The Senate yesterday made startling revelations on the activities of kidnappers and bandits across Nigeria, asserting that the country is now under their firm grip.
To buttress its position, the Upper House of the National Assembly stated that 4,000 Nigerians and an undisclosed number of foreigners have been held captive by the kidnappers in various parts of the country.
Among the victims of the kidnappers are 20 housewives from Niger State and two Chinese expatriates. There are however indications that the figure could be higher, as the lawmakers explained that the flaunted 4,000 was an estimate.
Consequently, the Red Chamber invited the acting inspector-general of police (IGP), Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to brief them on the measures he had adopted to reverse the trend.
Before the meeting with the IGP, the senators appealed to the country’s security agencies’ top echelons to immediately deploy drones and interceptors to track the kidnappers. They directed telecommunications companies in the country to provide the security agencies with information on areas where the kidnappers operate from.
The senators also expressed shock that children within the age bracket of 11 and 13 years are seen wielding dangerous weapons such as AK-47 rifles among the bandits in Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna and other states of the federation.
They cited instances where kidnappers and bandits write letters to communities before carrying out their attacks, adding that the crime had become a big-time business to the extent that they have intermediaries who negotiate ransom with villagers and individuals.
In a motion sponsored by Senator Shehu Sani (PRP Kaduna) and co-sponsored by over 100 senators on the recent killing of a Briton and the abduction of three others in a resort in Kaduna State by bandits, the Senate said that the attacks on individuals, houses and communities were too many to be ignored.
Shehu Sani told the Senate that the attack on a resort in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State where a 29-year-old Britton, Faye Mooney and another Nigerian were killed as well as the abduction of three others last Friday had seriously dented the image of Nigeria before the international community.
He said: “We note with sympathy and total dismay the spate of armed banditry and kidnapping in most parts of the country; from the North, South, East and West of the nation without a formidable and a technological approach to fighting the heinous crime. Worried that in recent times the attacks on individuals, houses and villages have become one too many and there is no single person that has been brought to book as a result of the wanton killings and the so much emphasised efforts at combating the crime is not yielding fruitful results.
“More worried that due to the fact that the perpetrators of these heinous activities tend to be gaining more courage to perpetuate their dastardly acts without fear of confrontation due to their acclaimed superior firepower; further worried that the unfortunate event of 19th April, 2019 where gunmen raided a resort called Kajuru Resort in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State, a Briton, Ms. Faye Mooney and a Nigerian, Mr. Matthew Oguche, were killed and three others abducted has put more fears into Nigerians.
“Ms. Faye Mooney was a humanitarian worker with a group, Mercy Corps, who had worked in war-torn countries like Iraq and Kosovo helping the needy, the vulnerable and internally displaced persons. Recall that earlier in the year, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region when four western tourists, two Americans and two Canadians were abducted in Kaduna in an ambush in January that left two of their police escorts dead.
“Concerned that the recurrence of this banditry where foreigners and tourists are involved may put Nigeria’s diplomatic relationship on the line thereby raising red flag to other tourists who may wish to visit Nigeria;
“Concerned that the northern part of Nigeria has become a theatre of killing and kidnapping, especially states like Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kaduna and Niger. Kajuru, in Kaduna State, is notorious for killings and kidnappings. Recall the death of Agom Adam, Dr. Maiwada Raphael Galadima, late last year, who was killed by kidnappers after collecting ransom. It is pathetic to note that this area has become hostile to both visitors and the inhabitants who have resorted to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) camps. Some elders of this area are right now cooling off in various prisons in Kaduna State,” Shehu Sani stated in the lead debate.
He added that that in Birnin Gwari, a local government area under his constituency, life had become unbearable for the people because over 40 villages were attacked recently and in some cases the kidnappers sent notices before they struck.
According to him, “these people have killed thousands of law-abiding Nigerians including children, raped women and have gone further to stop the villagers from going to their farms. Worthy of concern also is the spade of killing and kidnapping that has found bases in Zamfara and Niger States.”
