For some time now, particularly in the last one year, Nigeria has been grappling with various security challenges posed by insurgency, kidnapping, armed robbery, clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers, cattle rustling, cultism, and ritual killings as well as raping of women by some disgruntled elements.
No part of the country is spared from the spate of insecurity swirling across the country. From East to West, North to South, blood of the innocent cries for justice. If it is not Boko Haram attack in the North East, destroying lives and property and taking some persons hostage, it is the Fulani herdsmen invading communities in the Southern and North central parts of the country and callously spilling blood of the innocent.
The latest happened on Monday when the Boko Haram insurgents killed atleast 30 stranded travellers just 16 killometers to Mauduguri, the Borno State capital.
Nigerians from different spheres of life have been commenting on the development, with some even suggesting that government is complicit in the whole drama. Those who hold this view buttress their position with the fact that the leadership of the Fulani umbrella body, Miyetti Allah, had severally accepted responsibility for some attacks in places like Benue, Kaduna, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States but none of them has ever been arrested.
There are those who believe that the war against Boko Haram insurgents has not been won because some politicians are sponsoring them. Certain names had been mentioned in the past as sponsors of the terror activities in the North East but nobody, in the views of many, has been called to account in that regard.
As a result of the foregoing, some now believe in the aphorism: “Self preservation is the first law of nature,” and had advised that people should defend themselves from any form of attack. People with this extreme line of thought argue that even some of the security agents are working in cahoots with the criminals and so, should not be expected to protect anybody.
Former Chief of Army Staff, Gen T.Y Danjuma, had once openly asked Nigerians to defend themselves and not wait for any security agent to do that. He pointedly accused the army of collaborating with the bandits that severally attacked his community in Taraba State and several other states across the country.
So many other Nigerians have advocated for state police as the only panacea to the lingering and worsening security situation in the country. The disturbing security situation in the country climaxed recently when the National Assembly called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently reconfigure the nation’s security architecture.
Penultimate week, Christians across the country responded to the ugly development when the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) staged prayer walks round their churches to end killings in the nation.
The CAN President, Supo Ayokunle, who alleged that the attacks were targeted at Christians urged the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to rise up to his responsibility of protecting Nigerians, irrespective of their religions.
He equally called on the international community to wade into the plight of Christians in Nigeria as they did in Syria, Iraq and other nations of the world where killings and human rights’ violations were rife.
In the same vein, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Enoch Adeboye also led a national protest against insecurity in the country last week. His protest and that of the CAN were prompted by the beheading of the CAN chairman in Adamawa State in January and numerous other atrocities against Nigerians by bandits and Boko Haram insurgents.
Contributing on the parlous security situation on the floor of the Senate recently, the Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, pointedly asked the president to resign, citing lack of capacity to tackle the rising security challenges in the country as reason.
Describing the security situation confronting the country as a matter of life and death, Abaribe lamented that the Federal Government’s consistent insistence that Boko Haram has been defeated, and that Nigeria is now safe was being done to make sure that the hard work that was supposed to be done in securing Nigeria was not done because certain people preferred to cover the eyes of Nigeria with propaganda.
“All the time that we wasted in Nigeria, trying to find all these excuses for non-performance has now come to stare us in the face. Reality is no respecter of persons and that is what we are facing now. We are told that Boko Haram has been defeated when we all saw how about nine or 10-year-old Boko Haram insurgent killed a student in Jos, Plateau State capital, in full public glare.
“We read in the papers where the president said we are going to call the Inspector General of Police (IGP); we are going to carry out community policing and all that. Mr. President, Nigeria did not elect the IGP, Chief of Staff, joint chiefs or the National Security Adviser; we elected the government of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015 and reelected them in 2019. The reason we reelected them was because they continued to tell us that they had the key to security and the whole Nigeria voted them in and I agree with that. And I am saying that when you can’t deal with a matter, you go to the head; so we will go to the government and ask this government to resign because they can no longer do anything in this country. The government said if we don’t perform, stone us. We are going with stones to stone them now because they are no longer performing,” he stated.
Also contributing on the same matter, the senator representing Adamawa North Senatorial District, Elisha Ishaku Abbo, who hails from Muchalla Ward, Mubi-North Local Government Area of Adamawa State, revealed that between November 5, 2019, and January 11, 2020, Boko Haram elements had visited Michika/Madagali nine times. He said they had virtually turned the place into their barn where they stroll into whenever they run out of food to cart away foods and drugs, as well as empty shops and supermarkets and move back to the forest almost unchallenged always.
“We never had it this bad in this country security-wise. The statistics from the budget office from 2012 to 2019 revealed that the Nigeria military alone received over N4.5trillion. So, it is not about funding; it is about how the military utilizes these funds. When Boko Haram invaded that community on January 3 and they were repelled, they camped after Kubushasho, a river after Michika, and the security men could not go there because they told me their vehicle was not functional.
