President Muhammadu Buhari as a matter of urgency should exercise the powers granted him in section 305 subsection 3(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and declare a state of emergency in Zamfara and Katsina states.
There is a clear breakdown of law and order particularly in these two states where bandits and kidnappers are on the loose, reigning havoc on communities and killing innocent citizens. The government needs to devote more energy into security matters. Indeed, provision of security to lives and property is the primary purpose of government as contained in section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution (as altered).
The Fulani kidnapping and banditry activity has the potential to ignite a civil war in Nigeria if it is not nipped in the bud immediately. The ministries of communications and justice and the National Assembly are inactive and not complementing the efforts of the security operatives. They are not keying into the anti-banditry operations. There is a very important need for inter-ministerial and inter-agency collaboration between the ministries of communications and justice, the National Assembly, military, police, DSS and other security organisations.
The ministry of communications should deploy technology to track kidnappers while the ministry of justice is supposed to work in cahoots with the National Assembly to enact necessary laws to deal with kidnapping and other emerging trends in criminality.
I propose public hanging as penalty for anyone convicted of kidnapping through military courts to be established as soon as possible. Nigeria has to think out-of-the-box for solutions to kidnapping and banditry before it overwhelms the whole country and make the Boko haram insurgency look like a child’s play.
Being a victim of kidnapping myself, I believe that the declaration of a state of emergency is appropriate in these two states particularly in Zamfara to restore normalcy before the kidnappers and bandits push Nigeria to the point of ‘no return.’
I will, however commend the Buhari administration for imposing the ‘no-fly’ restrictions on Zamfara but will urge Mr President to move further by imposing a full state of emergency on Zamfara and Katsina states.
I am of the view that only a state of emergency could stop the present momentum of the bandits to restore normalcy in these two states which are practically in a state of war as bandits are in control of all mega forests in these two states. The areas controlled by these bandits is arguably larger than several states in Nigeria.
It was wrong not to have imposed a state of emergency in Borno at the beginning of the insurgency in 2010 which would have deescalated the Boko haram insurgency. The same mistake should be avoided by the current administration in tackling the menace of Fulani kidnappers.
Therefore, I urge the Buhari administration to act fast by declaring a state of emergency in Zamfara and Katsina to enable the security forces hold ground and have enough room to build capacity to decimate the bandits. I am confident that the Nigerian military has the capacity to decimate the bandits within months if the right security model and welfare for the security operatives are applied. Appropriate allowances and welfare packages should be given to the security operatives to boost their morale to finish the job.
I also appeal to the federal government not to enter into any amnesty programme with the bandits and kidnappers or any other terrorists because amnesty will institutionalise banditry and kidnapping in Nigeria as the criminal bandits are used to free money and will never lay down their weapons unless they are subdued militarily. Many Fulani from neighbouring countries as far as Mali are trooping into Nigeria through our porous borders to collect free amnesty money as they are informed of free cash and cars to bandits and kidnappers by the Zamfara state government.
What kidnappers and bandits deserve is prosecution not amnesty. They should pay for the killings and other criminal activities they perpetrated against innocent citizens and not compensated. Someone cannot kidnap, rape, burn villages, collect ransom and kill innocent citizens yet be compensated. There is no religion that allows for compensation to killers and criminals. They must face justice even if to serve as deterrent to other criminals that crime doesn’t pay.
I strongly call for the prosecution of all kidnappers and bandits who kidnapped innocent school children in Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states regardless of whether they repent or not. The prosecution of the kidnappers of school children is important as it will potentially send the right signals to any kidnapper plotting to attack schools and abduct innocent school children.
It is my fear that the out-of-school children in Nigeria which is currently over 13 million will increase astronomically if the bandits are allowed to continue kidnapping innocent school children as parents will be scared to send their wards especially the girl-child to school.
Ttherefore, a mix of full military force, local vigilante, use of information and communications technology (ICT) and overhaul of the criminal justice system is the solution to the scourge of kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria.
First of all, the ultimate solution revolves around full military force using land and air components. Albeit the land component is vital. Our gallant military should attack and take the fight to the bandits and not wait until these criminals attack them or innocent people.