The senator said that “in Munya local government area of Niger State, over 20 housewives were kidnapped and areas such as Kushaka, Kurebe, Pandogari, Gidigori, Kusherki, Koregi, and Alawa, Kwaki, Bataro, Chikuba, Shafa, Kauri, Zazzaga in Rafi local government area are under serious siege by the kidnappers. Other areas under siege include Kakangi, Gayam, Dan Ganji, Maganda, Dawari and Kazage.”
Shehu Sani told his colleagues that they would be astonished to hear that the kidnappers had the audacity to write the member representing Bimin Gwari/Giwa in the House of Representatives, Hon. Hassan Adamu Shekara, warning him of his activities thereby forcing him to evacuate his family from the area.
He said that while they are consoled by the recent presence of a joint patrol team of the police, army, air force and some para-military outfits on the Abuja-Kaduna Expressway and even though the hitherto deserted road which forced people to resort to using the train is bubbling back to life, the unfortunate acts of banditry and kidnapping had continued unabated.
Leading the debate during plenary, the deputy Senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, said that the country must declare a state of emergency on insecurity.
“We need to declare a national state of emergency to enable the federal government put in place measures to end this problem,” Ekweremadu said.
Senator Joshua Lidani (Gombe South) said that Nigeria had become a killing field, warning that it would have negative effects on investment and tourism.
Senator Baba Ahmed Kaita (Katsina South) said that the current crisis is worse than Boko Haram insurgency and advised the Senate to marshal out a plan to secure the country.
“The long-term effects will be catastrophic. I want to suggest that the issue of state police be looked into; we need to create a synergy among the state police and vigilantes and the locals in these states. It will dramatically reduce the menace. We need massive military deployment in these flashpoints. We also need to come up with capital punishments for these crimes,” Senator Emmanuel Bwacha (Taraba PDP) said.
“The north is at war. Unless something is done, I’m afraid that in the next two to three years, the situation might be out of control. This has become a business because there is technically no business in the north. The way forward is to fight corruption and set standards,” Senator Kabir Marafa (Zamfara Central) declared.
“Until our youths are engaged, this problem will continue. If we dispose off three of the five vehicles we own and use the proceeds to engage our youths, would it not be better? We need to find appropriate economic policies to engage the idle hands,” Senator Andrew Uchendu (Rivers) said.
In his contribution, Senator David Umaru (Niger East) said 50 per cent of his constituency had been taken over by the bandits.
“Our soldiers are not provided with enough logistics and they use this as an excuse to collaborate with kidnappers. The state government has not helped matters; they do nothing to provide funds. We need to device short-term goals and long-term solutions. We need to establish a special force to address this problem,” Umaru said.
To the Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, “there are a lot of issues that we need to address because the way these series of killings are going on and that is why we brought it up today. In line with the last speaker, we must begin to look at the solutions.
“Where there is a fault, we must be bold enough to say so and where there are sanctions that need to be taken we must be bold as well to say so. I mean, you have all been in this chamber for one year, we could not even communicate, converse or engage with the Nigeria Police. You were all here when the head of the police refused to even come before us. How can we work together to move things forward because, at the end of the day, we must begin to sit down with those in charge and discuss what we need to do, how do we help you? Even if we want to recruit, we can’t do it from here, we need guidance, they need to tell us what we need to know,” Saraki said.
“In the past, kidnappings use to be done in the cities, now they are kidnapping villagers; it’s a big problem,” Saraki lamented.
Thereafter the Senate resolved to invite the IGP to brief the House on the measures he had put in place to curb the worrisome security situation in the country.
The Senate also mandated its leader to ensure that the Police Reform Bill and Police Trust Fund Bill are sent to their counterparts in the House of Representatives for concurrence and passage to the President for quick assent.
