By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Nigeria is under siege, no thanks to the rising spate of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, cult clashes and ritual murders. Insecurity across the country has taken a turn for the worse.
Daily occurrence of bloodletting leaves scores in tears, agony and sorrow.
Significant was the alarm raised last week by Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, that a total of 3,526 persons had been killed by armed bandits across the state in the last five years, adding that nearly 500 villages had also been devastated and 8,219 persons injured following renewed attacks by bandits.
“The economy of the state has seriously suffered because thousands of shops were destroyed by the rampaging bandits who had displaced thousands of our people from their places of abode, many of whom cannot sleep with their two eyes closed because of fear”, Yari lamented.
“The government had written volumes of reports containing over 7,000 pages, giving details of the crises right from the beginning to the infiltration from Libya and Boko Haram”.
Government, he said, was “aware of eight prominent bandit camps at different bush locations in the state” and urged that they should all be neutralized in order to decimate the criminals.
Reports across the country showed that security operatives expected to protect Nigerians sometimes even add to the casualties by killing innocent people on flimsy excuses.
Nigerians now sleep with one eye closed, not knowing who is going to be the next victim of armed robbery, kidnapping or ritual killing.
This is notwithstanding that the ruling party has tackling of insecurity as one of its cardinal programmes when it was assuming office nearly four years ago.
Whereas North-East was the zone where insecurity in the guise of Boko Haram was mostly active in 2015 when the government assumed office, insecurity in the name of banditry has since been the lot of the North-West while armed robbery, cult murders, kidnapping and herdsmen killings are a big problem in the North-Central, the South- South, South-West and South-East, forcing critics to accuse the administration of lacking the incapacity to stem the ugly tide.
From the banditry in Zamfara State to the kidnapping and banditry in Katsina, cult clashes in Rivers State and armed attacks in Ondo, Nigerians are embarrassed by orgy and obscene pictures of corpses littering the streets because government has solution on how to arrest the spate of insecurity across the country.
In addition, the nation’s highways have been taken over by armed gangs, killing, maiming and kidnapping.
In Benue State, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes have left thousands displaced.
Analysts blame unemployment, unfair distribution of wealth, influx of arms, drug abuse, lack of prosecution of criminal elements, port birders and poverty as some of the major causes of insecurity in the country.
Many young and able-bodied men end up as thugs for politicians who pay them handsomely even if it offers hope of escaping from poverty temporarily.
The picture sometimes painted is that our security apparatus is incapable of guaranteeing security of life and property whereas foreign investors are dissuaded from coming into Nigeria.
Some analysts have recommended restructuring the polity and decentralisation of the police system as the solution to the insecurity across the country. They opined that until the structural distortions and anomalies in the system are addressed, the monster of insecurity will loom large.
Meanwhile, the situation is giving the signal to the international community that Nigeria is not a safe and secure place and as such not suitable for economic investment and activities.
According to them, widespread discontent and loss of confidence in the system have ways of affecting national political stability and that continued escalation of violence and crises across the country will impinge on the survival of the nation’s nascent democracy.
They added that there should be tinkering with the policy and institutional means of dealing with security concerns.
They called for a legislative and constitutional review of the security sector that will make security agencies and institutions more effective in combating crime and other threats to national security and making them accountable to the political system and structures.
Analysts also believe that our justice system needs to be reformed. Nigerians don’t have hope in the judicial system. To them, justice can be bought depending on your purse. So those who can’t afford to buy justice sometimes resort to self-help and this is why violence is on the increase across the country.
The bandits that raided one of the new generation banks in remote ldo-Ani in Ose council area of Ondo State in daylight is one of the security issues that rocked the South-West of late.
Sunday Vanguard gathered that the bandits had arrived the town three days before the operation to survey the environment before they struck last Monday.
It was reliably gathered that the bandits, after raiding the bank, proceeded to the palace of the traditional ruler of ldo-Ani, Oba Olufemi Olutoye, a retired army general, adjacent to the bank, where they shot dead a police inspector.
A palace source narrated that, after breaking the doors to gain entry and discovered the Oba was not at home, they riddled the walls of the place with bullets.
For over one hour, the gangsters operated unhindered.
During the bank attack, they were said to have killed some of the bank members of staff and customers, including a school Vice Principal, who were visiting the bank for transactions.
While six victims died at the scene, the seventh died at the nearby Federal Medical Centre Owo where he was rushed after sustaining gunshot injuries.
The police deployed to the scene, it was learnt, couldn’t withstand the bandits’ superior weapons until soldiers were invited.
One of the bandits, according to police sources, was arrested at the scene of the robbery by the soldiers and policemen deployed to the scene while others fled with their loot after blowing the bank’s security door and Automated Teller Machine with dynamite.
Four suspects have, in the meantime, been nabbed in connection with the robbery just as Ondo State Police Command spokesperson, Femi Joseph, vowed that other fleeing suspects would soon be apprehended.
Banks in neighbouring towns, especially lkare, have since closed shop because of the security situation in the area.
Consequent upon the development, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu gav orders to security operatives to track down the perpetrators of the bank robbery.
Akeredolu spoke when he paid a condolence visit to Oba Olutoye at his palace.
Represented by his deputy, Agboola Ajayi, the governor described the incident as unfortunate and implored security agents to fish out those who perpetrated attack.
Akeredolu said, “We are glad that some suspects have been nabbed and I am very sure they will create a channel that will lead to the arrest of other criminals”.
He assured that his administration will continue to partner security agencies to nip this kind of incident in the bud.
Akeredolu, however, charged residents of Ondo to always assist security operatives by providing useful information to help in reducing crime in the state.
Earlier, Olutoye informed the governor that the bandits also visited his palace and damaged his door but left with nothing.
In a related development, Afenifere, Ohanaeze-Ndigbo and Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate sufficient leadership by addressing the worsening insecurity across the country.
The main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic, ASUP, equally joined in the call.
While the PDP chided Buhari over the rising insecurity in the country, Afenifere said there was the need to retool Nigeria and decentralise the police before insecurity could be addressed.
Ohanaeze warned against killer-herdsmen just as PANDEF described as extremely worrisome the rising cases of killings and ASUP asked government, at all levels, to be alive to its responsibility of safeguarding lives and property.