A week after the expiration of the December 31, 2022 deadline to end all forms of terrorist criminality, attacks have persisted, even as the military has kept mum on the fate of 19 terrorists declared wanted with a N5 million bounty on each.
The director of Defence Information (DDI), Major General Jimmy Akpor, had, after three weeks of the declaration, confirmed to LEADERSHIP that two of the wanted terrorists had been killed in military bombardments.
But he, alongside the director of Defence Media Operations, Major General Musa Danmadami, declined comments when contacted one week after the expiration of the deadline and one month, three weeks after declaring the terrorists wanted
The minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola, had given the assurance when he featured on the news conference in Abuja at a joint ministerial briefing.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari had given a December deadline for the security forces to restore order and stability in all parts of the country.
According to the minister, the president said he would not leave the country without curtailing and effectively addressing the security challenges.
Quoting the president, he said, “He gave the deadline of total elimination of such a threat to the security of lives and property by December.
“I believe that nobody is resting in all the arms of the government with the mandate of maintaining law and order, guaranteeing security and eliminating threats.
“We are at it, and in the first instance, we must ask ourselves, governance is about ensuring security of lives and properties. We will eliminate all insecurity issues by December.
“If you look at the state of affairs in Nigeria, I’ll tell you that a whole lot of progress has been made over the years,” he said.
The Nigerian Military had on 14th November, 2022 declared 19 notorious terrorists wanted and placed a N5m bounty on each, amounting to N95m, for information that would lead to their arrest.
But one month and three weeks later, the wanted terrorists have continued to maintain control of their known territories and receive levy from farmers despite the bounty on their heads.
According to military sources, none of the 19 terrorists has been arrested since the declaration and bounty offer.
The source said the military high command knows what exactly is the problem but does not have the will power to end it.
The secretary-general, International Institute of Professional Security (IIPS), Dr. Abdullahi Mohammed Jabi, described the federal government assurance as a mere “political statement”
He said though the military has made some gains in the fight, more still need to be done to address the remote causes of the crisis, adding that some of the problems are social and require non-military approaches.
“Though a lot of things are being put in place, it’s going to be gradual because the challenges are enormous.
“It is an inherited problem by this present administration and it’s going to be handed over to the incoming government, but for now they should just do what they can do within their power to make sure that they create wealth and make sure that money is in circulation, that people can afford a minimum of two square meals as against zero meal now”.
He said when wealth is created and people are able to feed, the tension can reduce and then they will be able to prepare for an election where Nigerians can determine who they want to lead them in 2023 and beyond”.
He lauded gallant men of the armed forces, saying they had frontally engaged the insurgents with and done very well.
“We need to pray and support our military to ensure that they give in their best while the necessary incentives are given to them to do the job,” he said.
While calling for more equipment, he said the air bombardments and land assaults were yielding positive results.
“I know the war is winnable but not the way it is being prosecuted now; it can’t work like that. It will take time for us to surmount the challenge. It is multifaceted; there is social problem, lack of skills, unemployment, educational somersault,” he said.
A public and private security analyst and trainer, Major Banjo Daniel (retired), told LEADERSHIP that the government was not ready to deal with the security situation bedeviling the nation.
He said, “The government is not ready to do much about security and the people also do not have the willpower and readiness to do anything more about criminality.”
He said the failure to punish crimes has normalised crimes. “Unfortunately, Nigeria has become a criminal state; you can commit a crime and go free for it. Steal N10 billion and pay back N2 billion and you are free to walk around and commit more crime. Kill someone somewhere and you are free if you know someone in the Senate or you are an actor or celebrity. Kill another person’s child in school or beat someone else’s child in school because you are a big man’s child, you are free to go, so in Nigeria now anything goes.
For instance, the EndSARS, which to me is a subversive intent, no one has been prosecuted for it,” he said.
Referencing the planned reintegration of repentant terrorists, he said the reintegration has been going on since and it’s not going to end soon,
“Whoever steps in will cause more chaos if he decides not to recognise them. The precedent has been set long time ago during the late President Umar Yar’Adua and his successor, Goodluck Jonathan’s time; a criminal is a criminal and must face justice and be punished for the crime committed.”
He lamented that most community members in the North East are under the protection of bandits and insurgents.
“If the government cannot protect them and then the bandits, insurgents offer to protect them, they will accept; unfortunately, there are still a few among them who will feel these people have killed members of my family and will decide to wage a personal war against them,” he said of rehabilitated and reintegrated terrorists.
“Criminals should be dealt with according to the justice system; our legal system too has a problem and we really need to sit down and look at it.”
All 19 Wanted Terrorists Still At Large
Meanwhile, those allegedly killed, as inferred by the DDI, according to LEADERSHIP findings, are Halilu Sububu from Sububu Village in Maradun local government area of Zamfara, and Gwaska Dankarami, from Shamushele village in Zuri council of Zamfara.
Before declaring the terrorists wanted, one of the wanted terrorists had been on police wanted list since 2019.
Ado Aliero was turbaned Sarkin Fulani by the emir of Yantodo in Zamfara State in July 2022 under the watch of government officials and security personnel.
