Anarchy on the Land: Has Jonathan Lost Control?

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By Ohia Israel

Incidents of violence, anarchy, killings in the country can signify that President Goodluck Jonathan has lost control of the governance of the country. Just like the All Progressive Congress, APC in a communique issued after the meeting said; “The pervasive corruption and incompetence that have become the hallmarks of the Jonathan administration paved the way for this unprecedented greed in which hapless job seekers were extorted by the same government that has failed to provide jobs for them.

The APC, for instance, faulted the insensitivity of Jonathan’s government towards the ongoing killings nationwide. It said killings were going on everywhere, while the President is attending one rally or the other.

The party said: “The orgy of killings in the past few weeks have left hundreds dead and many more maimed in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Kaduna, Katsina and Plateau States, just to mention a few.

“Never in the peace time history of our dear country has there been such a high number of needless deaths.

“Amid all of this, the PDP-led Federal Government has been carrying on as if all is well. After presiding over a wasteful centenary celebration, President Goodluck Jonathan has been gallivanting around the country, addressing political rallies when he should be commiserating with families of the dead in the affected states, especially Yobe where innocent children were massacred by a cowardly band of terrorists, and Katsina, which he visited a few hours after hundreds of people were killed.

“It is clear that the situation in our country today, whether it is in the area of security, job creation, fight against corruption or even growing of the economy, is far beyond the capacity of those at the helm of affairs.”

Series of events that have culminated in the country show that the President may have lost control on the grip of the nation.

It is on note that under this administration, Boko Haram which was destroyed by ex-President Yar’Adua is now back and in better form than ever; getting stronger and more brazen by the day. In the five years, the administration has been unable to restore security to the north and the economy continues in its deadly plunge. As the crisis entrenches itself, the people have lost all confidence and hope.

Even as the northeast struggles with a new reality of life with terror, under this new era of impunity, MEND has reformed into the world’s top high-sea pirates, achieving the most dangerous, high value boat captures and robberies in the entire world for 2013. In fact the first oil tanker kidnap in Nigeria’s history, the hijack of MT Velle di Cordoba, happened in December of 2010 under Jonathan’s government.

According to estimates from a former senior World Bank employee, over $400 billion dollars worth of oil revenue has been stolen from the Niger Delta by thieves, bunkerers and pirates since independence. Today the stealing, bunkering and spilling oil from illegal activities is at an all time high. The creeks are flowing with poisonous oil. In fact the thieves are so confident and feel so legitimate, the President of the Ijaw Youth Council announced publicly that illegal ‘bush’ refining should be legalized. 400,000 barrels of oil are looted every day with a staggering income diversion by the Niger Delta bandits of $4 million every day! And this is getting worse.

There has been the mention of large scale corruption in the system, as it is gathered that Nigeria loses $8bn a year in NNPC oil-product swaps. $4.3 million a day is stolen from the poor masses in the NNPC kerosene subsidy scam, which by the way, is contrary to recent statements by the oil minister and President, Nigerians never protested about; the January 2012 protests were only in relation to petrol and not kerosene subsidies.

There has been series of arms proliferations as it was gathered that the Punch of Feb 20 2014 revealed that over 8,741 arms and 7,014 pieces of ammunition were recovered from various criminal hideouts in Anambra, Edo and Rivers States. According to another February article in the same paper, the State Security Service operatives intercepted high-calibre ammunition in a 20-foot container at the sea port in Rivers State in a MV Iron Trader vessel which was carrying 2,700 anti-aircraft and anti-tank bombs. The police, according to the report, also alerted of an increased number of arms in circulation.

However, the events of the past weeks have shown the rate of killings, insecurity, violence and anarchy in the land are so alarming and Jonathan may have lost it.

Just recently Katsina State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Garba, gave the figures at the end of his sympathy visit to the affected communities as he said gunmen that raided several communities in Katsina State, on March 11 and 12, had killed 117, injured 37 and displaced 708 persons.

Garba led a state government committee which visited Faskari Model Primary School, Faskari town, where displaced victims, comprising women and children, were settled.

Addressing newsmen during the tour, Garba said from the interim report obtained, 22 persons were killed at Sabonlayin Galadima and 29 at Maigora. Others killed included 51 at Marabar Kindo, eight at Yardoka and seven at Kurar Mota villages.

Garba, who also visited the injured victims at Funtua General Hospital, urged people to pray against future occurrence.

