Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF)
…Indigenous people of Katsina demand state of emergency
…Northern CAN seeks end to insecurity in region
…My troops are millions of Nigerians, Ango Abdullahi replies Presidency
By Omeiza Ajayi, Therese Nanlong & Ibrahim HassanWuyo
A coalition of nine Arewa youth groups yesterday gave the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to address the security problem in the north or face mass action.
This came on a day the indigenous people of Katsina State asked the government to declare a state of emergency in the state to stave off the frequent killings of innocent people by bandits.
This is even as the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in the 19 states in the north asked the federal government to tackle the high level insecurity in the region, even as convener of Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, yesterday replied the Presidency, saying his troops were millions of Nigerians.
Special Adviver to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, had in a statement on Sunday, described Prof. Abdullahi as a General without proofs, following NEF’s entreaty to take action on the poor security situation in the north, rather than merely condemning bandits each time they killed people.
In a statement in Kaduna, the coalition also asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the service chiefs and abolish security votes for governors, saying such votes had outlived their usefulness.
The statement was signed by Isa Abubakar of the Northern Youth Council of Nigeria; Yerima Shettima of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum; Yusuf idris Amoke of Northern Anti-Corruption Front; Mohammed Salihu Danlami of Arewa Youth Assembly; and Murtala Abubakar of Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations.
Others include Dr. idris Mohammed of CUPS; Gambo Gujungu of Arewa Youth Forum; Muhammad Isah Imam of Northern Youth Forum; and Mikailu Abubakar of Arewa Defense League.
The statement read: “It is on a sad note that this coalition wishes to remind the Federal Government and government at all levels, that the primary responsibility of government anywhere, particularly the one that was democratically elected by voters, is to protect the lives and property of citizens.
“Recall that Nigerians, particularly Northerners, voted President Muhammadu Buhari enmass to power in 2015 in anticipation that as a former military head of state, and a retire General, he is positioned to deal decisively with all forms of threats to the security of our people, particularly challenges of Boko Haram that had caused hardship and unprecedented destruction of lives and economy activities.
‘’Alas, five years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, instead of reducing insecurity, it has escalated, thereby exposing great numbers of our people to avoidable deaths and loss of property in a manner that history has never witnessed before.
“It is our constitutional duty to raise voices and call attention to the killings that are taking place across states of the Northern region on a daily basis and mobilize citizens on how to constructively engage government at all levels and make demands to end the killings.
“ The coalition is saying enough is enough and an end must be put to the mindless killings of our people, particularly in the villages, and the nonchalant attitude displayed by government and its agencies to the plights of people going through horrific experience in the hands of criminals that seem to have overwhelmed our security agencies is unacceptable.
“The coalition strongly supports the idea of community policing and calls for its immediate implementation nationwide.
“The coalition reiterates here that enough is enough and it can no longer tolerate mindless killings of innocent citizens of northern Nigeria without the government doing much to stop it. The Coalition from today (yesterday), June 15, 2020, give a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government to end killings in the entire states of the north.
‘’After the expiration of this ultimatum, any reported case of killings will leave the coalition with no option than to mobilize citizens to take to streets until government does the needful.
Also yesterday, the indigenous people of Katsina who are based in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, called on the Federal Government to urgently declare a state of emergency in the state, following high level of insecurity in Katsina State.
In a statement issued in Abuja, the indigenous people, acting under the aegis of Concerned Katsina Youth Vanguard, noted that recent developments leading to wanton killings of innocent people in the state was a testament to the fact that the state government could not guarantee the safety of lives and property of citizens of the state.
They blamed the state government for the spate of insecurity in the state, noting that the ceasefire deal reached with bandits has not yielded any result.
Deputy spokesman of the group, Alhaji Shamsudeen Danasibi Faskari, who signed the statement, said residents of the state now live in palpable fear, as security agencies appeared helpless, stressing that the situation has reached an unimaginable level.
Dutsinma, epicentre of senseless killing
Faskari, who affirmed that his local government, Dutsinma, was the epicentre of senseless killings since December 2019, observed that other parts of the state were currently under siege by bandits.
He warned that if the Federal Government failed to takeover the state, the recent wave of insecurity might pose a threat to national security and further worsen the intractable challenges in the country occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Precisely December 2019, we spoke eloquently through the press on the state of armed attacks, kidnapping and cattle rustling in Dutsin-Ma Local Government Area of Katsina State. On that very occasion, we came up with a catalogue of 29 different cases of bandit attacks all in the month of December, 2019.
“However, we observed that after our landmark press conference held last December, normalcy was restored to the area. Regrettably, that relative peace was cut short as bandits attacks resumed in full swing in March, 2020, extending their operations to other parts of the state.
“We have watched with a heavy heart how our people are being slaughtered like sheep and goats. We have also watched helplessly how communities are being invaded and how families and kindred are being wiped out by bandits, while security agencies appear helpless.
