President Muhammadu Buhari’s many marching orders to the nation’s security chiefs appear not to have yielded the desired results as insecurity continues in parts of the country, putting Nigerians on the edge.
The president’s riot acts to the top security chiefs is as regular as the security council meetings held almost every week at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Yet, Nigerians in some states including Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Rivers, among others are battling with the menace of kidnapping, banditry and cultism.
In the latest marching order to the security chiefs penultimate Thursday, the president during a security council meeting, ordered them to be brutal with criminals and end banditry and kidnapping in the country.
Members of the security council are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas and Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Abubakar Sadique.
Others are, National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan- Ali ,Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Abubakar, acting Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and the Director General of Department for State Service (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi.
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, who made the announcement after the meeting, said the president ordered them to deal ruthlessly with bandits and kidnappers.
He said: “The security meeting was to review the strategy that we are adopting in confronting security issues in Zamfara State especially and other places nationwide.
“The marching order is for us to deal with this issue immediately and ruthlessly and ensure that those bandits are immediately dealt with.”
Previous marching orders
Before this, President Buhari had on April 9 this year ordered renewed and intensified action against resurgent cultism in Rivers. Via a statement by the presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, Buhari ordered increased community and law enforcement action against its escalation.
Also on the April 6 while lamenting the festering banditry in the Northwest, Buhari said: “I have ordered rapid and robust deployment of troops to all the areas currently under attack from bandits and we are determined to tackle this challenge ferociously until these remorseless killers are crushed and utterly defeated,” he said.
On August 8 last year, Buhari had asked the country’s security chiefs to step up their game on insecurity. The order was made at the peak of rising insecurity in the country.
Reports from across the country have however shown that the security challenges have continued, defying the various operations of the security forces.
Our correspondent reports that in Kaduna State, while communities on the Abuja-Kaduna express way say they witnessed an increase in the number of security personnel on the highway leading to less criminal activities on that stretch, respondents elsewhere in the state say criminal activities have continued.
Residents of Rijanna, a community on the Abuja- Kaduna highway where kidnappers usually take refuge, said since last week when there was an increase security presence on that route, most of the known bandits in the area had disappeared from the villages.
One of the elders in the village said for a long time the community had not witnessed the absence of crime for five days until the launch of Operation Puff Adder.
But residents of Kudenda quarters in Kaduna say the criminals have even stepped up their acts by going from house to house to unleash mayhem.
One of the residents who prefers not to be named said many of the people living there had fled as there seemed to be no letting down on the situation.
There were also reports of 10 people who were abducted at Kuriga village of Chikun Local Government Area of the state on Wednesday.
Killings continue in Rivers
Barely 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari gave the security directive, cult gangs have continued to kill innocent persons in many communities in Rivers State.
In the recent upsurge in cult related killings, about 60 persons were killed in Khana Local Government Area of the state. Some of the communities affected include Zakpo and Yehge.
A community leader in Zakpo and the leader of the Ogoni Conscience, Chief Gani Toba, called on security agencies and the Rivers State government to come to urgently assist the community.
At Emuoha Local Government Area, 12 persons were reportedly killed by armed gangs suspected to be cultists.
The Rivers State Police Command said it had deployed its tactical units to tackle armed bandits across the state.
More attacks in Zamfara
Armed bandit attacks on Zamfara rural communities are still being reported despite the launch of Operation Harbin Kunama III by the military. Our correspondent reports that operation Puff Adder was also launched in the state on Wednesday. Though the attacks have not been as frequent as they were some months back, residents in the affected villages told that threats of possible attacks had not reduced.
Residents are still avoiding major routes in the state for fear of being kidnapped. Earlier this week, some people were killed and others were kidnapped in an attack on their vehicles along Shinkafi road, a few kilometers from a village called Birnin Yaro.
“Routes such as Gusau-Magami-Dansadau, Kuceri-Danjibga-Keta-Wanke, Kaura- Namoda -Moriki-Shinkafi and Zurmi-Jibia – Katsina are very risky, especially at nights. This is not to say that one cannot be kidnapped even during the day,” a resident, Aliyu Ashiru said.
The residents however acknowledged recent efforts of security operatives against bandits, cattle rustling and kidnapping.
Increased patrols in Katsina
In Katsina, the recent directives has led to increased patrols and clampdown on bandits. The state police commissioner, Sanusi Buba, on Wednesday said the command had recorded success with the recent launch of Operation Puff Adder.
He said 15 suspected bandits had been arrested after a raid on some criminal hideouts around Rugu forest.
Buba said suspects were picked from Garin Waziri and Mahuta villages in Safana LGA and Ilella village of Batsari LGA.
Some of the suspects are Jamilu Abu, Yarima Lawal, Tasi’u Tukur, Abu Audu, and Samaila Abubakar, all of Waziri village.
Others are Hamisu Bawa, Yusuf Inusa, Rabe Sani, Bilya Yakubu, Ibrahim Bawa, Yusuf Abdullahi and Abdullahi Ibrahim
He said one Sule Musa of Wagini village, Batsari, was arrested in possession of 28 jericans loaded with petroleum product trying to supply them to bandits in the Rugu forest.
Another kidnapper, Shuiabu Adamu, was arrested in Batsari and in the course of investigation, one AK 47 rifle was recovered.
A housewife, Safiya Yakubu, was picked up with a Travor-21 rifle. She told newsmen that the weapon belonged to her husband, one Yakubu of Runka village who is now at large. She said he used the rifle for Kidnapping.
“My husband and some of his friends have been into the business for long,” she said.
New hope from new operations
The armed forces, police and other security agencies appear to have reacted swiftly to the public outcry and subsequent presidential directive. Following the presidential order, the Nigerian Air Force reinvigorated Operation Diran Mikiya, attacking bandit’s enclaves with fighter jets and helicopter gunships.
The spokesman of the Defence Headquarters, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, told that there were no conflicts of interest or activities, noting that all security agencies were working in synergy.
Nwachukwu explained that Operation Sharan Daji was being coordinated simultaneously with that of Operation Harbin Kunama.
He added that recently the Air Force launched Operation Diran Mikiya.
He said all the operations had one harmonized objective which is to ensure that banditry is brought to an end.
During the launch of Operation Puff Adder at Katari Bishin District along the Abuja – Kaduna Expressway, the Inspector General of Police said the operation was being carried out in collaboration with the armed forces and the Department of State Services (DSS) with massive deployment of well-trained, well-equipped and well-motivated personnel.
He said it included combined operational assets from the various security agencies, tailored towards ridding the country, especially the Kaduna – Abuja Expressway, Kogi, Katsina, Niger and Zamfara states of all forms of crime.
The IGP also noted that no police agency anywhere in the world, no matter how well-trained, equipped or motivated, could solely achieve its community security and safety mandate without the support of the community.
He therefore called for the full support and cooperation of the civil populace, particularly, traditional rulers, religious leaders, youth associations, market bodies, cultural associations and professionals among others in the fight.
The IGP also made a special appeal to drivers, commuters and indeed all citizens that may come in contact with police officers deployed for the operation to cooperate with them and show understanding in the interest of public safety.
He warned persons who engage in criminal activities to give-up their nefarious activities and embrace other legitimate means of livelihood or be prepared to face the full consequences of their actions.
In a recent on the spot assessment of the operation, the IGP April 8 in a town hall meeting in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State assured people of the North West and North Central that the police were working assiduously in collaboration with the military and other security agencies to bring the attacks in the areas to an end.