Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, says over 100 cases of kidnapping have been recorded in the state from January to September 2019.
He added that cash ranging from N500,000 to N5 million naira has been collected from victims as ransom within the period.
The governor made the disclosure on Thursday while speaking as a special guest at a one-day training for inter-agency personnel to form a joint operation team ahead of the commencement of operation Ayem Akpatuma in Taraba.
The operation which is slated to take place between November 1 and December 23 is aimed at ending security challenges and fostering civil-military relationships in the state.
According to Governor Ishaku, the military is no doubt the most consistent sector of Nigeria’s security architecture.
He said, “Right from independence, the complex task of keeping Nigeria one and protecting the nation from internal and external aggressions, undoubtedly rests on the military.
”This makes the Nigerian military to remain an integral of the nation’s internal security structure, given the magnitude of current security threats in the country.”
The governor opined that the foundation of the nation’s unity and democracy was threatened recently by different forms of conflicts ranging from sectarian to ethno-religious crisis and other forms of crimes such as kidnappings, cattle rustling, terrorism, and farmers-herders crisis among others.
He stressed that these conflicts have severe consequences on human and material resources of the nation.
A Crisis-Free State
Governor Ishaku noted the justification of military involvement in internal security, as provided in Section 217c of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“I must add that the cooperation between security agencies is very important and necessary if we must achieve our aims.
“The case of Taraba State is so unique and diverse from other parts of the country because it is the only state not bedevilled by the North-East insurgency; it serves as a safe haven for fleeing victims,” he said.
The governor stated that another peculiarity of Taraba was the multi-ethnic and multi-religious colorations of the state, where over 80 ethnic groups exist with three major religions.
He added, “In fact, I always say that Taraba is a mini-Nigeria. These amazing revelations call for a sensitive government not to rest on its oars to combat any form of criminality or security challenges.”
Governor Ishaku, however, gave assurance that his administration was ready to support efforts of the military towards peacebuilding and a crisis-free state.
He described Exercise Ayem Akpatuma II as a welcome development and announced the donation of 26 motorcycles and two Toyota Hilux vans to complement the Federal Government’s effort.
For operation ‘Wild Stroke’, the governor said his administration would offer the military four Hilux vans.
“I believe that this gesture will spur the security operatives to rid the state of miscreants which has become increasingly alarming for some months now in the state.
“In as much as the proposed exercise is meant to root out criminals in our various communities, I appeal to the military to do their operations with human face, mindful of issues that have to do with the violation of human rights and be guided by the acceptable standard in civil-military relationships,” he said.
The governor also urged the military to fashion out effective mechanisms to foster efficient inter-agency cooperation during the exercise to avoid unwholesome situations that may mar the good intentions of the exercise.
Earlier, the Commanding Officer of 23 Brigade, Yola, Brigadier General Mohammed, explained that the training was to provide a unique forum where security agencies, particularly from the three divisions would meet to exchange ideas towards enhancement of inter-agency cooperation.
He added that the choice of the theme ‘Inter-Agency Cooperation Imperative For Efficient Joint Operation’ was hinged upon the vision of a professional responsible Nigerian Army with requisite capacity in the discharge of its conditional role.
Governor Ishaku received the committee led by a Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Mr Mike Ogbizi, two days after members arrived in the state capital.
The panel was set up by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, to investigate the killing of three police personnel and a civilian by soldiers in Ibi Local Government Area of the state.
On arrival, the team had declined to make any comment to journalists, stressing that they needed to appraise the situation first.
According to a statement from the Force Headquarters, the slain officers were on a mission to arrest one Alhaji Hamisu indicted in a series of high-profile kidnap incidents in Taraba.
The operatives were said to be taking the arrested suspect to the Police Command Headquarters in Jalingo when they were “shot at severally” by the soldiers.
“Three Policemen (comprising one Inspector and two Sergeants) and one civilian died as a result of gunshot injuries sustained in the attack while others sustained serious gunshot wounds. The soldiers thereafter released the handcuffed suspect, Alhaji Hamisu, who is now on the run,” police spokesman, Mr Frank Mba, had said in the statement.
The IGP had also ordered the Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Medicals to proceed to Jalingo to ensure concerted efforts in the treatment of the injured officers.
Two days after the incident which occurred on Tuesday, President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Service Chiefs and ordered that the incident be investigated.
In line with the President’s directive, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin, constituted a seven-man Joint Investigation Panel.
A statement by the Acting Director of Information Defence Headquarters, Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, said the committee had already commenced work.
The panel is headed by Rear Admiral I.T. Olaiya, and has a representative each from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, the Nigeria Police, Department of State Services (DSS), and the Defence Intelligence Agency.
She added, “Maybe it is not in my destiny to be the Governor of Taraba State, but somebody has to be there in any case at one time or the other.
“We will continue to support you and if there is anything you think we can do for you, I personally will be always available to do that. We are highly delighted to be here and we wish to wholeheartedly congratulate you.”
According to the former minister, who contested for the governorship seat in March on the platform of the United Democratic Party (UDP), power comes from God and he gives it to whoever he desires.
She gave assurance of her willingness to support the programmes and policies of the state government.
She explained that she and her supporters have no other state than Taraba, stressing that they have a responsibility to support the government in any way they can.
Alhassan also said the visit and her decision to support the governor was to ensure that the success of his administration and progress of the state for the good of the people.
She stated, “You’re the commander of the rescue mission, so we have all joined the rescue team … on behalf of myself and my party loyalists, UDP, and all their supporters in Taraba State, we wish to congratulate you heartily.
“In a contest of this nature, somebody has to win while others lose. I lost not victoriously, but gallantly.”
On his part, Governor Ishaku said he was overwhelmed by the former minister’s show of support, adding that it would serve as a morale booster to his administration.
