Senator Shehu Sani has stated that North Eastern Nigeria would be a safe place if the government spent a fraction of the time spent on fighting self determination agitations on bandits.
Sani stated that Kaduna ‘is under siege’ by bandits and criminal elements and that because banditry and kidnapping have become very lucrative, stopping it now will be very hard.
Speaking to SunNewsOnline, Sani said;
“Kaduna is a state under siege; armed bandits have taken over most parts of the state, they are impoverishing our people by forcing them to sell their homes, land and other property in order to pay ransom to get their loved ones freed. “
“They have destroyed our agricultural system in the sense that farmers can no longer go to their farms. Our educational system has been disrupted because of the activities of these bandits. They have become more daring and audacious that in some places, they go about collecting taxes. They have become a state within a state; that is the sad situation we found ourselves in.”
“Kidnapping has become a lucrative business in the North West part of Nigeria whereby they have become an authority onto themselves. In our own state Kaduna, hardly a day goes by without reported cases of kidnapping. In fact, the ones that are reported are when the numbers are much not when they are three or four.”
“The sad thing is that the kingpins of those involved in these kidnapping businesses are known; if the security agencies don’t go after them, we won’t get an end to kidnappings in the North East. These kidnappers don’t have a central command and control, they control various territories and they sometimes trade their hostages between themselves.”
” When they kidnap a victim and the ransom is not paid on time, they trade the victim to another kidnapper who will increase the ransom to be paid. The government should be serious in terms of apprehending these gang leaders because until they are apprehended, we will not get to the bottom of these matters and the kidnapping business is not going to stop.”
“The kidnappers are not like Boko Haram or Islamic State of west African Province, (ISWAP) that has a leader you can talk to. The kidnappers and bandits exist in clusters and the tendency of them violating whatever agreement you reach with them is very high. So, Gov El Rufai has negotiated before and it has become a serious stigma in the sense that even the states that are negotiating have themselves not been able to end banditry and terrorism in their place.”
” It is not just negotiation that we should be talking about, I think there should also be the political will to make sure bandits and terrorists activities are curtailed and contained.”
Speaking about Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho who are pursuing secessionist causes, Sani said;
“The herdsmen and bandits are carrying arms, unleashing terror on innocent citizens, but the agitations of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho are working towards breaking Nigeria. It is a reality that the government has laid more emphasis on going after separatists than going after terrorists.”
” If the government invested a fraction of the energy it spent going after self-determination separatists to fight terrorists, those of us in North East Nigeria would have been saved. Fighting banditry and terrorism are of higher priority to us than going after Nnamdi Kanu or Sunday Igboho.”