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When silence is no longer golden

Nigeria conflicts with itself. Nigerians from every part of the country are complaining about the escalating crime wave in the country. People are disenchanted. There…

Nigeria conflicts with itself. Nigerians from every part of the country are complaining about the escalating crime wave in the country. People are disenchanted. There is fear of uncertainty about the future of our country. This explains why Nigerians look so forlorn. Last week, Aljazeera reported that over 12 countries in the world were protesting against their governments. It is disturbing to watch international news broadcasts of stories of violent protests, wanton destruction and deaths in Hong Kong, Chile, Columbia, Sudan, Algeria and Lebanon, among other troubled nations. We hope and pray that the discontent in Nigeria will not escalate to violent demonstrations. What is happening in those countries is a warning signal to our government to take measures.

Shocking news of innocent lives being killed by soulless and cruel people is the order of the day in the country. These killings happen at homes, on the road and in religious worshiping places. In fact, there is no safe place for Nigerians in their country. Every one of us lives like a captive or a prisoner. Those in power are the only few who get protection against attacks. You hardly hear about the kidnap of a governor, son of a governor, senator, son of a senator, a member of the house or his son. Almost in all cases, ordinary Nigerians are the casualties of violent crimes in Nigeria. The problem does not affect those in power.  That’s why we shouldn’t expect banditry and kidnapping for ransom to end soon.

What baffles most Nigerians about kidnapping and banditry is not only the audacity of the criminals to take away the life of a fellow man with no modicum of pity, but the absence in their minds of the fear of God and retribution after death. The soulless gangsters misconstrue ransom from family members of a victim for victory, and lives of the captives as worthless. They have the wrong notion that they can commit every crime and go Scot free. Unknown to them, there would come a day of reckoning for all perpetrators of evil deeds. It does not matter whether or not the criminals believe about retributive justice here in this ephemeral world. What matters is in the final reckoning truth will prevail over falsehood. Those who got killed, maimed or traumatized by the merciless killer gang will get justice by divine retribution.

The government cannot afford to be indifferent to public opinion. We should commend the National Assembly for speaking about the security situation in the country. To borrow from Dante Alighieri’s famous quote in the Divine Comedy: “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” “When a nation is adrift and the future seems shaky with attendant national disaster, it behoves on men of conscience and past leaders of such a nation to speak out and point out ways of avoiding the danger confronting such a nation.” Sometimes in the life of a nation, silence is no longer golden. It is detrimental to the wellbeing of the nation. Every minutes of our lives, we live under the threats of being kidnapped or attacked by bandits. This is the situation in Nigeria today.  We should therefore speak out in unison because we are all victims of ruthless gang of criminals who do not value life.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a security man who betrays your trust. A security officer who betrays the trust of the people he has sworn to protect is worse than a bandit or kidnapper. In October 2019, government arrested  26 Nigerian  security and civil defence corp (NSCDC) officers and 6 soldier for selling arms and ammunition to criminal gangs in Katsina and Zamfara State. Ali Kwara,  a member of the joint operation task force set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to fight bandits and Kidnappers in Katsina and Zamfara State told journalists. A repented armed robber who tipped off Kwara about the shoddy deals of the security officers led to their arrest. In 3 different deals, the accused officers sold ammunitions worth N2.2 million to kidnappers. Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, the commandant general of NSCDC had ordered the dismissal of the culprits while a military court would try the soldiers.

The daily trust reported in its January 10, 2020 edition, the arrest of twenty security officials securing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline. They illegally  constructed over 310 oil wells for the purpose of syphoning petroleum products from NNPC pipelines that runs from Atlas Cove to Ejigbo and Mosimi depots, both in Lagos and Ogun states. These atrocities committed by Nigerian security men are not isolated crimes. They do often happen but under reported.

One of the greatest threats to peace and security in our country is the security men who connive with criminal gangs to commit crimes. We have these bad eggs in the army, in the police and in the NSCDC. Sadly, traditional rulers are also willing accomplice to banditry  and kidnapping in northern Nigeria. Some of them have been indicted in Zamfara satate.

Government must change it recruitment policy  in order to forestall our security agencies from employing criminals. It should adopt thorough vetting of new staff as it is the practice in Nigerian Intelligence Agency  (NIA) and Department of State Security (DSS). It is embarrassing to see security officers being paraded as hard criminals. Our security agencies are the pride of the nation. We must save them from embarrassment and objects of ridicule.

Speaking about a need for Nigeria to deal with security problems, the national security adviser to the president, retired major General Baba Gana Monguno advised that “both parties, governmental agencies on one hand and the larger society, to collaborate more vigorously.” As important as intelligence gathering and sharing information among security operatives and collaboration with the public is, all efforts aimed at fighting crime will be an exercise in futility if criminals are used to fight, control and prevent crime in the country. We hope that the arieal bombardment of the criminals’ hideout in forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states will counter the menace of  the attackers and usher in a period of  everlasting peace to the troubled area .“A stitch in time saves nine.”


Saleh Ibrahim Bature is an Abuja based social commentator and advocate of dialogue   [email protected]