“We have crossed the Rubicon and there is no turning back. Therefore, we are calling on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, impose a state of emergency on the state. Federal Government should takeover the security apparatus of the state until lives and property of citizens are guaranteed. The lives of our people are far more precious than any office.
“In case government fails to take immediate action towards restoration of peace in the state, then we would have no option than to resort to self-defence which might lead to a threat to national peace and security. We do not pray that Nigeria gets to that level of lawlessness because we have too many battles in our hands as a nation,” Faskari stated.
Similarly, Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN in 19 Northern states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Rev. Yakubu Pam, yesterday called for concerted effort by relevant stakeholders to stem the tide of insecurity in the different states in the region.
Rev. Pam also urged governors in the region, led by the governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, to work collectively to surmount the challenges of poverty, ethnic bigotry, religion and other issues that undermined the value of democracy in the North.
Also CAN in Kaduna State, in a statement, titled ‘’Stop the mass killings in the north,’’ expressed sadness about the increasing insecurity in the north, especially in Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Borno states, and, indeed, the country at large.
CAN chairman in Kaduna State, Rev. John Hayab, who stated this yesterday, said in the last few weeks, hundreds of people had been killed by the Boko Haram and bandits who had been invading communities and unleashing mayhem on the people.
“Our security agencies appear to be overwhelmed and lack new tactics to handle the situation. Both the state and federal governments seem to be shying away from the reality of the problem and appear to be living in self-denial, while people are being massacred by criminals.
‘’People are now living in perpetual fear as they are not safe on the highways and even in their homes. Rural communities are being invaded by bandits and farmers cannot go to their farms for fear of being killed or abducted for ransom by gunmen.
‘’For us as a religious body, this country belongs to all Nigerians and our leaders must listen to the cries of Nigerians about the continuous declining security situation. The protection of lives and property of the citizenry is a constitutional responsibility of governments all over the world.
‘’Our government must, therefore, live up to this responsibility by tackling the present state of insecurity across the country.”\s
Noting that the nation’s leaders need to do an honest stock taking of the situation in our country, the CAN leader said: “We need to check where we have gone wrong and what are those things we are doing that we need to do better.
‘’Many lives are being wasted almost on a daily basis by Boko Haram and bandits. People are being abducted and killed by kidnappers because they could not pay the huge ransom demanded by the hoodlums.
“For instance, in Kaduna State, the security challenges in Chikun, Kajuru, Kauru, Zangon Kataf, Birnin Gwari have continued to be a serious source of worry. Sadly, people are experiencing these challenges at the time of increase in hunger, economic hardship and fear of COVID-19.
‘’These pains are too much for the citizens to continue to bear. Our leaders should be humble enough to admit that they have failed the people and seek help from whoever and wherever it will come.”
Meanwhile, leader of Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, yesterday replied the Presidency, saying his foot soldiers were millions of Nigerians.
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, had described Prof. Abdullahi as a General without troops, in his criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
“My troops are millions of Nigerians who acknowledge the blatant failure of the General who claims troops to secure the country,’’ the NEF leader said in a terse statement sent to Vanguard yesterday.
Similarly, Senator Alhaji Danmusa decried the continued killings and destruction of properties in rural Katsina State, calling on government to take decisive action.
Danmusa, in an interview with Radio France International, RFI, Hausa Service monitored in Kaduna yesterday, said many peasants in the state were displaced by armed bandits who had a field day unleashing mayhem on Katsina villages.
“During the administration of Shema, I went to the emir and offered my advice on the security situation, that was in 2014. In 2015, I addressed the press on the the security situation in our area,” he said.
He expressed worry that the situation has deteriorated, lamenting the fact that people were killed from incessant attacks by bandits in the state.
He said: “In my house now, there are many Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, taking refuge. Nobody has offered any assistance.’’
Some traditional rulers in Katsina aiding bandits – Presidency
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, alleged yesterday that some traditional rulers were aiding bandits in Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state.
Shehu, who spoke on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television programme, said the traditional rulers help gunmen escape when security agencies were planning attacks.
Katsina has come under attacks by gunmen in recent times, as a number of people have lost their lives and property in the incidents, compelling some youths to take to the streets in protest last week.
Noting that there’re people benefiting from the attacks, the Presidential spokesman said: “It is not that we are making direct accusations on anyone but it is also true that even in the President’s native state of Katsina, some traditional rulers have been found complicit, collaborating with bandits to harm their own people.
“In neighbouring Zamfara, emirs and district heads have been swept out of office. The thing is there are beneficiaries of whatever rotten system you have.
“At some point, the Nigerian Air Force had to put a number of aircraft in Katsina, they are still there.
“They realised that once aircraft took off from Katsina airport, before it got to Zamfara for operation, telephone calls would have been made and targets would have disappeared.
‘’In the end, we were forced to be flying from distant places like Kaduna and Kano in order to undertake operations in Zamfara.”
Shehu said the President had no solutions to all the problems confronting the country, noting that “all of us as citizens have a duty to the nation to provide information to our armed forces.”