Posted by News Express | 6 February 2021 | 362 times
The year 2021 started with a carryover of issues prominent among which is insecurity. There is hardly any part of the country that is not facing one form of security challenge or another as kidnapping, cultism, banditry, insurgency, sea piracy, among others are commonplace with people losing their lives and security operatives overstretched.
It has been long since Nigerians awoke to cheering news, either in the media or from their neighbours, because of increasing security challenges witnessing deaths and destruction across the country.
People who spoke to Daily Trust said it would require political will and active support of various stakeholders nationwide, devoid of mutual suspicion, ethnic and religious profiling, to surmount the daunting security breaches in almost all the geopolitical zones of the country.
Kidnapping, banditry, communal unrests, farmers/herders clashes and cultism are becoming a norm in the South-Western part of Nigeria.
In fact, the six states in the region are witnessing a surge in such criminal activities. As such, many lives and valuables have been lost.
Just last week, at least one person was killed in a clash between two rival cult groups at Coker-Aguda, Surulere, Lagos.
The clash, which was between members of the Aiye and Black Axe confraternities, raised tension in the neighbourhood and forced residents to remain indoors as sundry weapons were used indiscriminately.
Earlier in the week, two suspected cultists in the Ikorodu area of the state were arrested following a clash that left one person dead and many injured.
The commissioner of police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, said in the last six months, 242 armed robbers and cult members were arrested while 148 arms and ammunition were recovered.
He also said 192 cult and 18 murder cases were recorded in the period under review, with 25 robbery attempts foiled.
In Osun State, one person was reportedly killed in Osogbo, the state capital, last Saturday as cult groups clashed during a carnival in the Isale-Osun part of the town.
Also, the police in Ogun State have already paraded 33 suspected cultists this year. Among them were members of the Buccaneer, who were arrested during an alleged initiation ceremony in Abeokuta.
Parading the suspects at the command’s headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta, the commissioner of police in the state, Edward Ajogun, said they were arrested along with three herbalists who conducted the initiation.
In Oyo State, a 60-year-old woman identified as Iya Oluso, who sold roasted plantain at Ilupeju in Ibadan, the state capital, was reportedly hit by a stray bullet during a bloody clash between two rival cult groups on Monday.
The woman and many others died and property was destroyed, leaving residents no longer sure of safety.
In Ondo State, kidnapping is becoming a daily occurrence. In recent times, monarchs, academics, farmers, uniformed personnel, students, travellers, among others, are abducted any time of the day in the state.
The Deputy Registrar and Head of the Guidance and Counselling Unit, Student Affairs Division of Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), Dr Amos Arijesuyo, was recently killed by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers, along the Ilesa-Akure highway.
His case is one of the many recorded in the state in recent times.
In Oyo and Ondo states, the activities of herdsmen, without distinction, have heightened tension, leading to a notice by the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, for herders to leave the state’s forests.
This ultimatum generated tension in Oyo State following the murder of an Igangan-born politician and farmer, Dr Fatai Aborode by gunmen, a few days to 2021.
Subsequently, a youth leader in Oyo State, Sunday Adeyemo, told the Fulani to leave the state on the accusation that some of the herders were responsible for the death of the politician.
However, the Seriki Fulani of Igangan, Alhaji Salihu AbdulKadir, denied the allegation.
A serious security breach ensued when Adeyemo’s men stormed Igangan, during which lives were lost and properties destroyed.
Meantime, it still appears that the intervention of the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) to ensure truce over the quit notice issued by Governor Akeredolu is yet to fully restore mutual trust because on Thursday, the Northern Governors Forum had to issue another statement calling on leaders in the South to intervene.
Also, recently, two young men were killed in a communal clash between residents of Ago-Are and Tede areas of Oyo State. In the process, a police vehicle and an office of the Amotekun security outfit were set ablaze.
There are also records of clashes between residents of some border communities in Lagos, Oyo and Ogun states and personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service over smuggling. Lives were lost and properties destroyed.
In the South-East, there are incidents of kidnapping, boundary and land disputes and threats from the banned Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
However, unlike in the South-West, few fingers are pointing to herdsmen over the spate of kidnapping.
