Year In Review: From Killings To Kidnappings, 2018 Screamed For Security

 

When suspected herdsmen attacked parts of Benue and killed 73 persons on New Year’s day in 2018, sparking outrage, few expected that killings would become some sort of sordid soundtrack to the year.

However, not only did killings continue and spread to different parts of the country, several other issues emerged during the year that led to questions around the security architecture of the country.

With the year now confined to history, we look at some of the major security issues the country grappled with.

An Orgy of Killings

On the 1st and 2nd of January, 2018, people believed to be herdsmen attacked communities in Benue State, killing 73 and leaving several others injured.

The slaughter led to allegations and counter allegations with some accusing herders of pursuing an expansionist agenda, while herders claimed they were being unfairly targetted.

As the killings spread to other parts of Benue and other states, Benue and Taraba all enacted anti-grazing laws which led to further contention and disputes.

In all, the killings in Benue seemed to have paved the way for the more carnage with similar-style attacks in Taraba, Pleateau, and Kaduna.

Zamfara witnessed a killing spree, albeit with a different coloration. The bloodshed is believed to be the result of the activities of bandits, cattle rustlers, illegal miners and more.

Between January 2016 and October 2018, clashes between herders and farmers have led to the death of at least 3,641 people according to Amnesty International, with 57 percent of the deaths occurring in 2018 alone.

Dapchi Girls Kidnap

The nation had barely come to terms with the killings in Benue and the fallout before news broke on February 19 regarding yet another horrific incident far away in Dapchi, Yobe State.

This time the sour tale was the abduction by Boko Haram of about 110 girls aged between the ages of 11 and 19 years, a very bitter reminder of the outrageous Chibok abduction of 2014.

Initially thought to be an attack aimed at food items and fuel, the realisation that more than 100 girls had been snatched from their school generated a lot of anger and questioned.

This was aggravated by the complaint of Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Geidam that troops had been withdrawn from the area without informing either the police authorities or the state government in advance.

READ ALSO: Year In Review: Scandals, Strikes Stifle Nigeria’s Educational Sector In 2018

A shocked nation, distraught parents and the traumatised girls, however, when on 21 March, 104 of the girls were released by the terrorists.

But it was a bittersweet development with no closure as five of the schoolgirls died and one – the only Christian among them was held back reportedly for refusing to convert to Islam.

Her freedom remains a major issue and calls continue to come from across the world for her release.

Offa Robbery and the roar of bandits

Emerging security threats did not stop regular criminals from operating in 2018 and the deadly Offa bank robbery of April 4 was proof of that.

It wasn’t just another robbery, however. The level of ruthlessness the robbers unleashed on Offa Local Government Area of Kwara on that day was considered unprecedented by many.

The robbers hit four banks with dynamites and bullets. By the time they were done and gone, over 33 persons including nine police officers had been killed.

So far, the police have announced the arrest of five key suspects. The alleged leader of the group that stormed the banks has, however, died in custody, according to the police. The case is still being heard in the courts.

The robbery is arguably at the top of the pyramid of other criminal acts and the level of banditry in the country this year. Talking about bandits, they operated in several places – along the Abuja-Kaduna highway, in Zamfara, in camps in Benue and more.

Shiites Vs Army/Police

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria otherwise known as Shiites has been at loggerheads with the Federal Government and the Nigerian Army since 2015 when its leader Sheikh El-Zakzaky was injured and taken into custody after members clashed with the Army.

His continued detention has led to a series of protests. Prior to 2018, the protests had taken place mainly in Kaduna (where the group has been banned) and Kano.

In the course of the year, the Shiites took the protest to the streets of the Federal Capital Territory. The result? Clashes with security operatives and the police resulting in the loss of lives.

During one of the protests in May, the protesting IMN members clashed with the police, smashing vehicles.

Months later, on October 29, during another attempt to protest in Abuja, they had a run in with the military along the Nyanya-Keffi highway – on the outskirts of the nation’s capital.

According to the group, the military killed up to 50 of its members in the altercation. But the military said only three members of the group were killed that day and that the soldiers acted in self-defense.

The Shiites have said they will not stop their protests until the freedom of their incarcerated leader is secured.

