By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemns in the strongest possible terms the Minister of Information and Culture; Lai Mohammed for backing Sheikh Abuabakar Gumi’s meeting with Armed Bandits in the North-west Nigeria under the assumption that the bandits might be ready to listen to the cleric than they would to the government.
HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has also expressed disappointment that the Imo State governor Hope Uzodinma could permit the killing of civilians by policemen and the military in Orlu whereas he has no idea about securing Imo State which is witnessing the highest state of insecurity in the history of that state just as the Rights group said the killing of the former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association in the state Ndionyenma Nwankwo and the recent abduction violently of the Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Owerri Diocese Right Reverend Doctor Moses Chikwe amongst serial violent crimes in Imo State shows that Imo state is gradually becoming like Kaduna State which is the most lawless state in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. HURIWA has tasked Imo state people to demand action from the state administration and ask the governor to stay back in Owerri and administer good governance rather than waste Imo state’s public fund on frivolous politically motivated trips all around Nigeria.
For the purpose of clarity, last week the media was awash with news of reconciliatory/consultative meetings between the ravaging, menacing bandits who have wreaked havoc in the North-West Nigeria and the government as initiated by Governor Bello Mattawale of Zamfara and led by the chief negotiator, Sheikh Gunmi.
The meeting, which was not the first of its kind as the Katsina state governor; Bello Masari had in time earlier, held negotiation talks with these miscreants; Kaduna state governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, had proudly told the world how as part of his efforts to avert further attacks by these same bandits in Kaduna, had paid them handsome sums of Naira to placate them.
While Sheikh Gumi’s ‘diplomacy shuttle’ to the bandits’ hideout in Shinkafi local government, Zamfara State, where he was said to have met with about 500 of them might have been intended at stopping their criminal acts, it put to question, everything that the Nigerian security agencies are purportedly doing to rid the country of criminality.
More worrisome is that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; the spokesperson of the Federal Government, who while featuring on TVC’s ‘This Morning’ show on Friday, said there was “nothing unusual for the renowned Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi to act as a bridge between the government and bandits terrorising Zamfara State.
This shows an unacceptable level of complacency on the part of the Nigerian security forces, conspiracy on the part of leaders in the north and lack of readiness to genuinely address the problem on the part of President Muhammadu Buhari.
More so, it is a clear evidence that some northern leaders really know these bandits, their names, where they live and are pampering and begging them to stop. Noble as the intention of the Sheikh Gumi, which was to spread the message of Islam and peace to the Fulani herdsmen and rid the country of kidnappings and banditry, might be, such absurdity is beyond comprehension!
Furthermore, it also brings the issue animals being more equal than others, just as it undermines the issues of rule of law, where no man is above the law and crime should have consequences rather than reward.
It has been a long 6 years and 9 months into a relatively torturous life as Nigerians with the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari who has taken the nation on a roller-coaster ride to an apologetic, nepotic, tribalistic, sectional and un-people government whose only agenda is sectional.
From when the President Buhari took over in 2015, his administration has been on a nepotistic mission aimed at promoting the fortunes of the far north.
He negated federal character, not for competence but for the sake of ethnic and regional satisfaction, compromised national security on the altar of propaganda and sectional bigotry. He neglected all other regions and tribes as sacrifice for the pursuit of a selfish ethnic agenda. The nation is been run on the axiom of “all animals are equal but some are more equal”.
According to the International Crisis Group, in the last decade more than 8,000 people have been killed in the states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger and Zamfara. So, the resort to shallow and poorly conceived peace deals is an age-old failure of the Nigerian security and political establishment. To truly achieve peace, Lai Mohammed should be advising the government to start by building trust with local communities vulnerable to attacks by bandits.
They should set up early warning and response systems, working with vigilantes and community leaders on the ground. And they should begin to address the structural inequalities that drive people to violence, like poverty, a lack of education and opportunity, and government mistreatment.
The military in particular should redirect its attention to controlling the trafficking in small arms and light weapons, specifically by patrolling porous national borders.
There is no gainsaying the fact that Boko Haram has turned the North East to a war zone while, states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna and Kastina are now homes to bandits, marauders, kidnappers, rapists and arrays of hoodlums.
Experts have traced the situation to corruption and the refusal of northern political elites to educate the young generation, which makes them readily available as participants in the fast-growing banditry industry of the north.
The choice of whether or not peace and normalcy returns to the north lies with leaders and people in the region. There must be concerted effort towards ridding the affected areas of the perpetrators.
Nevertheless, as long as the people and Lai Mohammed attempt to continue to shield and cover them up, under the pretense of government using some back channels to address the security challenges in the country, the killers will continue to have field days.
For the umpteenth time, this Lai Mohammed has expressed this government’s lack of sincere goodwill in addressing the issues of insecurity in the northern part of the country.
HURIWA demands that this treasonous act by the minister of Information and Culture Mr Lai Mohammed be deemed not in tandem with the Principle of the Rule of law and he needs to be prosecuted.