• Boko Haram would have declared Islamic State in Nigeria, FG flays critics
• Bandits kill Kaduna lawmaker, gunmen kidnap Imo monarch
• Buhari should show empathy to Nigerians, says Obasanjo’s committee
• Govt insensitive to people’s plight – Rafsanjani
• Police clampdown on #NorthIsBleeding protesters
• Police, DSS must stop arresting northern protesters —Amnesty
• CSOs cry out over FGC pupils, others abducted since June

Guardian reports

Citizens reacted yesterday, to the Federal Government’s claim that Nigeria is safer today than in 2015.

The Federal Government had earlier berated critics who accused President Muhammadu Buhari of showing no empathy over the worsening insecurity in parts of the country, saying that their allegation smacks of dirty politicking.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who gave this position at a press conference in Abuja, also said that though the legacy Buhari is establishing may be drowned by the current security problems, he has done enough to enjoy the kind judgment posterity would bestow on him.

The minister rejected what he said is the use of incendiary and insulting words, especially by leaders to overheat the polity and heighten tension.

The minister, who was apparently responding to the observations made this week by some leaders, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, in Abuja, conceded that insecurity is a concern but noted that the president is doing everything necessary to check the situation.

He said: “The polity has recently been awash with heightened commentary on the security situation in the country. The commentary has been triggered by genuine concerns in some circles, and crass politicking or sheer absurdity in others.

“Since assuming office in 2015, President Buhari has continued to make the issue of security a major plank of his administration’s policy. This is not a surprise, considering that the fight against insecurity is one of the three priority areas of the APC-led Federal Government.

“Yes, the security situation has continued to pose a great challenge, but amidst the cacophony of voices – some genuinely concerned about the situation and others ready to exploit it for selfish ends – it is easy to forget where we are coming from.

“Today, we only look at the current situation, without wondering what would have been had this President not taken the bull by the horns, as far as security is concerned.

“With the way, the insurgents were going before this administration came into office, with their control of a vast swath of land the size of Belgium, with their freewheeling attacks in almost a dozen states, including the Federal Capital Territory, which was hit at least five times, perhaps they could have achieved their aim of declaring an Islamic State in Nigeria if President Buhari had not acted decisively.

“After all, in 2014, Boko Haram declared a caliphate in Gwoza after capturing Bama and Gamboru as well as other towns and villages in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. They installed their own Emirs, collected taxes and flew their flag before the military dislodged them.”

He, therefore, described the skewed narrative in certain quarters that the President has not shown enough empathy as glib talk, noting that he has done so much under very difficult economic and social conditions to tackle insecurity in the country.

“President Buhari has done so much, under very difficult economic and social conditions, to tackle insecurity in our country. Not only has he done so much, he continues to do much more to keep Nigerians safe. To say he has nothing more to offer is untrue, fallacious and smacks of dirty politicking.

“By boosting the number and capacity of our fighting forces, Mr President is putting them in good stead to tackle insecurity not just during the life of his administration but long after he would have left office.

“President Buhari is leaving a legacy of security, infrastructural development, economic prosperity and social cohesion for Nigeria. This may not seem obvious today, amidst daunting challenges, but posterity will be kind to this President.”

REACTING to the minister’s address, the Committee for Goodness of Nigeria (CGN) convened by former President Obasanjo, urged the President to show empathy to suffering Nigerians.

Noting that Nigerians are living in a very desperate situation, the forum urged the government to do more to tackle insecurity rather than compare Nigeria with Western nations that are still grappling insecurity.

“We are not citizens of America. We are citizens of Nigeria. Nigerians have the right to demand greater protection from their government. Evident of how secured we are is right there in the street, there is no how anybody can hide it.

“Our job is to support the government in whatever it is doing and also to draw attention to areas we believe should be addressed. We will not join issues with the government.

“We have heard this statement before that Nigerians are safer now than 2015 because they were bombings in FCT and environs then and those elements are gone, but there is no reason there should be killings anywhere. Even though there is only one killing that happened, we want to see it brought to an end.”

Also speaking, the Executive Director, Civil Society for Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria), Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), charged government to refrain from provoking Nigerians. According to him, it will be unfair for the government to compare the security situation of today with that of 2015.

“It is unfair to say so because you want to promote the government. But the minister has ended up demoting the government.

“Nigerians are protesting over incessant killings across the country. We know that incidents that took place before this government came on board have their consequences but for the government to praise itself over the security situation is unfair. It means the government is insensitive to the killings and maiming going on the country,” the CISLAC boss stated.

National President, Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), Emmanuel Onwubiko, said it is delusional for anyone in Nigeria to assert that insecurity now is not as bad as it was in 2015. Onwubiko said he is challenging the Information Minister to travel by road to Kwara or Yobe State without any form of security details.

“In 2015, there was never any threats of terror attacks on railways but this has happened under the watch of President Buhari and for over two months, the terrorists who bombed the train coming to Abuja from Kaduna are still roaming about freely.

“In 2015, terror attacks against schools and kidnapping of school children were limited to the Northeast, but last year, the attacks spread to Kebbi, Zamfara, Niger and Kaduna states, even as dozens of students were raped and killed by terrorists.

“The Federal Capital Territory has become endangered and terrorists and armed Fulani herdsmen have killed hundreds of farmers in Benue, Southern Kaduna, Plateau and Nasarawa states under the current administration and not one of those killers have been prosecuted.”

A DAY after the Department of State Services (DSS) raised the alarm that lawmakers and other holidaying highly-placed Nigerians are at risk of kidnapping and assassination, bandits have killed a member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Rilwanu Gadagau, and abducted many others along the Kaduna-Zaria highway.

Gadagau was the Chairman of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development of the House before his death. The Clerk, Kaduna House of Assembly, Bello Zubairu, confirmed the incident to newsmen yesterday.

Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Yusuf Zailani, described the death as devastating. A statement by the Speaker noted that the body of the lawmaker was discovered in a morgue yesterday, among those killed by bandits on Monday night along Kaduna-Zaria Highway.

“This is tragic and painful. We are in deep grief over this sad incident,” the statement read in part.

A family source said Gadagau’s vehicle was attacked while he was on a call with one of his colleagues, Shehu Yunusa.

“He was on phone with his colleague, Shehu Yunusa, on that fateful night, telling the colleague that he had been informed about a kidnapping incident taking place ahead of them. He was contemplating either returning to Kaduna or proceeding to Zaria when he abruptly took excuse and hung the phone,” the source narrated.

GUNMEN have kidnapped the traditional ruler of Umuezeala-Ama ancient kingdom in the Ehime Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State. The monarch was kidnapped on Tuesday night at the Nkwo Umuezeala market while he was discussing with his kinsmen.

According to a source, “Eze Aloy Igwe of Umuezeala-Ama kingdom was kidnapped at the Umuezeala market square. Some guys carrying guns stopped and ordered him to join their vehicle. The monarch obeyed and since then his whereabouts have remained unknown.”

This is the latest in the attacks of traditional rulers in the state. On Sunday, two traditional rulers, Acho Ndukwe and Paul Ogbu were kidnapped and their palaces razed. While Ndukwe was rescued 24 hours later, the whereabouts of Ogbu has remained unknown.

On December 9, the traditional ruler of Mbutu ancient kingdom in the Aboh Mbaise LGA, Damian Nwaigwe, and his counterpart from Atta ancient kingdom in Njaba LGA, Edwin Azike were kidnapped separately. While Azike was kidnapped and his body dumped at the market square in his community, Nwaigwe was freed two days later.

On November 19, the traditional ruler of Achi Mbieri in the Mbaitoli LGA, Henry Madumere, was kidnapped at Iho in the Ikeduru LGA while on his way to a public function. The octogenarian monarch, who is the father of a former deputy governor of the state, Eze Madumere, was let off the hooks of his abductors six days later.

MEANWHILE, operatives of the FCT Police Command have clamped down on #NorthIsBleeding protesters in Abuja, yesterday. The protest was organised against the rising insecurity and killings ravaging northern states under the watch of President Buhari.

Since last week, some protesters from the North took to Twitter and Instagram to demand Buhari’s resignation over his alleged failure to combat increasing insecurity in the region. They had, among other things, condemned Buhari’s visit to Lagos State for the book launch of a political ally a few days after bandits burnt over 20 travellers in Sokoto State.

The protesters had yesterday staged their outcry at the Nigerian Labour Congress House, popularly known as Ayuba Wabba House, while asking the labour leaders to join in the campaign in demanding an end to the killings going on in the northern region, before the rally was dispersed and some of the protesters arrested and taken to the FCT Police Command headquarters.

IN Kano State, heavily armed security personnel barricaded the gate of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) to stop youths protesting against insecurity in the north from entering the premises. Following an agreement with the security personnel, the protesters marched to the gate of the NUJ but were not allowed in as the gates were locked.

Delivering his address at the gate of the NUJ, one of the leaders of the protesting groups, Comrade Jamilu Aliyu Charanchi, North West Coordinator, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), called on the government to avoid increasing the price of fuel, address insecurity and resolve the problem of inflation in the country.

GLOBAL rights group, Amnesty International, has called on security agencies to stop harassing and arresting youths protesting insecurity in Northern Nigeria. The body also demanded the release of the young protesters.

The rights group said: “Amnesty International received disturbing reports from Bauchi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto and Zaria on arrests and crackdown by the police and the DSS on peaceful protests against rampant insecurity in northern Nigeria.

“We call on Nigerian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arrested for exercising the right to freedom of assembly. The DSS must stop using ‘invitations’ to threaten and intimidate protests organisers.

“The protesters have done nothing more than speaking up for accountability. The arrests appear to be an attempt to intimidate and harass those who refused to be silent in the face of government’s failure to protect lives.”

ALSO, representatives of 36 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) operating in the North have cried out over the non-release of many school pupils abducted by bandits and its effect on education in the region. They shared their experiences during a three-day step-down training on school safety, security and resilience building for CSOs across the six geo-political zones, which opened in Abuja on Monday.

The training organised to implement the recommendations from the international safe school conference held in Abuja in October, would equip them with skills to assess and address safety and security issues in schools.

The representatives of the CSOs said many schools in the Northwest, Northeast and North Central have been shut and parents no longer allow their wards, especially the girls go to school.

Some participants lamented the fate of over 50 pupils of Federal Government College Buni Yauri in Kebbi State who were among over 100 pupils abducted from the school in June; others spoke of pupils abducted from schools in Zamfara, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto and others since September and as recent as days back who were still in captivity.

Yesterday made it 181 days since pupils of Yauri FGC students in Kebbi State have been kidnapped while it is 163 days since some pupils of Baptist School Kaduna have been abducted.

Representative of Nana Girls and Women Empowerment Initiative, Dr. Fatima Adamu, called out the government for not providing updates on the FGC Buni Yauri case where her organisation sponsors five girls.

“We are concerned about the girls (and boys) abducted from Federal Government College Buni Yauri. They are still there. My organisation sponsored five of the girls. We got them from the village; we begged their parents to release them because they were sharp. We wanted to make a difference in their village. One of the girls is still there in captivity. Two of them who have been released we interviewed them and they said they were not interested in school again. The most annoying thing is that we are not getting anything from the government,” she said.

Abdul Ganiu Abubakar from Sokoto said as a result of incessant abductions schools have remained shut for three years.

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