02/Jul/2016 // 709 Viewers
The Nigerian society appears to have become unusually brutal and bestial in recent times. This is following the intractable spate of atrocious killings of fellow citizens by hoodlums operating under different names and forms. Like the vicious practice in the jungle where animals pounce on one another and kill without any sense of remorse, herdsmen, robbers, militants, cultists, kidnappers, and ethnic militias gleefully move about killing their targets without restraints.
Security operatives are not left out of the abominable acts as they have been severally being found responsible for the death of many lives either for pecuniary reasons or in the guise of doing their work.
From one part of the country to another, hardly does a week end without Nigerians being inundated with distressing stories of gruesome murder of innocent citizens. It has thus becomes a common sight to find dead bodies riddled with bullets and machete cuts littering various parts of the country with their blood drenching the ground like those of animals slaughtered at abattoirs.
Findings showed that the despicable development has been generating palpable fears in the society and consequently fuelling fears among the people.
Former Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubarkar Tsav, said he gets disturbed each time he hears of the horrendous killings that take place in the country.
“I get worried whenever I hear those distasteful reports because it means that nobody is safe. The implication is that anyone of us could be attacked and killed and nothing will happen at the end of the day. In Gboko where I live, people kidnap for as low as N50, 000. It is that bad. The implication of all these is that everybody will begin to devise means of defending themselves. This could eventually lead to anarchy.
“If those in the positions of authority fail to do something because they have security around them, they should remember that they will leave office one day and those security details will be withdrawn from them. At that point, they will become like the rest of us and face similar challenges that we are facing,” he said.
Groups at the forefront of major killings
In recent times, the menacing activities of some criminal-minded herdsmen have threatened the state of security in the country as they moved from kidnapping their targets to killing people in their numbers. Their nuisance generated overt tension in the society as aggrieved citizens threatened a reprisal should they continue to perpetrate their unholy acts. Top among the leaders of the country that threatened to avenge further attacks by the herdsmen was Ekiti State governor Ayodele Fayose. The tension was so rife that retired Catholic Archbishop of Lagos State, Anthony Cardinal Olubunmi Okogie warned that the challenge could snowball into civil war if not properly managed.
Speaking after two farmers were killed in Oke Ako in Ikole Local Government Area of the state, Fayose said; “I am sounding a note of warning to the Fulani herdsmen and those who can talk to them should also do so now. If they continue with these wanton attacks, killing of the people and destruction of farmlands in Ekiti, I cannot guarantee that there won’t be reprisal attacks.I can also not guarantee the level that the reprisal attacks can get to because as a governor, it is my responsibility to defend and protect my people.”
Just in Agatu Local Government Area of Benue State alone, the herdsmen have allegedly killed over 300 victims in the last six months. On several occasions, they invaded the villages namely: Okokolo, Akwu, Ocholonya, Adagbo, Ugboku and Aila, murdered the natives and set their houses and farms ablaze.
Before the citizens could recover from the Agatu massacre, the herdsmen moved eastward and killed 40 natives of Nimbo in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State. The incident reportedly took place barely 24 hours after stories filtered out that about 500 heavily-armed herdsmen sneaked into the community preparatory to launch an attack. About seven villages in Nimbo (Nimbo Ngwoko, Ugwuijoro, Ekwuru, Ebor, Enugu Nimbo, Umuome and Ugwuachara) were among the areas attacked.
In April this year, some of the blood- thirsty herdsmen shifted their attention to the South south, Delta State to be precise, and unleashed monumental havoc on Uwheru community in Ughelli North Local Government of the state. The attack, according to the residents, brought the number of their kinsmen that were allegedly murdered in recent times by the rampaging herdsmen to 31.
The community’s President General, Chief Ogarivi Utso, said the herdsmen wrecked havoc on the Uwheru community, including assault, rape and killings.
He said: “The genesis of the problem started in 2004 when Ohoror community, in Uwheru, was invaded by the herdsmen with the collaboration of some soldiers. Many houses were razed, including the home of a former President General, Mr. Emmanuel Enivwegha. Many residents were forced into exile, while 10 youths and men, including the younger brother to the former president general, Edjerigho, were killed by the suspected herdsmen.
