…….Senate, Labour want FG to take decisive action
Senators yesterday reviewed the security situation, submitting that people in many parts of the country, especially the North, were at the mercy of hoodlums.
They said banditry and kidnapping were now the order of the day, with the rich and the poor fallen prey.
The senators were contributing to a motion on “Senseless killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a holiday resort in Kaduna State by armed bandits”, sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani and 108 others.
Painting a grim picture of things in Zamfara State, which is fast becoming the epicentre of banditry, Senator Kabiru Marafa said over 3000 persons were in bandits’ den.
Stunned by his revelation, the Senate summoned the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to brief it next week on measures being taken to address the problems.
The invitation followed the adoption of the prayer of Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who noted that kidnapping of expatriates had pushed up the cost of construction in the country.
Foreign firms, he said, were building funds for ransom payment into their contract bids.
To lend credence to his claim, two Chinese nationals were yesterday kidnapped at a construction site in Ebonyi State.
Also yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) urged President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the security agencies over the security challenges.
Marafa, who noted that businesses and other sources of livelihood, including farming had collapsed in most northern states, warned that Zamfara might collapse in the next few years, if measures were not taken to battle what he called the suffocating banditry there.
The government, he said, should, as a matter of urgency, engage the youths who are involved in banditry and other acts of criminality.
He said: “There might be no Zamfara State in the next two years if something is not done about the insecurity in the state. I saw a video from my state where children of about 11 years are wielding AK47. This is the reality on ground in my state.
“I disagree with my colleague from Katsina. All businesses in the north are dead. The government must employ people or they will join these bandits. The reason behind this problem is corruption.
“We cannot employ enough security personnel to man every community in this country. Where are we going to? With due respect to my colleagues, with the kind of leadership we have seen in some states, we cannot solve this problem.”
Senator Sani (Kaduna central), in his lead debate, said some parts the north had become killing fields, with bandits and other criminal elements carrying on with reckless abandon.
He said it was regrettable that despite repeated bandits’ attacks, no one has been brought to book.
This, he claimed, had emboldened the bandits and other criminal elements to conduct their heinous crimes audaciously.
Marafa said: “In recent times, the attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many and there is no single person that has been brought to book as a result of the wanton killings. So much talked about efforts at combating the banditry and crime are not yielding results.
“We are worried about the fact that perpetrators of these heinous activities tend to be gaining more courage to carry out their dastardly acts without fear of confrontation due to their acclaimed superior fire power.
“In the unfortunate event of 19th April, 2019, gunmen raided a resort called Holiday Resort in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State; a Briton, Ms. Faye Mooney and a Nigerian, Mr. Matthew Oguche were killed and three others abducted. This has put more fears into Nigerians.
“Ms. Faye Mooney was a humanitarian worker with a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mercy Corps, who had worked in war-torn countries like Iraq and Kosovo helping the needy, the vulnerable and internally displaced persons.
“Recall that earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region when two Americans and two Canadians were abducted in Kaduna in an ambush in January that left two of their police escorts dead.
“Banditry has reached a tragic level in Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states. It is not an overstatement to say that the country is at war. Kidnapping has reached such a tragic level that people are losing hope about the ability of government to protect them.
“In Zamfara State, there are over 3,000 kidnapped victims in the dens of bandits. Banditry is not reducing. It has become a business. There is technically no business in the north, except kidnapping.
“People have abandoned their farms in the North. There are no more peasant farmers in the north. They are being kidnapped by these bandits.