Clerics in the region have become targets of kidnappers. For example, the auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Catholic Archdiocese in Imo State, Moses Chikwe, recently regained freedom after he was abducted last December.
Politicians, business owners, uniformed personnel, traditional rulers and others are also targeted by the men of the underworld.
Clashes among communities over land, boundaries, autonomy and seniority are also giving governors in the region sleepless nights.
Recently, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State imposed a three-day curfew on Aguleri, Umuleri and Umuoba Anam communities, all in Anambra East Local Government Area, following a protracted land dispute.
Also, in Ebonyi State, the police confirmed that eight people were killed during a communal crisis involving Effium and Ezza Effium indigenes of Ohaukwu LGA.
Many houses were razed during the crisis, said to have been caused by a leadership dispute at a motor park. Consequently, over 60 people were arrested.
Furthermore, the age-long rift between Umuode and Oruku communities in Nkanu East LGA of Enugu State has defied several measures for amicable resolution by both the current and previous administrations of the state. It started as an indigene-settler conflict.
Oruku had considered Umuode as one of its “settlers” and as such “they are not entitled to certain environmental resources.” Both communities are now in ruins owing to years of attacks and counterattacks.
In the same LGA, the people of Amafor Ugbawka autonomous community are protesting against the creation of Umuisu as a new autonomous community.
Again, fresh crisis is brewing in Achara community, Nsukka LGA of the state as Umuagwuene says it is the oldest and will resist any attempt to change its traditional seniority position.
The community condemned the alleged move to recognise Amaokpu as the oldest by some people.
Also, three people were killed and four others reportedly abducted in a renewed clash between the people of Usaka Uko in Ikwuano LGA of Abia State and Nkari in Ini LGA of Akwa Ibom State.
It was gathered that the latest conflict between the two communities occurred in the early hours of January 22 when some youths, suspected to have come from Usaka Uko, allegedly ambushed indigenes of Nkari.
On Monday, the serenity of Orlu in Imo State was truncated as soldiers from the 34 Artillery Brigade in Obinze engaged suspected members of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) in a gun battle that lasted for hours, leading to several deaths and destruction of properties, including a church, shops and others.
The ESN was set up by the leader of the banned separatist group, IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu, for “the security of the region.”
None of the six states in the South-South is free from cultism and kidnapping. Renewed communal clashes and sea piracy are also generating tension among residents.
While sea pirates make commuters dread coastlines in Rivers State, kidnapping is on the rise in Edo and Akwa Ibom.
Despite the effort of the Cross River State government at tackling kidnapping and cultism, residents still live in fear.
And hundreds of people are still displaced in Bayelsa State due to clashes between rival militant gangs.
Residents of the state are yet to recover from the losses they suffered after their houses were razed by suspected militants in a fight for supremacy.
Many families recounted tales of woe as they started the New Year homeless.
They are also living in perpetual fear over the recent attack from a rival militant gang.
An ex-militant leader’s residence, Paul Eris, popularly known as Ogunbos, and 20 others, were set ablaze in Peremabiri community, displacing many people in the process.
While the state government was making efforts to ensure that peace was restored, gunmen again attacked Ogila-ama community in the same local government, burning down houses and displacing residents.
A fisherman on the Peremabiri coastline, Mr Jacob Bob, said they were afraid to go out for their businesses as the rivers are no longer safe.
He said: “As I am talking now, I don’t have anywhere to lay my head. My family is also suffering.
The house we were staying in was among those that were burnt down.
And the community is not even safe for us to find another accommodation at the moment.
We are thinking about how to relocate to a safer community until the government puts necessary security measures in Peremabiri. What we are seeing is strange.
Even in the days of militancy, they were not attacking harmless citizens. We don’t really know what is going on now.
We plead with the government, the police, the Operation Delta Safe and all security agencies to come to our rescue,” he said.
The height of piracy in Rivers State was the killing of two youths along Bonny waterways.
The victims, Ibifubara McDonald Banigo and Tamunodienye Allison were shot when the speedboat they were travelling in on their way back from Dema Abbey community was attacked by suspected pirates.
The pirates also brutalised other passengers.
