• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Kaduna airport attacks: Useni urges governors to stop ransom payments

Kaduna airport attacks: Useni urges governors to stop ransom payments

The policy that encourages ransom payment to bandits by some state governors, is seen as reason for the increasing levels of banditry in the country.

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Jeremiah Useni disclosed this weekend when he spoke with BusinessDay on the growing security concerns in Nigeria.

Useni who was reacting to the latest attacks on the Kaduna airport terminal by over 200 bandits, declared that “unless the government stopped the payment of ransom, bandits will continue to raid communities and kidnap more people”.

The attacks at the Kaduna airport threw the aviation industry into panic, as aviation operators now feel insufficiently secured

Useni, who retired as a Lieutenant General in the Nigerian Army, said the ransom payment policy has not only strengthened the bandits, but also emboldened them to launch frequent attacks, as they acquire more sophisticated weapons.

Since the payment of N30 million (about $76,000) to recover some school children in Kaduna State, Niger, Zamfara and Katsina states have reportedly made huge sums of funds available as payments to bandits operating in their zones to secure “peace”.

Useni, who stated that he joined the Military at the age of 14 years and retired as a Lieutenant General, also lamented the decay in the Military, following what he described as “ divisions in the Army along tribal and clannish loyalty”.

Read also: Our airports can be better

Useni who also recently served as the Senator representing Plateau South Senatorial District, before he contested the Plateau state Governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP, expressed worry over the growing rate of banditry in the country.

“Of course I am worried about what is going on , especially the levels of insecurity. I was in the government for at least five years. I could see the difference between now and what it was before now.

“Throughout that period, we didn’t borrow one kobo from the World Bank or any other institution, yet we were able to run the country and keep it secured.

Definitely, what is happening now as far as insecurity is concerned, is troubling. The Army is disunited and those being appointed are not sincere. So, no matter what you do, the government cannot succeed.

Useni also faulted the measures put in place to correct the ills in the Military and society, which he said “ are not working because, we have had a lot of properties and monies recovered and we do not hear what happened to them later.

“In our days, we make sure that if you commit an offense, you are disgraced openly. The Military was one United body. Unlike today when loyalty is to different groups and clans.

He advised the government to ensure that those who are found guilty are given appropriate sanctions, adding that “ you cover up bandits, how do you expect them to stop. Even some state Governors give money to bandits, which they end up using to purchase more weapons to kill innocent people.

“In the history of Nigeria , we have never experienced this kind of large scale kidnapping for ransom, banditry and communal killings, yet there is a government in place.

“We are encouraging the bandits. But if we deal with them properly, things will be different. We never allowed that. Even under the Military government, if you are a serving Governor and you do the wrong thing, you are removed.

“We know that this is a civilian government and they do things differently, but, even when as a person, you try to advise the government, they look at which party you belong to, rather than assess your advice to see if there is anything good to be taken from them.

“But it should not be so, those in charge should listen. Even if we are in the same party, I should be allowed to criticize the policies of the government, rather than see such a person as an enemy.

Useni also called on the government to work with retired Military officers whose resourcefulness can help the country tackle insecurity.

“ There are many retired Generals who left the Nigerian Army and are still very young, active and have good ideas that the country can tap their wealth of expertise to help deal with this insecurity.

“We know ourselves and we are available if called upon to assist this government. We are now turning the county into a laughing stock.

“I recall when we had challenges in the Plateau and they arranged a meeting of top leaders including those of us who retired from the Military, but the Governor kept giving excuses that he was busy. So, we said we were out to help him, since he wasn’t interested, we backed out.

“Everything should not be politicized as they are doing now. How can a group of bandits attack Nigeria airport and get away with it. Who are they, where did they come from, who is arming them?

The question is are these really Nigerians and if they are, what gave rise to this?