Within the same month, the herdsmen invaded two villages in Gashaka Local Government Area of Taraba State and killed several people. While the residents of Dori and Mesuma, the attacked villages, claimed that 40 people were killed and several houses razed, the police chief said only 15 people were killed in the attacks.
The renewed activities of militants in the Niger Delta region of the country opened up a fresh security challenge in the country recently. Within the short time they resumed their agitation, the militants have killed countless number of lives, including those of soldiers carrying out surveillance on oil facilities. Like the herdsmen, they have equally been spreading their bloodletting to different parts of the country.
In what appeared like a war situation, militants numbering about 100 invaded Ogun State community penultimate weekend and wasted the lives 15 members of the community.
Armed with guns and cutlasses, the militants stormed Imushin community in the Ogijo area of the state killing almost every resident in sight. The attack, reports said, was a revenge of the killing of two members suspected to be vandals by operatives of the State Anti-Robbery Squad.
When the residents were still mourning, the suspected militants returned to the area and adjoining communities and spilled more blood than they did the first time they attacked the area. No fewer than 50 residents were reportedly killed during the attack, although officials sources said only six died.
In May, three soldiers working with the Joint Military Force deployed to protect oil facilities in the Niger Delta were killed in a gun duel with pirates and militants. Col. Isa Ado, Spokesman of the force, codenamed, “Operation Pulo Shield, said that the military patrol team was attacked by a combined team of suspected militants and sea pirates, but that the team fought gallantly to ward off the attack. “The location came under fierce attack and three of our soldiers, who were hit by bullets, died on their way to the hospital. There were so many casualties on the side of the militants, but we cannot precisely know the number”.
Moving on from there, the unrepentant militants early last month attacked and killed two soldiers and four civilians at Ijere community in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
“Some militants suspected to be the Avengers attacked a houseboat stationed at pipeline junction at the back of Ijere community. The militants came through Omadina creek in the Itsekiri axis. During the exchange of gunfire, the houseboat sank while the army recorded casualties. The militants escaped through the Omadina community axis,” military sources said.
In spite of the decimation of Boko Haram, the dreaded Islamist sect by the present administration, the militants have continued to wreak occasional havoc. About a fortnight ago, members of the sect invaded Kuda Village in Adamawa State and shot dead 18 women at a funeral.
The sect showed it had not gone into oblivion early in the year when its members raided two villages in Mairi and Malari in Konduga Local Government Area of Borno, killing four persons and razing houses in the communities.
Before the attack in Mairi and Malari, the sect had attacked and killed over 100 people in Dalori village, a suburb of Borno State.
Also compounding the security situation in the country is the activities of cultists who go about killing rival cult members and innocent citizens without minding whose ox is gored.
Just last Sunday, suspected cultists in Rivers State killed two policemen attached to the Rumuji Police Divisional Headquarters and five other persons during a clash in the area.
The bloody clash erupted between the Icelanders and the Greenlanders cult groups in Rumuji and Ovogo communities, in Emohua Local Government Area of the state.
Before the incident last Sunday, a nursing mother and 22 others were reportedly killed in Aluu community, a suburb of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state in early part of last month.
Aside from Rivers State where the activities of cultists are highly pronounced, Lagos State has also recorded innumerable deaths resulting from cult clashes in recent times. Their activities have been found to be endemic in Ikorodu, Bariga, Shomolu, Mushin and Ojo areas of the state.
Early in January this year, a clash between Aye and Eiye confraternities left five people dead and several injured in Ikorodu area. The cultists were said to have freely used axes, cutlasses and guns during the clash.
Four persons were killed in Ilorin, during a supremacy fight between members of two rival cults in April. The cult clash occurred at Babako, Ita-Amodu and Agbo-Oba areas of Ilorin. The clash heightened tension in the affected areas while residents scampered to safety.
About the same time, suspected cultists in Kogi State killed seven people as they shifted their activities from the campuses into the city centres. They chased their targets to their residences and killed them in public glare.
Within the first half of the year, Ondo, Imo, Delta among others have also recorded series of bloody cult clashes that claimed several lives.
In February, two persons were reportedly killed in Ondo town, during clashes involving two cults groups that took place in the Okesida and Odojomu areas of the state. Earlier in March, two persons were killed when a deadly cult war ensued between two gangs in Owo Local Government areas of the state.
