President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that his administration would no longer tolerate killings and kidnappings for ransom by armed gangs in the country.
He also expressed concerns about the unprecedented level of insecurity across the country.
This was even as Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State reiterated his call for the decentralisation and depoliticization of security services, as a way of resolving the deadly security challenges facing the country.
The President stated this yesterday, in Port Harcourt, while declaring open the Ninth General Assembly of National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria (NCTRN), with the theme: “Community Policing as a Catalyst to Crime Prevention: The Role of Traditional Rulers.”
He was represented by the Minister of Interior, Abduraham Dambazau.
Buhari said: “I am very worried and saddened about the persistent killings and kidnappings happening in our country, especially the wastage of innocent lives in different parts of the country by whatever means it is done, particularly in Benue State.
“I have, therefore, directed that no effort should be spared in identifying and bringing to justice all those that are carrying out the acts. I have, therefore, directed the Chief of Army Staff to relocate to the North East to ensure that the activities of Boko Haram are stopped.
“Likewise, I have directed the Inspector General of Police to relocate to Benue State to ensure that the killings are not only contained and, but, that those involved are brought to justice.
“By whatever name they are called, these acts are criminal violence in themselves even, as they are deliberate efforts to sustain fear on the citizens of our dear nation and to progressively overwhelm the rest of the country by murdering innocent citizens and destroying property of people.
“These actions amount to declaration of war on our peaceful co-existence and a deliberate attempt to undermine the authority of the Nigerian State and threaten her sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“As a responsible government, we will never tolerate or condone all trouble makers, criminals and killers; they should be ready to face the consequences of their acts.”
Wike noted that the security services as presently constituted, could not address the security challenges facing the country, where lives were wasted regularly, while governors were helpless.
He said: “For us in Rivers State, our position on state and community policing is very clear.
“While we join our voices to other well-meaning Nigerians to strongly and emphatically demand for the decentralization and depoliticization of security services, we are also not resting on the back of helplessness to do nothing.
“Already, we have forwarded a bill to the State House of Assembly to establish the Neighbourhood Security Corps to cooperate, support and complement the efforts of the regular security agencies in policing our communities and advancing their security.
“The reality before the nation is that centralized policing has flatly failed and is incapable of resolving the enormous security challenges of a vast and culturally diverse country like Nigeria.
“And even as we may continue to live in denial, the recurring bloodbaths in Benue, Taraba and other States have once again, exposed the weaknesses of our country’s centralized policing system, as well as the frustrations and near complete helplessness of State governors in their quest to provide adequate security for the communities and the people that they govern.
“We can only imagine the magnitude of the sufferings and pains ordinary Nigerians are going through when the daily pains of violence and insecurity are added to the unending pressure of poverty, unemployment and lack of development.
“In all these, our traditional rulers have significant roles to play to protect and defend the nation’s unity and advance the rights of our people to democracy, good governance and development.”
The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim
Idris, in his keynote address, noted that the issues of community policing were relevant to the security challenges and in line with Buhari’s resolve to provide adequate security to the nation.
He noted that effective policing of the nation could not be achieved easily without the assistance of the traditional rulers, adding that they (traditional rulers) command the respect of their subjects.
He called for a synergy between the traditional rulers and security agencies, noting that traditional rulers know their subjects and could help in providing useful information that could help the police achieve its mandate.
He warmed royal fathers to stop conferring chieftaincy titles on people with questionable characters, even as he urged Nigerians to support the police force in the area of logistics.
Chairman, NCTRN, Alhaji. Muhammad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto, charged traditional rulers to be role models in all their dealings.
He thanked Wike for hospitality and noted that any government that relegated traditional rulers to the background would suffer setback in its attempt to take governance to the grassroots.
He said the body would continue to play advisory role to the government in dispute management, stating that with the council, it would be easier to handle crisis in the nation.
Meanwhile, rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), urged “the security agencies and the government of Buhari to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law in their response to violence and crime in the country.”
His statement was coming on the heels of allegations by Amnesty International that at least 35 Nigerians were killed during air attacks launched by the military on villages beset by communal violence.
According to Amnesty, clashes between Fulani herdsmen and farmers in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Ondo and Kaduna states resulted in 168 deaths in January 2018 alone.
Falana said: “The government is failing in its most basic duty of protecting citizens and ensuring the rule of law. I am very concerned that these killings may go unpunished, as law enforcement and security agencies are rarely held accountable for serious human rights violations.
“To prevent further killings and violence, the authorities must investigate these latest allegations and bring anyone responsible to justice.
“In failing to put in place appropriate and credible law enforcement measures to prevent killings, and fully investigate and punish perpetrators, the Nigerian authorities have neither respected, nor met their national and international legal obligations, including to exercise due diligence to protect human rights.”