Nigerians have expressed concern about the resurgence of insecurity in the country and called for new security strategies to restore peace and stability in areas affected by kidnapping, insurgency and banditry.
While some of the respondents said they had been forced to flee their villages by gunmen, others said the activities of the insurgents and other criminals had decimated the local economy and exacerbated the poverty level.
Ahmed Baba, a Bauchi-based security expert, said
security agencies must adopt new approaches in the war against kidnapping and terrorism.
“The trend calls for a new approach to holistically address the security challenges in the country,” he said.
Also, Sukumun Ezekiel, a civil society activist, attributed the spate of insecurity to weak local governance, economic inequality and poverty.
“Many citizens feel unsafe resulting from their inability to access essential services such as healthcare and education,” Mr Ezekiel said.
Abdulhamid Bununu, the Bauchi State Commissioner for Security and Internal Affairs, said the government has been supporting community policing to bolster security at the grassroots.
Similarly, Hayatu Usman, the Commissioner of Police in Gombe State, said the command had employed effective measures and strengthened collaborations with critical stakeholders to make the state safe.
Mr Usman said the command had adopted a new approach to stem the activities of the local “Kalare boys” hoodlums.
The Jigawa State police spokesman, ASP Lawan Shiisu, said they have also been conducting intelligence-led raids to root out criminals hibernating in Zamdama hills, Balmo, Baranda, and Bagadaza forests.
“Members of the hunters, forest guards, and vigilance services complemented the effort of the police during the two-day operations,” Mr Shiisu said.
Badruddeen Tijjani, the spokesman of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Jigawa, said raising the security consciousness of citizens is critical to stemming any security menace.
In Benue, residents said not much has changed concerning insecurity. Some victims of banditry said the criminals now force them to pay for the bullets they expended after any attack on villages and communities.
Timothy Terwase, a 35-year-old commercial motorcyclist and a victim, said bandits killed his father in Katsina-Ala Local Government Area and forced the family to pay ransom for the corpse.
“Our area has gradually become a war-torn zone. Those wicked men, after killing my father in cold blood, demanded that we pay for the bullets they wasted on my father, and there was nothing we could do than to pay; that is like adding salt to injury,’’ he said.
The state commandant, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Yakubu Ibrahim, said security agencies were doing their best to tackle the menace.
In Plateau, which has just witnessed another round of violence, there are still divergent views as to the causes of the recurring crisis.
Both Chris Damcher, the chairman, Plateau State Civil Society Organisations Forum, and Aboi Aboki, national president, Plateau Initiative for Development of the Natives, believed that land was at the heart of the crisis in Plateau.
They blamed the government and traditional leaders for failing to do ‘the right thing’.
Also, Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Plateau acknowledged the complexities of the security situation and pledged to ensure the full restoration of peace in the state.
Mr Mutfwang decried the recent killings and wanton destruction of properties and commended the military and other security agencies for their commitment to defending the state.
In Taraba, Maj. Gen. Frank Etim, the brigade commander, 6 Brigade Nigerian Army, Jalingo, said they have been making efforts to flush out bandits and kidnappers and stem the tide of criminal activities in Taraba.
Mr Etim, however, requested more cooperation from the people, especially in actionable information on the movement of bandits and other criminals in the state.
In Kaduna State, the police command said it has put in place robust strategies to stem the high rate of kidnapping and killings in the state.
The command’s police public relations officer, Mansir Hassan, said the new strategies are already bearing fruits.
A retired brigadier general, Kabir Galadanci, said to win the war against insecurity, political leaders must be firm, patriotic and unwavering in demanding results from the security forces.
In Kano State, the commissioner of police, Usaini Gumel, said in areas along the border with Katsina and Bauchi States, such as Rogo, Karaye, Tsanyawa, Kunchi, Shanono, Sumaila, and Takai, where pockets of kidnappings were recorded, the government has set up a joint security task force to deal with the situation.
In Katsina State, residents urged government and security agents to intensify efforts in addressing the recurring security challenge bedevilling the state.
In separate interviews, the residents said the security situation seemed to be worsening after a lull for many months.
Governor Dikko Radda of Katsina said they have been reappraising the security situation and responding appropriately to the challenges.
Osun and Ogun states have witnessed high-profile kidnapping cases, such as that of Olu Falae in 2015, the killing of Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Rueben Fasoranti in 2019, and the abduction of 25 choir members of Christ Apostolic Church, Oke-Igan on September 29, 2023.
Foluke Fagbemi, a trader, who was abducted while travelling along Otun-Ekiti-Ado-Ekiti road in Ekiti State on October 2, 2023, said the government must give priority to the security of citizens.
Also, Micheal Ojo, a retired teacher and father of a kidnapped victim, urged the government to provide special support to security agencies, especially the police.
Some residents of Osun urged the federal government to provide more vocational institutions and training for young people who are easily attracted to crime.
Meanwhile, suggestions on how to end the security challenges were made by security experts from the military, intelligence community, security services, government, traditional institutions, and media.
One key suggestion is for the government to urgently take over all ungoverned spaces currently occupied by non-state actors, including bandits and terrorists, and provide a means of livelihood to communities vulnerable to radicalisation by non-state actors.
They also observed that poor governance and leadership have equally pushed more people into crime.
The experts, however, say Nigeria’s biggest threat is the manipulation of its diversity by politicians and religious leaders to create disharmony among citizens.