The Nigeria Police has continued to assign cops to VIPs, including entertainers and businessmen, for personal security, despite the rising insecurity in the country and an order that such escort duties should stop, Saturday PUNCH has learnt.
While checks by Saturday PUNCH showed that at least 269 people, including security agents, were killed by bandits and terrorists in April alone, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said on Friday that no fewer than 323 persons were killed and 949 kidnapped by bandits in Kaduna State alone in the last three months.
Saturday PUNCH arrived at the figure of 269 persons killed in April alone, by collating figures from several reports published by five national dailies, including The PUNCH, in the month.
However, the figure does not include persons killed in communal clashes, by armed robbers and cultists.
The killings, news reports showed, mainly took place in Kaduna, Benue, Zamfara, Borno, Nasarawa, Imo, Ebonyi, Anambra, Niger and Yobe states.
On April 1, 2021, five soldiers and two villagers were killed in the Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State while on the same day, bandits killed two persons, including Dayyabu Jaafar, a former Councillor in Ungwan Fada of Gaywam Ward, in the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna State.
On April 3, 2021, the Chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria in Nasarawa State, Mohammed Hussaini; as well as the MACBAN chairman in the Toto Local Government Area, Mohammed Umar, were killed. Expectedly, their murder was condemned by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)
Not less than eight persons were, on April 6, killed in a church in Kasuwan Magani in the Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State while two policemen were shot dead at a checkpoint in the Takun Local Government Area of Taraba State.
About 10 soldiers were killed in the Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State on April 9 while six civilians were killed by Boko Haram during an attack on a United Nations hub in Mobbar, Borno State on April 10. The terrorists also killed seven in Kwapre, Hong Local Government Area, Adamawa the next day.
On April 14, about 10 persons were killed by Boko Haram in Damasak, Borno State while three were murdered at a burial in the Izzi Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
Approximately 60 persons were killed during coordinated simultaneous attacks in several Zamfara communities on April 21.
On April 23, three persons, including a monarch, Hyacinth Ason, were killed at Tse Zoola community in Benue while the next day, three students of Greenfield University, Kaduna, were murdered by bandits.
Perhaps, the deadliest attack was on April 26, wherein 40 persons were killed in Anambra, Imo, Kebbi and Rivers, a day described as ‘Black Monday.’ Two soldiers and three policemen were among the casualties.
On the same day, 11 Tiv farmers were killed in the Doma Local Government Area of Nasarawa State while seven others were slaughtered in the Abagana Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Benue.
Two days after, 21 persons were murdered in Ebonyi, Enugu, Benue and Katsina. About 19 herders were also killed in Anambra on April 24.
The police had on October 22, 2020, ordered the immediate withdrawal of policemen from VIPs except senior elected officials and government functionaries due to the low number of police personnel.
However, checks by Saturday PUNCH showed that the order was only obeyed partially and for a short while.
In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, the Programmes Manager, Amnesty International Nigeria, Mr Seun Bakare, said the number of policemen available for policing duty was inadequate.
Bakare added that the government had an obligation to protect its population and “the rising death toll in all parts of Nigeria shows just how badly the authorities are failing in this responsibility.”
He added, “There is no doubt that rising insecurity across the country has left thousands dead and many more at the risk of further human rights abuses and violations.
“Amnesty International’s previous research has shown that government’s failure to protect people, especially people in rural areas, is largely responsible for these increased attacks by bandits and other criminal groups.
“Available figures show that the number of policemen available for policing duty is grossly inadequate. This is unacceptable. The priority of the police should be protecting all Nigerians.”
The Police Service Commission had said in 2018 that over 150,000 policemen were attached to VIPs and unauthorised persons in the country, and the number of policemen in the country estimated at 370,000.
This means about 40 per cent of the personnel in the Nigeria Police are attached to VIPs.
However, a former Commissioner of Police in Lagos and Benue, Fatai Owoseni, said the pressure from politicians made it difficult for the police high command to withdraw police escorts.
Owoseni said, “When it comes to withdrawal of policemen from VIPs, it is very easy to blame the IGP or the leadership of the police but it takes political will.
“The IGP may decide to withdraw policemen from VIPs but before you know it, every political appointee, including special advisers, would claim their lives are being threatened and that they cannot perform their duties without security.
