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Northern elders have described recent abductions along the dreaded Abuja-Kaduna highway as a reminder of the worsening security situation in the north, and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack service chiefs without any further delay.
This came, yesterday, as the Middle-Belt Forum, MBF, urged Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State to order an investigation into the killing of the District Head of Gidan Zaki, Mr Haruna Kuye, and his son, Destiny Kuye, in the early hours of Tuesday by gunmen.
According to the elders, the security situation in the North has reached a level where incidents of deaths, kidnapping, armed banditry and other violent crimes against the people occur on daily basis, with many of such going unreported.
The northern elders, acting under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, CNEPD, blamed the increase in the prices of food stuffs on the growing insecurity in the region.
In a statement by the National Coordinator, Zana Goni, the elders drew a nexus between insecurity and the current increase in food prices.
Consequently, CNEPD reiterated its call for the rejigging and restructuring of the nation’s security architecture for better performance.
While appreciating the efforts of service chiefs in dealing with the security challenges, the elders submitted that the current security situation has overwhelmed the security chiefs.
On service chiefs
The elders contended that the current crop of service chiefs, who were appointed sometime in 2015, were deploying ideas that do not suit current realities.
According to the elders, insurgents and other criminal elements have capitalised on the obvious operational lapse of the military to increase attacks on civilians who have remained hapless victims of a near dysfunctional security architecture.
Lamenting that women, children and the elderly were the worse-hit, as farmlands and homes were raided frequently and destroyed by bandits, the elders pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider his stance and replace the military high command with new officers to infuse fresh ideas and perspectives into the fight against crime and criminality in the country.
“The latest killings and abduction along Kaduna-Abuja highway, which occurred last Sunday, did not come to us as a surprise. This is because we are faced daily with this situation, especially in the North East and North West zones of the country,” the Northern elders said.
The statement read: “We wish to state here that the Sunday incident, which caught attention in high places was just a sample of what we witness daily in other parts of the region. There are many killings and cases of abduction going on in the North, especially the above-mentioned zones that are unreported.
“The victims are sometimes killed or placed on permanent hard labour just as the female ones are forcibly raped and impregnated by their abductors.
“Most victims are captured in their farmlands while carrying out their routine and legitimate duties of farming in order to provide for their families.
Increase in food prices
“Again, the latest increase in the prices of commodities,especially food items in Nigerian markets, did not come to us as a surprise, in view of the link between insecurity and food scarcity.
“The helpless situation, which our people have found themselves has made them to abandon their farming activities, thus resulting in the current food insecurity in the country.
“The revelation by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS,on Monday that the country’s inflation rate has jumped to 14.23 per cent (year-on-year) in October, showing a percentage point increase of 0.52, did not come to us as a surprise.
“We recall with regret that the current inflation rate of the country had risen to this level above the 13.71 in September.
“The Consumer Price Index (CPI), a computation which measures the average prices of goods and services consumed by people over time, released by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, showed that the index also increased by 1.54 per cent month-on-month compared with 1.48 per cent rise recorded in September.
“The 14.23 per cent year-on-year rise in composite inflation is 0.23 percentage point above the upper band of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s prediction for the end of the year.
“Maintaining the recent trend, the food category led the index. It rose from 16.66 per cent year-on-year recorded in September to 17.38 per cent in October. The rise in food inflation shows that Nigerian households have continued to spend an increasing percentage of their incomes on food! This is not only regrettable but also unacceptable.
“We knew we were getting to this boiling point of our food insecurity, and had long alerted the appropriate authorities on possible ways of averting this, one of which has been our consistent call on the federal government, led by President Muhammad Buhari, to restructure the security architecture of the country for better efficiency so that farmers can return to their farmlands.
“Once again, we call on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgent national priority, sack the Military High Command and engage new and vibrant senior officers who are not in short supply.
“We further submit that unless and until adequate security was provided for our people in the North, the current food crisis which has pushed inflation rate to an astronomical height, will only get worse.
