Kankara abduction: Lawyers knock Buhari, service chiefs
Notwithstanding the release of about 344 kidnapped students of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State by their captors, lawyers have decried the growing level of insecurity in the country, asking President Muhammadu Buhari to exhibit the political will to free the nation from the grip of kidnappers, terrorists and bandits. AKEEM NAFIU reports
Some senior lawyers at the weekend added their voice to the condemnation of the growing spate of insecurity across the country which had given birth to full scale terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and other societal ills.
The lawyers, who appeared not to have been swayed by Thursday last week’s feat achieved by the government when about 344 kidnapped secondary school students in a boarding school in Katsina State were rescued from their abductors, expressed concerns that the rising wave of insecurity was increasingly becoming a nightmare for citizens.
Reminiscent of the kidnap of hundreds of schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State in 2014 as well as in Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State in 2018 by the Boko Haram terrorist group, the students’ abductors had on 11th December, 2020 stormed the all-boys boarding school in the middle of the night, broke its gate, shot sporadically into the air to instill fear and took hundreds of the boys into captivity.
The incident happened when the nation was yet to recover from the killing of more than 40 farmers in Zabarmari village, a rice-producing community located in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State.
The rice farmers were beheaded by armed men suspected to be members of the Boko Haram terrorist group while working on their farm.
Although there are conflicting figures on the actual number of students abducted by the terrorists in the night of the raid on the Katsina boarding school, some reports put the abducted students at about 600.
At some point, Governor Bello Masari of Katsina State was also reported to have been in contact with the abductors on how to get the students freed. The whole nation was, however, thrown into frenzy when Governor Masari late Thursday last week broke the news that 344 of the kidnapped students have regained their freedom.
The announcement by the governor at an interview with newsmen at the Government House in Katsina came a few hours after a video of the abducted students with their abductors surfaced online.
In the video, some of the kidnapped students could be seen crying and pleading with both the Federal and the Katsina State Governments to heed the terrorists’ demands for them to regain their freedom.
One of the abductors was also captured in the video as saying that their action was to establish the fact that the kidnapped boys were still alive. He said: “We did this because you refused to stop killing and arrest of Fulanis.
All the armies that you sent here can do nothing to them. Dan Allah, you have to dissolve any gang of vigilantes and close down all types of schools, excluding Islamiyya (Qur’anic schools).”
Explaining how the students’ freedom were secured, Governor Masari said it took the collaboration of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and the security operatives who helped in the dialogue with the abductors. He said the efforts were largely successful as many of the kidnapped students have been freed without payment of any ransom.
The governor added that to forestall a future occurrence of the sad incident, his government has already fenced and secured all the boarding schools in Katsina State, saying sufficient numbers of policemen and other security agencies will also be posted to the schools.
Masari said: “I think that we have recovered most of the boys, but not all of them. So, we are making arrangements to transport them to Katsina this night (yesterday). All of them are on their way to Katsina from the forest area of Zamfara State. By tomorrow, we will have them medically examined and arrangements will be on the way to reunite them with their families.
Immediately after the medical examinations, we will release them to their parents. “In addition, on our own part, we are going to increase the number of private security that will be employed in each school to make sure that we don’t experience what we have experienced in the last six days.
We are going to get communities living around the schools to form security outfits to assist the security in the schools so that all will be quiet and normal.”
The rescued students have since been reunited with their parents.
Lawyers on rising insecurity
Despite the rescue efforts of both the Federal and Katsina State Governments at freeing the Kankara kidnapped students, some senior lawyers are demanding more actions from President Muhammadu Buhari to arrest the rising tide of insecurity in the country.
The lawyers while baring their minds on the issue at the weekend, said they were much displeased that the affront of the herdsmen, terrorist groups and the armed bandits have overwhelmed the country’s security architecture.
They however offered some suggestions to government on how to tackle the menace. For instance, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, asked the president to promptly rejig the nation’s security architecture. He said: “We are under invasion by people who are condoned to come into this country, that’s the truth.
These people did not fly into Nigeria; they went through our porous borders. The Nigerian security agencies, particularly, army, should be worried that more than 300 children were taken away from their school in a town where there is an army camp.
“The height of insecurity in this country is getting very worrisome and the way out is for President Buhari to rejig the nation’s security architecture. If a body is not functioning properly, the first place to examine is the head.”
Also, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) asked the Federal Government to upgrade the security architectural set up of the nation to address growing spate of insecurity.
Adedipe said: “The Federal Government should take a second look at the architectural set up of the country. My view is that the centralized arrangement is not helping us at all and like politics, security could be local.
“The growing spate of kidnapping in the country is worrisome. I remember that one of the selling points of Buhari in 2015 when he came to office was that as a former Army General, he would be able to deal with this security issue. But it’s unfortunate that things have degenerated into this level. You can no longer travel on the high way.
“People are now being abducted at random. Foreigners are also not spared and somebody is telling us that Buhari has done well in the area of security; I don’t think this is correct because people’s lives are no longer secured.
“Nigeria is not the only heterogeneous country in the world, but the incursion of foreigners through our borders is worrisome and something urgent must be done to put it under check particularly from the Sahel, people who fought in Libya had unrestricted access to Nigeria.
