Politics

N’West mounts recent counter methods as terrorists heighten lethal assaults

JUWE OLUWAFEMI and FAITH MAJI look at the safety summit organised by the North-West Governors Forum amid the rise in assaults by bandits and terrorists within the sub-region

There isn’t any disputing the truth that the much-hyped two-day Peace and Security Summit organised by the North-West Governors’ Forum in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme was efficiently held in Katsina State from June 24 to 25, 2024.

Many dignitaries have been their perfect aspect to offer the event the much-needed pep, help, and authority it wanted to ship out a message to the terrorists and bandits who appeared to have been having fun with a area day within the sub-region.

Observers of the killings, kidnappings, and the destruction of property in some components of the North are of the view that such a safety summit ought to convey hope to the widespread man, the farmers, the merchants, transporters, residents, the group, and the district heads, who’ve been on the receiving finish of the continued bloodletting by terrorists.

Mallam Hussein Sanni, a retired federal civil service officer, who till just lately was a big-time rice farmer in Gusau, and with a big expanse of land within the Babban Doka village in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State, had requested metaphorically, “So, after the reggae, can we play the blues?” The assertion was apparently in a veiled reference to the safety summit.

Asked to elucidate what he meant, Sanni responded, “After the fanfare and all of the speeches on the summit, are we now protected to return to our farmlands and houses? Are our wives and daughters now protected from the forceful marriages, rape, and sexual exploitation from these bandits as we witness each day with our eyes and proper in our houses?

“Are our sons and brothers now free from these countless and mindless killings we’ve got helplessly and hopelessly watched, skilled, and suffered in our personal ancestral dwelling of Zamfara the place there’s virtually no governance, and safety has been left within the arms of bandits? Look, I retired from the Federal Civil Service to start out rice and different grains farming in my ancestral homeland after shopping for some hectares of land with my gratuity. Now, the entire effort and dream have gone down the drain as a result of bandits gained’t permit us to farm.

“I was twice lucky not to have been killed along with my family members last year. They even dared to warn us never to return to our land and farms. Since then, we have stayed away,” Sanni bellowed as he lamented the state of affairs by the mouthpiece of the telephone throughout a chat with Sunday PUNCH.

Incidentally, Mallam Sanni doesn’t habour these fears alone. Also inconsolable over the repeated assaults, which have led to the kidnapping of his 4 feminine youngsters, is Mallam Muktari Abdulkadir, additionally a farmer in Munhaye village, Tsafe Local Government Area of Zamfara State.

But 17-year-old Moses Anuzah, a latest graduate of the Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna State, was one of many kidnapped victims of bandits and terrorists who stormed and attacked the varsity on July 5, 2021, the place over 107 harmless underage pupils have been efficiently seized.

Moses stated the victims “were taken away sheepishly while in our deep sleep shortly after 1am from our various dormitories and hostels” in an unprovoked assault that “lasted barely 45 minutes and without any form of challenge from all the nation’s  so-called armed security personnel, the summit means no sense to me.”

Anuzah, who nonetheless bore the trauma of the audacity of the sordid occasion, stated, “The safety risk is an actual difficulty. It can not and should not be taken without any consideration. How will the North-West safety summit sort out the scars and the actual scare that younger college students like us endured for over 4 to 5 months within the deep, thick forests and den of the abductors whereas our ordeal lasted?

“After our sad situation, over 20 others, involving more innocent primary and secondary school pupils were also kidnapped in other parts of the country. Yet we have leaders and governors,” Anuzah lamented.

Despite the echoes of the unhappy notes from the sub-region in latest occasions, safety consultants say they wait to observe how the concepts, notes, and change of recent safety architectural modules shared on the venue by the assorted audio system – comprising the President, the Vice President, safety consultants, leaders of ideas, captains of industries, conventional leaders, and the a number of different personalities who’re the workforce leads of non-governmental organisations who have been in attendance would actually be harnessed.

