The past one and a half decades or so have placed Nigerians in some misery. It heralded pain, fear and uncertainty. Security of lives and property has been at its lowest ebb. And citizens and leaders alike have been seemingly gropping in the dark as solutions have been slow to come.
But the buildup to the just concluded general election had brought some relief – the odious activities of terrorist groups and other criminal elements seemed to have been curtailed. The terrorists’ bombs were silent and bandits were seemingly on holidays from their kidnapping-for-ransom business that had held the nation by the jugular. That respite, coming on the eve of the elections, was received as the beginning of restoration of sanity that would herald a new dawn which the elections were meant to usher in. After a long period of psychological torment and trauma of citizens by Boko Haram insurgensts and their banditry associates, it is reasonable to expect that citizens cannot wait for a breather which had been promised them by political leaders but never realised.
Arguably, Nigeria has seen the worst of terrorism, whether perpetrated by Boko Haram or bandits, and it cannot be any worse than what citizens have already been experiencing in almost two decades: insurgency in the Northeast, banditry in the Northwest, herder-farmer crisis in the North-Central, IPOB coordinated attacks in the Southeast and so on.
However, for those who are under the direct heat of the inhuman activities of these anti social groups, the long night is getting longer everyday as the booming sound of their guns are thundering every now and then, and refusing to go away.
Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina, Borno and Benue states epitomise the theatres of operation of these deadly groups, and they do not seem to be in a hurry to shift their battle ground. Neither are these terrorist groups seemingly contemplating to give up their nefarious and despicable trade, despite remarkable efforts by the security agencies to send them out of business. Just last week, one of the most wanted kingpins of the bandits terrorising Kaduna, Isiya Danwasa, was neutralised by the military. Ditto to countless members and leaders of the devious groups. But we are yet to see the desired outcome.
So, they are back again, in the forests and bushes causing nightmares to law abiding citizens. Without exaggerations, the days have become unpredictable for citizens of the affected areas where these men who live by the gun have chosen to dwell.
Just last week alone, the bandits struck in Zamfara about three times, leaving behind a gory tale as usual. Three villages in Bakura Local Government Area were targetted in one of the attacks, and no fewer than 56 persons were killed, according to reports. Barely 24 hours after, another seven people were killed by gunmen in Maradun Local Government Area of the state. Maradun and Bakura local government areas share boundaries. Two villages of Faru and Kauyen Minane were the targets in Maradun last Saturday afternoon. Reports said dozens of children were also kidnapped in Tsafe Local Government last weekend.
Like Zamfara, Kaduna has been living under the yoke of banditry for too long. This newspaper can recall that Governor Nasir el Rufai had last year advocated what he called carpet-bombing of all the forests in the northwest region, and indeed, other parts of the country to eliminate the terrorists. That was how bad the situation was. Desperate! And the tale of woes and anguish scripted by the attackers is still reverberating.
On Wednesday, an attack by bandits on Atak’Njei community in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State reportedly claimed eight lives. The gunmen were said to have invaded the community from a nearby bush at about 9pm and randomly opened fire on residents. Just recently, Langson community in the same local government area suffered an attack that claimed the lives of 10 people, reportts said. Cases of bandit attacks in Kaduna are too numerous to be counted with Kajuru, Chikun and Birnin Gwari among others as the theatre of war.
The story from Benue is also worrisome. The State Police Command last week confirmed another attack by gunmen on one of the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps at Agan in Makurdi Local Government Area with scores of fatality.
This attack followed the killing of a traditional ruler in Apa Local Government Area of Benue earlier in the week along with many others before the attackers were said to have moved to Otukpo Local Government Area on Wednesday, killing 46 persons including a 33-year-old son of the local government chairman.
These horrendous occurrences should be a source of worry for anyone and everyone. They are indicators of a major setback to civilization. They’re despicable and condemnable!
We acknowledge the spirited commitment of the Buhari-led administration to tackle this menace which, no doubt, predated his emergence on the saddle. It’s, however, unfortunate that at the twilight of his eight-year reign, bandits and insurgents are still raising their ugly heads and baring their fangs on the citizens.
That Nigerians cannot endure any more pain from these elements is not a subject of argument. The incoming administration should have it at the back of its mind that security remains one plank upon which its successes would be measured.
Nevertheless, we believe that the outgoing administration can still do a lot in its remaining 42 days in office to reasonably push back these elements before it hands over the baton. An extraordinary approach can do the magic.