Opinion: The search for peace in Southern Kaduna – By Katdapba Y. Gobum

The level of insecurity in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion. No day passes without one attack or another. Recently as a result of the incessant attacks, but particularly that of Southern Kaduna, the Senate resolved to ask security chiefs to step aside for new ones to put in place. KATDAPBA Y. GOBUM writes on the reasons behind these attacks as adduced by the Presidency and what the people say.

Indeed, several communities in Southern Kaduna; as in many others across the length and breadth of Nigeria have in the last couple of years come under heavy attacks with casualties that should worry everyone who values human life. Whether we have made any effort to address these questionable security breaches or not remains in the hands of the security as well as the communities to determine.
We have had occasions when after these attacks which left communities and families devastated while lamenting what has hit them. These lamentations as are the lack of apprehension of the perpetrators were in every sense an indictment, even as people’s concerns have never been assuaged. Such is the worrisome state of for which sane people are asking the security to go the extra mile to sort the security challenges.
The lives of the people should matter, even as we are aware that the security agencies have lost men and materials in prosecuting the wars in several communities across the land. Watching how various communities have continued to mass-bury their loved ones over time; the hearts of sane people will keep melting in the manner lives are wasted; family homes left desolate, yet the unknown attackers have never been brought to book.
Early last week, arising from the casualties coming from the security problem in Southern Kaduna, a distraught nation was told by the Presidency that the issue is complex and more complicated that many critics are ready yet to acknowledge and understand. The killings and violence in Southern Kaduna have gone on for years despite the deployment of security personnel to that area; there is no clear indication what may come next.
If from available records we are informed, and truly so that, ‘Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on the ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace’; the questions on our lips are: Why are we still at ground zero?. Why have we continued to witness the atrocities in those communities?
The answer provide below begs the questions we have asked above, and for which many have asked government to rise up to the challenge and change the security architecture of the country by doing what is right. Let’s consider this: ‘The problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.
‘It is a situation in which one criminal group will kill a member of another criminal group out of ethnic and religious motivations which in turn leads to the eruption of revenge and counter-revenge, thereby making the job of the security personnel deployed to protect lives more difficult. We note that revenge and counter-revenge only creates a circle of violence, thereby making everyone else unsafe, especially innocent people’.
While revenge against any attack may not bring about any solution, taking the law into any hand will further compound what we have seen and witnessed. If there is ‘any security breach or threat to peace to the law enforcement agencies’, it is the responsibility of the security to wade into the situation and sort things out. The ‘desperations and apprehensions’ often witnessed when such breaches take place are always enough to engage them into self-defense; but because the aggressors may have made more preparations, they are often overpowered.
To say that communities should not go on self-defense is to be told that ‘when the attackers come, make sure your doors are wide opened to receive whatever they have come to do’. Agreed, what should be done and ‘is required is for the local authorities to radically improve their intelligence capabilities so that security agencies will be alerted in a timely manner to enable them forestall any planned attacks’.
The recent attacks by bandits in Igali, Birnin Gwari and Giwa local government areas of the State is a call on the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who on Monday, July 20, 2020 met with President Muhammadu Buhari to brief him on efforts by the military to tame the wave of banditry and terrorism, especially in the North; to relocate to this part of Southern Kaduna.
Sometimes in April 2020, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen TY Buratai, had to relocate fully to the North East where he oversaw and directed the overall operations in the theatre and other Nigerian Army operations across the country. This is no exception if the killings in Southern Kaduna are to come to an end and give respite to the people. They certainly do need it, given the harvest of death coming from several communities in that area.
Even though the Army chief has given assurances that the nation’s security situation was now better than what it was last month when the president gave the military marching orders to tame insecurity, the losses are alarming and condemnable. He has reiterated the fact that ‘the containment of insecurity to the success of different operations in the North-west and North-east adding that 99 per cent of terrorists and 100 per cent of kidnappers terrorising the country are Nigerians’.
Nigerians recall that Buhari, on June 18, 2020 had read the riot act to heads of security agencies, saying their best was not enough and warned against further excuses on their inability to tame insecurity. Perhaps arising from that meeting with other security chiefs that the Senate told them to resign as their time was up serving the nation in that capacity.
The Service Chiefs, Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai, Chief of Army Staff; Sadique Abubakar, Chief of Air Staff; and Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff; are all said to be due for retirement. President Muhammadu Buhari has thought otherwise by keeping them in office despite repeated calls for their retirement.
In his words: “I’m here to brief Mr. President on the task he gave me and I have accomplished one aspect of the task and to brief him on our operations, especially operations Sahel Sanity in the North-west and of course, the ongoing operations in North-east and other security issues that pertain to the Nigerian Army actually’’. We have been told that, notable progress has been made through the joint operations of the armed forces as kidnappings, serial killings and cattle rustling had been brought under control and people in affected parts of the country could now go to their farms without fear.
The resolution of the upper legislative chamber had asked the Service Chiefs to step aside due largely to the spate of insecurity in the country, followed a motion sponsored by Ali Ndume, Senator representing Borno South and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Army. Later that same day when the Senate passed the resolution, Senator Ndume had told Channels it was not his prayer, it was another of his colleague who had added a caveat to the call for their removal. Ndume has insisted that his motion was to the effect that the efforts of the military should be appreciated having proved their mettle despite lack of equipment to persecute the war against insecurity in the country.
The oft repeated response of President Muhammadu Buhari to such calls for the sack of the Service Chiefs, and rightly too is that the decision is his to make, but however noted that ‘he would do what is best for the country’. It should not be lost that Nigerians insist that the right things be done and quickly too ‘due to the multi-pronged security challenges in the country.
“The Presidency notes the resolution, and reiterates that appointment or sack of Service Chiefs is a Presidential prerogative, and President Muhammadu Buhari, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, will do what is in the best interest of the country at all times.”
Certainly Nigerians are waiting. They are trusting that the President will be taken to task by his words knowing that this is one area (insecurity) which Nigerians have cried to high heavens to be dealt with over the years. Why it has refused to let us be is the increasing worry of most Nigerians.

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