Afenifere raises alarm over resurgence of kidnapping, banditry ….. proffers feasible solutions

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural and socio-political organization, Afenifere, has, again, expressed serious concern over the resurgence of kidnapping, banditry, attacks on security officers and continuous herders/farmers clashes.

The body expressed its concern in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Jare Ajayi on Friday.

It would be recalled that reports of kidnapping for ransom, killings, attacks on security officers as well as further clashes between herders and farmers became more rampart in the last few days.

“There is no doubt that government in Nigeria appreciates the need to prevent terrorism as exemplified by the enactment of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (TPA) as amended by the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 (TPAA). The Act makes it an offence to commit a terrorist act, be a member of a terrorist group or provide support to such a group.

It further states, among others, that a person commits an offence of terrorism if he “(a) provides money or other property, and (b) knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that it (the money) will or may be used for the purposes of terrorism.

Unfortunately, going by how terrorism activities grew between 2011 when the law was first passed and up till 2023, it cannot be said that the Act was made to achieve its objective.

According to him, a Punch newspaper report of June 29, 2024 indicated that 24,816 Nigerians were killed and 15,597 persons abducted during the two terms of President Buhari.”
The resurgence has led to the abduction of about 1,290 Nigerians within the first half of this year, according to the same Punch report cited above.

“The fact that kidnapping and related banditry have resurfaced in recent months is a testament that government needs to take urgent steps to enforce the said law” Ajayi submitted.
Instances of how the state has failed to implement the said law included its failure to prosecute five Nigerians mentioned by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) around 2022 as sponsors of terrorism.

Last Sunday, three Indian nationals and a Nigerian were abducted on Sagamu-Ijebu-Ode Expressway; Dr. Tiri Gyan David, a lecturer at the Federal University Dutsinma (FUDMA), in Katsina state was, last Tuesday killed in his residence and his two children abducted; penultimate Tuesday, the army, in a counter-terrorism operation, repelled an attack by suspected terrorists on Isheke Police Station in Ebonyi State; herders attacks on communities in Benue, Plateau, Niger and Oyo States etc. still continue just as kidnappings also occur in Sokoto, Katsina, Nassarawa and parts of Oke-ogun in Oyo State, among others”.

Around May 21, this year, 40 people were reportedly kidnapped at Zurak village in Wase LGA of Plateau state. Early this week, multiple suicide bombing attacks claiming many casualties were reported in Borno State. The list can go on.

Director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Edward Buba on Thursday this week acknowledged the undesirable dimension the menace of terrorism has taken in the country saying that “we are in a state of war”. He said this while speaking at the Strategic Inter-agency Policy Committee briefing in the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja.

Afenifere spokesman who acknowledged the vow made by General Buba that the army is mounting counter-terrorism measures, maintained that it is high time a serious review of the country’s security architecture is carried out.

He added that the disclosure by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, that the government is ready to “close up the ungoverned spaces” with a view to ousting terrorists and bandits is a welcome development. Ribadu had made the disclosure while handing over rescued abductees from Zurmi, Duran and Gusau Metropolis in Zamfara State on 22 April 2024 to the Secretary to Zamfara State Government, Alhaji Abubakar Nakwada.

He, however, quick to add that the government should go beyond talking about the steps it is taking or is planning to take to stamp out terrorism and banditry.
“It is on record that the NSA is conversant with the prevailing security challenges including the root cause going by the lecture he delivered at this year’s convocation of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto. He not only traced the origin of banditry to the British colonization of Nigeria and cross-border criminals, he talked about some of the steps government is taking to put a stop to the menace.

“It needs to be pointed out that we are knowledgeable about the origin of this miasma. What is needed now is to remove it completely as it is threatening the very fabric of our existence” Ajayi recommended.

In the said lecture, Ribadu, after identifying the origin and trajectory of banditry in Nigeria, stated that President Bola Tinubu is taking steps to put a stop to the menace of banditry, terrorism, kidnapping and the like.

“The Nigerian government is adopting counter-insurgency strategies aimed at winning the hearts and minds of the local population, isolating insurgents from their support base and preventing the recruitment of new members” Ribadu had said.

Ajayi urged the government to put into action those strategies he talked about. He said that the plan by the government to engage communities and plug the avenues through which terrorists recruit more members should be put into action immediately.

“Enough lives have been lost. Enough properties have been destroyed. It is high time that a stop must be put to the fear and uncertainty that now characterize our lives”, he stated, adding that government should begin to put various suggestions that have been postulated into action.

Among such suggestions were:
– Immediate constitution of state and local government police
– Engagement with local communities
– Deployment of modern technologies to combat crimes and forestall terrorism.

The spokesman of Afenifere asserted that engagement with local people at various levels is very critical “because those committing the atrocities do not descend from heaven each time they want to perpetrate their evils. They live among or near the people. Indeed, intelligence reports have it that there were instances in which these terrorists were able to operate as a result of collaboration or connivance of some insiders.

“As part of mechanisms to put an end to this scourge, close circuit television sets, deployment of modern technology for security purposes including drones must be effected immediately.” Afenifere spokesman further suggested.

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