Insecurity and criminality have in recent years permeated into every nook and cranny of almost all the 36 states of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The sad development was alien to some states while others have been there for decades. For example, the issue of kidnapping was not known in the entire northern Nigeria as at 2015, with other issues then taking centre stage, like armed robbery, communal clashes and herders/farmers clashes.
The Boko Haram insurgency started and entirely changed the mood of the region from being the most peaceful to one of the places foreigners are avoiding due to the precarious security situation. Back then, the southern parts were well known for kidnapping, armed robbery and other local criminal activities. The northern states, more especially the north-west, nowadays, houses bandits and kidnappers, which they keep terrorising the sub-region. Although, Zamfara state governor, Bello Matawalle, has done something to tame the problem, while Katsina is making moves, but for Kaduna-Abuja expressway, it has become a no-go area as even the security forces prefer to follow train from Abuja to Kaduna or vice versa.
Over the last two years, high profile arrests of kidnap kingpins were made by the police surprisingly in commercial state of Kano, where the kidnappers hid their victims in their supposed den. Every security agency in the country has major regional headquarters, referred to as zone A or zone 1 and on and on, which, for obvious reasons, is a no-go area. The army’s zone 1 is in Kaduna while police have it in Kano; for customs, it is Lagos for Navy it is Rivers. In all these security agencies, nobody can try to play with them in their named zone, as they fortify such states with high personnel, sophisticated hardwares, etc. Personally, and from the foregoing, I see Kano as a wrong place can’t for kidnappers to turn it to their den, except when the political will is missing.
Kano as Zone A of the Nigeria police with police academy which majority of the past inspectors general of police must work there before they can qualify to be appointed, thus police despite what people see as their inability to fight criminal activities, they will never allow their first home to be facing serious security issues more, especially with regards to kidnapping. The arrest and parading of over 100 criminals by Kano state commissioner of police, Ahmed Iliyasu, will tell how committed the force is to ensure that their zone A is safe, though I am sure they are also trying to control the issue in other states as well. Secondly, right now the director-general of DSS is also from Kano state, which I believe order has already been given to the director in the state to ensure intelligence gathering, and no making of noise so that the kidnappers can be silenced without even the notice of the general public, which I also believe was the reason behind the success of police arresting the kingpin and other suspects in the state.
Thirdly, Kano state now has a Minister of Defence (retd.), Maj.-Gen. Salihi Magashi, he is the second person to hold that position from Kano state since 1999. He happens to be an experienced security officer as he handled the Guards Brigade and was once a governor of Sokoto state. His appointment will definitely give the security forces in the state moral to ensure the state is peaceful and no serious criminal activities, since those that know him said he is a straight forward person and is committed to ensure the Armed Forces did their job as enshrined in the Nigeria’s constitution. I can personally said I saw one because the recent protest against the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa there was no single army, navy or even Air Force officer around the area, unlike the period of the former minister of defence where army were basically doing the police work.
I also noticed even the task force within Abuja, and Kano army, Navy and Air Force have since withdrawn and leave police, civil Defence and other para military to do their jobs. Thirdly, Kano state still have intelligent retired security personnel who can advise the ways to be followed so as to protect the state from becoming the den of kidnappers. These people include the former national security adviser, Abdullahi Mukhtar, former Chief of Army Staff, Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau, who was the immediate past minister of interior, though many doubt his ability as they claim he didn’t do well when he was the minister. Lastly, I am sure with the recent developments the Kano people despite being accommodating to strangers, will always be security conscious, and ensure they monitor the movement of strangers with working with traditional leaders and the security agencies so as to prevent Kano from joining the league of states facing kidnappers and bandits’ threat. It is also important to note the popular saying that security is everybody’s business, so that investors will come and Kano will continue to develop.
Bala writes from Abuja via [email protected]