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Northern Elders Condemn Imposition Of Restrictions On Northern Communities

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The measures taken by some state governments in the North to check insecurity have been condemned by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF).

Naija News reports that some of the states that have taken these actions to tackle the issue of banditry are Katsina, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Some of the measures are restrictions on the sale of petrol, suspension of weekly markets, closure of schools and some roads, imposition of curfews, plans to restrict communication, restriction in the movement of cattle and other animals.

But in a statement titled, ‘Security of besieged communities’, on Sunday by its spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the NEF berated the Zamfara and Katsina governments for being reactive and not proactive.

The forum stated that the measures will bring more pain and suffering to the victims of bandit attacks in many communities in the North.

According to the forum, these actions by the state governments represent virtual economic and social lockdowns on people, who have been at the mercy of criminals for a long time.

The forum, however, asked the Nothern governors to launch an aggressive and effective assault on the banditry and insurgency in the region.

It added that the measures introduced must produce tangible results within a period that makes them meaningful and tolerable.

The statement read in part, “The Northern Elders Forum is closely following the condition of many northern communities that have become particularly vulnerable to attacks and abuse by bandits, kidnappers and related organised criminals.

“Measures being taken by some state governments such as suspension of weekly markets, restrictions on sale of petrol, closure of schools and some roads, curfews, movement of cattle and plans to restrict communication will compound the desperate conditions of living of many communities in the North.

“While it will be unhelpful to criticise these measures without adequate knowledge of their potential to relieve the desperation under which people live, it is important nevertheless to demand that those who have powers to impose them also have clear ideas over what they could achieve and when.

“These measures represent virtual economic and social lockdowns on people, who have been at the mercy of criminals for a long time. Unless they are accompanied by an aggressive and effective assault on the banditry and kidnapping industry, they will merely add to the misery and hopelessness of our communities.

“Worse, they could further embolden the bandit and the kidnappers when it becomes clear that governments and security agencies cannot go beyond lockdowns on the communities.

“Communities themselves will lose even more faith in the capacity of the Nigerian state to respond to their desperate circumstances. The perception that communities are on their own must never be allowed to take deeper roots, but it will, when people see only the bandits and the kidnappers winning.

“The forum calls on the Federal Government to assist states to relieve communities that are now living under additional pressures. State governments imposing additional hardships on communities must know that the measures they are introducing must produce tangible results within a period that makes them meaningful and tolerable.”

Ige Olugbenga is a fine-grained journalist. He loves the smell of a good lead and has a penchant for finding out something nobody else knows. Gbenga is an alumnus of the prestigious Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State and The Polytechnic, Ibadan.