He said she has truly shown that politics should be played without bitterness and victory as a politician should not be seen as the end of life.
Alhassan contested the Taraba governorship election in 2015 on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) but lost to Governor Ishaku.
She later defected from APC to UDP In 2018, to contest for the same position in 2019 and lost again to the governor.
Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku, has signed into law a bill that prescribes death sentence and life imprisonment for kidnappers and abduction offenders in the state.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Bala Dan Abu.
The statement added that the bill which was sponsored by Speaker, Taraba State House of Assembly, Peter Abel Diah, was passed with the support of the members of the Assembly.
The governor’s assent to the bill follows the amendment of the Kidnapping and Abduction Prohibition Act 2010 by the Taraba State House of Assembly which introduces the death penalty and life imprisonment for offenders.
According to the Speaker, the bill will ensure the protection of Taraba residents against kidnapping.
“Under the new law, anybody found guilty of abduction or kidnapping in the state will pay the supreme price for it.
“The law is a product of government’s concern about insecurity in the state, particularly, kidnapping for money which is rampant in the state and other parts of the country,” the statement read in part.
The new bill prescribes punishment for violators as; any person who threatened to kill, maim, injure or cause panic in order to compel another person, corporate or government organisation to do or refrain from doing any act committed an offence and is liable on conviction to 20 years without an option of fine.
It also said that any person who threatens to kidnap another person by means of phone calls, text messages or any electronic device shall be convicted to 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
And any person who conceals any information or has knowledge as to the existence of a kidnap group or is aware of the planning and execution of a kidnap or abduction without informing relevant security agencies commits and offence and shall be convicted to 20 years imprisonment without an option of fine.
The governor’s assent to the bill comes on the heels of rising spate of kidnapping in Taraba State.
Governor Darius Ishaku has asked the people of Taraba State, especially the Muslims to be fair with their neighbours.
He made the plea on Tuesday in a statement by his media aide, Bala Abu, on the occasion of the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations.
“I felicitate with the Muslim Ummah in the state and indeed the nation on the successful conclusion of one of the important pillars of Islam; that is the obligatory fasting by all practicing Muslims in the holy month of Ramadan, as enjoined in Quran (2:185),” the governor was quoted as saying.
He added, “May I, however, enjoin Muslims to continue to imbibe at all times the virtues embedded in the act of self-denial and discipline associated with Ramadan, even after the end of the one-month of abstention from food and other worldly desires.
“Ramadan, therefore, symbolises equality of all humanity; whether rich or poor, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
Governor Ishaku noted that he was aware that throughout the period of fasting, the Muslims have been engaged in fervent prayers for the state and nation, self-examination, religious revival and giving of alms to the poor in the society.
He urged them to continue in the spirit for the renewal of the society and also encouraged them to emulate the life of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
According to the governor, the prophet never discriminated against others but showed tolerance and love for all.
Ishaku said, “I urge you all not to only continue in prayers for peace, understanding, and brotherliness in the state, but also show it in your attitude to friends and neighbors at all times.
“Once again, may I use the occasion of Sallah celebration to urge the citizens of the state to show greater tolerance for one another, as government on its part is working round the clock to ensure that permanent peace is restored all over the state.”
The governor said his administration was determined more than ever to carry the people along, irrespective of partisan political leanings, in its agenda to fast track development to all nooks and crannies of the state.
He congratulated the Muslims for being able to perform what he described as the central function of their faith.
He also declared a ‘State of Emergency’ on the State’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and assured that the government will make potable water available to the people of the state.
“The past four years have recorded steady improvement in our case to make potable water available to our people across the state.
“It is with this realisation that the government since inception in 2015 has committed both time and resources to ensure consistent water supply to the people of Taraba state.
The governor also launched the state’s WASH policy implementation programme and assured that the ongoing Jalingo primary water project will provide about 28 million litres per day.
“This programme is to be supported by the development of a three-year action plan, improvement of water, sanitation and hygiene.
“It will be backed by increased funding and investment in the sector for the next four years. Focus on the completion of the ongoing Jalingo primary water project, expected to add about 28 million litres per day”.
The governor reminded the people of the importance of the occasion to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ as an outstanding festival in the Christian calendar.
He noted that it was an occasion for the people of Taraba to resolve to “work much harder” for peace and unity among themselves.
“Easter reminds us of the great sacrifice through the death of Jesus Christ and whose triumph over death through His resurrection has made salvation free for mankind,” the governor said.
He urged all Christians to use the occasion to reflect on the life and times of Jesus Christ, particularly his spirit of forgiveness and empathy which saw him healing the sick, helping the poor, and preaching peace among humanity.
Governor Ishaku added, “We all – Christians, Muslims and traditional religious adherents – must work together to achieve peace for the benefit of all.
“I congratulate all Christians on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and wish them a happy Easter celebration.”
Many people have been feared killed and others injured in a fresh violence between Jukun and Tiv tribes in Wukari, South of Taraba State.
Several houses were reportedly burnt in the clashes which began last weekend.
Meanwhile, the state Governor, Mr Darius Ishaku has condemned the violence which he attributed to incessant conflict between Jukun and Tiv people in Taraba and Benue states.
According to a statement by the media aide to the governor, the latest occurred in Kente, a border community in Taraba state, resulting from a minor conflict between both ethnic groups.
The governor urged residents of the affected border communities to live together in peace and harmony as frequent conflicts only lead to disruption of economic activities and aggravate poverty and hunger.
Although, the state Police command is yet to comment on the latest communal clash in Taraba state.
But a Jukun community leader, Bako Benjamin, said despite the peace accord reached last week between the two warring communities, “Tiv ethnic militias have continued to launch pockets of attacks on our communities.”