By Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja
The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, has expressed sadness over the level of insecurity, especially in the northern part of the country.
Abubakar disclosed that bandits are fast overrunning the north, carrying out their activities openly and unchecked.
He said bandits now move from house to house, village to village, market to market, with AK 47 openly, purchasing food stuffs and other items, and even collect change without any challenge from the security agencies.
The Sultan who spoke at the fourth quarterly meeting of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), in Abuja, on Thursday, confirmed that north has become the worst place to live in Nigeria because of the “completely” collapsed security system.
He said: “Security situation in northern Nigeria has assumed a worrisome situation, regretting that no strong media platform could report the story to the world. Few weeks ago, over 76 persons were killed in a community in Sokoto in a day. I was there alongside the governor to commiserate with the affected community. Unfortunately, you don’t hear these stories in the media because it’s in the north. We have accepted the fact that north doesn’t have strong media to report the atrocities of these bandits.
“People think north is safe but that assumption is not true. In fact, it’s the worst place to be in this country. Because bandits go around in the villages, households and markets with their AK 47 and nobody is changing them. They stop at the market, buy things, pay and collect change, with their weapons openly displayed. These are facts I know because I am at the centre of it.
“I am not only a traditional ruler; I am also a religious leader. So, I am in a better place to tell the story. I can speak for the north in this regard because I am fully aware of the security challenges there. We have to sincerely and seriously find solutions to the problem; otherwise, we will find ourselves soon, in a situation where we would lose sleep because of insecurity.
“As religious leaders, we must promote peace, love, unity and tolerance among our followers. We will discuss all these issues at the close door session of the meeting and possibly come out with strong suggestions for government.”
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Samson Ayokunle Olasupo, in his remarks, asked the government to quickly reverse the recent decision to hike the price of electricity and fuel.
“That’s not what we send them to do for us. The decision, evidently, has added to our pains and they should reverse it as quickly as possible,” he said.
He, however, cautioned Nigerians against interpreting the recent EndSARS protest ethnically or religiously, stating that doing so could be misleading and insincere.
“As a man of God, I never see the EndSARS protest coming. May be I am far from God. It came to us all unaware. Initially, I thought that the protest was organized by bad boys in the society but when I began to see and read stories of Police brutality, I was surprised and supported their actions.
“But attributing the actions of the angry youths to a particular religion or ethnic group is insincere and unsafe. No religious group was exempted from the effect of the protest. The action was a spontaneous action that cannot be attributed to any religion or ethnic group.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, thanked NIREC for regularly assembling the religious and traditional leaders to discuss issues of peace, love and tolerance among Nigerians.
Mustapha regretted that Nigeria is still faced with insecurity despite government’s efforts.
He said the theme for the fourth Quarterly 2020 meeting of NIREC “Questioning for peace in the challenges of insecurity and COVID-19 was very apt considering the fact that peace and security are critical ingredients for socioeconomic growth and development.
He said: “Today, despite all efforts including the deployment of enormous resources, our country still faces a measure of insecurity which is impacting negatively on our economy, social life, education of children and young persons, investment and remains a threat to lives and livelihood”, he said.
He, however, urge NIREC to use its traditional and religious capacities to further escalate its outreach to all Nigerians especially, our youth at the grass roots.
On COVlD-19, Mustapha said “since the beginning of 2020, humanity has been under the siege of the COVID-19 pandemic which has warranted the deployment of drastic measures including lockdowns, closure of schools, international airspace, places of Worship, businesses, government offices.”