One of the youths who protested over the attack, Emmanuel Pepple, said residents of the area had been at the receiving end of criminal activities along the waterways.
He said one of the deceased had travelled to Anambra State to buy goods. He said the pirates ordered passengers to jump into the water and they sped off with their boat.
In Edo State, the kidnap of the spokesperson of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Bridget Esene, along the Benin-Agbor road while she was going to church, was one of the reported nine cases.
It showed a sustained trend from 2020 when 108 cases were recorded in the state between July and December.
Nigerians in the North East of the country have continued to battle with insurgency, which started nearly 12 years ago.
At the beginning of the year, suspected Boko Haram militants abducted about 50 people along the A3 Highway connecting Maiduguri and Damaturu on January 2.
The incident occurred near the village of Matari when the terrorists blocked the road, robbed and abducted motorists.
Soldiers were also ambushed along Damaturu-Buni Yadi road in Yobe State.
While security forces have intensified counterinsurgency campaigns, many areas are still inhabitable. However, normalcy has returned to some parts of the region.
Since 2009, the Boko Haram crisis has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.
While there has been relative peace in Kano, Kebbi and Jigawa states, residents of Katsina and Zamfara states still live in fear over the activities of bandits.
Despite several security operations, many attacks by bandits, leading to killings and abductions, were reported in January.
As early as the second day of 2021, youths took to the streets of Katsina to protest the rate of insecurity in the state. A clash between bandits and soldiers on January 13 left casualties on both sides.
Last week, in what appeared to be a struggle for territorial control, two groups of bandits clashed at Illela village in Safana LGA of the state, leaving many of them dead and several others injured.
The clash, it was gathered, was between the Mani Sarki camp and Dankarami’s, supported by the Abu Rada camp.
On January 27, Aminu Umar Rada died from gunshot wounds he sustained when his elder brother, Alhaji Kabiru Umar, the village head of Rada, was abducted by gunmen on January 22.
His death came on the same day his elder brother was released by his abductors.
He was also the younger brother to the director-general of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dikko Rada.
Early this week, a man and his two sons were arrested for being major suppliers of arms to bandits terrorising the state.
The state government also said it rescued over 120 victims of kidnapping.
Bandits have also continued to ravage villages in Zamfara, kidnapping and maiming residents in their numbers.
On January 20, 10 people were reported killed while several houses were burnt following a deadly clash between suspected bandits and residents in Talli, Dutsin Gari and Rayau villages in Kanoma district of Maru LGA of the state.
In Sokoto, an unidentified disease is ravaging the state, and it has already killed at least four persons and 24 others hospitalised.
In the last few years, Nasarawa State has witnessed banditry, cattle rustling, and terrorism.
When governors of the North-Central states met in Benue recently, the increasing security challenges in the zone topped their agenda.
From Kwara to Niger, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau states, insecurity is taking an alarming turn.
In August last year, it was discovered that a terrorist organisation known as Darul-Salam, which was chased out of Niger State in 2009, had regrouped in Uttu community of Toto LGA.
Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State had expressed concern over the appearance of the sect and attributed kidnapping and violent crimes in the state to the group.
He said bandits and kidnappers had infiltrated the state from the North-East and North-West following increased military offensive there.
A few days ago, the governor also raised the alarm that members of the Boko Haram terrorist group were regrouping in his state, specifically at the Nasarawa/Benue border and wreaking havoc.
In Benue State, there have been clashes between farmers and herders, which led the government into signing the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law 2017.
Late last year, the state government said the number of attacks on communities by suspected herdsmen had reduced since the coming of the law.
Similarly, banditry is becoming a daily occurrence in Niger State.
The security situation in the state has reached an alarming stage, with increasing attacks, including kidnapping, gradually gaining entrance into the state capital, Minna.
The attacks have spread to 12 local government areas out of the 25 in the state. Residents of Shiroro LGA are the worst hit.
In the last month, many people have been killed, many others abducted and thousands of villagers who were displaced now take refuge in displaced persons’ camps across the state.
Sources from some of the villages attacked told Daily Trust that they had lost count of the number of people killed. They said the number of casualties ran into hundreds.
The villagers said they were also made to pay ransom to secure the release of their kidnapped kinsmen.
