By Suleiman Umaru
Ali Ndume, a Borno state born politician and Senator, Federal Republic of Nigeria, who incidentally is the Chairman, Senate Committee, on the Army, is not a happy man. Ndume’s source of unhappiness is the alleged provision of blanket amnesty to Bandits ,who had been instrumental in causing mayhem in north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, home state.
The Bandits had been involved in kidnapping students in these states including the north central state of Niger, former military President Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General home state, for ransom in the recent time. The latest of such attacks was at the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Talata Mafara Local government Area of Zamfara state where they were said to have kidnapped close to 300 female students on Friday, February 26, 2021.
This may have informed why the Senate Committee Chairman on the Army had cautioned the Katsina state born Nigerian President not ‘’to think that a blanket amnesty to the Bandits or the Insurgents due to the pressure from several quarters could force the Criminals to sheath their sword. Ndume , who could not hide his feelings had said that such gestures would achieve the opposite in the society as’’it would breed new forms of Criminality with hope that the government will bring them to the Negotiating table’’.
He further advised the Nigerian President ‘’to tackle the Banditry in the north west and north central as well as the Insurgency in the north east with the carrot and stick approach’’. But the Nigerian President had said on Thursday, February 25, 2021, that there is no possibility of granting amnesty to the Bandits, kidnappers and Insurgents.
He may have taken advantage of the joint security meeting of northern states governors Forum, northern Traditional Rulers Council and a delegation from the Federal government in Kaduna, the political Headquarters of the northern Elites.
The retired army General’s pronouncement, ruling out amnesty to the Bandits , Insurgents and Kidnappers, may have gladdened the heart of many Nigerians as there had been pressure by some prominent northern political Leaders and elites that the repentant Bandits and Insurgents, should be granted amnesty.
The retired army General who was said to have been represented at the all- powerful northern joint security meeting by Ibrahim Gambari, a Professor and the Chief of Staff, was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that ‘’it was time to treat Criminals as Criminals and stop ethnic profiling of them’’, an indication that there is no ethnic group that does not have Criminals among them.
The Nigerian President has every reason to say so. He had said that the security challenges facing the nation which was caused by the Bandits, Insurgents and the kidnappers had ‘’slowed down the emancipation of Nigerians by the APC government from poverty and economic deprivation’’.
Gambari was said to have revealed at the meeting that the President had directed Leo Irabor, a Major General and Chief of Defense Staff, CDS , Ibrahim Attahiru, a Major General and the Chief of Army Staff, CAS, Isiaka Amao, an Air Vice Marshall and Chief of Air Staff , CAS Zubairu Gambo, a Rear Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, and Heads of other security agencies’’ to develop plans to end Criminality in the country’’.
The Value News gathered that Bello Matawalle, the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, governor,of the Bandits besieged Zamfara state and Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic Cleric, were said to have been at the forefront to force Buhari to grant amnesty to the Bandits.
They may have been encouraged to call on the government to grant amnesty to the Bandits because of the amnesty granted to the repentant Insurgents who laid their arms in 2017 and 2018. Note that the military, under the former service Chiefs had established a Camp’’to rehabilitate and integrate the surrendered Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa Province, IWAP, Insurgents.
The Lawan Ahmad Senate were said have even started considering a bill for an Act tagged ‘’ National Agency for Education, Rehabilitation and de-radicalisation and Integration of repentant Insurgents in Nigeria 2020, SB. The bill which has the backing of Ahmad, the Senate President, was said to have been sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Gaidan, a one –time governor of Yobe state.
The Borno state government had made a declaration in 2018, that some 1,400 repentant BokoHaram and ISWAP Insurgents had been released by the military and rehabilitated into the society but that may not have stopped the Insurgents attacks in Communities in Borno and Yobe states.
Appearing on Channels Television, on Sunday, February 28, 2021, Ndume, who is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , had urged the Buhari led APC government to set up a Committee that would get to the root of the Banditry , Insurgency and kidnapping activities in the country in order to ascertain the actual cause of the security challenge in the country and address it squarely.
He had said that the military, under the current service Chiefs ‘’needs to be properly funded to acquire modern war equipment for Surveillance, monitoring and Intelligence gathering’’. The Lawmaker stressed that ‘’the funding of the Nigerian Military should be considered as a top national priority by the government ‘’, insisting that the country’s military, as it stands today, are not properly armed , and therefore could not effectively prosecute the war against the Bandits in the north west and the Insurgents in the north east, who had laced their attacks with kidnapping for ransom.
Many believe that whether the Buhari led government bows to pressure to grant blanket amnesty to the Bandits and Insurgents or not, the country was already in a state of war. One of such people isFemi-Fani Kayode, a Lawyer and former minister of Aviation, who have been rumoured of having dumped the PDP to join the ruling APC.
The ex-minister had warned that the deteriorating security situation in the country could lead to another Civil war. In an emotional outburst, he had said , ‘’We have got to offer solutions to the security challenges facing the country, to stop it from falling into Civil unrest’’.