In Nigeria, the bullets of insurgents, bandits, and assassins have cut down the low and the mightiest in cold blood, more often than not, without an iota of provocation. Sometimes, a whole village is sacked, tortured, maimed, killed and their women raped for just a “heck of it” making one wonder about the purpose and the aim.
Three groups of terrorists are holding and squeezing the nation, making it move in a calamitous manner. In the Northeast, Boko Haram is calling the shots. With the possible exception of Maiduguri town, no town or village is safe in Borno state. There are several “no-go” areas in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.
From 2011 to date, about 37,500 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced people in the Chad Basin and the entire Northeast (https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/boko-haram-nigeria)
Among the high-profile personalities claimed by Boko Haram insurgence were Major General Mamman Shuwa, (rtd), he was gunned down in a broad-daylight of Friday November 2, 2012, at his Gwangwe Area 1 residence at the time he was moving out for Juma’at prayer. General Shuwa was a 70-year-old first-class soldier who gallantly commanded the Second Division of the Nigerian Army. The Division captured and won several war fronts during the Nigerian Civil War.
A young Army officer, Lt Colonel Muhammad Abu Ali, was another high profile victim. On November 4, 2016, Boko Haram in Fatori, Borno state, killed him in an ambush. At the time of his death, he was commanding the Army’s 272 Tank Battalion. Other important personalities were Lt. Col. Shonba, Lt. K. I. Salisu, Sheik Ja’afar, and Sheik Albani.
On the part of low profile personalities, from 2011 to date, the killings of such category of people were in hundreds, if not thousands. The climax of Boko Haram brutal killing of citizens was that of Zabarmari on December 2, 2020. The killing was mercilessly made and in the most gruesome manner. Killing through bullet was considered merciful but more expensive, and to them, human life is less valuable than a bullet. Hence, the victims had their throats slit with sharp knives, saving the shots for another time. Over a hundred farmers working on their rice fields lost their lives in that single incident.
In the Northwest, bandits seem to be in control of the region. The residents’ daily prayers in significant towns within the area seek God’s protection against an encounter with bandits. There are many hotspots in Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Sokoto states. People hardly sleep with their eyes closed for fear of banditry. There are flashing points, kind of ‘no-go-areas’ to ordinary citizens except one wants to ride on the back of a tiger.
Killing, maiming, raping, agony, and other calamities meted on people become weekly statistical variables of our dear nation. These have conspired to push it to the third most terrorized country’s lowly position in the world. Nigeria scored 8.314 Global Terrorism index after Afghanistan and Iraq who scored 9.595 and 8.682 to occupy the first and second positions of the 2020 ranking of Global Terrorism.
This most unfortunate position occupied by Nigeria is the direct result of the combined effects of insurgence, banditry, and kidnapping.
While Northeast and Northwest are grounded by insurgency and banditry, kidnapping affects every corner of our motherland with no state is spared. The most embarrassing kidnapping incident was the abduction of 304 male students of Science Secondary School, Kankara, in Katsina state. It happened less than 24 hours, when the President, Muhammadu Buhari, came to the state for a weeklong private vacation. The dastardly act instilled fear in citizens as it took place where the president took the end of the year (2020) rest and refresh for the New Year.
Fortunately, there was no fatality, and the kids were released “unharmed” after six days in captivity. However, no person was apprehended or reprimanded for this ungodly act. The nation just moved on with prayer against similar occurrence(s). Yes, we are a prayerful nation; can we combine prayers and actions?
As a nation, we must wake up to squarely face these despicable acts; insurgency, banditry, and kidnapping. The perpetrators of these acts and the whole country are the losers from these acts of terrorism. But the bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers live in the forest, living a life of anxiety, fear and uncertainty and living by the hour, as they are uncertain of what may happen in the next hour. Many of them may be craving to live an everyday life but cannot with the blood of their innocent victims hanging on their heads. They should stop these atrocities against their kith and kin, and fatherland and surrender. The nation cannot survive these acts for a long time, as every citizen is a potential victim of this terrorism. No country can develop under the yoke of terrorism. What do we do?
The Nigerian leadership has the sole responsibility to initiate a permanent solution to address these acts of terrorism. The government can use both carrot and stick in tackling the issues. Provision of soft landing to insurgents, bandits and kidnappers who genuinely want to repent should be considered. To use the stick, Nigeria must be well prepared to acquire adequate security personnel, equipment, and prerequisite workforce development.
Right now, there are less than 500,000 police officers in the country. They are grossly inadequate to police over 200 million people. There are several strategies – short, medium, and long terms – to address these atrocities to save the country. We must be honest with ourselves to address this calamitous movement of our nation and make it safer for all and sundry. As of today, no one is safe.