“The Service chiefs have done their best, but I think they are out of ideas. When they came in newly, they came with vigour and strength and we saw the result, but right now, things have deteriorated. They were appointed on July 13, 2015; they have spent four years and six months. We are talking about overhauling the security architecture. There is grumbling within the military. Silence is no longer golden here. “Yesterday’s survivors are today’s victim and today’s survivors will be tomorrow’s victims. Mr. President needs to re-jig the security apparatus and if we need foreign aid, we should not be ashamed to ask for that. Today, in Borno State, virtually all ‘Trunk A’ roads are shut down in the state; nobody dares move. The president should look inward; the security chiefs have done their best but I think it is time to bring in new ideas to help this country,” he submitted.
Members of the House of Representatives also joined their counterparts in the Senate to ask the president to re-organise the country’s security architecture as the current structure has not been able to protect lives and property of Nigerians.
There is a strong belief in some quarters that the call followed the savage execution of the Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Michika Local Government Area (LGA), Adamawa State, Rev Lawan Andimi recently.
A native of Kwada village in Chibok LGA of Borno State, Rev. Andimi was abducted early January by Boko Haram insurgents when they attacked Michika, but days after his abduction, he appeared in a video clip, where he pleaded with the Adamawa State governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, to rescue him. Unfortunately, news of Andimi’s brutal execution by the Boko Haram fighters broke on January 21. It was reported that the insurgents turned down an offer of N50 million from negotiators before beheading him.
Just as Nigerians were trying to come to terms with the cruel and callous execution of such an innocent man, whose only offence was being a citizen of a country where the security agents have failed to discharge their constitutional mandate of protecting lives and property, another sad news broke. This time, it was about the Chibok school girl, Leah Sharibu who has been in the Boko Haram captivity for refusing to denounce her Christian faith. She was reported to have given birth to a baby boy for the Boko Haram Commander, who allegedly married her off after forcefully converting her to Islam.
Many Nigerians believe that the outrage and public condemnation that followed both sad incidents, locally and internationally, informed President Buhari’s recent admittance of surprise over the level of insecurity in the country. The president was quoted to have said he was surprised that the level of insecurity had gone so bad that almost every section of the country is faced with one security challenge or the other.
This singular statement from the president did not go down well with some Nigerians, as many concluded that the president has just admitted that he is either not in charge of the country’s affairs or he is being misinformed by his media handlers.
Although, the Lagos State Coordinator of the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), Mack Ogbamosa, described Buhari’s statement as a mark of sincerity, and cautioned that people should not misconstrue his sincerity for weakness or failure, the lawmaker representing Mangu/Bokkos Federal Constituency of Plateau State in the House of Representatives, Solomon Bulus Maren said his heart bleeds because of the president’s comments.
“I am in shock too. If the President actually said that, it means the insinuations that the cabal is in charge is true. Because it is amazing for a chief security officer of a country to claim ignorance of his most important responsibility, security and welfare of the people, of which he took an oath of office for. It is most unfortunate that we are going through this as a nation. My heart bleeds,” he said.
But rising in defence of Mr. President’s comment was the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, who said that the reportage of Buhari’s comments was slanted to mean that President Buhari said he was unaware of the security challenges in some parts of the country.
“Far from it, except to the mischievous mind; the President is fully aware and fully in charge of all that is going on. The statement by the President was clear enough, and these are the salient points:
“In 2015, we knew there was Boko Haram insurgency, particularly in the North-East, and we mentioned it in our campaigns. There are clear economic and cultural factors behind the clashes that sadly rocked many of our communities; be they the Fulani-Tiv or Fulani-Berom conflict, the Tiv versus Jukun and so on. By now, these conflicts are fairly under control.
“By 2019, banditry had surfaced in the North-West. It was surprising, as the area is almost homogeneous, made up of Hausa-Fulani. The combatants are largely Muslim. This is what the President said he was surprised about. The point he made was that what is happening in the country is not about ethnicity or religion, it is plainly an evil plan against the nation.
“It is disingenuous that the earlier and later parts of the statement were downplayed, and the middle part misinterpreted to mean that President Buhari was unaware or surprised by the security situation in the country,” he clarified.
But the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, while backing the National Assembly’s call for the sack of the Service chiefs as they could not provide security to Nigerians, said Buhari’s expression of surprise was not enough.
Publicity Secretary of the Igbo apex body, Prince Uche Achi-Ogbaga, said when the President himself was reported to be shocked at the level of insecurity, there was no need reminding him to do the needful by changing the Service chiefs as they might have exhausted their ideas.
He said there is an urgent need to engage people with new ideas to tackle the security crisis in Nigeria.
For the President, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr. Pogu Bitrus, the President’s comment was a clear indication that he was not in control of the country.
He said: “It is a huge surprise that the President who is the Commander-in-Chief, and who has the highest level of information, because nobody in this country has the kind of information the President has, could utter that kind of statement.
“We know that all the security agencies give him information. Even the DSS boss does not have that kind of information because the President gets additional information from National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and all other security sources, including international bodies that have links with him. So, it is unfortunate that Mr. President would make such a statement. It just means that he is not in control. It means a lot for the President and Commander-in-Chief to say that.
“It is also discouraging. When such a statement is made by the Commander-in-Chief, it means we are in trouble because it then means that we are moving on autopilot – no government. It is unfortunate.
