By Ed Malik, A / September 6, 2022
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a civil rights group, has described as insensitive, “highly irresponsible, irrational and vacuous claim the statement credited to the Information and Culture Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed that Nigeria’s insecurity is no longer severe”.
According to the statement by the HURIWA National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, he said: “Once more, we in the human rights community representing the voiceless and oppressed citizens of Nigeria are inviting the cabinet level Minister of Information to travel by road with no security cover from Abuja to Zamfara to Katsina, Borno and then back to Abuja through the Lokoja/Kwali Abuja dreaded Federal Highway after stopping over at the Okene highway near Ajaokuta in Kogi State.
“If the Minister is able to embark on this journey which should be televised live on NTA, Trust television and AIT, then may be his statement about improved security may be listened to by right thinking human beings that are rational.”
“We find it completely ludicrous but insensitive, reckless and unacceptable that in the face of the heightened security challenges confronting Nigerians including the 28 bus passengers in Ondo that were just kidnapped into the Ondo forests by suspected armed herdsmen, the holder of the office of Information Minister will continue to assault our sensibilities and spread fake news”.
HURIWA expressed disappointment, saying that except the Information Minister lives in a very distant planet from the earth for him not to be aware that in some parts of Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, that armed terrorists have started carrying out policing jobs and reportedly arresting petty thieves and handing them over to the police. In parts of Kaduna State and Zamfara State, farmers now pay levies to bandits even as a terrorist kingpin was recently inaugurated a traditional title holder in Zamfara evidencing a failed state.
Lamenting the terrible state of security, the HURIWA recalled that a few days ago, elders of rural communities in Katsina State cried out for help, saying that men in their villages now work as slaves on farms ‘owned’ by bandits, even as the hoodlums have developed a taste for constantly raping married women and teenage girls.
In a report by BBC Hausa Service cited by HURIWA, the elders described the series of invasions and atrocities committed by the bandits as mind-boggling and conscience numbing. The elders under the aegis of the Movement to Secure Katsina citizens called on all “patriotic citizens” to contribute to the efforts to tackle the security problems in the state.
Speaking on behalf of the elders in the interview with BBC Hausa Service, Dr. Bashir Kurfi, noted that apart from the senseless killing of innocent people, cattle theft, raping of women and teenage girls by the bandits were now rampant in the communities.
Kurfi said: “It is not hearsay, quite often, we come across victims of rape, women who were raped and even mutilated by these bandits.
“Even more worrisome, these bandits will knock at the doors of villagers and ask the men to bring out their wives and daughters. These hapless men have no option but to obey or they will face the music.
“The wife or daughter will go with the bandits for one or two weeks and returned to their homes after being sexually abused or raped. This is the calamity that has befallen most of our communities.
“I recall one day when we took nine women to the hospital after being gang-raped by 40 bandits. The hospital we took them to advised us to take some of the women to VVF centres for proper care.”
He expressed his dismay at the way the bandits were inflicting pains on the people “as if we don’t have a government.”
He said: “We all know these bandits move around on motorcycles. Where are they getting the bikes from? They move around with AK-47 rifles. How did they get them? Where are they getting the drugs they are taking? What is really happening? Why is the government aloof? These are pertinent questions that are waiting for answers.”
The elders also condemned the position of some state government signing peace deals with bandits without results.
HURIWA disclosed that a newly posted Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, was kidnapped and has been held by them for weeks going.
HURIWA specifically recalled that the DPO was abducted along the notorious Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway in the morning hours a few weeks back on his way to assume duty at his new place of assignment, according to sources who confirmed the incident to journalists on condition of anonymity, of which the Kaduna State Police Command is yet to issue an official statement on the development.
HURIWA recalled that the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of the state has been in the news lately for various attacks and abductions by terrorists, and it was on Sunday that a terrorist group known as Ansaru issued a statement banning political activities in some communities of the local government area.
The Rights group stated that as at today, report has it that friends of the abducted DPO have paid over 5million Naira requested ransom including motorcycle and hard drugs given to the terrorists but even the bearer of the ransom was kidnapped and the DPO is in chains.
In direct contradiction to these facts and realities, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, whimsically reassured Nigerians that the worst of insecurity in the country is over. He hinted that although there might still be pockets of attacks nationwide, he expressed that the situation will not grow worse.
The Minister made the submission at a joint press briefing where the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor with three other heads of ministries, including Ministers of Defence, Bashir Magashi, a retired Army General; Police; Dr. Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi and Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola.
The purpose of the forum, Mohammed stated, was to inform Nigerians on the security situation in the country. He noted that while the most populous black nation might not be there yet, the military and other security agencies, nevertheless, have succeeded substantially in containing insecurity.
The minister said: “As far as the daunting security challenges we face are concerned, we can tell you that the worst is over. Never again will terrorists and bandits and their cohorts hold sway in our country.
“President (Muhammadu) Buhari’s directive to the military to crush those terrorizing our citizens is working, hence, peace and security are gradually being restored to the country.” He stated that government remained committed to ensuring that no one is in the captivity of bandits.
HURIWA has therefore encouraged Nigerians to take steps to provide self defence to themselves in anyway possible because the Right to life guaranteed by the Constitution in Section 33(1) can’t be remedied once the citizens are slaughtered by marauding terrorists who are now on rampage even as the government officials are bandying fake news that security has improved. Besides, the Rights group is appealing to the international community to help save Nigerians from imminent deaths from the terrorist attacks of daredevil criminals and terrorists.