As the sequel to the first part, banditry, that not-so-distant cousin of terrorism that the media have been browbeaten into watering down, is now being monetised. These criminals who have also been noted to pose like genuine herdsmen for a long time lurk in bushes strategizing on how to pounce on their next victims.
One video of one of the terrorist leaders which Sheik Gumi met recently circulated on social media and the terrorist boldly said:
“I swear, if it is not government that is encouraging us to commit crime in the bush, may God take my life as I speak. All that a Fulani man is known for are his cows. Cows don’t give birth to #AK47….”
Bulama Bukarti, a terrorism analyst and columnist was also quoted in an international newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, stating that:
“We know ransoms were paid in previous abductions because the perpetrators have admitted it. The kidnappers are treated with kid gloves, which is incentivizing others to get into this industry.”
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No other evidence may be necessary to prove the Federal and State government’s complicity in banditry and terrorism.
Sadly, banditry, kidnapping and other violent vices are even now being normalised by some public officials such as the Minister of Culture and Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
In a televised interview, Lai Mohammed referenced that kidnapping schoolchildren is a common thing even in the United States. But what the Minister failed to also point out is that the security forces in the U.S are up to task to ensure perpatrators are fished out in record time. They also do not negotiate with terrorists the way the Nigerian government has come to normalise it.
To be factual, the United States also have a policy of not negotiating with terrorists no matter what. This is how to disincentivise terrorism. But it seems that Lai Mohammed is being economical with the whole truth while trying to play down the dire situation. The Information Minister might also be desperately trying to defend the incompetence of the present administration in handling the problem of insecurity.
Former governor of Anambra state and PDP vice-presidential aspirant, Peter Obi stated, during the presentation of a book authored by Prof Chinyere Okunna on Wednesday, that Nigeria can be described as a sad irony where political thugs earn more than professors. This opinion rightly pictures the scene as it is currently with regard to government attitude towards insurgents and bandits.
It now appears that all of the detrimental actions, inactions and rhetoric of the incumbent administration is emboldening these terrorists to abduct more schoolchildren and waylay travellers on highways.
Just last week, another set of about 300 girls were abducted from their school in Jangebe, Talata-Marafa LGA in Zamfara state in a fashion reminiscent of the famous Chibok girls. And just after about a week in captivity, they have been reported released only for government photo-ops to kick in.
How were the captured students released without the use of force by the government?
Since the criminal elements which the government is being cosy with have now seen the possibility of getting huge ransoms paid to them directly by the government, they have now resolved to terrorising and kidnapping vulnerable children.
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The obvious preference of the government with regard to excusing banditry is going to stoke ethnic bias and divide the nation further if care is not taken. The government would be signalling weakness by treating these criminals hiding in bushes with levity just because they once gave them leverage.
In the end, the government has a duty to the people to not favour one section of the country over another. By applying the force of the law against criminal elements who are found wanting is the only way the war against kidnappings of vulnerable Nigerians can be justly brough to an end.
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