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Insecurity: Why Nigeria is under Siege

 Insecurity: Why Nigeria is under Siege In the beginning Smarting from the abduction of 276 school girls by Boko Haram from Government Secon...

 Insecurity: Why Nigeria is under Siege

In the beginning

Smarting from the abduction of 276 school girls by Boko Haram from Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, on the night of 14-15 April 2014, it was easier for Nigerians to buy into the security agenda of Muhammadu Buhari, who was presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the 2015 presidential election.

Buhari overstretched himself to reassure a depressed nation that he will secure the country. In his inaugural speech, he said: “Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land.

“We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within overall security architecture.”

The APC campaign machinery had branded former President Goodluck Jonathan a ‘clueless’ leader to underscore his inability to tackle the myriad of challenges confronting Nigeria – especially insecurity.

The situation today

After being in the saddle for five years, it is becoming crystal clear to the president and his team that managing the security architecture of a nation is not a tea-party. Armed with his experience as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) in 1982 when he overran some Maitatsine fundamentalists and chased them to Chad, Buhari was optimistic of easily tackling Nigeria’s security problems.

But the paradigm has changed. Tactics have become more sophisticated and criminals more hi-tech than the military, the police and other security agencies.

Capturing the mood of the country, the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, said: “We have security problems in the country. Bandits now go into people’s houses to kidnap and not on the highway anymore. In the last couple of days, they are going into institutions. In Zaria, they went to ABU and the polytechnic and took away people,” he said.

The Sultan said that in the Northwest, in particular, people can’t sleep with their eyes closed and lamented that even on Wednesday, a village was razed down in Sokoto but people don’t hear about such incidents.

“The insecurity in the North is so high that people are afraid of travelling from Funtua (Katsina State) to Zaria (Kaduna State); a journey of about 48 or 50 miles. This is not to talk of from Sokoto to Abuja or Kano,” he said.

The Buhari administration has had more than a fair share of security problems with the frontiers now extended to farmers-herders conflicts and banditry in states like Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Benue, Kaduna, Plateau, Ekiti, and others. No state is immune to security stress but the magnitude differs from state to state.

According to data compiled from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a Washington D.C-based non-profit organization, there have been 47,000 deaths from ‘all’ actors, (Boko Haram, armed ‘bandits’ and ‘criminals’) from 2015 up to 31 January 2020).

But killings by the insurgents have assumed more dangerous proportion than any security threat. On February 19, 2018 at 5:30 pm, 110 schoolgirls aged 11–19 years old were kidnapped by Boko Haram insurgents from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi.

Research by BBC Monitoring claimed that at least 967 people were killed by Boko Haram attacks in 2017, while 910 deaths were recorded in the previous year (2016). In its 2019 report, Amnesty International reported that Boko Haram carried out 31 attacks that resulted in at least 378 civilian deaths.

The group also killed at least 16 abducted civilians. It also reported that at least 96 people were killed in violent clashes between farmers’ and herders’ communities while not less than 570 people lost their lives, probably to banditry, in five states in the Northwest Nigeria during the same period.

Kidnapping has also become the norm with the nation recording a leap from a skeletal rate in 2003 to a jumbo level. ENACT, which is funded by the European Union, stated: “Niger Delta states – notably Delta, Edo and Abia – have long been the epicentre of kidnapping in the country. In the past three years, Kaduna has also become a hotspot.

According to a Nigeria-based security company Bulwark Intelligence, based on incidents reported in the local media from January 2018 to September 2018, states that recorded the highest numbers of incidents include Kaduna, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Zamfara, and Katsina.

“According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), using data from law enforcement agencies of member states, 277 kidnappings were reported in Nigeria in 2007; 309 in 2008; 703 in 2009; 738 in 2010; 600 in 2012; and 574 in 2013. No data were provided for 2011. In 2015, the Nigeria Police Force reported 886 kidnappings. About 630 people were reportedly abducted between May 2016 and May 2017.

A report by Quartz Africa said: “Nigeria has one of the world’s highest rates of kidnap-for-ransom cases. Other countries high up on the list included Venezuela, Mexico, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.”

Also, a recent investigation by Daily Trust indicated that 1,570 people were abducted in 11 months in this year alone. The kidnappers were said to have demanded N6.9billion but the victims could only pay N311million.

The worst violence was the massacre by Boko Haram of 48 rice farmers in Zabarmari, a few kilometres away from Maiduguri, Borno State capital.


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