We join millions of Nigerians to express our dismay at the recent claim by Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai, that Nigeria is safer now than it was five years ago.
While at a sit-out programme with Wounded-In-Action, WIA, soldiers at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna on Sunday, July 26, 2020, Buratai was reported as telling the WIAs: “I am equally happy that we are living in peace and Nigeria is now safer than (sic) we had five years ago”. Really?
We wonder which Nigeria Buratai is referring to. We would also want Buratai to make public facts at his disposal to justify this provocative claim.
Independently-verified facts at our disposal (which are also in the public domain and the glare of the world) paint a very different picture. In 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari-elected government assumed office and Buratai and other Service Chiefs were appointed, there was nothing like the North West “Bandits”.
What we had then were sporadic reports of cattle-rustling, which is a routine crime. In the five years referred to by Buratai, the North West “Bandits” have morphed into another full-scale criminal insurgency force.
The North West “Bandits”, which reportedly had their origins in the dark plots of evil politicians, have expanded their operations from their original Zamfara forest hideouts and now operate in six states – Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and of course, Zamfara.
A recent report published by a coalition of independent groups such as the Assessment Capacities Project, ACAPs, Mercy Corps and Save the Children revealed that the North West “Bandits” are responsible for the death of 4,900 as of July 2020.
According to the report: “Attacks have included shooting and killing, cattle rustling, kidnapping, rape, torching of entire villages, and looting of valuables, and the numbers of fatalities and displaced people have been on the rise.
“By September 2019, such attacks had internally displaced over 160,000 people and produced more than 41,000 refugees. Displacement numbers now stand at over 247,000 IPDS and some 60,000 refugees”.
We wonder if Buratai is aware of this report, or maybe, he has contrary facts to debunk them? This is a source of insecurity that has for years threatened even the President’s home state, Katsina; and hometown, Daura.
In fact, the “Bandits” had on May 2, 2020, abducted a Daura traditional ruler and in-law of President Buhari, Alhaji Musa Umar. He was released after a hefty ransom was allegedly paid. Is this what Gen. Buratai calls “living in peace”?
Buratai’s claim is also nullified by the recent series of protests and burning of Buhari’s billboards by Katsina residents, and the open admission of failure to protect the people by Governors Aminu Masari of Katsina and Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna.