Have the generals gone on leave?
OpenLife Nigeria reports that kidnapping has become Nigeria’s most lucrative industry, crippling socio-economic activities with growing impression in the global space that President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Major General who gave Chadian intruders “bloody nose” in 1982, with his coterie of generals in the Army, Navy and Airforce, may have succumbed to the superior power force of insurgents made up of Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP and fraction of Al Qaeda.
Happening under President Muhammadu Buhari’s watch, the final batch of surviving kidnapped students of the Greenfield University in Kaduna State was released on Buhari’s 6th anniversary in power after parents of the abducted students paid N180m ransom including 10 brand new motorcycles delivered to kidnappers.
Earlier, they had killed five of the students whose parents were unable to meet the ransom demands.
The kidnapped students spent 40 days in the forest released in broad daylight on Kaduna to Abuja highway.
This explains the audacity of control by bandits, terrorists and evil herdsmen in Nigeria in contrast with constitutional provisions in Section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian 1999 constitution stating clearly that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.”
Insecurity has become a hydra-headed monster that security agents in Nigeria appear incapable of handling vis a vis its multifaceted manifestations like bombing, kidnapping, hostage-taking, destruction of property, creation of fear.
OpenLife research reveals that intra and inter-party rancour; porous boundaries; unemployment, jobs racketeering and illiteracy are partly responsible for the heightened insecurity in the length and breadth of Nigeria, reputed as Africa’s biggest economy.
On the economy, insecurity has led to the destruction of business, properties and pieces of equipment; relocation and closing down of businesses with resultant effects in the areas of illnesses; low life expectancy; low quality of life and even death.
Now, hardly a day goes by without a report of one security challenge or the other. Unfortunately, ordinary citizens, as well as the nation’s economic resources, are at the receiving end of this wanton destruction. The series of bombings and killings in the north; kidnapping and armed robbery attack in the south; political and economic related assassinations as well as the politically influenced communal wars has become a multi-hydra headed monster which security agents in Nigeria appear incapable of handling.
Former political adviser to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Ahmed Gulak was murdered by gunmen in Owerri Imo State.
The news of his death was made known by his classmate, Dr Umar Ado in a statement on May 30.
Even though, the statement did not say what took him to Imo but unconfirmed sources revealed that he was in Imo on the invitation of some Northern Groups in the state.
The statement read:
“I just confirmed the sad and gruesome death of my friend and classmate, the former Hon. Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, former Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President and former Special Adviser Political to President Goodluck Jonathan, Barr. Ahmadu Ali Gulak.
“Barr Gulak was said to have been killed last night by unknown gunmen in Owerri, Imo State.
“May Allah (SWT) forgive his sins, bless his soul and reward his good deeds with Aljannah on the Day of Resurrection.
“May Allah (SWT) also give all his children, relatives, friends and loved ones, the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. And may Allah (SWT) bless us with faithful deaths when it is our turn to die. Ameen.
“Please let all and sundry accept my heartfelt sympathy over this personal painful experience even as I draw solace that he lived a good, helpful and productive life, well illustrated by the fact that he died while in service of his dear country.
“This is one death too many! May God Almighty save our fatherland. Ameen.”
N180m ransom for Greenfield University kidnap students
In their narrations, parents and family members of the remaining kidnapped students and workers of the Greenfield University, Kaduna State, said they were forced to sell their property to raise ransom as the remaining victims regained freedom.
It was learned that the bandits collected N180m ransom and eight new motorcycles.
The 13 students and three staff members of the privately-owned university were released by the bandits on Saturday afternoon some few kilomtres away from the school along the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway.
They were abducted on April 20, 2021.
Bandits had invaded the university, killing an official before kidnapping 19 students and three female workers of the institution.
A few days later, five of the students were killed by the bandits for failure of the parents to raise the N800m ransom demanded by the bandits.
The spokesperson for the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Mohammed Jalige, confirmed the release of the remaining students and workers after 39 days in captivity.
When asked of his health status, the police spokesman said once debriefed, “we will get back to you.”
Although the police were silent on whether or not a ransom was paid, it was learned that parents paid some unspecified amount to the bandits who earlier demanded N800m ransom.
The bandits, however, reduced the ransom to N100m and 10 motorcycles and later asked the parents to pay N10m for each victim.
But OpenLife gathered from reliable sources that the parents paid ransom and provided eight brand new motorcycles to the bandits before the students regained their freedom.
It was gathered that the bandits dropped the 13 students and three staff of the university at around a company from where the security operatives guarding the multi-million dollar firm.
Trouble started when the company security refused the parents who came to pick up their children, insisting that the students would be handed to the police.
The angry parents broke into the company and took their children away amid jubilation.
Meanwhile, the aggrieved parents blamed both the federal and state governments as well as the Nigeria Police Force for the alleged non-challant attitude to secure the victims’ release.