While in the past weeks there have been different attacks by the Fulani herdsmen in Benue State, killing several and leaving many lost.

Last Monday, the state was again thrown into mourning in a fresh attack between suspected Fulani mercenaries and Tiv youths at Agasha and Yelwata, in Guma Local Government area of Benue State leaving no fewer than 25 persons dead.

The suspected Fulani mercenaries had invaded these local governments shooting, burning houses and killing people.

According to a source “Several houses and farmland have been set ablaze by the herdsmen and many are fleeing the besieged communities.

“They stormed our communities in their hundreds early Monday morning, shooting sporadically and killing anything in sight, over 25 persons must have been killed on both sides; they took away two of our youths alive but many of our people are missing.

“They came into Agasha after crossing River Buruku at Ayila from neigbouring Nasarawa State; same for Yelwata which is also a border community.”

The Special Assistant to Governor Gabriel Suswam on Banking and Investment, Mr. Ayoosu Bem who hails from one of the invaded communities confirmed the attack saying “the attackers came this morning and started killing and burning down houses; some of our people are missing while many are fleeing their homes.”

The Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Superintendent, SP, Daniel Ezeala confirmed the attack but said the command was yet to confirm the number of casualties adding that security personnel had been drafted to the affected communities.

It would be recalled that the Benue State Governor Suswam narrowly escaped death after his entourage was attacked by Fulani Herdsmen on March 12, with the Fulani Herdsmen blaming the governor as the cause of the violent attacks rocking the state.

While barely four days after suspected Fulani herdsmen struck in Benue State killing 37, three villages in Kaduna State also suffered another attack, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen in which about 200 were feared dead.

The attacked villages in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State were reportedly razed.

The fresh attack came just as explosions rocked Maiduguri, Borno State capital, the scene of Friday’s assault by insurgents that claimed scores of lives.

The Kaduna villages in which about 200 were reportedly killed were identified as Sankwai, Tekum and Unguwar Gata inhabited by native Moroa people in Manchok chiefdom, about 250km south of Kaduna metropolis, the capital of Kaduna State.

Kaduna State police spokesman, DSP Aminu Lawan, who confirmed the attack, said he could not ascertain the casualty figure, saying detectives had been sent to the affected villages to verify the situation of things.

According to Gideon Bughu, 45, from Sankwai village, some gunmen first came last Friday night and attacked the village. He said the gunmen numbered over 50. Some gunmen, he stated, later came, yesterday, around 4am, and attacked the other villages.

Kaduna State police spokesman, Lawan, in a telephone chat, said: “I have been briefed by the District Police Officer in Manchok that three villages in that axis were attacked with a number of casualties and some homes burnt. But I cannot tell you the number of casualties now. We have sent detectives to the place to ascertain what happened. We have also sent troops who are now combing the surrounding hills for the murderers. We also gathered that the villagers were able to kill some of the invaders.”

The story is the same in Taraba, as at least 35 persons were reportedly killed recently with properties worth millions of naira burnt in an attack between Tivs and Fulanis at Takum Local Government Area of Taraba State. The affected communities include: Ikyo, Catholic Church Agwaza, Kokonbo, Azer, Lijam, Akesa, Tyow Doshima, Tse Saka and Kwaghlando districts respectively.

In a related development, Foreign fighters linked with Boko Haram may have infiltrated the rank of Fulani herdsmen blamed for the spate of deadly attacks in Benue, Katsina,Taraba, Kaduna and other parts of the northern region, feelers from security agencies have revealed.

Recent attacks allegedly by Fulani herdsmen had claimed close to 500 lives with attackers reported to be using AK47 and other sophisticated weapons. The attackers are reported to be displaying such professionalism that security analysts say were not compatible with herdsmen fighting over grazing lands.

Feelers from security establishments indicated that analysis of the various attacks, the weapons deployed and the manner of operations showed that the herdsmen are receiving external support, the nature of which the security agencies are still investigating.

The puzzle was reported to have deepened when the organisation of Fulani herdsmen openly and repeatedly denied their involvement in the recent multiple killings. A security source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the ongoing investigations said “our analysis points in the direction of external infiltration.

“The weapons used and the professionalism displayed showed that they are trained fighters. We are still reviewing evidence but our preliminary conclusion is that a link is emerging between the insurgency in the North-East and unexplained killings in the North- West,” the official said.

It was learnt that the mode of operation of the alleged Fulani herdsmen was similar to the insurgents’ tactics in the North-East especially as the attackers normally retreated to reserve forests linking the North-East and North-West along the border with Niger and Chad Republics.

