The Resurgence Of Violence

SHORTLY after the conduct of the 2023 general elections, Nigeria witnessed a resurgence of violence. This violence, unmitigated by the Federal Government, appears, for now, to be concentrated in the geopolitical North-Central and its adjoining states. The worst-hit states are Niger, Benue, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Plateau.

Certain methods govern this orgy of violence. It is perpetrated by what appears to be a well-trained and equipped militia. This militia, in large numbers, attacks communities, mostly at night, when its unsuspecting victims are deep asleep.

Deploying its sophisticated weapons, it proceeds on killing sprees. After mowing down the unsuspecting villagers, the vile marauders proceed to cart away foodstuff and burn houses. The victims are easily cut down because they are unarmed and unprepared for the blitzkrieg. They are also easily overwhelmed because the wicked perpetrators deploy the elements of shock and surprise. The use of these two elements lends credence to the fact that they had prior military training and intelligence.]

Besides, the weapons they deploy are said to be either on par with or superior to those used by our security agencies. It is after villagers have been mowed down in their dozens, sometimes in their hundreds, that our security agencies arrive at the killing fields, much to the chagrin of the helpless locals. In frustration, the victims misplace their aggression. They sometimes attack innocent passersby or commuters, thus courting the odium and ire of those who would ordinarily have sympathized with their travails. Rather than being proactive or pre-emptive, our security agencies are reactive and reflexive.

It is, therefore, not surprising that a chafed Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Sa’ad Abubakar III, himself a former General, has expressed dismay at the tardy and slovenly responses of our security agencies. By now, and following the recent genocide in Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State, clear patterns have emerged from the hitherto blurred and disguised designs of this ignoble militia and its sponsors. It takes one community or ethnic group at a time in a district and conquer strategy.

The others are isolated or left out. They are lulled into thinking it is a mere skirmish between the militia and the affected community. The militia and its allies deftly conflate and present their attack as a reprisal or revenge. Consequently, the other isolated communities let down their guards and abandoned their neighbour to face the militia, oblivious to the fact that their fatal turn would soon arrive. What gave away the strategy in the boldest relief this time is that the atrocious and coordinated attacks on villages in Mangu took place unprovoked. Also, Mangu is renowned for five qualities: the premium it places on education, farming, commerce, its peaceful disposition, and its warm embrace of visitors.

Like Jos, Mangu is cosmopolitan. The marauders, therefore, have no justification for this dastardly attack. Thus, what has played out, poignantly and clearly, for everyone to behold is the time-honoured case of everyday for the thief, but one day for the owner. The communities being attacked, with abandon, in the North Central, North West, and North East are noted for farming. They are indeed the country’s food basket. It can therefore be surmised that one of the designs of this militia, and their reckless sponsors, is to chase out the original inhabitants of these areas and take over their verdant lands.

But if the chief intention of the marauders is to chase out these people from their ancestral lands, the government, under the watch of President Muhammad Buhari, can be accused, rightly, of being complicit in this malevolent misadventure: It is complicit in failing to protect and defend the people as demanded by the Nigerian Constitution. It is complicit by its obvious biases, and its body language, in giving free rein to the marauders to mow down

Nigerians. It is complicit by not being pre- emptive of these wicked attacks. It is complicit by not showing empathy to these beleaguered people. For whereas this government is always quick to commiserate with or congratulate Nigerians, from the prominent to the nondescript, it has been deafeningly silent over the Mangu genocide. Even the most marble-hearted would have demonstrated a semblance of pathos or sorrow.

It is evident, from the legion of unprovoked attacks and violence visited on Nigerians by marauders, kidnappers and bandits, that the Buhari administration has failed woefully to secure the people and their properties. Any government that takes over, in the aftermath

of this sad and lamentable administration, must, with the quickest alacrity, decisively address the resurgence of violence in the country. In the long term, such a government must be just, fair, firm, and equitable and bring to heel any group whose agenda is to dismember the country or to kill and maim innocent Nigerians. While we await the advent of a just and fair government, the people in these embattled communities must remain resolute and steadfast. In spite of these incessant and unwarranted attacks, they must hold fast and firm to what is theirs by birth and by right. One way to do so, since government has abdicated its constitutional responsibility to protect them, is to resort to self-defense.

Communities, in the interim, and in lieu of a just administration, must defend themselves by forming vigilante groups. These vigilantes should provide surveillance for their communities. They should organise drills for their villagers in advance of attacks. And they should teach them how to repel such attacks. In forming such vigilantes, they should draw heavily from the reserves of their ex- servicemen and women.

Now that it is clear that the strategy of the marauders and sponsors is to divide and conquer by taking each community or ethnic group at a time, the various endangered groups, especially in the North-Central, which has a proliferation of ethnic groups, must unite. They must forge alliances, stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, and share information regarding strange movements and imminent attacks. An attack against one community or ethnic group should be viewed as an attack against all.

They should be guided and reminded by Martin Niemoller’s unforgettable words following the advent of Adolph Hitler’s heinous Nazi administration: “First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.”

In addition to forming alliances and showing solidarity with each other, communities in these areas, and indeed the entire country, must be security conscious. The inflow of strangers should be noted and quickly reported to the appropriate authorities. Traditional rulers and other stakeholders at the community level should be eagle-eyed and escalate, without delay, suspicious persons or activities to the security agencies.

Agents of the Department of State Services, DSS, should be more active in our communities. Also, the National Orientation Agency, NOA, should be strengthened, and its staff at the local government and ward levels should be made to file weekly reports about goings-on in their localities. That way, most of these incidents and suspicious movements will be detected and nipped in the bud before they escalate into full blown violence.

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