Opinion: This Bloodshed Must Stop! – By Maiwada Danmalam
President Muhammadu Buhari,
President and Commander-In-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Governor of Katsina State, Rt. Aminu Bello Masari,
Distinguished Senators (Katsina State),
Honorable Members of House of Representatives (Katsina State),
Honorable Members Katsina State House of Assembly,
My sincere apology for using this medium to reach out to you despite personal means more convenient to do so. This is is to attract possible valuable inputs from members of the public which may privately elude us — inputs better seen from the viewpoint of “he who wears the shoe knows better where it pinches the most.
It’s painful and terrifying seeing the gory and very touching pictures of the hell-on-earth life is reduced to villages of a significant part of the states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina States in the North West and Borno State in North East. With particular emphasis on Katsina State, the reason for reaching out to you being the leaders and representatives of the state, no gainsaying Katsina State is bleeding and bleeding copiously. The limits of citizens’ patience has been stretched to the limit and the need to do something urgent to stop the carnage cannot be overemphasized beside resting entirely on your shoulders.
Much as I do not agree with a commonly bandied opinion about you doing nothing to end this bloodshed, I also do not agree you are doing all there’s to be done to end this carnage. On the other hand, just as the orchestrated belief about government’s i failure based on the not so satisfying results is gaining popularity, So I’m enlightened enough to know the complexities of the situation to enhance my appreciation of your not so satisfying efforts. Security is one area that requires not only experience and expertise to discuss and proper opinions competently but, also, a more critical requirement possessing impeccably sieved information to with. Being the only group with this privileged advantage, concerned citizens like me can only work with grapevine sources to make suggestions. Pleas consider my suggestion from this viewpoint. Like I said, every option is now an option to both sides. We are looking for a way out and every hole that leads to a ray of light is worth following to see if it will lead out of the burning tunnel.
We have experimented with both the cane and carrot options and clearly none was efficient enough to restore normalcy. Both sides made justifiable mistakes. Citizens made needless albeit justifiable noises to alert the government about the deadly activities of bandits. I said needless because it’s silly for one to assume the government was not aware about these events especially to the point of assuming was in the dark as the public was fed by even reputable radio stations for political reasons or motives yet to be exposed.
The orchesptatrated noises sent governments at different levels into panic and of course, into desperate search for solution by any means to douse public tension. This sent Katsina State Government into the unpalatable amnesty option possibly to get reprieve, stop the killings for while to save lives while efforts to identify a permanent and more sustainable solutions are pondered.
And who will blame the Katsina State Government for that? Back then, insecurity was totally out of control with bandits fully in control and in deep romance with unpatriotic members of the public within the traditional and government institutions as proved by the recent nabbing of 5 Emirs, 34 District Heads and numerous Village and Ward heads in Zamfara state. A more recent nabbing of some officials in the office of Katsina State Chief Judge who conspired and released on bail a high profile kidnapper with forged documents will also prove the incapacitation of the government as seen to it by such conspiracies in the judiciary which played a great role in denying sincere administrative and military efforts of end the bloodshed. Taking the roles of the groups that brought us where we are today, it’s now time to learn from the past mistakes and evolve new means of tackling the problem.
It’s obvious every new plan introduced by Government to tackle the problem was always resisted and countered. This time the Federal Government introduced new new measures with promising potentials to fumigate the hideouts of these bandits, flush them out and possibly neutralize them. This will naturally activate their sense of survival and revenge into full mode. Concurrently, they will be fighting to survive while creating panic among the citizenry by hitting the unarmed civilian community, the government’s Achille hill and underbelly. Doing this will reactivate public uproar that will doubly challenge government’s capacity and or competency to dampen its morale and send it into another round of tumbles and fumbles. And it’s obvious we are falling for this gimmick. So, what’s the way out?