“Although there are high expectations, I don’t know how the security summit, which appeared to be more of a jamboree than a true family gathering deliberately conveyed to speak the truth to each leader of the household to ease the pain, anguish, cry, deprivation, and hunger being experienced by the younger members of the household such that the household heads can be more decisive in actions and responsibilities than just mere rhetoric,” a retired Deputy Commissioner of  Police from one of many states within the North-West, who desires anonymity for political causes, said.

He added, “I just hope somebody is taking notes, and all these will truly address the harrowing plight of the various communities and people that make up the region?”

Sunday PUNCH additional stories that the theme for the summit, ‘Regional Cooperation for Securing Lives and Livelihoods’, goals to discover options to the continued insecurity, specializing in selling peace and stability whereas strengthening cooperation amongst state governments to sort out these complicated points.

The Katsina State Governor, Mallam Dikko Radda, had in his welcome speech centered his message on the essential nature of the summit, noting, “We have agreed to arrange standards and a secretariat to work inside two to 3 weeks to develop the motion plan and strategies for the duties forward, making certain that we implement the rightful ideas made throughout this convention. We additionally wish to thank the contributors who got here from far and extensive to contribute to the success of the summit. During the summit, we highlighted the key constraints and root causes of points affecting the area. We have been additionally in a position to be trustworthy with ourselves about our deficiencies and focus on methods ahead to handle these points.

“We, the North-West Governors Forum, assure you of our commitment to support all initiatives that will bring peace and prosperity to the North-West region. We recognise that we cannot achieve this without incorporating economic development perspectives, as economic development is a major pillar in reducing the effects of insecurity and building peace in our region. We are also committed to exploring the comparative and competitive advantages within our states and capitalising on each of those strengths. This will ensure that we create the region and the country of our choice,” Radda remarked.

While envisaging the result of the summit, the host governor stated, “By bringing together key stakeholders, this summit is expected to serve as a platform for meaningful dialogue and action, leading to concrete strategies for enhancing peace and security in North-West Nigeria.”

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Ending banditry in sub-region

One of the panelists and a retired military officer, Brigadier General Sale Bala, alongside different panelists have been optimistic that the summit, if really harnessed, would finish terrorism within the area. “Application of devices of coercion to finish banditry within the North-West area is strongly suggested by stakeholders through the summit’s plenary session of the North-West Peace and Security Summit put collectively by the North-West Governors Forum.

“Ending Kidnapping for Ransom: The politics, people and power structures,” was a topical difficulty of dialogue as its goal was not solely to drive a political will in ending banditry but in addition to see how states navigate the complexities of the politics, folks, and energy of the ‘kidnapping business”.

Sunday PUNCH has it on report that the discussions additionally centered on how the area can work to foster an atmosphere that promotes socio-economic growth and meals safety.

Again, a safety skilled retired Brigadier General Sale Bala was of the view that bandits have been abusing the weak point of the states they function and therefore have to be handled decisively. He known as on the political workplace holders to permit safety operatives to do their work as mandated. They additional said the position of girls in ending banditry couldn’t be overemphasised, therefore girls as moms and battle managers have to be concerned within the decision-making and known as on worldwide actors to help the area with not solely arms and ammunition but in addition intelligence-sharing help to defeat banditry.

The President, Bola Tinubu in his messages on the summit described the lingering insecurity bedeviling Nigeria, significantly the North-West of the nation as inherited safety compromises and historic injustices meted to the victims of conflicts. Reflecting on his inaugural speech one yr in the past, the President famous, “We promised to make Nigeria safer and this aim has been our topmost priority since we came to office.”

The Vice President Kashim Shettima who represented Tinubu stated, “Beyond the financial rationale that drove the amalgamation of the northern and southern components of Nigeria, the formation of our nice nation was impressed by the necessity for mutual safety. But, I ask, how can we obtain this sacred goal if one half is bothered? We have lengthy established that no matter ails any a part of this federation destabilises the opposite. So, the difficulty of nationwide safety within the North-West shouldn’t be a sectional agenda.