They said they had to sell their assets to secure the release of their children from the bandits, who had earlier vowed to kill them if their demands were not met.
One of the freed staff members, Mrs Bassey, thanked God that they were returned safely and reunited with their families.
“I gave God all the glory that we returned safely. They tried to take care of us. We are eating normally,” she said.
Another parent, Mr. Bassey Bassey expressed joy over the release of his daughter.
He, however, expressed disappointment that Nigerian children had no future with the attitude of governments.
Bassey said, “After 40 days of trauma, trouble, confusion, disappointment that the future of Nigerian children were kidnapped, we are very happy that we see them again alive.
“But it is disappointing that both federal and state governments could not lift a finger to secure their release. No government showed any intention to help. It was parents that rallied round to ensure that the students were released.
“We paid a huge amount of money to secure their release. The people (bandits) collected a number of motorbikes which we had to give because our destiny was tied up.
“There was no effort, no fight by government or security agencies to get them freed. We suffered, and sold all our properties to rescue our children. No government, no security agencies that came to help us. It is shameful that those who did not contribute anything came out to take the glory.
“Now is not a time to take that decision of returning our children back to that school. The school authority tried well. We will take that decision later.”
Mr. Chukwuemeka Lawrence, a husband of one of the kidnapped workers, insisted that huge amounts were paid as ransom.
He said, “We paid ransom before they were released. The kidnappers called us and told us that government is behind them; that the government knows what they are doing and that we should look for more money.
“We begged them but they refused to listen to our pleas. We sold houses. The total amount we paid was N150m. I cannot hide the truth. The government promised to protect us but they are not doing so. How can my wife go to work for two days and I will be paying over N5m? I can’t hide the truth. That is what is killing us in this country.”
But in a video that went viral, a parent who did not give his name said N180m was collected as ransom.
He said, “N180m; that is what they collected from us parents, without the help of the government. None of the government officials came to our aid. Since the 20th of April they took these children, the government did not release a single policeman to go after them despite the dead bodies that have been brought. We say we have a government, I’m sorry we don’t have any government. We only have those that are selfish for themselves and not for the masses.”
Six years abuse of rule of law
On the occasion of the 6th year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, an advocacy group says it has been a period of abuse of the rule of law
SERAP has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to “use the sixth anniversary of his government in power as an opportunity to halt Nigeria’s backsliding from constitutional and international obligations, reverse a steady deterioration of the rule of law and persistent breach of human rights, including the rights to a corruption-free society, and to life and security of Nigerians.”
SERAP said: “We urge you to publicly give an assurance that you and your government would end the worsening rule of law crisis, obey court judgments, genuinely combat grand corruption, and address the systematic and egregious violations of Nigerians’ right to life and security in several parts of the country.”
The Buhari administration is marking six years since coming into power, with some officials claiming that “Nigeria has become a better country than it was before Buhari’s election in 2015”, and that “Nigerians would celebrate and praise the administration after Buhari’s tenure in 2023.”
But in the letter dated 29 May 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said: “We are gravely concerned about persistent attacks on the rule of law. Millions of people are falling into preventable poverty, and live in a state of insecurity. This government’s effort to use anniversary celebrations to deflect attention from its record of assault on the rule of law isn’t going to work. Instead, it should use the occasion to create a rule of law-friendly environment that would make Nigerians safer.”
According to SERAP: “Systematically breaching the rule of law is not a sign of strength. Your administration should urgently comply with Nigeria’s constitutional and international obligations to respect the rule of law if it is not to leave behind a legacy of impunity and attacks on the rule of law, and ultimately, on the system of protection of human rights after your tenure in 2023.”
The letter, read in part: “Should your government fail and/or refuse to urgently implement the recommended measures, SERAP would approach the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to invoke their charters and treaties to restore the rule of law and human rights in Nigeria.”
“Attacks on the rule of law have made it harder for your administration to fulfill your oft-repeated promises to combat corruption, and to protect Nigerians’ right to life and security.”
“SERAP is seriously concerned that a culture of attacks on the rule of law has adversely affected the functioning of the country’s judiciary, undermined the integrity and authority of our courts, and reduced their ability to function effectively as the fundamental safeguard of rule of law in the country.”
“SERAP believes that respect for the rule of law and human rights is vital if your administration is to be able to effectively and satisfactorily address the growing poverty, inequality, and insecurity across the country.”
“SERAP hopes that the next two years will show your administration’s commitment to consistently uphold democracy, the rule of law, human rights, including the right to a corruption-free society, and the right to life and security.”
“The rule of law crisis in the past six years is illustrated by your government’s persistent failure to obey decisions of Nigerian courts; failure to consistently combat corruption and push for transparency in asset declarations by high-ranking government officials, and the failure to protect Nigerians’ right to life and security.”