He was turbaned two years after the Nigerian Police declared him wanted and placed a N5m bounty on his head for killing and maiming residents of Zamfara State.
Again, one of the wanted terrorists, Bello Turji, had last week mocked the military for not killing him despite the bounty, adding that the military raids pose a threat to the peace deal between him and the locals in Zamfara state.
Those on the wanted list include ( in no particular order): Sani Dangote from Dumbarum village in Zurmi LGA of Zamfara, Bello Turji Gudda from Fakai in Zamfara, Leko from Mozoj village in Mutazu LGA of Katsina State, Dogo Nahali from Yar Tsamiyar village in Kankara LGA of Katsina state, Halilu Sububu from Sububu Village in Maradun LGA of Zamfara.
Others include Nagona from Angwan Galadima in Sokoto state, Nasanda from Kwashabawa Village in Zurmi LGA of Zamara, Isiya Kwashen Garwa from Kamfanin Daudawa village of Faskari in Katsina state, Ali Kachalla, a.k.a. Ali Kawaje from Kuyambara village in Dansadau Maru of Zamfara.
Also on the list are Abu Radde from Varanda village in Batsari LGA of Katsina state, Dan-Da from Varanda village in Batsari LGA of Katsina, Sani Gurgu from Varanda village in Batsari LGA of Katsina, Umaru Dan Nigeria from Rafi Village in Mada District of Gusau, Zamfara, Alhaji Ado Aliero from Yankuzo village in Tsafe LGA of Zamfara, Monore from Yantumaki Village in Dan LGA, Katsina state, Gwaska Dankarami from Shamushele village in Zuri LGA of Zamfara,Baleri from Shinkafi LGA of Zamfara, Mamudu Tainange from Varanda village in Batsari LGA of Katsina state and Nagala from Maru LGA of Zamfara.
Trial Of Boko Haram Suspects Resumes March
Meanwhile, the federal government has said that arrangements have been concluded to resume the second phase of prosecution of Boko Haram suspects currently being held in a military facility in Kainji, Niger State, by March 2023.
The Federal Ministry of Justice had recently acknowledged the special intervention granted by President Muhammadu Buhari, for the provision of funds and other logistics for the commencement of the exercise.
The solicitor-general of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Beatrice Jedy-Agba, who disclosed this at the weekend, said already, extensive plans and preparations have advanced for the resumption of the prosecution of the suspected Boko Haram terrorists.
She told journalists in Abuja that the federal government’s commitment to dispensing justice, assuaging the feelings of victims/survivors as well as decongesting the holding facility was firm and irreversible.
She explained that public interest in the trial was expected, noting that the seeming delay in the trial of the accused persons might be traceable to extenuating factors relating to diligent investigation and most, importantly, the need to put in place adequate infrastructure and measures necessary for proper and fair trials to meet minimum global standards.
Mrs Jedy-Agba said, “Government is taking steps to reconfigure the military holding facilities to make it adaptable and conducive for recommencement of trials, maintaining that there is a paramount official commitment to make sure that the atmosphere and ambience of the venue for trials conforms to best global practices.
“We will start the prosecution by the end of the first quarter of 2023. We are in the process of renovating and, in fact, reconstructing facilities such as the courtrooms and residential areas.
“It is important to ensure that there are enhanced measures put in place. We are utilising military facilities and, therefore, they were not built like proper courts.”
According to him, the resort to the use of military facilities is to ensure that trials are conducted in a safe and secure environment, adding that there are risks associated with moving such a large number of accused persons at the same time for trial.
“We have secured all relevant approvals to proceed with the project and we are working very closely with the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and other military authorities to ensure that by the end of the first quarter of 2023, we will definitely start trials,” he said.
Responding to a question about the preparedness of the federal government’s prosecutors to commit to best practices, especially, the observance of rights of the accused persons, Mrs. Jedy-Agba said the Federal Ministry of Justice was as much concerned about the pain and plight of victims of terrorism as it was sensitive to the rights of accused persons in the forthcoming trials.
“The whole idea is to ensure that, while respecting the rights of the defendants, we also have to consider the sensibilities of Nigerians who have been victims of terrorism, as well as the general security of Nigerians as a whole.
“So, we will, as much as possible, ensure that the minimum human rights requirements are met. We will open the trial venue for observations of selected Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), as well as human rights institutions, like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). We are working with the Legal Aid Council (LAC) and other stakeholders to ensure that accused persons have access to justice.”
“We are obviously not going to open the place up, because of security concerns. I’m sure you are aware that, recently, like a few weeks ago, there was an attempt to hit the facility. So, obviously, it’s not going to be as open as you may want, because we want to ensure that the security of our judges, witnesses and interpreters are protected,” she added.
Noting that the number of accused in the coming trial was huge, she, however, declined to give specific figures as arrests are still being made daily in the anti-terrorism fight.
“I don’t want to be specific on that, because the figure changes every time, as security agencies keep making arrests. I can’t say for certain how many, right now. But it is quite a sizeable number,’’ she added
© 2022 Leadership Media Group – All Rights Reserved.
© 2022 Leadership Media Group – All Rights Reserved.