The year 2018 opened up like a beautiful door whose interior was not yet discerned but full of surprises lurking around every corner.
Unfortunately, the first peep after the door was opened in the new year suddenly unleashed on Nigerians mayhem and several other killings around the country, especially in Rivers, Nasarawa, Lagos, Borno and Benue states.
That of Benue and Rivers states was even more gory and painful.
The victims were innocent Nigerians who were with their families when danger, wearing the mask of Fulani herdsmen, struck and claimed over 20 lives. I had thought the people of Benue, especially their retired uniformed men, would stand up to the occasion and brace up to assist government, instead they joined the mourners. This is a state with the highest number of retired uniform men, yet their patriotic oath was not debased.
How come they all stood aloof and even waited for the herdsmen to strike the second and third time, with no consequences? I am not instigating revenge here, but it is said that a stubborn problem needs a stubborn solution. I know that every local government in the state can boast of hundreds of retired uniform men either from the Armed Forces, police or other para-military agencies. One would have expected the mourning governor to have, after the fist incident, called on each local government area chairman to set up vigilance groups and arm them with light weapons like double-barrel guns to specifically keep watch in their area of jurisdiction with a strong mandate to arrest any herdsmen found with a gun without license.
To further stretch the discussion, one needs to ask the question why is Benue state attractive to these Fulani herdsmen? It has lush grasses and water for their cattle. But why should the natural blessing of Benue State turn out to be their Achilles’ heel? A check on the records since President Muhammadu Buhari came into office shows that even the Benue State government has lost count of those killed by Fulani herdsmen in the state. All they do is append the words “several killed” to describe the figure. Very unfortunate!
I think the National Assembly should by now be having a re-think of that portion of the Constitution that mandates the Inspector-General of Police to provide security for life and property, with a view to amending and strengthening it with a clause that could remove the IGP, should there be recorded breach of security in more than three states of the federation at the same time. In this instance, it is even more absurd to hear the IGP describing such a monumental security embarrassment as “mere community clash,” after dispatching a Deputy Inspector-General of police and Assistant Inspector-General of police to the aggrieved state; yet, the Fulani herdsmen sneaked into the state and added more victims to their long list. Woeful outing indeed!
The way things are going in the country, one has to pointedly ask if we still have security in the land.
Again, on New Year Day, worshippers returning from a cross-over service in Rivers State were mercilessly gunned down by armed men who escaped but were later gunned down by a Joint Task Team of the Department of State Service (DSS) and the military with the police at the background. The hoodlums were identified as Prince Igwedibia, popularly known as Ikechukwu Adiele, and Lucky Ode.
That they were killed for the massacre of over 23 innocent worshippers makes it more heart-warming. But the question on the lips of many is, when did the Nigeria Police abdicate its lawful role as the face of internal security to the extent that the military and the DSS (that was not used to brandishing guns in public) have now become the frontrunners of the fight against kidnappers and other notorious criminals in the country? What this depicts is simple that we have on our hands a failed police institution.
It has even got to the stage where the President has to issue a directive to the IGP to immediately relocate with his DIG operations, AlG, CP and 10 units of mobile police (a unit comprises of 62 men plus one officer, amounting to 63 personnel); in other words, the IGP only deployed 630 armed mobile policemen to Benue State. Why this is laughable is that when it comes to election monitoring, the IGP would announce to the world that he has dispatch over 23,000 armed personnel, armored vehicles and would even over drum it in the media.
Another aspect of the River State operations is that the killing of the three suspects completely deprived the police the opportunity to interrogate the killers and obtain information, though they described them as “notorious kidnappers, cultist, robbers and arsonists.” The military is trained to aim and bring down its human targets but the police are better trained to either demobilise or capture suspects. This is why it is becoming worrisome the way the Nigeria Police, due to its ineptitude, has almost abdicated its role. Imagine the IGP being directed to relocate to the theatre of violence. No one asked former IGP M.D. Abubakar to visit Plateau State when it was boiling before he directed his boisterous DIG, Operations, Mr. Haruna John, though, unfortunately, his police chopper crashed. The IGP should brace up because the atmosphere is radically changing with the evil wind of election campaign drawing near, one is jittery and must ask if indeed we have security in the land.
1: Re-examine your undergraduate son (or daughter) whenever he/she returns home for holidays.
2: Ensure that the security personnel wanting to arrest you show you his or her identity card.