“We have cried out over and over, and thank God the National Assembly is also putting pressure. The fact is that security architecture is faulty. We have the wrong people heading our security network. It appears there is no agreement and synergy between the Army and the Air Force in fighting insurgency and crime. “Boko Haram and the killer herdsmen are also roaming around doing what they feel like doing without being checked. The kidnappings and banditry have gone out of control. So, it is time the President sought and took the advice and wise counsel now coming from the National Assembly to re-jig the security architecture.”
Recall that it was just about the same time that the United Nations expressed relief over the release of five aid workers in Borno State. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, in a statement, said the release of the aid workers brought joy to the humanitarian community and relations of the abductees. The aid workers were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents along Maiduguri – Monguno Road on December 22, 2019, during attack and released to the security operatives on Wednesday, January 16, 2020.
It was also at the same period that no fewer than 14 people were reportedly killed after suspected bandits invaded Babban Rafi Village in Gummi Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
Aftermath of President’s comment
Following condemnations that trailed the President’s comment that he was surprised over the level of insecurity across the country, one of which was the call by the Senate and House of Representatives at a separate plenary for the removal of service chiefs due to the ongoing insecurity across the country, the president on Thursday, January 30, convened a Security Council meeting where he met with his security advisers as well as service chiefs at the State House, Abuja.
But, rather than hearken to the voice of the legislators, the FG after the Security Council meeting resolved to seek the cooperation of states and LGAs in a bid to find lasting solution to insecurity in the country.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno made the disclosure at the end of the National Security Council in Abuja.
Birth of regional security outfits
As the controversy on whether to overhaul the nation’s security architecture is necessary or not rages on, the governors of the South West states have decided to take the destiny of their people in their own hands. They have decided to take the bull by the horns and confront the monster head-on by forming a regional security network codenamed, ‘Operation Amotekun.’
Of all the security challenges confronting the country, the activities of Boko Haram Islamist sect and Fulani herdsmen stand out as most problematic. Following the increasing criminal activities of the Fulani herdsmen in the South West, which climaxed with the brutal killing of Pa Reuben Fasoranti’s daughter last year, governors of the six states in the region were left with no choice but to form a common security network to protect lives and property in the zone. The people of the region have been subjected to constant raids leading to kidnapping, raping, killing and destruction of people’s farmlands without proportionate response from the security agents to arrest the ugly trend.
But, soon after the formation of Amotekun, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Mallami was reported to have said that Amotekun security outfit was illegal, and urged the South West governors to disband it.
However, Mallami’s declaration of Amotekun as illegal, even though he later recanted, did not go down well with most Nigerians, especially those who have closely followed the security challenges across the country.
Reacting to the AGF’s position, the Pan-Yoruba organisation, Afenifere admonished the six South West governors not to bow to pressure to abolish Amotekun.
Leader of the group, Reuben Fasoranti, who described Buhari’s silence on the matter as a sign that the AGF spoke his mind insisted that the Amotekun outfit had come to stay.
The 18 Yoruba groups under the aegis of Egbe Ifokanle Ile Yoruba, which is a branch of Yoruba World Congress under the leadership of a foremost historian, Banji Akintoye, also backed the South West governors on the initiative.
A social activist, Laoye Sanda, who spoke on behalf of the group, said the group was in support of Amotekun. He said: “If Operation Amotekun is illegal, the president would have called the hierarchy of the APC to call the South West APC governors to order because APC is controlling five of the six states in the region, while the PDP is controlling one.”
However, in a swift reaction to the formation of Amotekun security network, the Fulani, under the aegis of Miyetti Allah, have asked the Federal Government to arrest Yoruba leaders backing Amotekun immediately.
National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Abdullahi Bodejo who made the call on behalf of the Fulani, insisted that the Federal Government must arrest the Yoruba leaders promoting Operation Amotekun, the South West regional security network, because their aim was targetted at the Fulani herdsmen in Yorubaland.
He maintained that Amotekun could never have more security intelligence than the Army, Police, Department of State Service (DSS), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps and other security agencies combined, insisting that anything with regards to security should be left with those security organisations.
Where we are
With the successful formation of the South West security network, Operation Amotekun, and with the Federal Government’s seeming laxity in changing the nation’s security chiefs, more regional security outfits are in the pipeline.
Already, the North Central and South East zones of the country have spoken about their preparedness to launch their own regional security network to protect lives and property in their respective regions.
The Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, and Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, revealed that a joint security outfit for the South East was being fine-tuned for optimal operation and would soon be unveiled. Although he did not give the name of the security outfit, he said governors from the zone had already written to the Federal Government on the joint security taskforce.
It was also reported that the six governors of the North Central zone, recently in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital, during a North-central Security Summit, concluded plans to kick-start the framework for effective policing to tackle the issues in the region.
An appraisal of what is happening today lends credence to Danjuma’s warning and advice last year. It appears Nigerians are actually taking Danjuma’s message seriously; they have decided to truly defend themselves rather than wait for the security agents, whom Danjuma said have been compromised and would never protect anybody.