Nine people were also killed in various cult clashes in Imo and Delta states in March. In Imo, about five people died in cult clashes between Mgbolo Okuku and Obogwu communities in Owerri West Local Government, while four people were killed Agbor, Delta State, in a clash between Aiye and Black Axe Baga at Owa in Ika North-East Local Government Area of the state.
Politically motivated killings reared its head early in the year during the governorship elections in Bayelsa State. About 14 people were reportedly killed during the supplementary governorship election that took place after the main election was declared inconclusive by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) .
The victims included four policemen, two soldiers and eight civilians.
The build up to the federal and state legislative rerun elections in Rivers State in March equally turned bloody as two people, a major in the Nigerian Army and a soldier, were slain in cold bold in the Abonnema creek in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of the A troop of soldiers from the 2 Brigade of the Nigerian Army, which was on patrol, was ambushed by people suspected to be pirates. In the exchange of gunfire, the major and soldier were gunned down, while two other soldiers were said to have sustained serious injuries.
The state witnessed additional killings on the elections day as five people lost their lives during the violence that erupted during the polls.
In spite of the huge presence of security operatives at the polling centres, dynamites, guns and other weapons of violence were freely used by hoodlums.
Clashes between various communities and tribes have also accounted for the growing incidents of murder across the country.
For instance, the lingering boundary crisis between Cross Rivers State and Ebonyin State has continuously led to avoidable loss of human lives in the area. No fewer than eight persons were feared killed in renewed clashes between the two communities recently.
The skirmish occurred between Ochienyim community in Amagu, Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and Adadama community in Abi Local Government Area of Cross River State.
Before the clash in June that claimed eight lives, many people were gruesomely killed in April in one of the communal clashes in Cross River State.
Fighting was said to have broken out between four communities in Cross River Central Senatorial and Northern Senatorial districts. In the Central Senatorial district, the crisis involved Ebum community in Obubra Local Government Area and Inyima in Yakurr Local Government Area of the state.
However, in the Northern Senatorial district, people from Ukpe community fought against their counterparts from Mbagede both in Ogoja Local Government Area.
The multiple clashes were said to have been triggered by protracted land disputes.
A clash between Wurukum and Shomo communities in Taraba State in the same month also left 15 persons dead. The incident occurred in Karim-Lamido local council, during which several houses and valuables were allegedly burnt.
The relative peace enjoyed in Lagos State was shattered in the early part of March after a clash between the Yoruba and Hausa communities at the popular Mile 12 market left about nine people dead. The incident compelled the state government to shut down the market.
Killings by security operatives
The agitation for the Sovereign State of Biafra resulted in another carnage of in the South-east and South-south regions of the country when when thousands of protesters clashed with security forces in Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Delta, Cross River and Ebonyi States.
The protesters, who were mainly members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), had gone out en masse to mark Biafra Day in memory of the former leader of the defunct Biafra Republic, the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu when the attack took place.
The bloodbath was followed by additional killing of over 30 members of the agitators in Onitsha allegedly by security operatives in May. During rally in Onitsha, Anambra State, a combined team of the military and police clashed with members of the IPOB during the celebration of Biafra Day in the commercial city.
The gun battle, which led to the killings, started when an IPOB member allegedly shot at a soldier who was patrolling where the protesters had converged to begin a procession in honour of the late Ojukwu around the Upper Iweka area of Onitsha.
Earlier, nine people were reportedly killed by security operatives in December after taskforce members opened fire on protesting IPOB members in Onitsha.
The Nation’s investigations have shown that Nigerians have been living in overt fears because of the incessant killings across the country. Those who spoke with our correspondent said they now rely more on divine protection.
A civil servant who identified himself simply as Gabriel, said: “ The rate of killing is alarming. How would one not be disturbed when all you have everywhere is killing, killing and killing? Unfortunately, the security operatives appear incapable of arresting the situation. I am really afraid because nobody is safe. It is only God that can protect one in this kind of situation the country has found itself.”
