The battle to rid Adamawa state of miscreants and criminalities is yielding results as Governor Ahmadu Fintiri has taken the battle to the door steps of the enemy. MUAZU ABARI reports.
Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri took over the affairs of Adamawa state on May 29th, 2019 with a promise to tackle all security challenges, weed out shilla boys menace, kidnappers and other criminals groups terrorising the state and give Adamawa a new security architecture that would stand the test of time.
His decision to draw the battle line between his administration, criminal groups and their sponsors has been applauded by many people. This is because it came to the extent that the fear of shilla boys became the beginning of wisdom in the state.
When they held the state to ransom
In the last 4 years of Bindow’s administration when these criminal elements emerged in the state, they instantly became a law unto themselves and continued to unleashing terror on innocent citizens without being brought to book.
These cult-like groups of misguided youths are believed to have the backing of some powerful individuals and politicians allegedly in the good book of the last administration, a development that made it difficult for security agencies to uproot and bring them to ultimate justice.
Even if arrested and detained or taken to court, investigation revealed that their sponsors would bail them out while they continue in their atrocities. Expectedly, the next day, they are on the streets to target their next victim.
Unfortunately, this was happening in a state already in coma and among other frontline states in the North-east geographical region with the worst deteriorating security situation due to the activities of Boko Haram insurgents at one hand and farmers/herders clashes on the other hand.
This continued to have its tolls on the people resulting in loss of lives and property, displacements of communities and destructions of infrastructural facilities, among others.
Therefore, the menace of shilla boys emerged from unknown destination and worsened the already- deteriorating security condition in the state.
Their mode of operation
Investigation, however, shows that these are youths mostly political thugs between 16 and 20 years who are into drugs and specialise in attacking their victims especially young girls with dangerous weapons like knives, machete, axe, among others, and dispose them of their valuables like handsets, bags and money through the use of tricycles popularly called KEKE NAPEP.
In most cases, they gang-rape their victims to a state of coma, kill and bury their corpses. They have their hideout where they meet to interact and carry their activities which they code-name ‘sambisa forest’ located right within the state capital.
The move freely between Yola and Jimeta even in the day time to carry out their operations and even if they are arrested by the police, the next day, they are back on the streets.
This was the trend before Fintiri assumed office and vowed to flush them and all other criminals out of the state. This resulted in a two-weeks ultimatum given to them to repent or face the wrath of his administration.
Ceasing the bull by the horn
Speaking during his inaugural speech, he clearly stated, “On my watch, securing lives and property shall be the primary responsibility of government. Also the rights to justice, equity, merit, competence and diligence shall prevail. In this regard let me sound a note of warning to the local cult groups currently terrorising our neighbourhood not to test our resolve but shape up or shut out.
“The so-called shilla cult groups have two weeks to reform after which the full complement of the law would be unleashed against them and other criminals terrorising our state. This dispensation shall harbour no sacred cows neither shall we be intimidated by disgruntled elements seeking to derail the wheels of state craft. “
To further underscore the importance his administration attaches to this task of ending shilla madness, Gov Fintiri while hosting traditional rulers led by the Lamido of Adamawa, Dr Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha, who paid him congratulatory visit in the Government House, reiterated his commitments to lunch an onslaught against shilla boys in order to secure the people of Adamawa by all means.
He solicited the supports of royal fathers in the task, promising his commitments to making the state work again.
According to him, “This administration would spare no one found sponsoring or aiding these youth cult groups irrespective of status in the society; whether a politician, wealthy individual, elected representatives or a traditional ruler as the fight against these criminals is a battle that must be won at all cost and by all means.”
Fintiri did not only stop at that, but keep on utilising every opportunity at his disposal to call on the boys and kidnappers to repent in their own interest with a promise to providing them with jobs through empowerment and skills acquisition programmes in line with the sticks and carrot approach.
This battle line against the criminals saw the security agencies especially the police led by the state police commissioner, Audu Madaki taking the battle to their hideouts as he swung into action by launching offensive against all criminals terrorising the state.
In the last one month, the state has witnessed watertight security measures, survelleince, and manhunt for criminals, monitoring and effective checks of human and vehicular movements especially in the night with so many successes which is gradually allaying fears in the minds of residents of the state.
Within a little period of the declaration of war against criminals, over 111 shilla boys have repented and surrendered in exchange for the empowerment programmes promised by the administration.
In the same vein, 68 kidnappers and 252 shilla boys have been arrested and dangerous weapons such as AK 47 riffles, guns, live ammunition, knives, currencies, phones among other items have been recovered as the number of arrests keep increasing by the day.
In the last two weeks, the battle has received a boast as five notorious kidnappers have surrender and handed over 5 AK47 riffles and 336 rounds of live ammunitions to the police command. This is in addition to the arrest of another 40 batch of shilla boys being paraded by the police.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Yola, Madaki attributed the success to synergy between the police and the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association.
He called on other organisations and civil associations especially those they have synergy with Tapital Pulaaku, among others, to imitate Miyetti Allah and fish out kidnappers and other criminals in their midst.
According to him, the repentant kidnappers have not only surrendered their weapons to the police but also promised to assist them to track down others who are still into kidnapping. He expressed satisfaction with the level of supports they have been receiving from Miyetti Allah and other organisations, while urging them to redouble their efforts in that direction.
He honoured the leadership of Miyetti Allah and some of its members as well as some of the officers and men of the command with award for their efforts, bravery and professionalism leading to the successes recorded against kidnapping, noting that all the 40 arrested shilla boys would be charged to court for armed robbery as their modus operandi is the same as robbery.
To further strengthen this war, Gov Fintiri has already sent a bill to the state House of Assembly for a law that would imposed harsh punishments on kidnappers, shilla boys and other criminals which would result in death penalty.
He has also taken proactive measures to tackle the incessant clashes between farmers and herders which have become a recurring decimal that continued to threaten the peace and stability of the state in the last four years of the immediate past administration.
He has engaged these two warring factions in round-table discussions with the view to taking steps towards amicable solution to the problem and curtail future occurrences leading to loss of lives, destructions of properties, burning and displacement of communities.
With these renewed commitments through the stick and carrot approach adopted in addition to watertight security measures put in place by the administration to stamp out the tide of insecurity, the administration is winning the war against criminality as peace which eluded Adamawa is gradually is fast returning as the people are having a breath of fresh air.