For quite some time, Plateau State became notorious for crises, arising from deadly night attacks on villages, farmers-herders clashes and cattle rustling.
However, in recent times, these seemed to have been subdued, but with cases of isolated killings and kidnapping for ransom now becoming the major security challenge.
The relative peace in the state is attributed to the presence of Operation Safe Haven, a multi-security task force, as well as several peaceful meeting with warring parties, organised by the state government.
In Kogi State, kidnapping and armed banditry are posing a serious security threat. Clashes between farmers and herdsmen are also wreaking havoc. Many people have been killed and others injured.
Last week, no fewer than 18 traders were kidnapped in the state before they were later released.
On Monday, 14 people were kidnapped in the western flank of the state, but eight of them were released on health grounds.
To bring the spate of insecurity in the country under control, security operatives have continued major operations with renewed vigour. And they have been recording successes.
The appointment of new service chiefs is expected to improve on the onslaught against insurgents, bandits and other criminal elements.
On January 16, Marte, a strategic town in Borno State, was recaptured from the Boko Haram by the military. The insurgents had overwhelmed two military formations in a surprise attack.
Between December 31, 2020 and January 6, 2021, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji and others carried out several operations, which led to the rescue of abducted persons, neutralisation of insurgent groups and bandits, as well as recovery of arms and ammunition.
Troops of Operation Sahel Sanity also arrested two suspected armed bandits on New Year’s day following a tip-off at Maraban Maigora in Faskari LGA.
According to the coordinator, Defence Media Operation, Major-General John Enenche, preliminary investigation revealed that the suspects had a connection with a notorious leader of an armed bandits’ gang in Madachi village of Sabuwa LGA.
Also, between December 31, 2020, and January 6, 2021, troops of Operation Lafiya Dole sustained their operations. Within the period in focus, several ISWAP elements were neutralised and their structures destroyed during air strikes conducted at the Tumbun Gini area of Borno State.
Similarly, on January 1, the air task force destroyed Boko Haram’s settlement and neutralised some of their fighters at Mana Waji during airstrikes at Kote Kura and Bulama Isamari within the Timbuktu Triangle in Borno State.
A series of air patrols and intelligence surveillance, as well as air cover for surface troops, have been continuously conducted across the zone.
In the North-Central zone, on January 2, 2021, troops of Operation Safe Haven, in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), arrested a suspected member of a notorious kidnap gang, Suleiman Tanko.
The suspect was picked up at a clinic in Ungwan Carpenter, Jema’a LGA of Kaduna State, where he was receiving treatment for gunshot wounds sustained during a recent kidnap operation foiled by troops.
Another kidnap kingpin, Malam Abdulmuminu Nuhu, was also arrested at Fobur village in Jos East LGA of Plateau State on January 3.
The same day, troops of Operation Safe Haven apprehended three suspects, David Kure, Peter Adamu and Bulus Duniya, in connection with the alleged murder of a Fulani herder at Matyeu village of Zonzon district in Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State.
Two other suspects, Mathew Peter (the prime suspect) and Dakachi Yohanna Chawei, were arrested in connection with the murder, on January 4.
All the suspects are presently undergoing preliminary investigation.
Troops of Operation Delta Safe are also launching offensives against criminals. Within the period under review, acting on credible intelligence, a patrol team of the Nigerian Navy located a wooden boat laden with about 200,000 litres of substance suspected to be crude oil.
Similarly, an illegal refining site with nine storage tanks and four ovens containing crude oil estimated to be about 150,000 litres was discovered at Olaipase creek in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
Another illegal refinery site with 15 storage tanks and eight ovens was also discovered.
On January 17, 2021, in response to a credible intelligence report on the movement of 30 armed bandits with rustled animals at Bungudu LGA Area of Zamfara State, troops of Forward Operating Base, Kekuwuje, recovered 24 cows and an unspecified number of sheep.
Between January 14 and 20, 2021, troops destroyed seven Boko Haram and ISWAP gun trucks and killed many of them.
This occurred when the terrorists attempted to attack troops at the outskirts of Marte.
This is in addition to other achievements recorded by security operatives in the fight against insecurity in the country. (Daily Trust)
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