Northern Elders, Presidency lock horns over rising insecurity

Northerners at the mercy of bandits - NEF/ACF...… **Forum mere irritants, featherweights — Presidency

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The Northern Elders Forum, NEF,  Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and the Presidency are currently engaged in war of words regarding the spate of insecurity across the country especially in the northern part of the Nigeria. 


NEWS FLAKES NG reports that the NEF and ACF yesterday asked the Federal Government and Northern governors to take affirmative action against the high rate of insecurity in the north, saying condemnation was not enough.


In fact, NEF alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari and the northern governors have lost control in protecting the people of the region.


According to NEF, Northern governors appear not capable of upholding the constitutional duty they swore to protect the lives and property of the people.


Convener of the Forum and the Magajin Rafin Zazzau, Professor Ango Abdullahi, who stated this in a statement yesterday, said NEF was alarmed at the rising insecurity of communities and their properties in the North.


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The statement read: ‘’Recent escalation of attacks by bandits, rustlers and insurgents leave the only conclusion that the people of the North are now completely at the mercy of armed gangs who roam towns and villages at will, wreaking havoc.


“It would appear that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and governors have lost control over the imperatives of protecting people of the North, a constitutional duty that they swore to uphold.


’The situation is getting worse literally by the day. Bandits and insurgents appear to sense a huge vacuum in political will and capacity which they exploit with disastrous consequences on communities and individuals.


“It is no exaggeration to say that the people of the North have never experienced this level of exposure to criminals who attack, kill, maim, rape, kidnap, burn villages and rustle cattle, while President Buhari issues threats and promises that have no effect.


“The situation under which our communities from Kogi to Borno states, from Sokoto to Taraba states live is no longer tolerable. As a responsible body, the Forum has joined millions of others in prayers and in giving advice and encouragement to all authorities that have responsibility to protect our communities. It is now time to say, enough is enough.


“Our people are known for their patience and respect for constituted authorities, but all governments must be aware by now that all Northerners have been pushed to the wall. The Forum is aware that some citizens are contemplating peaceful protests, which are their constitutional rights, to draw attention of President Buhari and all levels of authority to the plight of people of the North.


“The Forum urges all citizens to conduct themselves in peaceful and responsible manner, and urges governments to respect the rights of citizens to express their opinions peacefully. The Forum is also consulting other groups and organizations which share its goals and concerns to lend our voices to the demands for action and relief from the unremitting assaults on our lives and livelihood as Northerners.


“The Forum reminds President Muhammadu Buhari that provision of security and pursuit of economic welfare of citizens are the only two constitutional responsibilities of the state which all leaders must achieve. Our current circumstances in the North clearly demonstrate that President Buhari’s administration has woefully failed to achieve either.


“This is unacceptable. We demand an immediate and comprehensive improvement of our security in the North. We are tired of excuses and verbal threats which criminals laugh at, and our fellow citizens see as a clear failure of leadership which they see as part of them. Enough is enough.’’


NEWS FLAKES NG further gathered that the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, in a tweet yesterday, asked the Federal Government to take affirmative action against insecurity in the north and the nation at large, saying condemnation was not enough.


“The killing in the North by bandits or Boko Haram in whatever guise they are called is unacceptable. Government must, beyond condemnation, take an immediate and more comprehensive action to stop the bloodshed. ACF calls on government in strong term, to act now.”


Also reacting yesterday, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said those saddled with the responsibility of protecting the people were not in charge.


He said the governments at the federal and state levels in north lacked the political will to deal decisively and flush out the bandits and terrorists to end the attacks and address the security challenges faced by the nation.


Junaid, who spoke with Vanguard on telephone, also claimed that the bandits were known but lamented that nothing had been done to bring them to book.


He said: “Whoever is supposed to be in charge of security of this country clearly is not in charge of security. And nobody seems to know who is in charge of security. Whether it is the President or governors or some of the people who are holding security appointments.


‘’The fact remains that nobody is in charge of security of this country and that is a very serious matter for any country, even a Banana republic.


“Secondly, the fact of the matter is that there is definitely a nexus between the violence which is perpetrated by the bandits and some hierarchy people in the north and that is why nobody seems to care and nothing seems to happen to those bandits whose identities are known.


‘’Whether it is the governor or the President who, by the provisions of the Constitution is in charge of security or not, the fact is there is no security. And coming to writing speeches and telling lies about security, about achievements whether in security area and area of national economy does not bring about solution either to national security or national economy.


‘’Within the last one week, several attacks have been made by terrorists in the North East, about three or four times, if I can remember. So nobody can now come and tell us or write some speeches and say that they are doing well when nothing is going well.


“Definitely, there is no security and definitely what the Northern elders say about the bandits is very true that Northerners are at the mercy of the bandits. In fact, the bandits are known but there is no political will on the part of the government, whether the President or governors, to deal with the bandits.


“The bandits are known and they have linkages with some important people. The President or governors should do what the law says should be done. Those involved should be apprehended and taken to court.


’I remember some few months ago when some traditional title holders in Zamfara were involved with the bandits, they were arrested and the governor publicly said he would take them to court. A retired General from Zamfara went and begged on their behalf to free the persons. And they were not not prosecuted.


‘’If you have somebody, a politician or retired General at your back, whatever you do, you will get away with it.”


Presidency reacts

However, reacting last night, the Presidency described the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, as a mere irritant and featherweight group without credible membership,


The Presidency in a statement issued by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, likened NEF to a General without troops.


The Northern Elders Forum had earlier in a statement yesterday signed by its Convener, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, alleged that the insecurity in some northern states of the country was an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari and the governors of those states have lost control over the protection of the people which is a constitutional duty.


The statement read: “We are not surprised by this latest statement by Prof. Abdullahi, and our past position on what his group represents remains unchanged: a mere irritant and featherweight.


“The former vice chancellor signed the statement under the banner of Northern Elders Forum (NEF). Hearing that title, you would think the body was a conglomeration of true elders.


“But the truth is that NEF is just Ango Abdullahi, and Ango Abdullahi is NEF. It is a quasi-organization that boasts of no credible membership, and its leader is akin to a General without troops.


“Before the 2019 presidential election, the one-man army called NEF had shown its antipathy against President Buhari, and its preference for another candidate.


“They all got beaten together. NEF is merely waving a flag that is at half-mast. President Buhari steadily and steadfastly focuses on the task of retooling Nigeria, and discerning Nigerians know the true state of the nation. They don’t need a paper tiger to tell them anything.” 








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