For the second time in a week, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, has expressed concern about the worsening insecurity in Nigeria.
The sultan, who last Thursday described the North, ravaged by terrorism and banditry, as the worst place to live in Nigeria, said Thursday that nowhere is safe in the country.
The sultan, in a statement by the apex Islamic body, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), in reaction to the killing of over 43 rice farmers in Borno State, enjoined Islamic clerics nationwide to embark on special prayer sessions against insecurity five times daily.
The sultan, who on November 26 at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council in Abuja, had lamented the high rate of insecurity in the North, restated Thursday that bandits now rule in some communities in the North.
He called on the federal government to rise up to its responsibilities and go beyond the traditional condemnation and payment of lip service to security matters.
The statement, signed by the JNI Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Aliyu, said: “Wanton killings, acts of banditry, kidnapping for ransom, high rate of unemployment amongst the youths, rape and all forms of terrorisms have now become the ‘New Trend’ in our communities.
“Nigerians have become so much terrified, as nowhere is safe; the home, the farms, and the roads. Bandits now rule in many communities, they set rules that must be obeyed.”
The sultan condoled with the government and people of Borno State over the massacre of the rice farmers in Zabarmari in Jere Local Government.
He said: “Forty-three human beings as reported by the media were slaughtered without any intervention by the security forces in the area. The senseless act stands condemned in the strongest of terms.
“Unfortunately, the common man is now caught in-between two contending phenomenon; when he goes to the farm, he gets killed; and when he stays at home, he dies of hunger. It should be known that this singular act of Zabarmari was a calculated attempt to instill fears among farmers and jeopardise the frantic efforts of returning Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their localities by the Borno State government under the leadership of Governor Babagana Umar Zulum.
“For how long, would we continue to live a life in fear? For how long, can we continue to wait in vain? For how long, shall we continue to condemn acts of terrorism without any concerted efforts in ending it? For how long, would we continue to remain indolent? And for how long can we continue to remain hopeless in a precarious situation such as what we are in presently?”
He sent his heartrending condolences to the families of those martyred in the Zabarmari massacre, the people and government of Borno State and Nigeria in general.
The sultan faulted the lethargic reaction of the federal government to the incident.
According to him, “All that was needed immediately the incident occurred was a proactive measure(s) by the federal government of Nigeria, such as a prompt visit within 24 hours to the affected areas.
“This will assuage the affected communities to have more confidence in their leaders, seeing that they are not left alone in their ordeal and it will also send a strong signal to insurgents that the government is ready to go to any length to protect its people.”
The JNI suggested ways the federal government could handle such an incident in the future to reassure the people of its commitment to their safety and wellbeing.
It said: “We call on the government to: Always identify with victims and places of attacks by being physically on the ground to commiserate with the people. A national broadcast after the visit is very necessary. “Reprimand/prosecute officials that are found wanting in the discharge of their assignment(s), so as to serve as a deterrent to other nonchalant officials.
“Collaboration with relevant security agencies with a timeline to bringing an end or at best decapitate all security threats bedeviling the country and also mop small arms and light weapons (SALWs) in the hands of criminals or else Nigeria will continue to witness the rise in arms proliferation for self-defence amongst Nigerians since the government failed to do so.”
It urged the federal government not to spare efforts in supporting all affected communities since many people have been turned into internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“We note with dismay that our societal values have been relegated to alien norms, thus parents and community leaders must be very vigilant and always remain to introspect over their wards and/or children, as the prevalence of illicit drugs intake amongst the youths is getting out of hand.
“These and many more similar gestures may not immediately bring insurgency to an abrupt end, but will reassure the masses and calm frayed nerves seeing that the authorities are truly on top of the situation,” the JNI added.
Chuks Okocha, Michael Olugbode, John Shiklam