and noticeable mass movements before bandits arrive at their “safe havens” in the forests”, he added.
The insecurity challenge of the country is an urgent situation that can no longer be swept under the carpet. The suggestion of dialoguing with bandits is clearly a wrong call.
These are armed robbers with sophisticated weapons. Indulging them is rather a sign that the challenge is beyond what the government can handle. Bandits are not to be indulged, rather they are to be arrested and treated as the criminals that they are.
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