From John Adams, Minna
Niger state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello and Senator David Umaru, representing Niger East senatorial district at the National Assembly have disagreed over the security situation in the state.
Both the governor and the Senator have in the last one week and at different for a, bared their minds on the performance of the security agents in the state, especially in view of the security challenge that has bedeviled the state in recent time.
Daily Sun’s investigations reveal that the state has had its fair share of the activities of armed Bandits across some communities, some of whom were involved in cattle rustling, kidnapping and armed robbery.
In this year alone, over 3,000 cattle and sheep have been rustled away by cattle rustlers, and over 20 cases of kidnap were recorded. Although the police rescued some of the victims while other paid their way to escape from their captors, a number of robbery incidence have also been recorded.
It was further gathered that over 50 people have lost their lives to the Bandits, and majority of the bandits are suspected to be Fulani herdsmen who always carry out their attacks on communities at night. The areas that are worst hit are communities in Rafi and Shiroro local government areas of the state with some isolated cases in Mokwa and Gurara local government areas.
The highest number of casualties was recorded in Eboji community in Mokwa local government area when alleged armed Fulani herdsmen, numbering about 50 invaded the community around 4:00am in the morning and killed 27 people including the chief Iman of the community.
Before the Eboji attack, communities in Shiroro local government area were under siege for close to three months following incessant attacks from these bandits suspected to be herdsmen.
Worried by the development the Inspector General of police, Ibrahim Idris, who incidentally hails from the state, had early in the year ordered the deployment of a surveillance Helicopter to compliment efforts of the state Police Command which had deplored 300 armed mobile policemen to the areas, to hunt down the bandits.
The operation which was personally led by the state Commissioner of Police, Mallam Zubaru Muazu paid off with the arrest of about 100 cattle rustlers and the recovery of 1,200 cattle in one month.
The operation “flush them out” lunched by the Police Command brought the situation completely under control with no cases of cattle rustling and kidnapping recorded in the last four months in the state as these communities now sleep with their two eyes closed.
These successes were recorded by the police despite the numerous logistics challenges facing the Nigerian police force, Daily Sun further learnt.
However, all these notwithstanding, the police in the state got the shock of its life last week when the state governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello descended on them heavily and other security agents in the state, passing a “vote of no confidence” on them.
The governor told the security agents that he has lost confidence in them as they have failed in their duty despite the huge sums of money he expends on them every month.
He further disclosed that his administration spends N100million every month on security, amounting to N2.4billion in the last two years without result. He made the revelation when the state council of traditional rulers, led by its chairman, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar came to pay him Sallah homage at the Government House, in Minna.
Hear him: “We spend a lot of money on security but we do not have a safe environment. In Niger state, we spend N100 million every month on security, I am sure that if we spend a fraction of that money on traditional rulers, we will get better results than what we have now.”
He told his guests that the current security challenges in the state was alarming and therefore needed urgent attention. He regretted that despite the huge amount voted and given to security agencies every month, “they have failed in making the state and nation safe as crimes and insecurity seems to have come to stay in the nation.”
To this end, he advocated that traditional Rulers should be considered for security votes so as to tackle security challenges in their domain because to him, the traditional rulers could be more trusted than the security agents.
Bello also insisted that as a government, “we have lost hope in the security agencies in curtailing the increasing rate of crimes and insecurity in the country”, adding that if the N100 million he spends on security every month without result is given to traditional rulers, the state would fare better in the aspect of security.
“I support that we go back to the traditional ways of securing our community, the traditional system worked better in the past and they can do better now if more powers is given to them. I recommend that we give more powers to traditional Rulers in the area of security.”
The governor also described as unfortunate, the new wave of Crime currently sweeping across the state, pointing out that “there is a total breakdown of law and order in the state as criminals are beginning to take hold of the state.
“We need a lot of prayers in Niger state. We are faced with a new kind of security challenges that is unusual. There is a new wave of kidnapping, murder, armed robbery and Herdsmen and community clashes.
“It is a new wave that seems to be engulfing the state. People have decided to take laws into their hands and kill because they have conflict with others; this is to tell you that we are in trouble.
“We are beginning to lose it as a people and as a state. In the past, nobody gets away with murder, kidnapping or crime but these days, kidnappers and criminal kingpins walk the street freely. As a governor, I am becoming afraid because I do not know who to trust or who to talk to.”
Surprisingly, the governor’s bomb shell came barely an hour after he commended the Nigerian Police for “doing a great work” in the state in the area of security when the Inspector General of Police paid him a courtesy call at the Government House.
But Senator Umaru, whose senatorial zone suffered the highest number of casualties from armed bandits attacks in the last one year had a different view on the performance of security agents in the state, especially the Nigerian Police force.
The senator, in a letter of appreciation and commendation to the Inspector General of Police, through the Commissioner of Police and dated June 29th, 2017, a copy which was made available to Daily Sun, commended the leadership qualities and laudable initiative which he said has drastically reduced the level of insecurity in his constituency and the state in general.
“The entire people of Niger East Senatorial District would ever remain grateful to you for the security and peace that is gradually returning to the constituency and the state”, part of the letter reads.
The Lawmaker singled out the Commissioner of Police, Mallam Zubaru Muazu, for commendation for his commitment in ensuring that the state was secured despite the challenges facing the force in the area of logistics.
“We assure you of our continued prayers and support for the exemplary leadership you have provided in the Nigerian security community”.
Senator Umaru maintained that on numerous occasions, the Commissioner of Police had personally involved in operations and had always “responded promptly and positively to distress calls from myself and other constituents, no matter the time of the day and logistics challenge.
“This has in no small measure boosted the morale of your men on ground thereby adding great value to their efforts”.
In his view, the security agents, especially the Nigerian Police needs to be constantly commended rather than outright condemnation due to the number of challenges that the force has to grasp with. Apart from shortage of personnel to effectively cover the entire state, the Police is lacking in operational vehicles.
As it has been the tradition all over the country, the last time that the Niger state Police Command received any form of assistance from the state government in the area of logistics was in 2012 when the last administration under Governor Babangida Aliyu donated 50 Hilux Vans, for special security operations, code named ‘operation Zuma’.
Daily Sun however gathered that the vehicles are no longer serviceable, five years after they were donated.