A banker who gave her name as Bridget said: “There is nobody that would not be disturbed by the security situation in the country because there is nowhere that is safe. As banker, I am always scared of robbery attacks. When walking on the road, one will be praying against accidents and attacks. When you are at home, you are equally scared. It is fears all the way. Depending on security forces for protection is out of it because we have severally read about how their stations were attacked by gunmen. God is my only security.”
Another respondent who identified himself as Taylor said he is tempted to flee the country because of the state of insecurity. “It is not that there is no security breach in other places but when it does happen, security forces will always respond promptly but that is not the situation here. All you hear every time is that the perpetrators will be brought to book or fished out but nothing happens after all. What is more worrisome is that so many violent groups are springing up everyday and they are made up of young boys who use all manners of weapons to attack their targets”.
Why killings are increasing
Security experts have blamed the proliferation of arms and level of poverty in the society for the rising cases of killings in the country.
In a chat with The Nation, the Executive Secretary of Nigeria Institute of Industrial Security Wilson Esangbedo, said: “There is proliferation of arms in the country. This is often caused by the porous nature of our borders which makes it possible for criminal- minded people to bring in all manners of weapons into the country. The level of unemployment and poverty in the country is another reason. Apart from that, most children in the society are not brought up in accordance with good family values. When some of these children get to the university, they join cult groups and the moment they cannot get a job after graduation, they take to criminal activities such to achieve their goals. Another challenge is that some security men are working hand in hand with these criminal elements. This is making the efforts to tackle the menace difficult.”
His views were also shared by Hon. Dipo Okeyomi, a security expert and consultant. “Aside from poverty and unemployment, the flamboyant lifestyles of public office holders and the privileged ones in the society encourage this kind of vice in the society. When people who have no idea of where their next meal will come from see their lifestyles, they will be tempted to do everything possible to come out of poverty and live like them.”
On his part, Alhaji Abubarkar Tsav said: “There is frustration, anger and suffering in the land and this pushes people to be violent. With a very little sum of money, some people will make themselves available to kill their fellow human beings.
“Another problem is that we don’t have enough policemen to contain aggression in the country. This is made worse by the fact that a good number of policemen who are supposed to be protecting the people are attached to politicians. You can find as many as six policemen attached to one politician and when there is a security challenge, there wouldn’t be enough people to attend to it.
“Another challenge is that some security men work with hoodlums in carrying out all manners of criminal acts. Unfortunately, when you report such things, nothing is done about it. Added to the problem is that there is dereliction of duty by the government and the police. “
Former Military Administrator of Bayelsa State, Colonel Edor Obi, blamed politicians for the state of security in the country. He said: “Most of the boys doing these dirty jobs are people that were used and dumped after the elections by politicians. There is no election in Nigeria that you don’t have an army of youths that are armed by the politicians. They use and dump them and at the end of the day, they begin to take it out on the society. Why do we have all the kidnapping across the country? Why do we still have so much armed robbery? Where do they get all the sophisticated weapons to operate so freely across the country? The present administration should do everything possible to put a stop to electoral violence. When people, the youths in particular, are no longer armed by politicians, the spate of killings will reduce”.
Proffering solutions to the menace, the experts advised the Federal Government to organise a national security conference where stakeholders will come together to map out solutions to the challenge.
Okeyomi said: President Buhari should as a matter of urgency convoke a national security conference where experts will come to rub minds and come up with lasting solutions. Besides, The government should do everything possible to re-jig the economy so that the pains of the masses can be alleviated. If people have something tangible doing, they will not have time for criminal activities.”
Besides mopping up arms from the society, Tsav said: “ Most of the policemen on duty are not properly supervised. Some of them wear mufti and stop and search vehicles on the road. This is worrisome because in most cases, you don’t know if they are armed robbers or policemen. The Federal Government didn’t do well by retiring a lot of senior officers. They didn’t put experience into consideration in arriving at the decision.
“They can still engage some of these people who are vibrant and willing so that they can provide vital assistance. They should also reduce the number of policemen attached to politicians and employ more officers. The 10,000 they are planning to employ is grossly inadequate in the situation that we have found ourselves. I totally support the idea of convoking a national security conference to address security challenges in the country.”
Esangbedo said: “The present administration is doing everything possible to salvage the economy and has also provided the necessary tools for the security operatives to work. The security operatives need to purge themselves of bad eggs before they can truly tackle the challenge.”