Gunmen Abduct 2 Chinese Expatriates In Ebonyi
As the Senate was brainstorming on the menace of kidnapping, a report came that the criminals had struck in Ebonyi State and abducted two Chinese nationals, Sun Zhixin and Wang Quing Hu in Uburu, Ohaozara local government area.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the Chinese expatriates who are workers of Tongyi Construction Company were working in the state project site in the governor’s home town.
A former senior special adviser to the governor, Mr. Enekwachi Akpa, also escaped from being abducted by the gunmen.
The state police command public relations officer, Loveth Odah, said that the expatriates were working on a road project in Ohaozara local government area when they were forcefully taken away by the gunmen.
She said: “They were taken off the construction site around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday by a group of masked armed men.”
The Chinese nationals, according to the police, were at a place called Ivo River when the gunmen invaded the area, forced the workers out of the pit and took the two Chinese to an unknown destination.
The company is constructing the road linking the Ohaozara community called Ogwu with Ivo local government and Okpanku community in Enugu State.
She said that the police had dispatched officials to rescue the victims.
In an interview, Akpa (ex-governor’s aide) described his escape as an act of God and called on the security agencies to swing into action and ensure the prompt release of the Chinese.
FG Okays N52bn For Border Surveillance
And in a bid to stop smuggling and cross border crimes, the federal government has approved N52 billion for border surveillance project.
The minister of Interior, Lt-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) disclosed this to State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting which was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja.
Dambazau said that the process which started in 2012 would be completed within the next two years.
He explained that the pilot phase had been very successful, adding that it was installed to monitor two border communities.
While noting that Nigeria’s borders are very porous, diverse and impossible to man physically, the minister stressed the need for modern technology to be adopted to effectively monitor the borders.
He said: “It is on this note that I presented a memo today for this e-Border solution. This process started in 2012 but we picked it up to move forward when we came in. The project is to be completed within the next two years and it will cost about N52 billion.
“This project is going to cover 86 border posts in the country. We will be able to also monitor 1,400 illegal routes that are used for smuggling and all kinds of cross border criminal activities.
“The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) will work very closely with other services such as the air force and the army units deployed near the borders, with the customs in terms of smuggling. The information will be available real-time 24/7.
During his briefing, the minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu said that FEC approved the extension of consultancy services on two priority ongoing projects.
According to him, “first is the Igawa Dam Project In Katsina State which is 50 to 60 per cent completed. Last year, we got a total reversal cost of the project and extension.
“Aligning everything together, the supervising and consultancy services also have to be extended to correspond with the completion period. To that effect, the Council approved the augmentation of over N91 million for consultancy service supervision in favour of Messers Cosidon Consultancy Service Ltd. This now raises the consultancy fee from N125.7 million to N217.4 million.
He said that the second memo was in respect of Mangu Dam Project which has attained about 70 per cent completion. We also had revised estimated cost approval last year which approved an extension period for the work. In the same vein, the consultancy period has to be adjusted to correspond to the completion period.
“There is an augmentation of N111.6 million to raise the consultancy service supervision from N104 million to N215 million with an extension period of 24 months in favour of AIM Consultants Ltd,” he said.
The minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, said that the Council approved two memos on National Social Investment Programme.
He said that the first was for the award of the consultancy contract for the provision of training services and integrated supply of starter packs for N-Creative Trainees in the northern states in favour of Messers Patigon Services Ltd for N652.318million.
He added that the training will be held in Abuja for 1,500 beneficiaries with integrated starter packs distributed to them.
Udoma said: “The four thematic creative areas and their respective beneficiaries’ distributions are as follows: script writing – 150, graphic illustration 375, animation – 750 and post-production – 225.”
He said that the second memo was also under the National Social Investment Programme for the award of consultancy service contracts for the provision of training services and integration supply of starter packs for the N-Tech Software trainees in Southern Nigeria, in favour of UCH Ltd at the sum of N325.489 million.
“This same training has been provided for the northern states already, so this is for the southern states and it is for 2,000 beneficiaries,” he added.