“We will like to state, without any sense of equivocation, that as insecurity threatens food sufficiency, so does it have the potential to erode whatever gains the Buhari-led administration may be laying claim to.
“We hold that as the President was able to select this crop of service chiefs in 2015, he still has the golden opportunity of recruiting even a better team, as all he needs is to assemble an intelligence team for that purpose.
“Our fear is that, if nothing urgent is done to restructure the security architecture in the country, the poverty situation may worsen, with consequential negative effect on the already precarious state of insecurity.’’
Meanwhile, the Middle-Belt Forum, MBF, has urged Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Ruafi, to order an investigation into the killing of the District Head of Gidan Zaki, Mr Haruna Kuye and his son, Destiny Kuye in the early hours of Tuesday by gunmen, as well as other attacks in communities in the state.
Recall that the military under the auspices of Operation Safe Haven, had reported that the duo were killed in their residence at Gidan Zaki, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State early on Tuesday.
The security report further stated that the act was carried out by five men wielding AK-47 rifles and machetes, who left machete wounds on the district head’s wife, a gunshot wound on his daughter’s finger, and also tried to burn the house and a vehicle.
In a similar vein, the military said 11 people were killed a few hours earlier during an attack at Albasu village of Igabi local government of the Southern Kaduna.
Other high-profile killings in the area include the murder of Mr. Albarka Addu’a, a former village head of Kyemara Gari.
Consequently, Kaduna State government enjoined citizens to contact the government with relevant information, stressing that it would continue to work assiduously with security agencies on the protection of life and property across the state.
Secretary of Middle-Belt Forum (Kaduna State chapter), Mr. John Haruna, who made the call in a statement yesterday, urged the governor to send members of an independent judicial panel of inquiry to the affected communities to investigate the attacks.
The Forum also urged the government to support and provide relief materials to those internally displaced by the insecurity in Southern Kaduna.
The statement read: “The late district head was a man of peace who cared for the well-being of his people, both natives and non—natives.
“We, therefore, appeal to Governor Nasir El-rufai to immediately set up an independent judicial panel of inquiry to unearth the circumstances under which these killings were perpetrated, with a view to bringing to book all those responsible for this unprovoked killings.
“The Forum also pleads with the governor to make public the outcome of the panel’s investigation and ensure that those found guilty are punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
“We condole with the family of Mr. Haruna Kuye, and the people of Gidan Zaki, Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon-Kataf LGA and the entire Southern Kaduna over the tragic loss.
“We also pray to God to grant eternal repose to all those who died in the unjustified attacks. Their death came to us as a rude shock and brought the feeling of grave loss.”
Three vigilantes killed in Kaduna
Also, three vigilantes were on Tuesday night killed in Chikun Local Government Area by bandits who laid ambush for them.
Kaduna State Vigilance Service, KADVIS, which disclosed this in Kaduna yesterday, said the vigilantes were killed at Dande village, while on their way from Damba-Kasaya in the Buruku general area.
According to KADVIS, those killed include Alison Musa, Dauda Audu and Ishaya Sarki, while Auba Tanko and Doza Adamu were injured in the attack.
Reacting to the killing yesterday, Kaduna State government in a statement by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said: “Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has sent condolences to their families and prayed for the repose of their souls, while wishing those that sustained injuries speedy recovery.
‘’The governor has also commended land and air troops of Operation Thunder Strike for a successful operation around Kuku area, at the Kagarko Local Dovernment axis of Kaduna-Abuja Road.
‘’The governor said he received with gratitude, information that the first air strikes hit some of the target structures and neutralized some of the bandits, while the second wave of attacks was executed by a Nigerian Air Force helicopter gunship which provided close air support to the troops on the ground as they advanced from Kagarko via Kuku into the bandits’ enclave.
‘’Similarly, armed bandits on Tuesday opened fire on motorists close to the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, access road, in Igabi Local Government Area. Troops responded and repelled the bandits.
‘’Citizens will continue to be informed of the security situation. Government appeals for vigilance and prompt reporting of suspicious movements and activities to the security agencies or through security operations room numbers and e-mail address.’’