More Rights Violation Allegations Against The Military

The year 2018, the operations of the military came under the spotlight with Amnesty International accusing the Nigeria military of infringing on the rights of different individuals, in the course of their executing their duties.

In a report in December, the group accused some military personnel of constantly used lethal force wrongly against innocent citizens.

Whiles accusing the government of negligence, A.I urged the government to investigate its claims and bring those found guilty to justice.

Replying to the accusations by A.I, both the Federal Government and the Army said the rights organisation was biased and that reports by the group are all inaccurate.

The Army said Amnesty International is working solely to destabilize the government, adding that it would make a case for the international rights group to leave Nigeria if they continue with their mode of operation.

Earlier, in March, a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant, General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), accused the Nigerian Armed Forces of complicity in the killings in Taraba, Benue, and other “riverine states” in the country.

Danjuma’s allegation, during Taraba State University’s convocation in Jalingo, came at the peak of the killings and in reaction to the resultant military operations in Taraba and Benue as a result of the bloodshed.

His allegations were denied by the military.

The onslaught on Aid Workers

The country’s security challenges during the year did not spare aid workers. On March 1, Boko Haram terrorists attacked an internally displaced persons’ camp in Rann, Borno State, killing three of them and abducting three others.

Not only did the terrorists ignore calls, including from the United Nation, for their release, it shocked the world by executing two of the three abducted aid workers later in the year.

Both of them worked with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Saifura Ahmed was executed in September and despite pleas by the ICRC, UN, and others for the remaining women to be spared, Hauwa Liman was executed in October.

The attack and killings added another dimension to Nigeria’s war against terror and the safety of aid workers who have helped to provide relief for the millions displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.

Also in 2018, the relationship between the Nigerian Army some global agencies and charities operating in the North-East, especially UNICEF, turned sour.

In December, the army announced the suspension of the operations of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in the North-East.

In a statement by its Deputy Director of Public Relations, Theatre Command Operation Lafiya Dole, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, accused the agency of abandoning its primary humanitarian role in the region.

He said, “This has become inevitable since the organization has abdicated its primary duty of catering for the wellbeing of children and the vulnerable through humanitarian activities and now engaged in training selected persons for clandestine activities to continue sabotaging the counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency efforts of troops through spurious and unconfirmed allegations bothering on alleged violations of human rights by the military.”

The move attracted criticism with Amnesty International describing it as an act of intimidation.

The Mysterious Murder Of General Alkali:

In September, troops of the 3 Division of the Nigerian army embarked on a search and rescue operation for Major General Idris Alkali, who went missing on September 3.

Many would have thought the army did not have to search too far before they would pick up the retired General’s trail and rescue him.

However, the case did not play out as one would have excepted, the trail lingered too long, casting a cloud of uncertainty over the General’s safety.

In the course of the military investigation, a major discovery was made which caused many to question the safety of travelers within Nigeria.

The army found the retired General’s car in a pond at Doi Du community in Jos. It was believed that residents conspired to overpower and kill the retired military officer.

Two other vehicles; one which was reported missing with the driver on 24 June 2018 and the other red which was reportedly buried along with its occupants on the 31st of January, 2013.

These discoveries raised red flags around the nation as regards the many who have gone missing without a trace and how much effort was put into trying to find them.

The General’s remains were discovered in Guchwet in Shen of Jos South LGA of Plateau State, sadly, some of the major suspects were never apprehended.

As if this incident was not enough to stir panic in the heart of those traveling within the country, a few weeks later the death of former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh was announced.

Badeh was gunned down by unknown gunmen, and his aide was kidnapped, further raising questions as to the issue of insecurity in Nigeria.

The late General’s aide was later released and some suspects were arrested.

 

Resurgent Insurgents

One of the most troubling development as regards security in 2018, is the upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram, especially in the latter part of the year.

Though the army continues to assure Nigerians that the terror group has been utterly decimated, still the jihadists continue to strike and wreak havoc.

A recent attack on three military bases in Metele, Borno State, has forced many to reconsider statements by the army considering the state of affairs within the North East.

There have been reports that the terrorists had taken over some towns in Borno state, causing residents to flee to neighboring towns.

The army, however, has denied the claims saying the towns in question are still under the control of the military, urging Nigerians to be calm.

