- How can Nigerians be paying ransom to bandits?
Vice Chairman of Shinkafi Local Government Area in Zamfara State, North West Nigeria, Alhaji Sani Galadima, literally sent more chills down the already battered spines of the nation by reporting to the visiting interior affairs minister, Gen. Abdurrahman Dambazau, that the council pays ransom daily to the bandits that have been killing and maiming residents of the state.
The mental picture of bandits asking five villages to pay N20m to avoid attacks, according to a resident, equally deepens the sense of despair of residents and the rest of Nigeria about the desperate security situation in the country. All these are coming on the heels of the abduction of some school girls in the same state. The Zamfara State situation seems to have unwittingly taken the country by surprise and somehow appears out of control.
From the North East to the North West the security situation appears very dire, with many people killed almost on a weekly basis and the security agencies seem helpless. But the curious angle of the bandits demanding ransom from already frustrated villagers is a very terrible ill wind that blows no one any good.
The demand for ransom from villagers to avoid attack means that the people have become hostages in their own state. The implications are multifaceted. The effrontery of the so-called bandits to ask for and collect ransom unchallenged speaks to the type of insecurity the people in that state and the neighbouring states are exposed to.
The state governor, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari, had earlier narrated how the state government had held several meetings with the bandits and how they are even better armed than the security agencies. He spoke of the failure of the bandits to keep their own part of the deal after each meeting. The security situation in Zamfara State speaks to a lot that is wrong with the Nigerian situation.
We are worried that the security agencies have been unable to get a grip on the worsening situation in the North West. What this shows is that not much has been learnt from the North East that has been in chaos for some years now. If the situation in Zamfara has degenerated to villagers being taxed and ransom demanded and paid, it means that Armageddon is by the corner.
There must be strict security measures for the Nigerian state to take. Where are these bandits from, how do they get their weapons, who are there suppliers, why are the untrained bandits able to overpower our trained security agencies?
The fact that the country seems unable to arrest the bandits and determine their social history shows there is everything wrong with the system where the nation has no verifiable data of citizens and none citizens. With one of the most porous borders in the world, it is possible that the bandits, true to some government admission, are coming in from neighbouring and other countries.
With the exploits of some terrorist organisations around the world, our ‘borderless’ entry points might appear very valuable to the organisations causing unrest and terror around the world. We advise the relevant ministries to be proactive to prevent the situation in the state as the country continues to count the losses from the North East.
We cannot afford to have Nigerians taken hostage by bandits. The consequences of letting this very tragic situation fester would be unimaginable and very devastating for the country, especially with agricultural and economic activities generally now under severe threat. The federal, state and local governments must take the security of citizens more seriously. It is time to plan and take real actions to fulfil the primary duty of government, which is the protection of the lives and property of citizens.