This was said to be similar to the Boko Haram mode of operation that used the reserve forest as a base to attack villages around Maiduguri and other parts of the North-East.

Meanwhile, The Northern States Governors’ Forum (NSGF) has called for a new approach to end the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in some parts of the North.

Chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, made the call in Minna recently while reacting to the killing of about 100 persons in Unguwar Sankwai, Unguwar Gata and Chenshyi villages of Kaura Local Government Area in the southern part of Kaduna State by suspected herdsmen.

The forum’s reaction was contained in a statement signed by Governor Aliyu’s spokesman, Danladi Ndayebo.

The forum called on the Federal Government to consider a national policy to settle nomads and provide adequate grazing reserves and cattle routes, arguing that grazing reserves have proved to be a self sustaining solution for pastoralists across many developed and underdeveloped countries of the world.

“It is the considered opinion of the forum that a national policy be put in place to settle nomads and provide adequate reserves and cattle routes. The advantages of doing so include reintegrating herdsmen into the mainstream society and reducing or even eliminating herdsmen/farmers conflicts,” the statement said.

The forum recalled that in pre-colonial times, the influx of Fulani pastoralists into various parts of Northern Nigeria in the 19th century led to establishment of grazing areas known as Hurumis (communal grazing areas) which were preserved around townships and large villages and protected by Emirate Councils.

The forum further urged the Federal Government to adopt the comprehensive pastoral resource development programme of the defunct Northern Nigeria which established facilities like marketing channels, watering points, veterinary posts and grazing reserves in major pastoral areas of the region.

It lamented that only 36 out of the nation’s 415 grazing reserves had been gazetted and urged the Federal Government to take immediate steps to set aside dedicated areas of land for pastoral use.

More so, members of Islamist group Boko Haram are believed to be behind the brutal attacks on villages in north east Nigeria that saw the slaughtering of scores of civilians last month. Suspected sect members disguised as traders invaded an open market and opened fire, killing at least 15 people in Nigeria’s northeast village of Gajiram, witnesses and security operatives have said.

Suspected Boko Haram Islamists killed more than 100 people in an attack on a village in Nigeria, a local senator said on Sunday.

The attackers stormed the village in Nigeria’s restive northeastern Borno State on Saturday, slaughtering scores of civilians and sending many others fleeing.

“A hundred and six people, including an old woman, have been killed by the attackers, suspected to be Boko Haram gunmen,” Senator Ali Ndume said.

“Sixty of the dead have been buried while the rest are awaiting burial,” he added, saying the attacks in the area were becoming “deadlier and more frequent by the day.”

The raid took place on a mostly Christian village of Izghe in Borno, which has been under emergency rule since May last year in a bid to stop an Islamist rebellion that has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.

A local farmer who escaped by scaling the fence of his house and crawling on his belly for 40 minutes said the attackers had gone door-to-door looking for those hiding in their houses.

“The attackers came around 9:30pm (20.30 GMT) in six trucks and some motorcycles. They were dressed in military uniform,” Barnabas Idi said. “They asked men to assemble at a place, and began hacking and slaughtering them.”

There were no security forces in the town at the time of the attack, he said.

According to AFP, The head of the local government in the area, Maina Ularamu, said; “From the latest information I have gathered, more than 60 people have been killed.

“We suspect that the gunmen were members of Boko Haram. They have taken over the village.

“They looted businesses and food stores and loaded all their spoils into vehicles owned by residents and fled into the bush,” he added.

The official was speaking from Abuja and said he was preparing to return to Maiduguri, the state capital, to deal with the fallout of the attack.

Hundreds of villagers in Borno had already fled to Maiduguri after Boko Haram militants last week killed 43 people in two separate attacks.

The militant sect has said it is fighting to create a strict Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.

The southern half of the oil-rich country, Africa’s most populous, is mainly Christian.

Gunmen also attacked a fishing village on Lake Chad on Saturday, killing an unspecified number of residents.

A survivor said several people had drowned in the lake while trying to escape the gunmen.

Military spokesman Mohammed Dole confirmed the attack but declined to comment further saying the area fell under the jurisdiction of a multinational task force comprising troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad.

Boko Haram militants have carried out frequent attacks in both cities and remote areas of the northeast, despite a military operation launched when emergency rule was declared.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who has voiced frustration with the progress of the operation, replaced his top military brass on January 16 and it has not solved any matter.

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