Workers on Wednesday called for a rejig of the country’s security apparatus to curb the upsurge in insecurity.
They urged the government to do whatever is within its powers to break “once and for all, the spring of terrorism and violent crimes in our country.”
Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President Ayuba Wabba added: “We cannot afford to slide into a state of anarchy which is the wish of those who have picked up arms against the state and innocent civilians including workers.
“We must remind the Federal Government that the security of lives and property remains the numero uno responsibility of every government.
“The government certainly needs to do more to convince Nigerians that it is capable of living up to its promises to safeguard the lives of Nigerians and their property.”
On Wednesday, federal lawmaker representing Southern Kaduna raised the alarm about an impending attack on the area during the Eid el Kabir celebration.
They accused militia groups of plotting the attacks and asked the government to do more to halt the killings.
Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum’s convoy was attacked by suspected Boko Haram fighters while travelling between Mongono and Baga. The governor was on his way to inspect the distribution of food to displaced people.
Although, details of the attack were hazy, reports said no casualty was recorded.
The Monguno and Baga axis of the state are completely cut off from mobile telephone services because insurgents had destroyed the facilities.
The governor on Monday travelled to Monguno to continue his statewide distribution of food to displaced people in the area and to assess some of the communities as government is planning the return home of some of the IDPs.
Also on Wednesday in Ebonyi, four policemen were killed by gunmen during an attack on a bullion van. The police confirmed the incident.
In Kogi, 14 people were killed during an attack on a community. Among those killed are 13 members of the same family, the police said.
Speaking during a news conference in Abuja, the Kaduna South caucus in the House of Representatives, said security agencies were informed about previous impending attacks, but not much was done to forestall them.
The lawmakers urged the government to identify and bring to justice sponsors of the militia groups.
Spokesman of the lawmakers and Minority Whip of the House of Representatives, Gideon Gwani, identified herdsmen/farmer clashes, land grabbing by non-natives, reprisals, banditry and criminality as some of the major causes of the hostilities.
The former Kaduna House of Assembly Deputy Speaker said the people feel that the security agencies have not done enough.
“What we need the security to do is to identify the flashpoints and the routes through which these attackers come into our communities, and go into the forests, because we believe strongly that we have armed militia living in our forests and the hills.
“The security apparatus should go there and comb the forests and get rid of them,” he said.
According to him, there was prior information that the attacks in Kauru, Zango Kataf, Kaura and Jema’a would occur.
“We had the information that these people were coming. We informed the security agents. I told my Divisional Police Officer (DPO) to extend that information to his superiors and he has taken that information seriously.
“But the attacks are still going on. So, it is important to know that we also have information that they are going to attack massively and in a coordinated manner in Southern Kaduna during or after the Sallah break.
“We are calling on our people to be vigilant, and we are asking them to do all that they can to keep themselves alive. Without life, nothing can happen,” the lawmaker said.
Gwani decried the failure to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators, which has emboldened them.
He added: “In these difficult times, statements by people in authority should serve to heal and unite the people, rather than inflaming passion and justifying the heinous acts.
“The Federal Government and Kaduna State have made efforts to stem this ugly tide. Such efforts must be increased. They must be people-centred, transparent and effective.
“The People of Southern Kaduna should be vigilant and law-abiding and avoid taking laws into their hands, regardless of any provocation.
“They should co-operate with law enforcement officers and report these miscreants when necessary.
“We call for the arrest, investigation, prosecution and conviction where necessary of these attackers so that they can desist from unleashing mayhem on the people of Southern Kaduna.”
Another member of the caucus, Shehu Garba, said the militia groups are engaged by warring groups.
“We have militias and we are asking: why is it taking the government so long to fish them out? ‘A’ and ‘B’ have a problem and one goes out to commission a militia to settle the score, and that has been the pattern in Southern Kaduna.
”Every attack is done by a militia that is quite different from the parties having the quarrel or misunderstanding. Are the security people telling us they are not aware?
