What is happening in the Northern part of the country, especially the rise of heavily armed bandits, should trouble any reasonable “government” and all citizens.
The circumstances of abduction have changed from the days of the Chibok girls’ saga. The action of Boko Haram in 2014 was a case of terror. But it appears the new style bears semblance of a thriving business model.
Bandits appear to be the business arm of Boko Haram. For Shekau, abduction is about bloodletting and public killing. But it appears as though these bandits are using abduction of students to raise funds. Despite the claims by the government that the rescue of abducted citizens are products of security operations; in actual truth, government stories most often have loopholes.
Following the release of the Kankara boys, the government had waxed lyrical, attributing the feat to the military. However, several insider sources and the accounts of some of the released captives indicates that the government paid a hefty ransom to secure their release.
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This week, bandits “terrorists” again abducted some kids in Niger State, and from all indications; it is going to be a cash out affair. The President has issued a lame “directive” again to the military; while the Senate on Wednesday had their usual long debate on security with a similar tired directive to the President to “do something.”
The wheel of cluelessness made a full round with the reckless statement by the Minister of Defence; Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd) who did not only blame the villagers for the abductions; but also asked Nigerians to defend themselves. This, in the face of bandits, who came armed with RPGs and other manner of sophisticated weapons.
“It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards.
“At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition. When they fire shots everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us.
“I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capabilities to defend themselves,” he ranted during a recent interview.
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There is a lot to unpack from the statement. First, a retired Major General is asking citizens to face armed insurgents based on his guess that such insurgents are armed with only three rounds of bullets, the same insurgents we saw with RPGs.
Secondly, even if the attackers had only three rounds of ammunition based on the guesswork of Mr Defence Minister; should the villagers or school children should use their catapults to repel the attackers? Or is the Minister telling everyone to get a gun?
Perhaps, he expects them to act like the girl at Government Secondary School in Ikot Ewa, Cross River State; who brought a gun to school to settle scores with her teacher? The minister should be clear in his directive.
The obvious question is, why do we need a Defence Minister and the Service Chiefs? If the policy is for everyone to buy a gun and protect himself and his family; then what’s the point of having a security apparatus? Since Mr Magashi wants to be silly, we should all be silly together.
But one thing is clear, Nigerians are not cowards. He is the coward who stayed on a job he has neither the competence nor the skills for.
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Back to the business side of kidnappings.
Indeed, kidnapping appears to be one of the most lucrative businesses (politics being number 1 though); for anyone to be engaged in today, thanks to the government. There is a reason why Americans use this popular phrase “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
Every time the government negotiates the release of abducted citizens, the government is placing a price tag on everyone. Every government must control the monopoly of violence.
In fact, each negotiation puts all schools across the country at risk. It is a fact that some state governments are fond of negotiating with these terrorists. Last week, Sen Uba Sani from Kaduna State accused some states of negotiating with these terrorists. He made the allegation during a debate on a motion on security.
As a matter of fact, why is the government still calling the insurgents in North bandits? They are not bandits, they are terrorists. Now they are in Niger state, a state in proximity to the Federal Capital Territory.
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Are we sure these terrorists are not linked with Boko Haram and ISWAP? These groups could be linked. Every terror organization has an MO of involving in other enterprises to fund their activities. Kidnapping, drug running, trafficking, smuggling, gun-running, money laundry etc. are favourites for terror groups. Al-Qaeda under Bin Laden perfected the use of both legitimate and criminal financial sources to finance its activities.
This should be of utmost concern to the government. Despite the bombardments, how is Boko Haram still getting those Toyota Hilux vehicles they are using? Where are they getting the funds to buy guns? Where are they getting funds to sustain themselves? The National Intelligence Agency should be in the right position to answer these questions.
If it operates like terrorists, act like terrorists, fights like terrorists, then they are terrorists.
Which is why Sheikh Gumi’s intervention should be condemned by all. By now, the DSS should have picked up the Islamic cleric who has appointed himself as the patron of these groups.
Unfortunately, under President Buhari, the country is snowballing into a state of anarchy. But it appears that the incompetency of this administration is the catalyst needed to hasten the process.