“Persistent disobedience of court judgments by your administration represents a systemic threat to the rule of law, as this has infringed upon judicial independence and undermined legal certainty, as well as exacerbated the “chilling effect” on victims’ access to justice and effective remedies.”
“Nigeria’s rule of law breakdown, the systematic breaching of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international obligations have also seriously undermined Nigeria’s leadership role within the ECOWAS, the African Union, and generally in the comity of nations.”
“Ensuring full and effective respect for the rule of law and human rights would send a strong signal of your commitment to uphold the country’s constitutional guarantees and international obligations, and that you are ready to do what is needed to halt the backsliding from these guarantees and obligations.”
“The judgments your government is yet to obey include at least seven judgments obtained by SERAP. The first is the judgment by Justice Hadiza Rabiu Shagari ordering your government to tell Nigerians about the stolen asset it allegedly recovered to date, with details of the amounts recovered.”
“The second judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris [as he then was], ordered your government to publish details on the spending of stolen funds recovered since the return of democracy in 1999, while the third judgment, by Justice Chuka Austine Obiozor, ordered your government to publish details of payments of billions of naira to allegedly corrupt electricity contractors and companies since 1999.”
“The fourth judgment, by Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo, ordered your government to challenge the legality of states’ life pension laws and to recover pensions already collected by ex-governors now serving as ministers and members of the National Assembly.”
“The fifth judgment, by Justice Mohammed Idris ordered your government to prosecute principal officials and lawmakers suspected of padding and stealing N481bn from the 2016 budget. The court also ordered publication of the report on the alleged 2016 budget padding.”
“The sixth judgment, by the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, ordered the Nigerian authorities to provide free and quality education to all Nigerian children without discrimination. The seventh judgment, also by the ECOWAS Court, ordered the Federal Government to hold all oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to account for oil pollution and associated human rights violations, and to pay compensation.”
“Another court order that is yet to be complied with is the order for the release of Islamic Movement of Nigeria leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenah, from unlawful detention, obtained by human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana.”
“Nigeria’s democracy ought to have as its foundation respect for human rights and the rule of law. Treating the decisions of Nigerian courts as not binding is antithetical to any contemporary notion of the rule of law and democracy, and clearly counter-productive to the fight against corruption.”
“Democracy is an inherent element of the rule of law, and obeying decisions of the courts, combating corruption, and ending growing insecurity in the country are closely connected with the existence and consolidation of democracy, good governance and development.”
“SERAP also urges you to immediately instruct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to enforce all outstanding court judgments against your government since May 2015, including those highlighted above.”
200 Islamiyya School abducted
Then, on Sunday, May 30, news broke that over 200 Islamiyya schools located at Tegina in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State have been abducted.
One person was reportedly shot dead while another was critically injured after gunmen carried out the kidnap operation around 4:30 pm that Sunday.
A resident of the area, Zayyad Mohammed, confirmed the incident to newsmen on phone.
According to him, the Salihu Tanko Islamiyya school where the incident took place, was built by a retired immigration officer.
Preliminary details indicate that the Islamic school is where parents send their children on a daily basis for the purpose of acquiring Islamic education.
In like manner, while the anxiety raised by the kidnapped of Niger State students was still fresh, news flittered out that Ebonyi State had been attacked by suspected herdsmen same Sunday and killed no fewer than 30 Ebonyi indigenes in the State.
The assailants were said to have attacked Odoke, Ndiobasi and Obakotara communities in Ebonyi local government area of the State. Information revealed that the ugly incident occurred around 3 am on Sunday morning.
The affected communities share boundaries with the Ado Local Government area in Benue State.
A resident in the area, Uchenna Okpokwu said the herdsmen invaded his community with guns and machetes. “They came into Ndiobasi village and started slaughtering the people.
After slaughtering them, they entered Odoke, from that Odoke, they went to Obapta.
“Currently, people that were slaughtered in Ndiobasi are up to 30 according to the video clips on the incident but Odoke and Obapta are very far and nobody was able to enter those two villages to capture those that were killed.
“When I received a call from one of my villagers over the attack, he told me that the herdsmen are currently at Ojaba forest and that place is their hideout because there is no other way for them to escape.
“The herdsmen are currently in that forest as at the time I was called on the phone.
“I was told our Local Government Chairman went with some security men but couldn’t get to the affected villages. If there is a way security agents will be sent to the affected villages, it will be good.
“Currently, I have been trying to reach my family members on phone but their lines are not through and all of them are in the village”, he said.
Another resident of the area, Onyibe Jeremiah lamented that no action was taken to protect the communities despite earlier warnings of the herdsmen impending attacks.
Hé said” One young man from Enugu state that saw the herdsmen when they were coming into the Ebonyi villages made the voice call that went viral to alert the state but it appears that it was ignored which was why these attacks were recorded despite the alert. “Nobody took that voice serious and the herdsmen came and killed not less than 30 people now. They are currently attacking more villages”