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Opinions of Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Columnist: Dele Adeoluwa

The ‘innocent’ also cry

Three students, a male and two females, lay on a sparse grassy terrain. Viewing the scene from some reasonable distance, they looked serene. You would think they were just taking a nap or simply sunbathing after a tiring picnic. But that was a facade. They were actually stone dead!

They were the latest and quite unfortunate victims of the theatre of the absurd, a bizarre piece of drama, playing out in the land today. They were among the undisclosed number of students of the Greenfield University, Kaduna, who were kidnapped by suspected bandits penultimate Tuesday at their campus, located at Kasarami village off the Kaduna-Abuja highway.

The students’ bodies were discovered last Friday at Kwanan Bature village close to their campus, four days after they were abducted. Moments after the students were seized and taken to the den of terror, the gunmen, who appear to be enjoying their big, bloody business, established contacts with the students’ parents and demanded a total of N800 million (imagine!) ransom.

Negotiations were still going on between the abductors and the victims’ parents when the bodies of the three abductees were discovered, sending waves of outbursts and rage across the land.

This is the scarily unnerving level to which the challenge of insecurity has degenerated. Before our eyes, a once relatively peaceful nation has suddenly come under the burst of gunfire, spewing out death, sorrow and tears all over. It is a ghoulish experience. The demon of death let loose from its cage now prowls at will. The entire landscape is now tinged in a pall of gloom and terror. The fear of the unknown rules the waves, as our otherwise gallant security forces have been unable to tame the prowling demon.

One shudders at the ease with which blood is now being spilled without a modicum of remorse. Ordinarily, the sight and smell of human blood, considered sacred, should stir a rivulet of morbid dread in any sane person. But some people, sadly enough, have a queer fascination for spilling it.

It is hard to imagine the bestial instincts that rule some people, who could just snuff lives out of— and in some cases even decapitate— fellow human beings, including hapless, innocent children, as in the case of the slain Greenfield University students. You will think it is water, not blood, that runs in their veins.

The bandits’ onslaught is particularly more ferocious in three Northwest states— Kaduna, Zamfara and Katsina, where they now bury the dead almost on a daily basis. So relentless and endemic are the attacks that about 131 lives were wasted in those states within a week! Eighty of those absurd killings were recorded in Zamfara alone in a day!

Another Northwest state where the bandits’ mindless rage has been felt strongly is Sokoto. According to His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Royal Majesty, Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar, some 85 persons were mown down by the implacable bandits in a day some months back in some Sokoto villages.

The bodies of the Kaduna University students were discovered barely a few days after President Muhammadu Buhari had served the rampaging goons an ‘enough is enough’ red card. He warned them to “stop pushing their luck too far by believing that the government lacks the capacity to crush them”.

In a strongly worded statement, issued on his behalf by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, the General’s fire in the commander-in-chief appeared to have been stoked, as he (Buhari) matter-of-factly vowed that “such wanton disregard for life will be brought to an end sooner than later.”

Tough presidential talk! Let Mr President walk the talk by showing those serial killers, who have literally been assaulting our sovereignty, why we are called the “giant of Africa.” That epithet did not come only from our size as a nation; it also evolved from our military might as well, especially the exploits of our infantry. This has had to be demonstrated in many peace-keeping operations in which our troops had participated within the continent and even beyond.

This is precisely why a lot of people have been wondering aloud and in private discussions what is the matter with our otherwise strong military. The answer may not be far-fetched. Let Mr President show a more than cursory interest in the consistent allegation that our otherwise gallant and patriotic troops lack the essential and modern weapons to adequately fight our well-armed enemies, whose war machine is being oiled by well-heeled sources. He should dig into and frontally tackle the allegation of the diversion of much of the humongous funds voted to purchase arms.

In the meantime, just as the rampaging gunmen, including insurgents, have also been despoiling other parts of the North, murderous herders are also holding the South by the jugular. However, military campaign against the marauders has largely been concentrated in the North.

Down South, where killer-herders have helmed in the regions, most especially Southwest, kidnapping, raping and killing at will, the people are largely left to their fate. Only the governors have, within their limited powers over the security forces, even with their constitutional status as their states’ chief security officers, have put up a semblance of security arrangement.  Most of them have constituted alternative security apparatus, made up mostly of local hunters and other vigilantes, supervised by the already over-burdened central police, to tackle the sophisticatedly armed band of killers. Military operational presence that could, to a certain extent, deter the vicious  marauders, is totally absent, allowing the quite bilious killer-kidnappers a free rein.

Let the military, which is the only institution that has the might to adequately tackle the killers, also spread its mighty tentacles down South. Let the Federal Government, going forward, loose the shackles that may have chained down our military, preventing it from displaying its might. Our people, from the South to the North, must be rescued from the siege of terror and our already battered pride and sovereignty as a nation restored.

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