“To some extent, we even know where the militias come from. But of course, it is only the state that has the resources and the intelligence to be able to go out there and identify them.”
Also on Wednesday, an activist and author, Paul Njoku, embarked on a protest in Imo State against the Southern Kaduna killings.
He bore a placard with the inscription: “Stop the genocide in Southern Kaduna”.
He told reporters that the Federal and state government have failed to protect lives and property.
Njoku said the killings in Southern Kaduna are unwarranted, adding that the defence mechanisms are unacceptable.
Citing Article 51 of the United Nation Charter on self-defence against non-state actors, he urged the people to defend themselves from being wiped off from their ancestral land.
“Are you not aware of the senseless carnage and pogroms? Are the people of Southern Kaduna not our fellow human beings? How would they feel if their children are gruesomely slaughtered in such a barbaric way?
“Every human being on earth has the fundamental human rights to life and to live peacefully as guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council,” he said.
The NLC added that the current security system was not working.
The Labour union noted that in the past seven months, insurgency, terrorism and other violent acts had escalated.
It condemned the public execution of five aid workers by Boko Haram in Borno State.
“We call on the Federal Government to quickly rejig our security apparatus and the security systems it has deployed to fight terrorism and violent crimes. Certainly, the current system is not working.
“Since January 2020, Boko Haram has increased the wave of terror on major transportation arteries in the Northeast.
“Many inter-city and feeder roads in the region have been completely abandoned to the terrorists exacerbating the already precarious humanitarian situation in North-East Nigeria,” NLC said.
It said due to the attacks, thousands have been displaced in several local government areas and now live in camps.
“In Southern Borno State and parts of Adamawa State, renewed attacks have led to the complete sacking of towns and villages with no single inhabitants there now: Dagu, Huyum, Killekassa, Kopa-maikadiri, Yaffa, Ngurthlaru, Kwabula, Kuburmbula, Kaya, Guryangwal, Shawa, Gogomdi, Gwandang, Gatamarwa, Imirmulza, Thilemakalama, Yaza, Kirchinga, and Mimirsa.
“In the entire Gwoza LGA, the only towns where there are still inhabitants are Pulka, Dlimankara, and Gwoza. In all these locations in northern and southern Borno, many district and village heads have been killed by the Boko Haram terrorists.
The NLC also condemned recent killings in southern Kaduna.
“The same spectre of bloodletting, destruction and dislocation are occurring almost on a daily basis in Southern Kaduna.
“In northern Kaduna, most parts of Katsina, Sokoto, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, and Plateau states and other parts of North Central Nigeria, kidnapping, cattle rustling, and rural banditry have become the domineering narrative and the ‘new normal’ as villages and towns fell one after the other to criminal masterminds. This is totally unacceptable!
“The Nigeria Labour Congress had earlier alarmed the nation to the epidemic of rape mostly against the female gender. Up till now, there are no concrete assurances that the identified cases are being diligently pursued and prosecuted.
‘The deficit of robust investigation of these violent crimes with the intent of apprehending the masterminds and foot soldiers leave citizens with the eerily feelings that the country has now degenerated into a banana republic where autonomous power centres boldly compete for space and subservience with the state,” NLC said.
‘Govt on top of it’
The Federal Government has repeatedly said it is on top of the game.
After briefing President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on July 20, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai assured that an end was in sight for the various shades of insecurity in different parts of the country.
Lt.-Gen. Buratai said: Those engaging in the violent and criminal activities are almost all Nigerians. These terrorists, 99 per cent of them are Nigerians. These kidnappers I will say, 100 per cent of them are Nigerians.
“As to whether banditry, terrorism and so on will end, I think it all depends. If Nigerians want it to end today, I can assure you it will end today, if everybody joins hands because these bandits are not outside Nigeria, they are not from foreign land.
“So, it’s not just a military, security agency task to end the insecurity in this country. It’s only when it goes bad that we are called in, but everybody has the responsibility to handle that.”