The story of banditry in Nigeria reminds me of the famous saying that you reap what you sowed. There is an allegation that those ruling us now were so desperate for power that during President Jonathan’s rule they, the powers that be in the north, recruited thousands of Fulani mercenaries from Niger Republic and Chad to be ready to cause mayhem in Nigeria if they lost the election. Part of the desperation was the need to fulfill the belief that Nigeria belongs to the Fulani and the candidate from the north who had vied for the post three times, a Fulani, must be president to progress that agenda. As things turned out, they won the election. After the victory they abandoned the mercenaries whom they had lodged in camps and were looking after including giving them money. So the mercenaries left the camps and resorted to kidnapping people for money and murdering innocent citizens. The chicken had come home to roost.

So the north is reaping what they sowed. Banditry is now a common occurrence not only in the far north-west but the middle belt down to Niger and Kogi states. No day passes without the news of people being kidnapped and killed and villages being pillaged and burnt down. The roads from our capital, Abuja, to Kaduna, and from Abuja to Lokoja and others are happy hunting grounds for bandits. Unfortunately government answer to banditry in many cases is to negotiate with them! How do you negotiate with murderers and pay them money and expect they would just take the money and go home and sin no more? Surely this cannot work. One alleged reason is that these bandits have people in authority to who they report and render account to. Secondly, money is never enough. They will thankfully take the money and work harder for more.

The scandal of 344 school children kidnapped from a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina State, seems to have been forgotten. The story has grown cold. How could such a large number of school children be marched into the bush by bandits and be ‘rescued’ by our brilliant military without a shot being fired? The claim was that our military surrounded the bandits and rescued the children. The army surrounded them and not one shot was fired and not even one of the kidnappers was caught. Wonders shall never cease in Nigeria. Kidnappers are killers, arsonists and our army surrounded them and let them go free. Perhaps it was instruction from ‘above’ that these are Fulanis, the owners of the country, and they must not be harmed! And El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, seems to confirm this with his recent tweet that under no circumstances should a Fulani be killed by anybody, military or not. Well, we now know that there is a standing order. Was any money handed over to the kidnappers under the noses of our brilliant security services? Who collected the money? From which account was it paid? Who orchestrated the kidnapping? Was the kidnapping arranged to line somebody’s pocket? Well, thanks to Sahara Reporters we now know that money changed hands. Our great leaders paid thirty million naira to the bandits as confirmed by one of their leaders. But that was not all. Eight hundred million was the amount recorded to have been paid to the bandits by the officials involved. So, somebody’s pocket has been loaded! Another scandals is swept under our very hungry carpet.

Begging bandits to stop banditry will not work. Paying them money to stop their nefarious activities will not work. Indeed if you pay them money to stop their activities you are only encouraging them and further loading up the coffers of those who sent them to gather money for the ongoing Jihad. There is a woman crying out in Zamfara state that those who killed members of her family and some policemen have been pardoned by the governor because they have ‘repented’. Shocking! These people should have been sent to jail. Their ‘repentance’ has not brought back to life the people they killed.

These people are killing Nigerians daily. Many of them are foreigners from Chad and Niger Republic. They have no blood ties with anybody here. So wiping out a human being would be to them like killing a cockroach. One wonders whether the ‘visa on arrival’ policy has helped more of these people to swarm into Nigeria. Obviously our borders with Niger Republic and Chad are open for them to come in. It is also obvious that ex-almajiris are also into banditry. After all, they have no skills with which to make a living. And then there are other citizens, the bad and the ugly, who may have skills but choose kidnapping and murder as an easier way of making money. The police are undermanned and cannot cope. The army which should be defending us from external aggression is now doing the job of the police employing sophisticated equipment including helicopters and air craft. Yet the killing continues. People cannot travel for work or for leisure. There is palpable fear everywhere. Is this how Nigeria will zoom into the new age with other countries? Rwanda which a few years ago suffered genocide with nearly a million people killed is now the place for big business in Africa, Europeans and other foreigners are swarming into the country to invest. Ghana, a small country, is now the place to go to in West Africa. Our students are flocking to their universities. And where is Nigeria? Foreign countries warn their citizens about coming to Nigeria. Who will rush to invest here with the insecurity situation? Bandits are helping us to go back to the dark ages.

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