Herdsmen, Bandits, Gunmen and the Clear and Present Danger to Nigeria


By Adegbenro Adebanjo

Can we, as a people, for once give less prominence to politicking and other mundane shenanigans? It is time to stop carrying on with the pretentious candour and false braggadocio as if all is well with the polity. The truth is Nigeria is now facing its worst crisis only surpassed by that of the civil war. There is clear and present danger to the country and its people. The polity is in the throes of internal combustion. And to put it more plainly something akin to war is ravaging the land. Everyday there are attacks by suspected herdsmen, gunmen and bandits and other heinous criminals against innocent and defenseless citizens and homesteads across the country. Life has become nasty, brutish and short.

It is time to wake up to the reality that Nigeria is bleeding and the leadership is not doing enough to stop the hemorrhage.  And to worsen the situation, the ugly spectacle of ethnic driven reprisal killings is emerging here and there.

Shiites preparing remains of their murdered members

The clear and present danger confronting the survival of the country and which could lead to ethnic and religious pogrom can no longer be downplayed .Now criminals or Gunmen or bandits or insurgents – interchangeable based on the government’s mood swings – are invading our Universities and slaughtering students in broad daylight. Students, as young as 17 are being mowed down by heinous gangs of marauders.  Some are also targeting law enforcement agents, killing and maiming them while also burning their bases. Targeted killings based on ethnic and religious profiling are on the rise .Traveling through most parts of the country has become a dangerous enterprise. Gunmen waylay travelers, kill some and abduct others holding them captive until families pay huge ransoms. Parts of Niger and Borno States are in firm control of insurgents with thousands of people displaced from their homesteads . Abubakar Sani Adamu, the Governor of Niger State confirmed recently that elements of Boko Haram have taken over some territories in the state even hoisting their flags to show their sovereignty. They are also inching very close to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Even traditional rulers are not spared. Criminals invade their palaces and abduct or kill them at random. Nothing is sacred anymore. Traditional rulers have been killed by Gunmen in Ondo, Zamfara, and in some other states. Nowhere and no one is safe. There is a steady descent into the abyss and anarchy looms.

What started as uncoordinated ambushes by bandits and Gunmen, as the Government prefers to call them, has now graduated into full scale and well-coordinated extermination and wanton destruction of lives and property. They now pick their targets with ease and carry out their dastardly act with little or no hindrances even from security operatives whom themselves have suffered untold casualties from the ongoing war. Yes, let no deception or coloration be made. What’s going on is full scale war . It is no longer random criminality but well-funded, well planned and pre-determined acts of insurrection and rebellion against constituted authorities and the people of Nigeria .

Map of Nigreria

The country is bleeding badly and  the situation may get worse. No day passes without huge death toll being recorded on the highways through kidnappings and in some communities via invasion and killings and destruction of homesteads.  Before turning Greenfield University to their new killing field, the merchants of death had struck in Kaduna, Niger, Borno, Zamfara, Imo, Enugu, Ondo, Anambra and other parts of the country leaving a tale of sorrow, tears and blood behind. Other communities have tales of woe to tell about the rampage and mindless killings perpetrated by suspected herdsmen, bandits and other criminals.

Of course this cannot be the handiwork of lay about and miscreants because of the scale of destruction, the target of the extermination and the level of sophistication of the arms and ammunition at the disposal of the invaders and their underlining aim of setting the country on fire .

Now is the time for the Government at all levels to act. There should be  concerted actions that will put a stop to this menace and clear danger to national cohesion, peace and well being. This is not the time for talk but action. If, like President Muhammadu Buhari recently claimed, the government has the wherewithal to crush the harbingers of sorrow and tears; this is the time to unleash such force maximally.

The leaders of the country in their body language and deeds should stop this festering sore before it gets out of hands and those being attacked resort to self-help that may engender a worse national crisis bigger than the Boko Haram and the Civil War.

Nigeria is tottering and dancing on the precipice and sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Explosion must be prevented at all costs. .

-Adebanjo, a media specialist, sent this piece via obanijesu@yahoo.com