Now the bandits are responding to the ferocious firepower of the Federal Government with an equal ferocious mindlessness; turning Katsina State into some sort of a killing field more needlessly irresponsible and ferocious than Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq combined and public anger is at its peak, it’s time you evolve interim means to protect lives of unarmed citizens at the receiving end of the vengeance of these bandits who are clearly poised on sending the public into another round of media uproar which, in turn, may send the government into panic mode and possible halting of the ongoing military campaign for them to get reprieve. This is more likely if it’s true their recent killings of the Batsari APC Chairman and the Yantumaki District heads were a fallout of their efforts to get the two advise the government to stop the military campaign.
As I suggested in a radio programme aired by Vision FM Kaduna (10/6/2020), even if we have to make necessary adjustments in our laws to accompany our reality we have to do so. And what’s our reality? Citizens are living helplessly in the hinterlands like sitting ducks waiting for bandits waiting for bandits to come and kill them at all. Like I opined before, these bandits are not “jinns” but mere mortals who are only having an upper hand in this war because they have stepped down their allegiance to the state and no longer responsive to our laws hence, free to carry arms and kill at will.
A friend told me the story of a friend of his who was kidnapped by bandits whose leader the kidnapped friend after he was rescued told him was a hungry looking lanky your who couldn’t be more more than 20 years. Laid on the ground on the ground, the lanky fulani boss put his foot on the belly of the huge victim and said in his: “Shegiya! AK-47 tayi. Idan ba AK ba me zai shimfidar da kato kamar wannan kasa in taka?” And I said the same: “Idan ba rashin AK-47 me zai kwantar da kato kamar wannan kasa har mayunwacin yaro ya taka cikinshi?” Eventually the victim was killed in Malumfashi in another classical episode.
This real life story is to impress on you Sirs, the huge difference AK-47 is making in deciding who wins this war and who will remain a victim. Legislate and relax the relevant laws to allow citizens caught in the vortex of this madness to protect themselves. We have able, willing and traumatized citizens in the right frame of mind to defend their lives if allowed to carry arms hence, it’s sensible to not only allow them to but assist them with the weapons.
Sirs, this deserve your serious consideration given that with or without government approval, a time will come that citizens will source for arms to protect themselves from the seemingly inexhaustible sources these bandits are sourcing their own. It’s better then, for the government to evolve controllable means of arming citizens in the areas affected than force them into arming themselves using random uncontrollable means that will make disarming them another futuristic problem.
This alternative is also feasible viewed from the angle the well acknowledged problem overstretched capacity of the Nigerian military and the many theaters of war its involved with at the moment. With citizens armed and with minimum training, 3 or 4 police officers permanently stationed in villages (even local Army and Police retirees will do) could counter attacks and save lives. Actually when the bandits are educated enough about the new reality of AK-47-armed villagers, they will start to think twice before attacking village with the reckless ease and disrespect to human lives they do today. The expected window of peace to be created by this effort would then be used by the government to develop a more permanent and sustainable solution to the problem.
While working on this Sirs, it’s imperative for you to also re-evaluate the role of the judiciary in solving this problem. The present ways of doing things must be adjusted to accommodate the seriousness of the problem at hand. Arresting and releasing on bail deadly criminals mostly on judicial technicalities and general inefficiency of our judicial system will only keep us moving in a deadly circle of self-deception. Our justice system, bad as it may sound to our ears, is neither designed nor capable to handle complex problems of this magnitude and proportion. The inefficiency of the system to dispense justice for correctional and exemplary purposes in one way or another encourages easy decisions by citizens to join banditry because it pays better than respecting the law. As important as the need to flush out and neutralize the bandits is the need to reform the justice system and make it effective enough to reintroduce the concept of law and order as obtainable in the human society.
Thankfully, in this regard, Katsina State already have in place a law making banditry punishable by death. However, nothing short of full and swift implementation will make the law exemplary enough to keep the general public subscribe to the concept of law and order.
I thank you Sirs, for you your patience to go though this message. May Allah SWT give the wisdom and courage to see what’s right and go it regardless of whose ox is gored.
Lastly, let’s bear in mind that it’s no longer time to play politics. To subdue his problem all hands must be on deck to work as one. It’s well past the game of blames and time for sincere unity of purpose.