04 Mar

The week ahead – Violence brews at Nigeria’s seams

The governor of Benue state, has confirmed that a fresh attack on Agatu, the site of a massacre of more than 100 people, has left another nine people dead. This is coming after people, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded the community a week ago, killing at least a hundred, and displacing thousands of villagers. During a meeting which held Thursday, the Fulani community in Benue State, said that the crisis started after 10,000 cattle belonging to its members were killed by Agatu natives. Ado Boderi, who spoke on behalf of the Fulani community, said that criminal elements from both sides escalated the crisis. Akpa Iduh, who spoke on behalf of the Agatu people, decried the continued unprovoked attacks on his people by “Fulani mercenaries”, and said that the crisis had recently turned into a war because of the types of weapons the herdsmen were using against them.

Gunmen attacked Babington Macualay Junior Seminary in Ikorodu, Lagos, on Monday and abducted three female students. The 10-man armed gang ultimately demanded for N100,000,000 as ransom per girl, which they have reduced to N20 million each. This is just as the police in Lagos have deployed several sniffer dogs in search of the culprits and beefed up security in schools in Ikorodu owing to the unsuccessful attack on Owutu Government College by the same gang. The command has also deployed a newly acquired forensic laboratory vehicle to the scene to help analyse all clues recovered from the school.

Oshodi, Lagos’s city centre Wednesday witnessed anarchy, as a fierce clash between factions of the National Union Of Road Transport Workers disrupted commercial activities for several hours. Two people were alleged to have been killed in the fracas, a claim denied by Dolapo Badmus, the spokesman for the police in Lagos, but many others sustained several degrees of injuries. Shops were looted. In her media briefing, Ms. Badmus said that some persons had been arrested over the incident.

In what turned out to be a bad week for Lagos, the following day, the Mile 12 Market in Ketu went up in flames on Thursday. The Lagos State government was forced to shut down the market after a clash between the Yoruba and Hausa communities left five people dead. Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said that the market would remain closed until the dispute between the communities is resolved. The cause of the crisis remained unclear, but residents say that it began on Wednesday, following a dispute between two commercial motorcyclists from the two ethnic groups, which degenerated into a crisis after the Hausa rider allegedly stabbed the Yoruba rider. Youths at Mile 12 attacked the Hausa motorcyclist, an action which led the Hausa community to retaliate against the Yoruba community. The police and military eventually gained control.

A 10-count charge of corruption has been filed against former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh and Iyalikam Nig Ltd, a company linked to him. The charge sheet signed by Aliyu Yusuf, EFCC’s deputy director, Legal, accused the former Defence Chief of unlawfully using funds meant for the Nigerian Air Force to purchase landed properties in choice areas in Abuja, between January and December 2013. Badeh and the company were also accused of removing from the accounts of the NAF, and use of dollar equivalent of N650 million to purchase a commercial plot at plot 1386, Oda Crescent Cadastral zone Ao7 Wuse ll Abuja among other allegations.

A former chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, and candidate of the party in the Anambra Central Senatorial District election, Victor Umeh, has been arrested by the Department of State Security. Umeh was arrested in Enugu, the capital of Enugu State at about 0900 hours on Thursday. Umeh’s aide, Stan Okeke, said Umeh is being accused of sponsoring recent pro-Biafra activities of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

Despite assurances from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the current fuel scarcity would not tarry, the scarcity bit harder yesterday as consumers of petrol bought the product at exorbitant rates in parts of the country amid long queues at the few dispensing stations that opened for business. Expectedly, the development has resulted in the sky-rocketing of transportation fares and prices of foodstuff. The petrol crisis is coming at a time when power outages are increasing in frequency as a result of the drop in power generation.

COUNSEL

  • Agatu is a sad tale in our national life. The attacks on Agatu, two within the space of a week, and one of them sustained over days, are just two of many that happen, most of which go unreported, in many far flung villages in Nigeria. The menace of Fulani herdsmen, especially those that stray from Central and West African countries into Nigeria, should serve a pivot of a national security crisis affecting farmers and herdsmen. The Nigerian state has failed the people of Agatu in particular, and the nation in general. The state must proffer a comprehensive and a permanent solution to this menace before retaliatory attacks gather steam.
  • The kidnap of the students of BMJS highlights the systemic failure of Nigeria’s security apparatus. Ikorodu is an area with a Divisional Police Command, a military joint task force and other vigilante groups, and yet there was no immediate response to rescue or prevent the incident. We urge all schools and other important public institutions with vulnerable members of the society to exercise caution, and we task our security agencies to take necessary actions to prevent this kind of occurrence.
  • The gang violence in Lagos shows the inadequacy of intelligence and security in Lagos. The sporadic fighting between groups and anarchists is a phenomenon that the state security apparatus needs to evolve a practical solution to. The Centre of Excellence can, and must do better in policing over a 20 million of its inhabitants. A start will be having its legislators at the National Assembly lead the debate over reforming the police. A state police force is a must.
  • The significance of arraignment of former Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh, cannot be over emphasized. This is a leader of the armed services who presided over billions of naira in the defence budget, and yet couldn’t arm his troops properly to fight Boko Haram. We hope to see these allegations of theft proven and Badeh sent to jail. We believe a conviction of the former defence chief will serve as a good deterrent to future occupiers of the office.
  • The arrest of Victor Umeh, even though based on a petition that may be politically motivated, is a step in the right direction towards finding the financiers of MASSOB and IPOB. However, a note of warning: an investigation into any link must be thorough, and such a link, if found, must be proven beyond doubt.
  • It is disgraceful the ordinary Nigerians continue to suffer from the incompetence of the State in terms of energy crises. Happening alongside the major drop in power output, is a petrol scarcity, which deprives many Nigerians of the only source of powering their generators for homes and businesses. We cant overemphasize the need for a comprehensive reform to put a stop to these problems.