This had to be tackled head on by government. Besides, the unresolved issue of importation of arms into the country is also fuelling kidnapping. People now buy arms and they use it at random and at will. “Then, we do not have enough policemen in this country.
Lagos with an estimated population of about 20 million, how many policemen do we have there? The same thing for other states of the federation; so, we need more policemen, who are well trained.
“I also think we need to seek foreign help to tackle this menace. We should stop pretending that we are capable. I am not sure either Afghanistan or Libya is worse than us at the moment in terms of insecurity.
Something is not adding up in the way we handle our security in this country.
“The President is the Commander- in-Chief and the buck stops at his table; the failure of the nation’s security is his own failure. There can be no question about that. He is the one that we voted for and he should find solution to it. The menace has spread across the length and breadth of the country.”
Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) called for an enhanced intelligence gathering efforts and military deployment in flash points to tackle the menace. He said: “To tackle the problem, I think we should seriously reconsider the idea of establishing state police.
This is because it is very clear that the police force as federally constituted cannot deal with the issue. “We can also look into having more individuals in the police force to tackle the problem on ground. The country is not well policed at the moment. “Besides, we should also deploy more military personnel to flash points across the country.
More intelligence activities must also be carried out by security operatives to arrest this ugly trend because certainly some of these kidnapping activities appeared organized and well planned.” Dr. Biodun Layonu (SAN) also asked the president to yield to Nigerian’s demand by sacking the service chiefs and replaced them with more capable hands.
He said: “The first step is for the President to listen to Nigerians and sack the service chiefs and if he has superior wisdom or reasoning why he can’t do so, he needs to tell Nigerians.
After that everything else will follow.” Another silk, Mr. Norrison Quakers, asked the Federal Government to put in place policies that would tackle unemployment and turn round the economy as a way of tackling the growing trend of insecurity in the nation.
Quakers said: “I think we got to this stage because of our economic downturn. Even if you kit the police and the military without economically empowering them, these personnel will also be involved in acts of brigandage and criminality. That’s what is going on.
“We have a restive population of youths who are unemployed with no sense of direction. Nothing to uphold or look up to and state of medicare is also in comatose. We have teeming graduates roaming the streets and looking for jobs that are not available. ”
We also have people going into governance as politicians and coming out wealthier and richer. People now flaunt their wealth around without any reasonable means of livelihood and no evidence of hard work.
These people continue to live large. That’s the recipe for the crisis that we have. “Therefore, if we want to address all these societal ills, government must create an environment for businesses to thrive.
There are artisans who can no longer do business because the jobs are no longer there. Whether we like it or not, there are starvation and hunger in the land. “The only way out like I said earlier is for the economy to work and government must come up with policies that will address unemployment and create jobs in place.”
To Mr. Adekunle Ojo, the nation’s security design and structure should be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
He said: “The affront of the herdsmen, the terrorist groups and armed bandits seems to have overwhelmed the country’s security architecture. There is therefore no point shying away from crying to regional commands and strong military presence to facilitate a physical and ruthless onslaught on these sinister elements that has laid siege on Nigeria.
“The military capability of our various forces is under threat just as the ability of the armed forces and the paramilitary structures to protect the citizens have been variously called into question. Should we, as a country, not review the security design and structure as a matter of urgency?
“For me it is not about the removal or retention of the service chiefs but the need to generate enough will, patriotism and strong support for technological approaches to issues of securing the people and property on whosever involved in the management of our security apparatuses from the commanderin- chief through the leadership of respective outfits A former National Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mazi Afam Osigwe (SAN) said security operatives should do more in tackling the menace.
He added that necessary infrastructure and intelligence must be put in place. Osigwe said: “Security agencies have failed to put in place the necessary infrastructure and intelligence needed to nip the menace in the bud.
We are not even getting the right statistics because I believe more people are being kidnapped around the country than was reported. We may never get the accurate number of people that lost their lives either in the course of being kidnapped or while being rescued by security operatives.
“Until the society shows that it is a matter to be taken serious and not only to be concerned only when a high profile individual is kidnapped, we may never get it right. We need to see the capacity of the police and the State Security Services (SSS) in tackling banditry and kidnapping.
What numbers can people call when in distress that help will come their way? These are some of the things we need to do to tackle the problem which has fast becoming a criminal enterprise.
“Police should also device means of arresting those involved in kidnapping and banditry so that information retrieved from them will be used to arrest others associated with these criminals.
Besides, the police involvement in these crimes should be preemptive.
There should be an intelligence network that will give out information about those involved in kidnapping and banditry. It’s all about methodology and building up the capacity to prevent commission of a crime.
“State police may also help in some aspect, particularly, as those in a community where a crime is committed are usually in the know as to who are the offenders.”
Mr. Ige Asemudara called for a change in government saying Buhari’s administration has failed woefully in the area securing Nigerians’ lives and property. He said: “We need a new government, a new leadership, the kind that knows what is right and does it.
Buhari and his party have failed woefully. We cannot continue like this. We need the right leadership to whom Nigerians’ lives matter. “