Kaduna: Taming the Scourge of Criminality
The rising wave of criminality in Kaduna State constitutes a variant of embarrassment, the like of which is both worrisome and disturbing. The state, already groaning from the violent clash involving the army and an Islamic sect, is again the focus of commentary and analysis by seasoned pundits who say government must seriously tackle the menace by nipping it in the bud within the shortest possible time. SECURITY MONITOR’s Head of Northern Operations, Dirisu Chester Yakubu who was in Kaduna files in this report.
Kaduna State, North-West Nigeria is arguably the most crisis-prone state in the land today. In the last two decades, violent skirmishes bordering on political cum religious unrests culminated in the death of many and loss of valuable properties. In December 2015, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), acting on the orders of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, barricaded the Zaria-Kaduna highway, denying the convoy of the Chief of ArmyStaff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai the right of way to Zaria, where he was billed to attend an event at the Nigeria Military School. Tired of the antics of a man that had constituted a law unto himself for years; the army forced their waythrough but not without leaving behind a tale of anguish, sorrow, tears and blood. Till date, the exact number of lives lost to that avoidable tragedy remains in the realm of speculation even as IMN claimed hundreds of its members are missing. Worrisome still is the state of health of El-Zakzaky whom this medium gathered sustained multiple wounds when soldiers invaded the Gyallesu headquarters of the Shia Muslims in Zaria. The army doubtless made a boldstatement with its maximum use of force but the tragedy was big enough to warrant an emergency meeting of the 19 northern state governors who converged in Kaduna to emphatically declare that the nation couldn’t afford another Boko Haram at a time the war on terrorism is gradually yielding fruits. As it were, the fear was not unconnected with the possibility of reprisals from the Shiites, whose membership according to informed sources, is spread across many states in the north, including the private and public sectors of the economy.
Few weeks ago, Colonel Samaila Inusa was kidnapped by unknown gunmen along Refinery Road in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. And just as the army announced a reward of one million naira for anyone that would volunteered information that would lead to the rescue of the gallant officer; news hit the wire that the Colonel’s corpse had been found, already decomposing. In a statement signed by the Acting Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, Inusa was probably killed same day he was abducted while driving in a car with his wife, Grace. “Preliminary investigation revealed that, most likely, the late senior officer was killed the same day he was kidnapped by his abductors. This is because the body was found already decomposing around Ajyaita village, off Eastern Bypass, Kaduna, Kaduna State,” said Colonel Usman. Though, the identity of the abductors is yet to be ascertained; not a few think followers of El-Zakzaky owe the nation an explanation about the death of the military officer.
Only recently, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State courted controversy and flaks in some quarters with an executive bill aimed at regulating religious preaching in the state. But in the words of the action-packed governor, Kaduna must not be allowed to boil courtesy of some ignoble elements using the levers of religion to propagate hatred and divisions. Justifying the position of his administration on the controversial bill, the governor noted that security reports in the state suggest a sect capable of snowballing into a big trouble in future is emerging albeit, in disguise. “A woman in Makarfi said Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was speaking to her and sick people started goingto her for their healing. The husband of this woman was busy collecting N1, 000 as consultancy fee before people could see his wife. We had to take steps to end that movement because before you know it, people would start coming from far and wide and this woman would become our next problem,” he told journalists in Kaduna. That exclusive interview exposed the hypocrisy of those who saw the governor as waging a war against Christianity, as no provision of the bill aimed a dig at any of the two major religions.
However, Kaduna had been in the news in the last two weeks not because a religious sect posing an existential threat to the rest of humanity has suddenly emerged. No! Crime and criminality ranging from kidnapping, armed robbery, cattle-rustling and car-snatching are on the increase. Penultimate Wednesday, this reporter driving in a car with his friend Abdullahi Yunusa along the Abuja-Kaduna highway suddenly screeched to a stop when the fuel pump of the vehicle began to malfunction. Less than three minutes had passed when a young man who gave his name as Bulus emerged from a footpath to warn of the danger that lurked around us. “This place is not good. About this time yesterday, people were robbed of their possessions very close to this place. Do everything you can to leave because it is getting dark,” he said. We quickly jumped in the car and managed the Toyota Camry to the nearest automobile workshop where the fault was fixed. Apparently due to the rising wave of crime in the state, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, Ballah Nasarawa was recently deployed from Abuja to Kaduna; a move Security Monitor, gathered is begging to yield result.
In the past 10 days, an estimated 458 suspected criminals have been arrested by the police in connection with recent criminal activities recorded in the state. Briefing newsmen in Kaduna last week, AIG Nasarawa said the men and officers from the various police units helped in the arrest of the gangs terrorizing the state and its environs. He said, “I requested and got contingents of personnel from the counter-terrorism unit, the special protection unit, the Intelligence response team as well as the forensic and crime data unit, all from the Force headquarters in Abuja.”
The police boss further disclosed that those picked up by his men included eight suspects behind last week abduction of three pastors and three suspects held for their role in the kidnap of Dr. Mansur Ahmed, an executiveDirector with Dangote Group. Others include three kidnappers arrested in Mararaba Jos and some armed robbers who have been terrorizing Saminaka, a town not far from the state capital. With various weapons recovered from the bandits, a proud Nasarawa warned men of the underworld to quit their illicit trade or face the fire of his men, stressing that police personnel not abreast with contemporary crime fighting strategies should prepare to quit the profession. “DPOs should get ready to tell their subordinates to start packing their things. This is not the Native Police or Yandoka or whatever; we are the Nigeria Police,” he warned. Will this tough-talking police officer sustains the tempo?