Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle has signed into law a bill prescribing the death sentence for bandits, kidnappers, cattle rustlers, cultists and other criminals, including their informants, as part of his administration’s efforts to end insecurity in the state.
Matawalle also banned all political activities, including gatherings and rallies, in the state pending the official commencement of electioneering, as contained in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 2023 election timetable.
That was as President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (rtd) as pioneer Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) for a five-year tenure.
In another development, the General Secretary of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, condemned a recent admission by the Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai, that terrorists were running a parallel government in his state. Nmadu said the governor’s comment was an “admittance of failure coming a little too late”.
But the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, yesterday, said the Nigerian Army was combat ready to deal with terrorists in the country.
Matawalle, in a live broadcast from Gusau, the state capital, said the death penalty for the criminals was contained in the 2022 Prohibition and Punishment for Banditry, Cattle Rustling, Cultism, Kidnapping and Other Incidental Offences Law, he personally signed on June 28, 2022.
Under the new law, the governor said anyone found guilty of supporting or aiding banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and other related offences in the state would face life imprisonment, 10 or 20 years in jail without an option of fine.
The governor stated in the state broadcast, “It becomes necessary for me to address you once more on the issue of security in our dear state. You may recall that following increased banditry attacks in some parts of the state from the month of June 2022, we found it imperative to institute new security measures to combat the situation effectively.
“Accordingly, I inaugurated four security-related committees to implement the latest security measures. Similarly, on the 28th of June, I assented to the bill on Prohibition and Punishment for Banditry, Cattle Rustling, Cultism, Kidnapping and Other Incidental Offences, 2022. The law provides a legal instrument for prosecuting banditry-related offenders.
“Based on the new law, anyone found guilty of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling, cultism, or serving as a bandits’ informant is subject to the death penalty. Similarly, anyone found guilty of supporting in any manner the aforementioned offences faces a sentence of life in prison, 20 years in jail, or 10 years in prison, without the option of a fine.”
He explained that despite efforts by his government to enforce the new security measures in order to tackle insecurity in the state, some unscrupulous elements were bent on thwarting the efforts on the pretext of conducting political activities.
Matawalle said the state government was now determined to take necessary steps to stop those he termed unscrupulous elements from achieving their “nefarious objectives”.
He stated, “Accordingly, all political activities, including gatherings, and rallies, are hereby banned. Political activities should only commence, when campaigns start officially as outlined on the INEC timetable. Security forces are hereby instructed to deal with anyone found violating the order.”
He also banned motorcycles from 8pm to 6am in Mareri, Damba, Tsunami, Tsauni, Barakallahu, Samaru, Gada Biyu, and Janyau East following the recent incursion of bandits in some areas on the outskirts of Gusau, the state capital.
Meanwhile, according to a release issued yesterday by the media adviser to the president, Femi Adesina, Musa’s appointment, which was with immediate effect, would run for an initial term of five years.
Prior to his appointment, Musa was Director of the Counter Terrorism Directorate in the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA) since 2017.
He was responsible for the review of the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), and the creation of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE), which Buhari signed into law in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Additionally, the retired naval officer served as the Nigerian representative at the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) since the last three years.
The NCTC was established in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the coordinating body for the harmonisation of all counterterrorism and terrorism financing efforts in the country.
The NCTC was equally charged with the coordination of counterterrorism policies, strategies, plans and support in the performance of the functions of the National Security Adviser (NSA), as provided in the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022.
ECWA Scribe Condemns El-Rufai’s Admission of Parallel Government by Terrorists
General Secretary of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), Rev. Yunusa Nmadu, said Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s recent acknowledgment of a parallel terrorists’ government in his state was an “admittance of failure coming a little too late”.
Speaking with journalists in Kaduna, Nmadu said the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state and other individuals had been talking about the issue for a long time, but the state government tried to counter them.
The ECWA general secretary said, “Governor EL-Rufai is admitting too late in the day. It has been there, CAN has been singing it, some of us have been saying it and they tried to counter what we said.
“We have two governments in some of the northern states. Our churches are all over the country. There are places today, where the bandits collect taxes. And you must give the tax if you want your wife to be protected from rape. These are realities.”
Nmadu, a former secretary of Kaduna chapter of CAN, also said in some communities, people could not go to their farms unless they paid money to the bandits to avoid attack.