In conclusion, let it be known that this review does not in any way seek to undermine the efforts of our security personnel in keeping the nation at peace, however, it has been written in a bid to spur operatives towards more gallant strides.

Beyond herdsmen crisis and the insurgency, there are still cases of smuggling and contrabands coming in from porous borders, there are also issues of human trafficking that go unchecked.

As the nation heads to the polls in 2019 and the hope is that the citizenry is better protected than in the previous year, for if 2018 had a soundtrack when it came to security challenges, it might as well be titled ‘Killing Fields’.

I Feel The Pain Of Abducted Chibok, Dapchi Girls’ Parents – Saraki

Senate President, CCT, Saraki

Senate President Bukola Saraki on Sunday said that he feels the pain of the parents of the remaining 112 Chibok Girls and the Dapchi schoolgirl, Leah Sharibu, who are still in Boko Haram’s captivity.

Saraki in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, called for concerted efforts by governments, security agencies, religious and community leaders to ensure the release of the girls.

“As a parent, I feel the pains of these unfortunate young girls from Chibok and the latest one – Leah Sharibu – from Dapchi, their parents and the people and Governments of Borno and Yobe States over these harrowing experiences.

“However, all hope is not lost. We are all involved in this. Their return will give us joy while their continued stay in captivity will inflict us with perpetual torment of failure,” he said.

READ ALSO: Chibok Parents Demand Release Of Abducted Schoolgirls

April 2018 marks four years remembrance of the over 200 schoolgirls who were abducted from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok by the insurgents. While many of the girls were released, a few others narrowly escaped the abduction.

The Senate President said although four years have elapsed since the sad incident of the Chibok girls’ kidnap, it must not dampen efforts being made to see the girls are rescued and reunited with their families and loved ones.

He called on the parents to remain steadfast adding that the government will never relent in efforts to see their daughters back home safely.

“This is no time for blame game or passing the buck. We must all gear up and work together to see these girls rescued within the shortest possible time. I believe that the last four years has given us ample time to reflect on the calamity, review our modus operandi – politically and militarily – and resolve to ensure that all Nigerians are adequately protected.

“Let’s fine tune the strategies that have won us successes and discard those that have failed us. The goal and focus must be clear – to rescue our girls and all those in forced captivity in any part of the country, and ultimately, to restore our pride as a sovereign entity.

“This is the time for all stakeholders to retool and re-strategise to ensure that all these girls are not only rescued but do all in our power to put a closure to all cases of kidnapping and insurgency in this land,” he said.

The President of the Senate also called on all Nigerians who can help to come to the aid of government and the security agencies on how to rescue the girls.

He also urged security agencies to keep people abreast of developments about the issue to avoid the speculations and talks like the one insinuating that many of the girls may have died.

Buhari This Week: Cancels Rwanda Trip, Visits Zamfara, Receives Dapchi Girls, Bill Gates And More

Buhari’s March 18 – 23 In Review

The President this week cancelled his planned visit to Rwanda, received former vice president Nnamdi Sambo, American business magnate, Bill Gates and the freed Dapchi schoolgirls. He also got a blast from the past, with an aide of former President Goodluck Jonathan refuting claims by Vice President Osinbajo that they mismanaged funds.  

 

SUNDAY: ‘Intense’ Security For North East Schools, Rwanda Trip cancelled

The week started with news of intense security for schools in Northeast part of the country. Troubled by a terrorist invasion of schools in the northeast, President Muhammadu Buhari had previously ordered the deployment of Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) officials to secure secondary schools in the North.

Buhari’s decision was spurred by the abduction of over 100 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe State, about a month ago. They were however released on Wednesday, March 21.

The Commandant General of the NSCDC, Mohammadu Abdullahi, in compliance with Buhari’s directive commenced the tour to provide adequate security for Northeast schools on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, Buhari cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, where he was expected to attend the Extraordinary Summit of the African Union scheduled for March 21, 2018.

In honour of the late Senator representing Bauchi South, Ali Wakili, Nigeria’s first citizen sent a high-level government delegation to Bauchi to commiserate with the people of the state and his family. He described the Senator’s death as ‘shocking.’