“The road to redeeming the security compromises we inherited was mapped out before we embarked on this journey. We realised that achieving the peace we seek necessitates addressing the historical injustices that have torn communities apart. We must also reverse the institutional frailties governing security and the economic dysfunctions that create vulnerabilities to crime. We must also counter the ideological mischief that has pervaded the discourse of peace and security in the region.”

While highlighting the UNDP’s position within the safety summit, its Resident Representative in Nigeria, Ms Elsie Attafuah, defined, “The UNDP’s journey to handle insecurity within the North-West area started in January 2024 with a peace and safety workshop organised in collaboration with the Katsina State Government.

“This effort led to the choice to convene this high-level Peace and Security summit for the Northwest State Governments. This summit represents a vital step in our ongoing efforts to construct peace in North-West Nigeria. The UNDP’s partnership with regional governments has been instrumental in fostering dialogue and creating sustainable options.

“Our work in peacebuilding across the North-West has shown that lasting change is possible when we work together. This summit will further strengthen our collective resolve to create a safer environment for the people of this region,” Attafuah said.

She additionally burdened that the safety and peace summit initiative was an important step in the direction of selling growth and deepening the inspiration of peace within the Northern area of Nigeria. “If Nigeria must retain the position of a giant of Africa, we must pay attention to the North-West region,” she insisted.

Meanwhile, Sunday PUNCH famous some impressed observers and commentators from the North who insisted that the occasion being a landmark, one and the primary of its form within the area hosted by the Katsina State Government, which by the way had additionally not been spared the orgy of assaults, maiming and killings of civilians and the navy, plus police personnel on energetic official duties by these murderous bandits, anticipated to see the summit really convey collectively the affected governors from throughout the area and different key companions to handle the urgent safety challenges dealing with the realm.

Before the occasion, some sources within the host state who unanimously spoke with Sunday PUNCH averred that the summit got here at a vital second for the North-West because it confronted mounting safety challenges. In latest years, there was a marked enhance in incidents of banditry, terrorism, and communal conflicts.

To underscore the dire insecurity challenges dealing with the sub-region, our correspondent stories that simply three days earlier than the summit, no less than seven individuals have been killed in a renewed bandit assault on Mai Dabino village in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State. Eyewitnesses had additionally alleged that the hoodlums kidnapped an unspecified variety of individuals, largely girls and youngsters, to a close-by forest of their operation that lasted about three hours.

According to an eyewitness who narrowly escaped the assault, after invading the village at about 10pm, taking pictures sporadically to scare the residents, the hoodlums armed with subtle weapons through the assault set ablaze these they killed and in addition burnt down a number of homes, retailers, together with motor autos price hundreds of thousands of naira belonging to the residents.”

While confirming the assault, the Police Public Relations Officer, Katsina State Command, Abubakar Sadiq, said, “Yes, it happened (yesterday), June 22, 2024, at about 2000 hrs, bandits in their numbers, armed with dangerous weapons, shooting sporadically, attacked Maidabino village, Danmusa LG, where they shot and killed about seven persons. Investigation is ongoing, as further developments will be communicated in due course,” he assured.

Sadly, a public commentator on the occasion, Musa Baba, who’s aware of the safety challenges within the area, whereas expressing his disgust over the absence of some key governors who, in accordance with him ought to have been within the lead on the summit, merely advised Sunday PUNCH within the proverbial Hausa language, “Idan gemen dan’uwanka ya kama da wuta……shafa wa naka ruwa.”  This, within the English language loosely interprets to imply, “If your brother’s mustache is on fire, rub your own with water.”

The visibly upset Musa Baba added, “The Deputy Governors of Sokoto, Kebbi, and Jigawa states, and the Secretary to the Kano State Government represented their principals at the all-important and decisive security summit? Why should only three sitting governors have attended the summit? It is very sad and it does not portray the importance other parts of the country attach to the summit.”

Further commenting on the event, Baba added, “I wonder why a governor will not attend this all-important event but chose to attend to his matters rather than attach all the importance to saving the lives of the masses who voted him to power and he governs. These politicians will never change,” he stated.

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