Salihu Moh. Lukman
Progressive Governors Forum
This is dedicated to over three hundred students at Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State by Armed Bandits on Friday, December 11, 2020. May God Almighty protect and return them safely to their parents safely. Amin!
The abduction of over 500 school children of Government Science Secondary School (GSSS), Kankara, Katsina State on Friday, December 11, 2020, is painful, shameful and embarrassing. This is the kind of information that is only associated with folklore or tales by moonlight. Sadly, in this case, it is a true-life event. This is embarrassing and it means that nobody, NOBODY in Nigeria is safe.
For a country of over 200 million people, with 371,800 police personnel, this means about a policeman/woman to more than 500 citizens. Acknowledging that there is already a plan to recruit additional 280,000 police personnel, which will increase the total number of police personnel in the country to slightly above 650,000, it means in the end, the police to citizen ratio will come to about one police to over 300 citizens.
In comparison, Ghana with about 30 million people has 23,000 police. Guinea with about 12 million has 10,000 police, Kenya with a population of more than 51 million, has 95,000 police, South Africa with less than 60 million population, has 193,000 police. Outside Africa, United States of America with over 320 million population has 686,665 police, United Kingdom with about 66 million people, has 124,784 police personnel, Brazil, with 210 million population, has 436,514 police, Malaysia with about 31 million people, has 102,000 police personnel.
Everything considered, it will appear that number of police personnel in Nigeria may not necessarily be the problem, although many security experts believe strongly that it is indeed an issue. Issues of capacity with reference to equipment, training, intelligence gathering, moral, etc. are also strong factors, which need to be immediately addressed. Outside the police, other arms of the security agencies are faced with similar challenges.
Every day, Nigerians wake up with grieving information about kidnappings, armed banditry, attacks and murder of innocent citizens by Boko Haram in the North East and in other parts of the country by bandits and criminals. Often, Nigerians get worrisome reports about how some of our security personnel and traditional rulers collude with criminals to successfully execute attacks on citizens, including kidnappings and other criminal activities, which consumed the lives and properties of innocent Nigerians. Certainly, without the collaboration of security personnel, traditional rulers, community leaders and citizens, how can over 500 school children be taken without clear information of their whereabout for more than 72 hours.
Elementary knowledge of the area in question will convince any discerning mind that it is either the kidnap of GSSS Kankara students was done by combined operations of security personnel, traditional rulers and community leaders in the area or the security personnel, traditional rulers and community leaders are collaborators in the exercise. Given that those who carried out the kidnap would have passed through villages and communities to where they may be hiding now, how much information have been volunteered by the adjourning security posts, traditional rulers, community leaders and citizens in the villages in the routes leading to the location where these school kids are being held hostage? Or could it have been the case that more than 500 people can sneak pass security post and villages without being seen by both security operatives, traditional rulers, community leaders and citizens? It is difficult to avoid the suspicion that a whole community or village may be playing host to these kidnapped children. This clearly reflects how rotten our Nigerian society is. This is not a simple matter of deciding on choices. It is a matter of life and death.
Today, it is Kankara students in Katsina State, which affected over 500 children initially, with more than 300 still missing. In February 2018, it was over 110 Dapchi students of Yobe State. In April 2014, it was over 270 Chibok schoolgirls of Borno State. Leah Sharibu and more than 80 schoolgirls are still being held more six years after. Just about two weeks ago, more than 70 Zabarmari rice farmers were murdered.
We need to challenge our security agencies to be accountable. Every Nigerian is at risk. The hard truth is that the enemy is among us with the highest possibility a section of our security agencies may have joined or are collaborators with the enemy. The situation requires thorough introspection by not just our security agencies but also imposition of severe sanction against security personnel, traditional and community leaders where kidnappings, banditry and all the crimes consuming the lives of innocent Nigerians are taking place.
Every police, security personnel, traditional and community leader, located within Kankara or in routes where the GSSS Kankara school children would have passed should be arrested and tried. Similarly, everywhere such incidences take place, police, security, traditional and community leaders should be the first line suspect. They should be made to prove their innocence by producing the culprits, failing which, they should be convicted. Depending on the extent of the problem, there is no reason why corporal punishment covering life and death sentences should not be given.
We are dealing with a problem that is worse than armed robbery. Our Governors and our legislators in state assemblies should really act expeditiously on this matter. But to be able to succeed, the capacity of states to enforce laws must be strengthened. Without any hesitation, anybody debating whether or not to have state police is simply part of the problem. As it is now, if we need to have private police in order to protect lives of Nigerians, nothing should stop us. In any event, what is left?
As part of the strategy of strengthening law enforcement, questions of responding to challenges of criminal justice system in our states must be treated with the urgency required. As our states are taking all of these urgent steps, we must as a party, APC, take the recommendations contained in the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai Committee on True Federalism very seriously. There is no reason why after two years, the report is yet to get to the National Assembly. This is where the APC tripartite consultative committee, chaired by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo with both the party Chairman, HE Mai Mala Buni, Senate President, HE Ahmed Lawan, Speaker, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiala and PGF Chairman, HE Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, serving as members, can help the nation by facilitating consideration of the recommendations by all the arms of government.
More than any moment in the life of our APC administration at federal level, this is the time when President Muhammadu Buhari is dearly required to demonstrate his no nonsense toga, which is what earned him the love of ordinary Nigerians. If he will move to arrest all security personnel, traditional and religious leaders who are suspected to be accomplices to the current wave of kidnappings, murder of Nigerians and all the organised crimes taking place in the country, Nigerians will strengthen their support for our government to bring to an end this atrocious activity clearly syndicated by callous citizens, which may be supported by some security operatives, traditional rulers and community leaders. Enough is Enough!
This position does not represent the view of any APC Governor or the Progressive Governors Forum