The Department of State Services (DSS) hinted yesterday that it has uncovered plot by those it described as unscrupulous elements to incite religious violence in the country.
It listed targeted states to include Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers, Oyo, Lagos and the entire South East states.
A statement by spokesperson of the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, to this effect noted: “the DSS wishes to alert the public about plans by some elements working with external forces to incite religious violence across the country. Targeted states include Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Plateau, Rivers, Oyo, Lagos and those in the South East.
“Part of the plans is to cause inter-religious conflicts as well as use their foot soldiers to attack some worship centres, religious leaders, personalities, key and vulnerable points.
“Consequently, Nigerians are advised to be wary of these antics and shun all divisive tendencies aimed at inciting or setting them against one another.
“While the Service pledges to collaborate with sister agencies to ensure that public order is maintained, those hatching these plots are warned to desist from such in the interest of peace, security and development of the country.
“However, law abiding citizens (and residents) are encouraged to report suspected breaches of peace around them to the nearest security agencies.”
We Will Tackle Any Form Of Unrest, Insecurity, Governors Vows
Apparently worried by the growing spate of insecurity in their respective states, some governors have vowed to address all forms of unrest and insecurity in the country.
Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, while rolling out some of the activities put in place to tackle crime, said the signing into law of the anti-kidnapping, anti-land grabbing, cultism and other anti-violence related matters will help.
He noted that the law was long overdue because of the increase in kidnapping, land grabbing and other violent crimes within the state.
The governor said, “As a responsible government, we cannot fold our arms to see people being terrorized by criminals who are clearly out to cause mayhem. This new law will deal with anyone caught in the act and I urge security agencies to be on their toes and ensure that culprits are apprehended and made to face the law”.
He called on communities to rise up to the challenge by identifying and fishing out criminals within their domains and passing relevant information to security agencies to act.
The law provides death sentences for those convicted for kidnapping while those found guilty for cultism shall be jailed for a minimum of seven years.
Others involved in any violence on anyone risk spending up to 10 years in jail upon conviction.
In Taraba State, Governor Darius Dickson Ishaku, while reiterating his commitment to ensuring peace in the state at a time the nation is battling insecurity, said his administration inherited a lot of security problems over the years, ranging from farmers/herders clashes to Tiv and Jukun crisis.
He noted however that he has worked hard towards sustaining peace in the state.
The senior media assistant to the governor, Mr Bala Dan Abu, while giving an account on areas the state governor spent his security votes, said, “Security funds is for security purposes and the administration inherited a lot of security problems. In Taraba, we have had difficulty in security, several crises in the state, especially the Tiv/Jukun crisis that lingered for so long.
“The governor has to go round these crisis areas more than seven times within the year, holding meetings with the stakeholders in the area. All these cost money, and it is from the security votes that such meetings are organized”.
According to Dan Abu, when you mobilise security personnel, the police, civil defense, other security agencies and even the army, when you send them to perform special role in maintaining peace in the state, it is the governor that plays the biggest part in funding the activities, and all those funds are drawn from the security votes.
In Kwara, the state government said it is not leaving any stone unturned in its efforts to secure the lives and property of the people of the state.
Speaking through his chief press secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, Kwara State governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, said the government is working hand in hand with security agencies in the state to ensure peace.
He, however, declined comment on the issue of security vote and the amount the government spent on security last year.
In Yobe, the state government, as a means of tackling insecurity, said it has purchased and donated over 430 surveillance and patrol vehicles for the military, police and other paramilitary agencies.
Governor Mai Mala Buni stated this while presenting 30 brand new Toyato Hilux vehicles to security operatives.
The vehicles were purchased by his administration at the cost of N720 million few months after inauguration.
The governor said officers and men of the Nigerian Army, Police and other security agencies were making huge sacrifices on behalf of peace and security in the state and the nation, hence the support for more success.
The situation is different in Imo state as the governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma, revealed that the security vote has been converted into use for the payment of salaries and pensions in the state.
According to him, the economic challenges occasioned by the harsh economic realities in the state forced the government into this painful decision.
The governor stressed that security of lives and property occupies prominent agenda in his administration.
