By Ralph Madugu
Extremely concerned by the rising insecurity occasioned by the persistent kidnap of people and abduction of school children in Kaduna State which many observers have attributed to “the glaring failures by Governor el-Rufai to protect lives and property,” the Middle Belt Forum has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on Kaduna State as “the governor has shown gross incapacity to maintain peace.”
In a statement released over the weekend in Abuja, signed by National President of the MBF, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, also called on security forces to create necessary synergies with attacked communities through the establishment of local vigilante groups to track down these criminals that have declared war on the people.
MBF opined that communities across various local government areas in the state have come under unending severe attacks resulting in gruesome massacres, raping of women, destruction of property, incessant kidnappings adding that the situation has been made worse by huge payments of ransom to secure release of abducted persons and displacement of thousands of people out of their homelands.
The Forum posited that while the above scenario has become the new norm in Kaduna State, the political authorities seem either incapable of dealing with these security challenges or deliberately unwilling to stop the recurring bloody tide headlong, thereby suggesting complicity on their part.
“More worrisome is the fact that attacks by these killer herdsmen and Fulani kidnappers on defenceless communities have led to massive displacement of people from their ancestral lands, thereby creating a catastrophic humanitarian crisis situation and rendering farmers unable to access their farmlands for agricultural activities.
“Current attacks on schools have also led to the withdrawal of pupils and students from schools or outright closure of such schools. The negative consequences of these on education and food security can only be imagined,” said MBF.
On the other hand, MBF said, kidnappers have taken over all the routes linking Kaduna State to other parts of the country where they have continued to unleash terror on road users stating that these criminals are not only engaged in abducting farmers from their farmlands, but have also resorted to breaking homes at night to abduct people.
It maintained that sometimes, members of an entire family are kidnapped and herded into the forest where relatives of victims are forced to pay unimaginable amounts of money in ransom.
Oftentimes, the MBF added that some abducted persons are killed even after such ransoms are paid. This trend according to the Forum, has triggered massive relocation of residents who now abandon homes they had built with retirement entitlements and now squat in crowded neighborhoods only waiting to be further invaded.
Said MBF: “In recent instances, two nurses were abducted from the Idon General Hospital in Kajuru LGA of Kaduna State on April 22, 2021 and are yet to be released even after the payment of N10 million to the kidnappers. On Monday July 5, 2021, these daredevil kidnappers who have become brazen also launched an attack on the National Tuberculosis and Leprosy Centre in Zaria where they abducted 10 persons, including five nurses, infants and their mothers.
“On May 21 2021, about 77 members of the Libere community (including women and children) in Kajuru LGA were abducted when they returned to their ancestral land after taking refuge in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp since May 2020. This incident has never had any mention from the regular security updates routinely issued by the government of Kaduna State. As it stands, the abductors are demanding N350 million as ransom.
Citing specific occurrences to back up its stance, the MBF said “At the weekend, Warka village in Zangon Kataf LGA was attacked and nine persons, including four children, three women were killed just as no fewer than 13 homes were completely razed down. Before the weekend, Kiboro village in the same local government area came under attack on Wednesday. A widow and her three children were slaughtered by the murderers.
“Again, on Friday June 21, 2021, Ungwan Madaki community in Chikun LGA, an outskirts of Kaduna, was attacked by these cold-blooded criminals who killed two persons and kidnapped 26 others, including infants. Four of the victims have been killed over inability to pay the ransom, while 22 persons are still languishing in the den of their captors.
“Before then, two lecturers with six students from the Nuhu Polytechnic Zaria were abducted and were only released on Friday after the payment of huge ransoms for their release. The Afaka students’ abduction on March 11, 2021 and the murder of five undergraduates of Greenfield Students in the last week “of April, 2021 and the payment of N200 million by poor parents to secure release of the undergraduates have become reference points in portraying the daring expedition of these callous criminals that have made our communities not only unsafe but poorer.”
Describing the situation as most disturbing, the Forum stated that the recent abduction of over 120 students of Bethel Baptist High School in Damishi that is located in the outskirts of Kaduna, these minors are still being held captive in the forest with no food, shelter or medication.
It added that this new wave of attacking schools by the bandits appeared to be in the agenda of Boko Haram and is aimed at frustrating the education of future generations upon whose shoulders lie the future greatness of our nation.
“The most worrisome is the attitude of Governor Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai towards tackling the security challenges confronting the state. While he has refused to negotiate with kidnappers, he has also not done anything to secure these weak communities against further attacks on vulnerable communities. More than anytime, Governor el-Rufai has continued to provoke bandits through unguarded utterances that have further enraged them to unleash more terror attacks on various communities.”