By Simon Reef Musa |
The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranks Nigeria as the third most terrorised country in the world. According to the report released by the group on Wednesday, Afghanistan tops the list, while Iraq follows. Syria, Somalia and Yemen are graded fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. Apart suffering from the crushing pains as the most terrorised nation in Africa, the report adds that the “renewed activity by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, remains a substantial threat to the region.”
It is not only the dreadful killings unleashed by dare devil insurgents and criminal groups that are making streams of blood in the North, the devastations of hundred communities by killer herdsmen in mostly North-central states are causing sleepless nights for rural citizens who are now unwilling guests in various Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in the country.
That our country is now the third most terrorised nation on earth gives credence to the monstrosity of armed criminals to wreak havoc in Nigeria. Considering the recurring human butcheries, there is no naysaying that the House which Sardauna built has borne the tragic pains of unprecedented massacres and devastations.
On Thursday, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, seemed to have corroborated the report by the GTI when he disclosed that the North, once noted for its peaceful ambience is now the worst place to live in Nigeria. Speaking during the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, the leader of Nigeria’s Muslims lamented that kidnappers and other criminal outlaws have become daring, as “they moved from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK-47 rifles openly, purchasing foodstuffs and other items and even collecting change without any challenge from the security agencies.”
Discrediting the claim that the region is safe, the Sultan disclosed that the “security situation in Northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there with the governor to commiserate with the affected community.
“Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the North. We have accepted the fact that the North does not have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits. People think the North is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK-47 and nobody is challenging them.”
The insecurity shredding Arewa is made worse by the conspiratorial silence of prominent Northerners whose voices should have forced the Federal Government to rein in the activities of these felonious agents. The lamentation by the Sultan on insecurity that is desolating the North is expected to provide the needed push on those mandated to provide security to wake up from their long slumber and evolve effective strategies towards tackling the security quagmire.
Fortunately, except for one or two positions, the architecture of the nation’s security is headed by Northerners whose areas have continued to be the slaughter zones of the country. Now that the Sultan has spoken, other Northern leaders, including governors that have been playing the ostrich, must now stand up and save the lives of hapless citizens who are daily kidnapped, maimed and slaughtered by these deadly terror gangs.
What has turned the North into a grumbling whimper in exposing the perpetrators of these killings is Northerners’ fatal disposition and acceptance to live in sustained denial of these tragedies as demonstrated in quick surrender to dark angels of destructions when they mutter, “A bar wa Allah komai” (let’s leave everything to God). If we leave everything to God, why then do we elect leaders to oversee our affairs? The refusal by Northerners to question their leaders and expose their follies remain the region’s greatest calamity.
That explains why the quick decision to bury victims of insecurity without profiling amounts to profaning the sanctity of human lives. Even when the local media are there, they are quickly dissuaded to guide against incurring negative national and global perception. Those opposed to media reports on killings are aware that when murders and devastations are reported, the government comes under tremendous pressure to provide security.
Information creates a platform that assists in illuminating the dark side of societal life. When society hides the truth, its dark parts remain unexposed. A former United States Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, while emphasising on the need for free speech, says, “The greater the importance to safeguarding the community from incitements to the overthrow of our institutions by force and violence, the more imperative is the need to preserve the constitutional rights of free speech, free press and free assembly in order to maintain the opportunity for free political discussion.”
Arising from media exposure of these killings that have drawn global attention to some of these barbaric and grisly murders, news reports on insecurity are often labelled fake news by government agents, with threats to deal with those behind such reports. Some top security personnel involved in maintaining peace are sometimes engaged in pleading with religious and local leaders of attacked communities to quickly bury their dead in order to avoid flaring of tempers.
The deliberate attempt to discourage the media to report on insecurity afflicting Northern communities contributes in weakening the resolve of critical stakeholders to mount pressure on governments that most times are erroneously convinced that the security forces are on top of security issues. Some corrupt elements in power benefiting from security votes prefer graveyard silence than face media reports on the recurring insecurity.
As the leader of Nigerian Muslims, the Sultan’s views on the insecurity hounding the North should serve as a wake-up call on the three arms and other tiers of government to do something in order to save defenceless citizens from these outlaws that are now overwhelming the security forces. Despite electoral promises by the APC-led Federal Government to deal with those threatening the security of the nation, the journey to obliterating these violent brigands and merciless murderers is fraught with daunting challenges.
Our lawmakers, who should have mounted pressure on the executive arm to deal with the problem, are too fearful of their own shadows to speak in the dark. Most of them, if not all, reside in the cities, guarded by armed policemen. The continuous unprovoked but unchallenged assaults on defenceless communities by these blood-thirsty groups prognosticates an uncertain future as these attacks may take a long time before they are completely surmounted.
If Northerners ever think that stopping these mindless bloodbaths should only be left to governments and security personnel; then, they have missed the point. It is the prerogative of the people to take charge of their lives and save themselves from annihilation. The declaration by the father of the Indian Nation and a believer of non-violent resistance to bad government, Mahatma Gandhi, proclaims the relevance of people in bringing about good government when he said, “Even the most despotic government cannot stand except for the consent of the governed…. Immediately the subject ceases to fear the despotic force, his power is gone.”
If the people can end a despotic government, then it can also force the government to end the current bloodbaths and insecurity shredding not only the North but the country. To expect any other force to end this culture of bloodshed without the active participation of citizens is a pipe dream. Can Nigerians dare their tormentors and save themselves the horrifying cynosure these murderers and armed bandits have subjected them to?
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