Olayide Oluwafunmilayo Soaga
Sunday, a middle-aged Yoruba man who resides in Kaduna makes a living to fend for his family by driving a taxi to convey passengers to Kaduna. This young man lives every day with the fear of being attacked by bandits when he passes the Kaduna expressway – a place now referred to as the hot spot for bandits and terrorists.
Ever since the attacks began, Sunday has been living in fear and panic, but he has since then found solace in prayer and prays before leaving home every day.
“This is affecting Kaduna seriously. Before I leave home, I always pray not to encounter the bandits as no one knows exactly when they (the bandits) would strike or where their next target would be.”
Two of Sunday’s colleagues were once kidnapped by bandits in Kaduna. While trying to escape from the den of the bandits, one was killed and had his eyes gouged out. Another effect is that Sunday’s business has been affected by the attacks with some of his customers have begun to take other means of transport which they thought were safer – rail and air, leaving those who can not afford to travel by air with no choice but to travel by roads.
Living in the fear of the unknown and aggravated tension
The Giant of Africa has become a fertile ground for the seed of banditry and terrorism to thrive. In 2021, over 2000 Nigerians were killed in 935 bandit violence according to a report by Nextier SPD. In the first quarter of 2022, over 200 people died in banditry attacks with cases on the rise, many Nigerians, particularly those residing in vulnerable zones live in fear and citizens have been reduced to the very vessels of hope.
At around 9 pm, On Thursday, 31st of March, Joan, a student of Mass Communication at the University of Abuja who had come home to her family in the Sabi GRA axis of Kaduna after following the commencement of the industrial strike action embarked by the Academic Staff Union of Universities in February, was in the sitting room when she heard gunshots three streets from where she lived.
Her parents had traveled, leaving her alone at home with her cousins and the gateman. The generator which supplied them electricity whenever there was a power outage was on but she could still hear the sounds of gunshots amidst the generator noise. Gripped by fear, her gateman went to put off the gen while they all stayed still, praying and hoping it doesn’t get to their street.
The gunshots subsided and they went to bed only to wake up the next morning to hear from neighbors that five people had lost their lives in the attack the night before.
“It is really bad. The tension, the feeling, the expectation of danger and doom are causing frustration and anxiety in us and the government is not saying anything about it. You don’t know where they are going to attack next, you might just be home watching television or out with friends and the next thing you’re hearing gunshots and running for your life”.
The list goes on…
On Monday, the 28th of March, a passenger train was attacked by terrorists along the Kaduna-Abuja railway. An incident that claimed at least eight passengers. This attack occurred forty-eight hours after the Kaduna airport was attacked by bandits. For months, the Kaduna expressway has been a harbor for kidnappers and bandits. To escape the snares of bandits on the Kaduna expressway, travelers began to seek safer means of transport. With all three means of transport appearing unsafe, travelers are left with no option but to commute these routes in apprehension.
The Commuters dwell in fear and hope they return home unscathed as they leave home. While banditry and terrorism thrive in the north, the south-eastern region is mourning the death of their loved ones who have lost their lives as a result of the violence ensued by the Indigenous People of Biafra, a separatist sect in Nigeria’s South-east.
Issues in South-West
The Southwestern region of the country which oftentimes, is considered one of the safest geopolitical zones in the country has also had its fair share of the security epidemic the county battles.
In February, Bamise Ayanwole, a fashion designer who resided in Chevron Estate, Ajah, a Lagos metropolis was kidnapped by one Nice Omininikoron, a BRT bus driver. While on the bus, Bamise sent a series of voice notes to her friend, informing her of her movement. Little did they know they would not get to hear from each other again as Bamise was allegedly raped, killed and her lifeless body dumped on Carter bridge at Ogogoro community on the Lagos Island axis of Lagos.
Also, In June, at least 40 church worshippers were killed in an attack by terrorists in St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo state. This has thrown many families into grief and caused irrevocable damage which many have argued arose as a result of poor intel on the part of the security forces.
Nigerians have expressed their fear and their lack of trust in the Government and security operatives. With every attack that makes rounds in the news, they are reminded of October 20, 2020, EndSars killings at the Lekki tollgate where unarmed protesters were killed by security operatives who had sworn to protect them.
Nigeria’s shabby security network
With the existence of security operatives, the safety of the lives and properties of citizens is not completely guaranteed. The security of lives and properties is a necessity that when guaranteed, allows people to dream and aspire for greater feats which in turn, would have a ripple effect on societal development. But with a shabby security network, the reverse is the case.
Before the train attack that claimed the lives of Dr. Chinelo, a dentist who had plans to travel out of the country in search of greener pastures and no less than seven others, intelligence had revealed that there was an impending attack on the rail track but was ignored by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
Nigeria, a country with close to 200 million citizens is policed by about 371,800 police officials falls below the United Nations standard benchmark of 1 police to 400 people. The Nigerian Police Force has to struggle with understaffing on one hand, while battling inadequate policing equipment on the other hand. Many police officers have also gone beyond discharging their constitutional duties to harassing and extorting citizens in the name of combating internet fraud.
While the government promises to fight insecurity in Nigeria but the country has not recorded any positive change regarding this, Nigerians have to struggle with inflation, a constant increase in the prices of goods and services, meager wages, and even have their dreams killed as a result of the security epidemic.
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