A situation where security commanders and operatives waited to be given ‘orders from above’ before carrying out their duties as enshrined in the constitution is condemnable because the 1999 constitution (as altered) has given every security operative the go-ahead to take every necessary action in the public good. This trend whereby commanders wait for Presidential orders is what led to the killings during #Endsars protests across the country and the recent Shasha massacre in Ibadan.
The security forces should comb the forests and take the fight to these criminal kidnappers and bandits, dislodge them and build military barracks and shooting ranges in these forests. Only ground assault can successfully dislodge these criminals completely. Air bombardment is but a temporary measure. The criminals will always come back after the air bombs have stopped.
The importance of appropriate welfare package to upgrade troop morale is also necessary for success and should not be taken for granted.
Secondly, I recommend that the local vigilante a.k.a Yansakai should be properly funded and equipped in each community at the ward and local government levels to defend their communities working with our gallant soldiers and policemen.
I also advocate for more funding for local vigilante because a local vigilante has nowhere to run to, he will defend his community with all his heart. This supports the idea of community policing which will keep the vigilante under constant monitoring by soldiers and police. Something like the civilian-JTF initiative of the Borno state government which has and continue to yield positive results in counter-insurgency operations.
Thirdly, I propose the use of information and communications technology (ICT) in tackling the menace of kidnapping. It beggars belief and shocking as to how kidnappers use mobile phones with SIM cards for MTN, GLO and other national mobile networks yet our communication authorities are not tracking their numbers. Why is the ministry of communications not devoting the right energy into tracking the phone numbers of these criminal kidnappers and passing same to the security agencies for prompt action?
It is my suggestion that the right thing to do is to BLOCK all UNREGISTERED SIM CARDS IMMEDIATELY so that these criminals will not have enough space to operate using as many SIM cards as possible. Any SIM cards used to negotiate ransom for kidnapping should be traceable to the user. Our communications ministry must give a marching order to the network providers MTN, GLO etc to block and furnish the ministry with full details of any mobile numbers used to negotiate for ransom by the kidnappers. Loved ones of victims should pass on these numbers to the network providers when they are called to negotiate for ransom.
It is worrisome why the federal ministry of communications is wasting time talking about 5G instead of devoting time and resources into security issues and tracking the criminal kidnappers using the mobile phone numbers they use to negotiate ransom and passing same to the security agencies.
Why is the ministry of communications thinking of using NIN now after many years of kidnapping and use of digital devices to conduct criminality? Why the delay? Are they just understanding the situation after several lives have been lost already and people kidnapped?
Fourthly, I suggest a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system. This overhaul is sine qua non to bringing an end to kidnapping, insurgency and banditry in Nigeria. Currently, there is no specific law or penalty for kidnapping or banditry in Nigeria’s justice system just as there are no laws for rape, pipeline vandalisation, secession activities, etc.
How can the nation stop kidnapping without proper legislation?
If an alleged kidnapper is caught, what does the security agencies do with such a person? There is no specific law to prosecute these criminal kidnappers hence some of them are released on bail or some of them extrajudicially killed in detention. Can anyone imagine that a kidnapper caught with an unlicensed AK-47 and who confessed to killing several innocent people is released on bail?
Indeed, Nigeria’s criminal justice system has failed the poor man.
The conventional courts and laws have failed as they cannot address these challenges of kidnapping and terrorism. Nigeria needs special laws to check banditry and kidnapping.
Why is the ministry of justice so much interested in the affairs of the EFCC, asset recovery and auction of property rather than producing laws to stop kidnapping, banditry and other forms of criminality to protect the poor man at the grassroots?
It is serious concern at the lack of relevant and updated laws to tackle kidnapping, banditry and other forms of terrorism. In this regard, there is the need for an urgent and holistic review of the administration of criminal justice act (ACJA 2015) to apply public hanging as penalty for anyone convicted of kidnapping for ransom.
The National Assembly should work with the office of the attorney general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice to enact the appropriate laws and penalties against kidnapping and other emerging trends in criminality such as insurgency, pipeline vandalisation, rape, secession etc.
Lastly, I will advise the popular Kaduna cleric, Sheikh Gumi, to stay out of politics. He should continue to devote more of his time in preaching the teachings of Islam rather than dipping his hands into political and security issues and trying to convince an ‘unconvinciable’ lot of criminal kidnappers who do not understand the language of peace.
Dr Alkali is a 2019 former presidential aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and convener, Movement for a New Nigeria (MNN)No tags for this post.