The day ended with a retired military officer, Colonel Hassan Stan-Labo taking a swipe at President Buhari. Stan-Labo who spoke as a guest on Channels Television Programme, Sunday Politics said apart from visiting the state troubled by herdsmen attacks, Buhari should assume the role of Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic and sack Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, from office. Idris had previously flouted Buhari’s directive to relocate to Benue State due to incessant killings in Benue State.

 

MONDAY: Signing the CFTA, Screening CBN MPC Members

The week officially kick-started with an explanation given to Nigerian on why Nigeria backed down from signing Pan-African Continental Free Trade Area. Throwing light on the issue, Nigeria’s Chief Trade Negotiator, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe said the decision was “in the national interest of a great and diverse country.”

Also, to represent Buhari after the cancellation of his trip to Kigali, Rwanda, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama was assigned to represent the country and to be supported by a Nigerian team.

This explanation didn’t go down well with some Nigerian scholars. An Economist, Tilewa Adebajo who was a guest on Channels Television’s News at 10 criticised the decision of the Federal Government to withdraw from the signing of the new pan-African Continental Free Trade. According to Adebajo, this move is a “catastrophic mistake.”

The day didn’t end without confirmation of the President Buhari’s nominees for the positions of Deputy Governors and members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The Senate Committee on Banking and Finance, on Monday, commenced the process of screening them. The nominees were made up of two Deputy Governors and four members of the Monetary Policy Committee.

 

 

TUESDAY: Meeting With Sambo, Congratulatory Messages, ‘Blast From The Past’

Tuesday commenced with President Buhari holding a closed-door meeting with Former Vice President, Namadi Sambo at the presidential villa in Abuja.

Details of the meeting were not disclosed as Sambo left the presidential villa without responding to questions from journalists. Many Nigerians were left wondering what relationship the former VP was building with Buhari’s administration after the previous Jonathan-led administration exit after 2015 elections.

In a delightful mood, Buhari churned out congratulatory messages to newly elected Russia President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. Buhari believes Putin’s success for the fourth time in the election is a testimony of the confidence Russians have in his leadership while he attributed Merkel’s victory to her hard work.

Buhari’s administration, however, received a blast from the previous administration on Tuesday. Reno Omokri an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan spoke out loud on Monday. He countered claims by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, that the former President’s administration had shared about N150 billion before the 2015 elections. Omokri who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today confidently took a swipe at Buhari’s administration. He said the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo lied!

However, the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was quick to silence critics of the Federal Government. He said despite the challenges experienced by the present administration it has still been able to deliver on its election promises, especially its campaign promise to fight corruption.

 

WEDNESDAY: Dapchi Girls Are Back!

Wednesday, 21st March 2018 went down as an unforgettable date in Nigeria’s history. The Federal Government confirmed the release of 104 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists. The girls were released on Wednesday after their abduction on February 19 from their school in Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, confirmed the number of those released. He also responded critics and claims that a ransom was paid for the release of the schoolgirls. According to him, the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls by Boko Haram terrorists was ‘unconditional.’

Mixed reactions trailed the return of schoolgirls with some Nigerians expressing great delight and others demanding more explanation on the ‘sudden return’ with no arrests made, despite the heavy security agents deployed to secure Yobe State after news of the attack. Few others called for the release of the over 200 schoolgirls abducted from the Chibok Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014. Nigerians believe these girls deserve not to be forgotten by the Buhari-led administration.

Excited by the news of the release of Dapchi schoolgirls, the All Progressives Congress (APC) said they are optimistic that the Federal Government will secure the release of the remaining Chibok girls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in 2014.

Due to Buhari’s refusal to go to Kigali, Rwanda. Nigeria was notably absent from the signatories as 44 African countries signed the agreement establishing a free trade area seen as vital to the continent’s economic development.

The day ended with Buhari dining and wining with American Business magnate and Co-Founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates to a dinner at the State House in Abuja. They were joined by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and other top government officials.

 

 

THURSDAY: Zamfara Visit, Bill Gate’s Bombshell, Tweets For Leah

President Buhari visited Zamfara on Thursday. This is in continuation of his visit to states affected by herdsmen crisis. His first point of call was the Katsina Airport where he was received by the state Governor Aminu Bello and members of the executive council. He later left for Zamfara where he promised better security and directed security agencies to do all possible halt the killings and criminality in the country.