“And that is why I say without political will, nothing will change. Even councillors and local government chairmen ask for police security. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Even cooks who work for political office holders now have police escorts.”
323 killed, 36 AK-47 rifles, 1,959 ammunition rounds recovered in Kaduna
According to the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Aruwan, 323 people were killed in three months across the state.
He said 292 of the casualties were males, 20 females and 11 minors.
Aruwan said military troops, however, neutralised 64 bandits and arrested several gunrunners in Kaduna State.
The commissioner gave these figures while giving the security report of state for the first quarter of 2021.
According to Aruwan, the report covered cases of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, attacks and reprisals.
He said, “The report also captured the aerial missions conducted over identified bandit hideouts and locations across the state, during which multiple scores of bandits were engaged and neutralised, with their camps destroyed.
“Deaths linked to banditry, violent attacks, communal clashes and reprisals in the first quarter total 323 across the state.”
Aruwan said the report revealed that 236 of the deaths occurred in Birnin Gwari, Chikun, Igabi, Giwa and Kajuru LGAs.
“Birnin Gwari recorded the highest figure of 77 deaths, followed by Chikun with 52, Igabi, 45, Giwa, 42, Kajuru 20 deaths in the first quarter.
“Southern Kaduna Senatorial District had 68 deaths in total, of which five were women and two below the age of 18.
“Kajuru had 28 deaths, followed by Zangon Kataf with 14 and Kagarko with 12.
“The Northern senatorial zone is the least affected, with 19 people killed and Zaria has the highest casualty of six.
As earlier highlighted, 64 armed bandits were neutralised during engagements with ground forces.”
Meanwhile, some bandits were neutralised by the military through about 150 targeted aerial missions conducted by the Nigerian Air Force.
This was as he declared that during the period under review, Aruwan said scores of gunrunners were intercepted while 36 AK-47 rifles, 1,959 rounds of live ammunition and one rocket-propelled grenade were recovered.
He added that the onslaught against the bandits “were initiated based on credible intelligence of bandit activities and locations of camps, which were targeted and destroyed.”
“Vigorous investigations are ongoing towards dismantling more gun-running networks and block arms routes into the state, as these are central to the perpetuation of violence and armed banditry, through the trade in small arms and light weapons,” Aruwan said.
The commissioner added that the Kaduna State government “reiterates its empathy towards individuals and groups who have suffered terrible losses and untold hardship as a result of violence and insecurity, and of its resolve to intensify efforts towards enduring peace and security across the state.”
Kidnappers of 65 Adara natives, others demand N350m ransom – SOKAPU
Meanwhile, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union said on Friday that the kidnappers of 65 Adara natives abducted from Libere Gida, Kalla Ward in the Kajuru Local Government Area of the state, have demanded N350m as ransom to free the victims.
SOKAPU’s spokesman, Mr Luka Binniyat, who made this known in a statement, said the kidnappers contacted the community on Thursday to make the demand.
The kidnappers, he said, told members of the community that they held 77 persons hostage.
SOKAPU had earlier reported that 10 of the 65 abducted villagers were able to escape a day after they were kidnapped.
Going by latest village headcount, 72 persons – 16 males and 56 females – are being held by the kidnappers.
Binniyat said, “Six days after 65 Adara natives were abducted from Libere Gida, Kallah Ward in the Kajuru Local Government Area in the southern part of Kaduna State, their abductors made contact with the community.
“The kidnappers said that they have 77 persons in detention. They are asking for N350m in exchange for the freedom of their captives.
“Surprisingly, the Kaduna State Government that has made it a habit of churning out daily updates on the security situation in Kaduna State has not made any mention of this mass abduction, which occurred in Libere Gida around 11.30pm of April 22, 2021.”
Buhari meets service chiefs, consultation continues Tuesday
Meanwhile, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Friday presided over a security meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.); and the National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.), attended the meeting with the President.
Others in attendance were the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor; Chief of Army Staff; Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru; Chief of Naval Staff; Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Oladayo Amoo; and the acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
The meeting was held amidst the spate of violence and insecurity that have rocked the nation recently, with many concerned citizens calling for drastic action by the President.
Irked by the development, the House of Representatives had during the week called on the President to declare a state of emergency in the nation’s security sector.
On Thursday, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party added its voice to the call for the President to declare a state of emergency on security.
The party urged Buhari to convene a national conference on security to proffer solutions to the security crisis bedevilling the country.
State House correspondents were not briefed on the outcome of the Friday meeting with the President.
Usually, the Minister of Defence or the NSA briefs reporters on the outcome of such meetings.
The Presidency had also yet to issue a statement on the meeting as of the time of filing this report.
But a source told journalists that the meeting was adjourned to reconvene on Tuesday.
“We have not finished. We will reconvene on Tuesday,” the source said.
Senate won’t call for emergency declaration, says spokesperson
The Senate, on Friday, ruled out the call for the declaration of a state of emergency as part of measures to tackle the worsening insecurity in the country.
The House of Representatives had at an executive session on Tuesday passed a 12-point resolution, asking the President to declare a state of emergency on security, following the recent taking over of 42 communities in Niger State by Boko Haram terrorists.
But the Senate said it was not considering the option for it believed that an engagement with the President and the military authorities would give it better information to work with.
The Senate spokesman, Dr Ajibola Basiru, told one of our correspondents that being a bicameral legislature, both the Senate and the House of Rep were at liberty to address the same issue from different perspectives.
He said, “The Senate has its own resolution passed on Tuesday and it does not include the declaration of a state of emergency.
“That is why we have a bicameral legislature in the country. The House of Representatives has its reason for demanding a state of emergency but I don’t have the details.
“However, my understanding of the state of emergency is that appropriation processes should be supported while extraordinary actions must have to be taken.
“We have asked the leadership of the Senate to book an appointment with Mr President so that concrete decisions on how to tackle insecurity and put it behind us as a nation would be taken because we are tired of lamentation. This is the time for action.”
Wait until Tuesday before thinking on declaration of state of emergency – Presidency
The Presidency on Friday said Nigerians should wait for the outcome of a security meeting convened by the President, Major General Muhammadu (retd.), before talking about declaration of emergency in the security sector.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH.
One of our correspondents had sought to know from him if the Presidency was considering the call for state of emergency by the House of Representatives and the specific steps towards addressing security challenges.
“There was a marathon security meeting today and it continues on Tuesday. You have to await the outcome,” Shehu said.
Buhari’s refusal to address nation, resign shocking – PDP
The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Prince Uche Secondus, said the incompetence of the Buhari-led administration was telling on the entire nation.
Secondus said Buhari should have addressed the nation or even resign.
He said, “It is shocking that such number of people would be killed in one month and the Federal Government would be shifting blames. Under a normal clime, the President would have voluntarily resigned or be impeached by the National Assembly.
“The refusal of the President to resign and the failure of the National Assembly to show the President the way out is also appalling. It is evident that the President is not competent and there is nothing to show that he would change from his many wrong ways.”
Secondus said Buhari’s attitude showed that he did not care that Nigerians were being killed.
“We have unprecedented number of killings, massive sacking of workers, strikes by labour unions and professionals, inflation and lack of care by the government. The President does not even care. You will recall that he abandoned the country when doctors were on strike and went to London to attend to his failing health. We just pray that there would still be a country called Nigeria by the time Nigerians would be ready to vote the government out in 2023.
“Nigerians should appeal to the President to sit up, act like a true father and if he doesn’t have a solution to the many crises facing the country, he should resign. He was not born to be President; after all, he had been a military ruler before. He should be contended with that.”
We’ll investigate those behind killings – APC
The All Progressive Congress said on Friday that it would investigate those behind the killings in the country.
The ruling party said members of the main opposition party should pray none of its members would be indicted after the investigation.
The National Secretary of the APC’s Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Senator John Akpanudoedehe, who spoke with one of our correspondents, however declined to state when the investigation would commence.
He said it was wrong for the PDP to blame the ruling party for the killings, adding that the love for Nigeria should supersede the love for any political party at this critical period.
He said, “We are investigating the killings to know if they are politically-motivated or not. The APC government will carry out the investigation discreetly because intelligence reports are not gathered on the streets or in the open.
“They (PDP members) should pray that none of its members are linked with them. All hands should be on deck at this critical period. This is because these killings affect everyone and not members of any of the political parties.
“The love for a country should be higher than that of being a member of any of the political parties. We should all join hands with the President and our security agencies to get out of the mess.”