The audacious attack by bandits on the nation’s elite military school, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna, shows that nowhere is safe in the country anymore. The humiliating attack, which led to the death of two military officers and the abduction of an army Major, is an indication that the terrorists are becoming more formidable. It shows the porous nature of security in the institution and in the country generally.
In July this year, bandits killed 13 police officers in Zamfara during an operation to repel an attack on some communities in Bungudu Local Government Area (LGA). They also shot down a Nigerian Air Force Alpha jet returning to base from a mission on Zamfara-Kaduna border the same month.
Travellers and schoolchildren are not spared. Last December, bandits went to the Government Science Secondary School, Kankara in Katsina State and abducted over 300 students. In February this year, they attacked Government Science School, Kagara, in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State. About 27 students and 15 workers of the school were kidnapped. One of the kidnapped students was killed. The criminals also visited Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State and kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls for ransom.
Earlier this year, they abducted 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in Afaka, Kaduna State. They also kidnapped 23 students of Greenfield University in the same Kaduna. Before they eventually released the Greenfield students, they had killed five of them. In July this year, bandits attacked Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna and abducted over 140 students. Some of the students have been released but some of them are still in captivity undergoing mental and physical torture. Since December last year, kidnappers have hit at least 10 institutions and abducted over 1,000 students. In the first half of last year, Amnesty International estimated that over 1,100 villagers were killed across rural areas in northern Nigeria.
That these attackers were not repelled or caught underscores the gaps in our security system and how daring the terrorists called bandits could be. The questions are, are there moles within the military? How could bandits attack a military institution effortlessly without serious challenge? The fear has always been that there are people sabotaging the efforts of our military, especially in the fight against insurgency and banditry.
Besides, government has not come out fully to tackle this problem. While bandits are busy abducting people, collecting ransom and buying sophisticated weapons, the government continues to dish out excuses and empty threats. In August 2019, for instance, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military to identify, pursue and eliminate bandits anywhere they could find them. When bandits killed about 35 farmers in Faru, Maradun LGA of Zamfara State in July this year, Buhari similarly ordered the military to go after these criminals and crush them. With the exploits of bandits almost on a daily basis, it is obvious that the President’s order is not effective.
In apparent realisation of this fact, Defence Minister, Major-General Bashir Magashi, recently wondered why Nigerians had become cowards and not defending themselves against attacks by bandits. Katsina State governor, Bello Masari, also urged Nigerians recently to take up arms and defend themselves against such attacks.
At some point, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, and Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Mahmoud Gumi, suggested negotiating with the bandits. Gumi went further to meet them in the forest where they hibernate and took photographs with them. What this indicates is that the security agents know where to locate these people but why they have not completely routed them is still a mystery?!Investors cannot come into a country with this kind of security profile. Every investor wants security of his investments. When this cannot be guaranteed, they look elsewhere. There is no sentiment about it.
Nigerians have continued to live in fear and anxiety. Many people dread travelling by road these days. Each time they are compelled to travel, their hearts are always in their mouths. It was not surprising when in 2020, Nigeria was adjudged the third most terrorised country in the world for the sixth consecutive year.
These bandits must be properly addressed as terrorists and handled as such. In recent times, they have become very ruthless and appear one step ahead of our security agents. Hence, security operatives should deal with them ruthlessly. They must fish out those behind the attacks because they are not ghosts. They must define the bandits, go after them and apprehend their sponsors. That is why we have the intelligence arm of the military. They should do the work for which they are paid.
Every patriotic Nigerian should be worried by the attack on the NDA because it is an attack on the sovereignty of this country. Let there be a thorough investigation of the incident. Any Nigerian who has relevant information on the movement and operations of criminals should give such useful information to the security agents.
Insecurity is the topmost challenge every government must tackle. Hence, government must not treat this matter with levity. It should deploy new tactics on the war against terrorism in the country.