The ever-supportive Vice President also seized the day to assure of the Federal Government’s effort to grow Nigeria’s economy. While delivering a speech on at the Expanded National Economic Council on Investment in Human Capital held in Abuja, he revealed that investing in people is primary to the Buhari-led administration.

Bill Gate on Thursday challenged the Nigerian government to invest in human capital development. The founder of Microsoft believes this would lay a good foundation for the nation’s prosperity. Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote also joined voices with Gate, he called on the Federal Government to provide solutions to human capital challenges experienced in the country.

The philanthropist also did not hold back words in criticising the Federal Government. He faulted part of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, saying the implementation of the ERGP is not at par with the needs of Nigerians.

Responding to criticism from the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Buhari’s information minister fired back at the party for doubting the release of the Dapchi schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram terrorists. PDP had earlier called on the UN to investigate the Federal Government for ‘scripting’ the abduction of the schoolgirls. Mohammad condemned the claim by the opposition, he said the PDP is “inhuman, insensitive, unpatriotic and unworthy party” for making such allegation against FG.

Buhari didn’t go to bed on Thursday without assuring rescue of Dapchi schoolgirl Leah Sharibu, who is still Boko Haram terrorists’ den.

“It is disheartening that one of the girls, Leah Sharibu, remains in captivity. Let me assure that I am as committed to her freedom as I was to the girls’ freedom when all 110 of them were in captivity. We will do everything in our power to bring Leah back safely,” Buhari tweeted.

 

 

Nigerians Call For Release Of Chibok Girls As Dapchi Girls Return  

boko haram, chibok girls, sunrise daily, abducted chibok girls
FILE PHOTO: Video of schoolgirls kidnapped from the Chibok Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014 by Boko Haram insurgents.

 

Nigerians on Wednesday took to social media to call for the release of schoolgirls abducted in Chibok, Borno State after 110 abducted Dapchi schoolgirls were returned.

The Dapchi schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram insurgents from a Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi town, Yobe State in February 2018.

READ ALSO: Abducted Dapchi Schoolgirls ‘Return’

They were however released on Wednesday, March 21 when the insurgents reportedly dropped them off in Dapchi community.

The news of the release of Dapchi schoolgirls have sparked various reactions. Some of the reaction is that the Federal Government should channel same efforts to secure the release of Chibok schoolgirls.

Over 200 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted from the Chibok Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014. While the insurgents have released video showing the girls in their custody and some of them released, over 100 of the students are yet to be released.

‘Thank God, but what of Chibok Girls.’

That was one of the tweets by some Nigerians who took to social media on Wednesday.

See more tweets below…

 

Reps Set Up Committee To Investigate Abduction Of Dapchi Girls

$1bn Insurgency Fund: Reps Ask FG To Pay Oil Producing States 13%
File photo

The House of Representatives has set up a committee to investigate in the abduction of female students from the Government Girls Science Technical College in Dapchi.

This was made known on Tuesday on the floor of the House.

The lawmakers have asked the Adhoc committee investigating the abduction to return with a report and recommendation that can be practically applied to ensure that such does not happen again.

This follows a few days after the Governor of Yobe State, Ibrahim Gaidam, blamed the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls on the withdrawal of security personnel from communities in the state.

He alleged that security checkpoints were withdrawn from Dapchi and other communities, few days before the attack, a development which he believes gave room for the incident.

“There was not any justification whatsoever to withdraw the military from that place, knowing fully well that there is a girls’ school there with about 900 of them and it’s a local government headquarters.

“They withdrew the military personnel last week, which was not even known to us,” he said.

But the military denied the allegation, describing it as unfortunate and far from the truth.

According to the military, troops earlier deployed in Dapchi were redeployed to reinforce troops at Kanama following attacks on troops’ location at the Nigerian border.

This was on the premise that Dapchi has been relatively calm and peaceful and the security of Dapchi town was formally handed over to the Nigeria Police Division located in the town.

The troops’ redeployment was therefore done in tandem with the exigencies of operation and not as misconstrued.

However, the House has resolved to mobilise every security apparatus necessary to rescue the innocent students and reunite them with their parents as soon as possible.