THISDAY

Boko Haram, Bandits, More Deadly Than Separatist Groups, Umar Tells FG

- John Shiklam in Kaduna

A former military governor of Kaduna State, Col. Dangiwa Umar (rtd), has blasted the federal government over the security situation in the country, saying it is strange that the government is according undue attention to the threats by separatist movements despite the more daunting security issues posed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the North.

In a statement issued yesterday in Kaduna, Umar asked the federal government to go beyond the arrest of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, and pay greater attention to the more serious security challenges threatenin­g to cripple the country.

According to him, the activities of bandits and insurgents have resulted in the evacuation of over 20 per cent of the villagers in North-west and North-east, while hundreds of people

were being murdered, maimed and kidnapped for ransom every week.

He also added that millions of people have been rendered internally displaced, facing disease and starvation.

Umar said bandits have abducted over 1,000 school children in the North in the past eight months, adding that over 300 others are still in captivity, with the bandits demanding humongous ransom payments.

He noted that the recent re-arrest of the IPOB leader was greeted with a loud sigh of relief and celebratio­n in some sections of the country.

Umar said the arrest also elicited congratula­tory messages to the federal government, which appears overwhelme­d by the intractabl­e security challenges and in dire need of any redeeming act.

He described the developmen­t as clearly an exaggerati­on of the security threat Kanu and indeed IPOB posed to the nation's security and unity”.

“It is quite strange and disturbing that the federal government is according undue attention to the threats of separatist movements in contrast to the more daunting ones posed by bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the North-west, some parts of North-central and North-east.

“Hundreds are being murdered and maimed every week. Many more are kidnapped for ransom”.

He lamented further that millions of people have been rendered internally displaced, facing disease and starvation. “Over 1,000 school children were abducted in the past 8 months with over 300 still in the hands of the bandits and kidnappers demanding humongous ransom payments.

“Rape of women and young girls has become a daily occurrence. Most economic activities, particular­ly farming, which is the mainstay of the people in these areas are now all but impossible.

“Government's earlier claim of having technicall­y defeated the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east has turned out to be empty propaganda”, he said.

Umar maintained argued that contrary to this claim, the enemy had transforme­d into a more determined and deadly force, threatenin­g to overrun the whole of the North-east.

He said, “For the average northerner living in these zones, who is barely aware of the activities of separatist­s, banditry, kidnapping­s and insurgency are of greater threat and concern to him.”

He argued that the arrest of Kanu was of no serious consequenc­e since it did nothing to ameliorate this harsh and brutal condition.

He said however that in recognisin­g the right of every citizen or group to express the desire for self-determinat­ion, the use of violence should not be supported or condone.

“IPOB and its leader may well be responsibl­e for some of the violence, including the murder of security personnel, arson and destructio­n of public and private properties for which they should be held to account.

“We must however be honest enough to identify the cause of the current growing restivenes­s in the South-east”, Umar added.

He called on the government to deploy non-violent means in addressing the problem of people agitating for selfdeterm­ination.

Umar said it was selfeviden­t that justice, fairness and equity are the best means of building a united and virile nation, particular­ly one as diverse and fragile as Nigeria.

“It is my long-held belief that this country is more beneficial to all the federating units, if only because it provides a security umbrella to all its units.

“None of them will fare better in a balkanized Nigeria due to their similar diversitie­s.

“The recognitio­n of Nigeria as the giant of Africa is not on account of its huge oil wealth but its size, diversity as well as other potentials”.

Umar argued that the nation can only remain united and prosperous when all its citizens and the component parts feel a true sense of belonging.

“Without it, the nation's unity will be in serious jeopardy similar to what Nigeria is currently experienci­ng.

“Truth be told, the Buhari’s administra­tion has so far exhibited poor skills in its management of our diversity.

“Yet it has the benefit of great examples by past administra­tions and statesmen, which should guide it,” he added.

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