Uzodimma stressed that payment of salaries, pensions and security occupy pride of place in the administration.
In Sokoto State, the commissioner for Careers and Security Affairs, Col Garba Moyi (rtd), said even if the entire budget of a state or the nation was devoted to security it would not guarantee the needed security.
This, according to him, is because insecurity of whatever kind is propelled by greed which is part of some human nature.
Experts Pick Holes In Security Vote Spending
Meanwhile, some security experts who spoke to LEADERSHIP raised eyebrow over security spending by the state governors.
Speaking to our correspondent in Jos, Ambassador Melvin Ejeh, a security analyst and executive director, Global Peace and Life rescue initiative, a Jos based non-governmental organisation (NGO), said some governors are acting in allusion because they assume that the security of the country lies in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari alone.
He said despite the fact that some governors received security votes every month, they are not doing enough.
He however commended Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) which he said was always on ground to protect lives and property of the citizens, lamenting that the reasons for insecurity in the states is as a result of the governors not investing in security.
Ejeh alleged that some of the security agencies operating in the state
have no trackers for tracking vehicles, which explains why they cannot respond in terms of emergency.
Calling on governors to wake up to their responsibilities, the executive director appealed to the governors to always do the needful instead of waiting for the federal government.
He urged the state executives to dialogue with stakeholders, provide employment for the youth, fund security agencies in their states as well as buy operational vehicles and trackers to enable them discharge their duties with utmost responsibility.
Other security experts identified unemployment, lack of education, bad leadership among others as the major reasons for increased crime rate in the country.
Responding to questions on the rising cases of crime in the country, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, explained that when the rate of crime in any country rises, there is the need to re-strategize and deal with the issues head on.
He said, “You know that security issues are fluid, dynamic; at a stage where you have a rise in crime, we re-strategize and deal with them and everywhere will be stabilised.
“And for a period of time you will see stability in the crime situation, but at another stage, you will see the criminals also re-strategizing and coming up to commit crime.
“What we are saying, especially with the concept of Community policing is that fighting crime should not be left to law enforcement agencies alone, it should not be left to security personnel alone; everybody should be on board”.
Also, a security expert, John Oche, explained that unemployment has always been one of the causes of the increase in crime rate.
He further explained that when people are adequately employed, they are busy and there is the belief that crime rate will reduce.
Another expert, Kingsley Ezeh, said bad governance in Nigeria over time had created distrust among the people and increased insecurity.
He noted that when people don’t believe in a government to provide enabling environment for them, they start thinking of ways to survive, whether good or bad, bringing about increase in crime.
But a security analyst and trainer, Mr Banjo Daniel, said unemployment is not to be blamed for high rates of crimes, adding that rather, the youths are unwilling to accept jobs on current wages.
Daniel, in an exclusive chat with LEADERSHIP, said the youths would rather take jobs in the oil and gas sector, financial and telecom industry with huge take homes.
He said while crime has been there from time immemorial, it keeps evolving to a dangerous trend over time.
His words: “The fact in this case of crime is that our youths are not ready to be employed on current wages or on pink color jobs. They prefer employment with huge take homes as with the financial, telecoms, oil and gas sectors.
“Nigeria has not just started grappling with crime. Crime started way back when individuals were stealing from their neighbours. Extortion was not unusual. Way back, our local rulers coerced or forced us to contribute in their wealth. The situation we find ourselves now is that crime, as with other aspects of our lives, is evolving. It has metamorphosed from mere ‘thievery’ to ‘adult napping’ and banditry”
21,296 Suspected Criminals Arrested In 2020 – Police
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has said it arrested about 21,296 suspected criminals involved in kidnapping, cattle rustling, banditry and other dangerous criminal activities in 2020.
Force PRO, CP Frank Mba, who revealed this in Abuja yesterday as part of the police score card for 2020, said 3,347 firearms (mainly AK 47 and AK 49) were also recovered from the suspects.
He further explained that 133,496 ammunitions were recovered, while 960 stolen vehicles of different brands were also part of the recoveries recorded in 2020.
Among other achievements recorded in 2020, the Nigeria Police Force said operatives of the Intelligence Response Team and Special Tactical Squad also successfully rescued 1002 victims from kidnappers.