He stated, “We have two governments and it is an admittance of total failure on the part of government. I was once the secretary of CAN in Kaduna. We have witnessed so much violence, killings and destruction under the Buhari regime. In the last seven years, people are being killed and kidnapped, places of worship are being destroyed almost on a daily basis.”
He said criminals became emboldened under the Buhari administration.
The ECWA scribe stated, “Over the years, there were crises, violent attacks on churches, it graduated to looking for human beings to kill. As you know, we have graduated from that to terrorism, which is what we are facing now.
“This is what we felt will happen as predicted, because with the coming in of President Buhari, the criminals, who were at the fringes, will be emboldened to do more… You cannot divulge this from the statement that he made before he became the president – statements like, his people were being killed when Boko Haram were being decimated by the national forces.”
Nmadu, who is also Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW-N), described the recent threat by the National Assembly to impeach Buhari as hypocritical because, according to him, the lawmakers were just waking up to the reality of things because they were now feeling the heat of insecurity.
He stated, “My problem with Nigerians is that we are highly hypocritical. Let me give you an example. If there is a dangerous pothole on the road, it will not be fixed, except when a notable person has an accident on the spot. Before you knew it, they will fix the pothole. It looks like the life of the common man does not matter in Nigeria.
“The senators are just waking up to the reality too late in the day and I think it is because they are now feeling the heat of insecurity. I don’t see any seriousness in what they are saying. It has died down… I think they just woke up because it has started affecting them and their relations.
“Secondly, because election is near and they want to go back to their constituencies to win election. I think they are doing this to make people feel they are concerned about the common man.”
On the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the clergyman said those planning same faith tickets either in Kaduna State or at the federal level had failed the exam already.
He said, “This is not in the interest of Muslims neither is it in the interest of Christians. I will never support same faith ticket even if it is the Christians, where both faiths have substantial population. Of course, there are states that are predominantly populated by Muslims, you cannot go there and ask for Muslim-Christian ticket, that is understandable.
“There are also states that are predominantly Christians, you cannot go there and ask for Christian-Muslim ticket. It is understandable. I don’t know how anybody in their political calculation will ever think that they will win election in Nigeria without the Christians or win election in Nigeria without the Muslims or even people without faith. This is our country, we are so divided. In the last seven years, the gap has increased so wide.
“It is expected that any government that is coming in 2023 should emphasis unity and how to bring the people together. Same faith ticket by the APC is dead on arrival. It is not in the interest of the unity of our country. I think that those who are even pushing the candidate to do this do not mean well for him … they want him to fail election. They are misleading him so that he can fail and fail very well.”
Yahaya Assures Army Combat Ready for Terrorists
Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Farouk Yahaya, yesterday, said the Nigerian Army was combat-ready to deal with terrorists in any part of the country. Yahaya stated this at a seminar with the theme, “Intensifying warrior ethos and regimentation in the Nigerian Army,” organised for officers and soldiers of the 8 Division at Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai auditorium, Giginya Barack, Sokoto, by the Department of Transformation and Innovation.
Represented by the General Officer Commanding 8 Division (GOC) and Commander, Operation, Hadarin Daji, Maj.-Gen. Uwem Bassey, Yahaya said the officers and soldiers should employ new tactics and innovation in their fight against terrorists.
He admitted that Nigeria was facing huge security challenges, ranging from banditry in the North-west and North-central, terrorism in the North-east, and militias in the South-east and South-south.
He appealed to the officers and soldiers to exhibit a high sense of professionalism and dedication in the conduct of their assignments by adhering strictly to the rules of the task. He said they should channel their energy towards addressing the country’s security challenges.
He, however, maintained that the troops had made tremendous successes against the enemies of the country, stressing that all the adversaries of Nigeria must be defeated decisively.
“Let me tell you, this can be achieved in accordance with our constitutional responsibility as an army,” he said, noting that they should take victorious songs as a charge and work towards changing the psyche of the troops by developing a winning posture.
Earlier, the Chief of Transformation and Innovation of the Nigerian Army, Maj Gen Ofoche Charles, said the seminar was apt and timely, looking at recent happening in the country.
He maintained that the seminar was to reinvigorate and reawaken regimentation cultures in the Nigerian Army.