By the turn of the week, the casualty figure from the killings in Giwa area of Kaduna State would have increased beyond the 40. Yes, 40 people were killed by criminals nicknamed bandits, who attacked the area last Sunday.
There is no known reason for the focus on Giwa, which had suffered similar attacks in the past. The invaders, who attacked the area on motorcycles carrying three persons on each bike did not segregate their victims along faith or tribe. They killed without minding who the victim was. However, the interesting thing here is that, thus far, there have been no reports of reprisals or claims that the attacks were genocidal or pre-planned to exterminate any ethnic group in Kaduna State. Somehow, it seems that the people of Kaduna are beginning to accept the reality that violence and bloodshed in parts of the state are not necessarily genocidal.
This comes in contrast to the situation in Nasarawa State, where more than 45 persons were killed and several others left with injuries in reprisals on Chabo, Daa, Wuchi, Tse-Udugh, Hagher and Shankodi, said to be predominantly Tiv communities of Obi, Awe and Lafia local government areas, allegedly by persons said to be on a mission to avenge the alleged killing of one of theirs in the area. Imagine what the situation in Kaduna would have become had any group in Giwa accused any religion or ethnic group of the killings and then instigated a retaliation like in Nasarawa.
I guess the Kaduna reality with bandits is the reason Gov. Nasir el-Rufai said in October 2021, while presenting to the public the Kaduna State Security Incidents Report for the Third Quarter of 2021, at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, that “We in the Kaduna State Government have always aligned with the declaration of bandits as insurgents and terrorists. We have written letters to the Federal Government since 2017 asking for this declaration because it is the declaration that will allow the Nigerian military to attack and kill these bandits without any major consequences in international law. So, we support the resolution by the National Assembly and we are going to follow up with a letter of support, for the Federal Government to declare these bandits and insurgents as terrorists, so that they will be fair game for our military.”
El-Rufai’s position agrees with the views of a cross-section of Nigerians who believe that Nigeria is being gradually, and steadily, lost to bandits. In a November 13, 2021, interview with Tribune newspaper, Hon. Idris Gobir, an aide to the Minister of Police Affairs, commenting on the situation in his home state of Sokoto, said: “Apart from Gangara, there are many other communities under their (bandits) control. As we are talking, no fewer than 59 communities have paid fines to the bandits so that their people could move freely.
Gadawa paid N500,000; Tundun Wada paid N1 million; Nasarawa, N600,000. You can see all these villages, 59 of them, with some having even paid up to three times. Gatawa is faced with another demand of N5,000,000 after they have paid N11,850,000. There is also Zango, a small village, with a demand of N2,000,000 payment. About 70 per cent of these villages have paid these monies. In Gangara, which is under Gatawa district, there are about 85 villages that are not engaging in farming because of the activities of these bandits. The communities have to pay about N25 million to the bandits. They are currently demanding another N27 million from the same Gatawa district.”
In Plateau State, the Emir of Wase, Alhaji Muhamad Haruna, confirmed that 50 per cent of Waseland has been taken over by bandits and the people can no longer cultivate their lands. He said: “A lot of us leave the villages to the city to look for greener pastures because we cannot afford to go to our farms.
This is not because we are lazy to be given fish. If the atmosphere is conducive for us to work on our farms, the number of people in the city will reduce because they will go back to the villages. We want to farm because of the vast land we have, which God has blessed us with. There is basically nothing you cannot farm in Wase. Unfortunately, 50 per cent of the landmass has been taken over by terrorists. Our people cannot go to farm.”
A summary of the killings and violence, by bandits and terrorists across Nigeria, published on the website of the Council on Foreign Relations, stated thus, “December 4: Boko Haram/Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) launched a rocket attack on Maiduguri, Borno; there were no casualties; December 4: Kidnappers abducted nine in Ethiope East, Delta; December 4: ISWA kidnapped an “unspecified number” (estimated at ten) in Kaga, Borno; December 5: Kidnappers abducted thirty-six in Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna; December 5: Communal violence led to three deaths in Kirikasamma, Jigawa; December 6: Pirates kidnapped a Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps operative and four oil workers in Southern Ijaw, Bayelsa; December 6: Kidnappers abducted a Catholic priest in Ifedore, Ondo; December 6: Bandits killed twenty-three in Sabon Birni, Sokoto; December 6: Bandits killed seven in Shinkafi, Zamfara; December 7: Kidnappers killed one and abducted eight in Kwali, Federal Capital Territory (FCT); December 7: Gunmen killed a Federal Road Safety Corps official in Ondo West, Ondo. December 8: Gunmen killed two in Ohaji/Egbema, Imo. December 8: Communal violence led to two deaths in Toungo, Adamawa; December 9: Gunmen killed sixteen at a mosque in Mashegu, Niger State; December 9: Gunmen killed five in Njaba, Imo; December 9: Bandits killed three in Sabon Birni, Sokoto, and, December 10: Kidnappers abducted a chief imam and three others in Sabon Birni, Sokoto.”
This is a picture of Nigeria.
The begging question is: why has the Federal Government refused to officially declare, and gazette, bandits as terrorists even after a Federal High Court in Abuja had declared two bandit groups, Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda, as terrorists? Why is government reluctant to do the needful? How many more lives would be wasted before government realizes that these killings are killing Nigeria? In Nasarawa, more than 40 persons were lost to a reprisal attack. Create a larger picture to see what becomes of Nigeria if every community that is visited with such attacks and killings rises in retaliation against whoever they suspect to be behind such visits. There has been so much bloodshed in Nigeria that one is tempted to give kudos to all communities affected by killings and arson in Kaduna, and elsewhere, for restraining themselves from the temptation of reprisals.