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Inter-State Journeys Now High Risk in Nigeria

…As kidnappers, killers lay siege to major roads …Murder of Fasoranti’s daughter, others mirrors nation’s hopeless situation …Country risks DR Congo, Colombian experience

The brutal murder Friday of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Reuben Fasoranti,national leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, by suspected Fulani herdsmen along the Ore-Sagamu Expressway at Kajola Village in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, has again strengthened a recent report that terrorists had established thousands of pockets of militia bases across Nigeria from where they ambush and unleash terror on innocent citizens.

A police spokesman in the state, Femi Joseph, who confirmed the attack was quoted as saying that the bandits ambushed the victims and that a man was also kidnapped in the process.

According to Joseph, “Young Shall Grow Motors Limited, a Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep with Registration Number LAGOS AAA 147 FM and a Toyota Camry were involved in the incident. The vehicles were ambushed by gunmen at Kajola on the Benin-Ore Expressway around 2pm.”

One of the recent videos going viral on the social media about some people who were shot at by suspected killers along Benin-Ore road showed private vehicles riddled with bullets. The bandits scampered into the bush because of repelling shots from some travelling escort who happened to be at the scene at that material point in time.

A woman, a tutor with one of the highbrow schools in Lagos, who was at the centre of it all, later narrated their near-death experience.

“It was last Monday, July 8, 2019. We (my husband, daughter and I) were returning from a burial in Anambra State. Shortly after Okada Junction, suddenly, we saw someone emerge from the bush, shooting pointedly at on-coming vehicles. What saved the day was a MOPOL, the escort, that goes with my husband.

He quickly alighted and responded fiercely. The armed man ran back into the bush. The bullets from his AK 47 had shattered windscreen of two vehicles and torn some parts of the vehicles. It was a narrow escape,” she said.

The woman, whose name is not mentioned here for security reasons, lamented: “I thank God for saving our lives, but no one knows how many other Nigerians that may have been kidnapped at that very point or would be abducted minutes, days or weeks at that very spot after our miraculous escape. From our experience, I think the security situation is even worse than it is being reported, because it is he who feels it that knows it. And people are going through that hellish experience every day. Majority of them are not being captured in the media. Nigeria is really under fire.”

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The Nigerian security challenge seems to be worsening by the day. It also appears that efforts by the Federal Government to rein in the ugly situation may not have struck the right cord yet, despite series of security meetings at the highest level of government.

The ugly state of affairs is affecting the country in all fronts. Businesses are being affected as people no longer travel freely either to render services or supply goods. Inter-state transporters are complaining of low patronage as volume of passengers has drastically reduced.

It has also affected agric productivity as farmers have abandoned their farms. In all, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is being negatively impacted.

Although Nigeria is not in a full-blown war situation, informed analysts say the country is in a low-grade war, and this has reduced the quality of life as though it were DR Congo, where security has since taken flight.

Nigeria also appears to be sharing brotherhood with Colombia, whose level of insecurity is pronounced as a result of activities of drug barons that have made the vast parts of the country inaccessible.

A few weeks ago, the British Government had advised its citizens against travelling to about 21 states in Nigeria. The warning, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom, is as a result of the growing security concerns in the country.

The FCO noted that attacks by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East, raids by bandits in the North-West and militancy in the South-South, have worsened the security situation in the nation.

The states that made the infamous list were Borno State, Yobe State, Adamawa State, Gombe State, riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, and Cross River States, within 20km of the border with Niger in Zamfara State.

The FCO advised against all but essential travel to Bauchi State, Zamfara State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Jigawa State, Katsina State, Kogi State, within 20km of the border with Niger in Sokoto and Kebbi States, non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Abia.

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The insecurity in Nigeria has become so scary that people now dread major roads. There have been several accounts of survivors who were kidnapped, robbed or raped by bandits on that route.

As a result of the increasing menace of kidnappers along the Abuja-Kaduna road, for instance, many people have resorted to boarding train instead of going by road. Even at that, BDSUNDAY gathered that the trains now move under heavy security escort as the kidnappers have also resorted to attacking the passengers on train tracks.

The highways in Nigeria have become “high way to hell”, as no day passes without gory tales of abduction for ransom and rapes of innocent commuters.

Today, almost all the major roads in the country have been taken over by kidnappers and ritual killers, making inter-state commuting a high-risk venture.

Some years back, when a notorious gang under the leadership of Osisikankwu took over Abia State and made lives uncomfortable for indigenes, the then Goodluck Jonathan administration gave the bandits no breathing space until they were subdued.

Osisikankwu, around whom was weaved a myth of invincibility, succumbed to the superior power of security agents.

What has become very difficult to understand in the spate of killings and kidnappings across the country is the seeming inability of governments at all levels to stem the ugly tide.

Chidi Amuta, a publicist and former university don, in an interview with BDSUNDAY, said that it appeared the state has lost the capacity to guarantee security of lives and property.

“The capacity of the state to guaranteeing security of lives and property is also a function of the state of the economy. It is the duty of the state to buy guns, to maintain a police force, military and all which is superior to those of the ones challenging them. But a situation where non-state actors are now challenging the state, in the area where the state used to have monopoly; then there is problem,” Amuta said.

According to him, “In those days, if you hear that government is coming, you run away because government has uniform and has big guns. But today, uniforms and guns are no longer a monopoly. In fact, non-state actors- the militants and all the others- have bigger guns. Theirs is even more frightening. Armies and soldiers have a protocol for deployment of forces. Now, a militant or terrorist has no protocol, they have no rule of engagement; in fact, the bigger the gun a person wields, the more the person is a commander. And as a result of that, insecurity which breeds instability becomes the order of the day.”

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The escalating incidence of kidnapping said to be perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen, BDSUNDAY gathered, was one of the reasons the Federal Government’s RUGA settlement policy was stoutly resisted across the country.

Martins Onovo, a former presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), in an interview with BDSUNDAY, said: “Look at Ruga; how simple can it be? I take the land of Christian, an animist farmer, and hand it over to terrorist Islamic Fulani herdsmen. How well can you define Islamisation? Now, when I hand over this land; the Fulani herdsmen and the terrorists settle there, it becomes a militia base for further attack.”

Cabinet; game-changer or business as usual?

Ask any of the ministers, they would tell you that they performed excellently. In fact, some would score themselves 80 percent. They would rather blame the system rather than themselves for whatever was their rating in the eyes of the Nigerian people.

While they engage in self-adulation, there is nothing much on ground to justify their occupation of the seats for over three years. Some ministries were so quiet that it appeared there were no activities or rather there were nothing to do there. Many of the ministers were not even heard let alone seen; their faces were only shown on camera during the weekly Federal Executive Council meetings.

But we hear that about 70 percent of those ministers are likely to return, and people are wondering, to do what? The President himself came out last week to confess that some of the ministers were forced on him by some interests in the party; if it is so, is it likely that he would tread that path again? Good a thing, he has promised to assemble a formidable team this time around. Nigeria is sick, needing urgent healing in all fronts.


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