Amid rising security challenges, the Department of State Service (DSS) says recessing members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly as well as other public, private-sector workers on vacation may be predisposed to threats of various degrees.
DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya, at a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, said “these individuals are susceptible to kidnapping, hijack, assassination, armed robbery and political manipulations.”
Newsmen report that the DSS had for long been issuing an advisory to VIPs in general but this is the first time the security outfit was specific.
Of recent, the legislators themselves have been speaking on top of their voices that they could not visit their hometowns and constituencies because insecurity had reached the rooftop.
While shedding more light on the level of insecurity as the legislators and other officeholders proceed on recession for the Yuletide, the DSS spokesman advised them to be security conscious “in order not to fall victims of these attacks and destructive manoeuvres.”
He also said, “subversive elements” were plotting to recruit students, who would be going home for vacation, into banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, financial crimes, armed robbery, civil disobedience, violent protests and substance abuse.
He urged those sponsoring kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, insurgency and all kinds of attacks on security agents, civilians and vulnerable populations to have a re-think.
Afunanya warned that they had crossed the lines and would be crushed.
“Let me reiterate at this juncture that those who sponsor kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, insurgency and all kinds of attacks on security agents, civilians and vulnerable populations should have a rethink.
“These persons, whether in the North or South, know themselves.
“There is no doubt that they have crossed the lines and it is now time to crush them,” he said.
He also warned politicians, religious and opinion leaders to mind their utterances ahead of the 2023 general elections, saying the DSS would deal decisively with anybody that attempts to destabilise the peace of the country.
“The Service, therefore, warns that those who are involved in these should desist from such destabilising acts.
“It also enjoins politicians to play by the rule and avoid statements or activities capable of inflaming the fires of division and violence prior to the 2023 elections.
“Opinion moulders like the clergy, religious and traditional rulers are also to guard their utterances and avoid inciting pronouncements.”
Newsmen recalled that at a recent event in Abuja, which was attended by presiding officers of the National Assembly and other stakeholders, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, warned that legislators and other politicians would never live in peace while millions of Nigerians live in pain due to constant attacks by criminals.
“I will be very happy if anybody can raise their hands and say I can go to my area of constituency, my local government and I can stay there in peace for one week.
“Who can do it here? Including our gatekeepers, who can do it here, including the Senate President and the Speaker?” he asked the audience.
“But you left the traditional rulers, you left the district heads, the Baales to continue to stay there and you are saying all will be well in this country?
“We are the ones facing these youths, we know their problems. And we have been talking every time you sit in beautiful offices and you all think all is well that you are taking care of.
“What is the essence of you being a politician that you can’t even move out freely?
“Do you think Abuja is only Nigeria or only Lagos that is only Nigeria? Thirty-six states of this country, some people are there and you left them and abandoned them and you are making laws and you are administering. What are you administering? I do not know. So let us talk to ourselves,” the monarch said.
Speaking on Monday at a retreat on Inclusive Security organised by the Global Peace Foundation, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North) said the lawmakers could not even go to their constituencies.
He recalled that three traditional rulers were recently kidnapped in his constituency.
He said some people even wrote on the wall in his constituencies that they should not come home for Christmas.
“The neglected in the society are in the majority and I am afraid that one day they may come to the National Assembly and attack us.
“The truth is that we have failed ourselves and especially the youths. We are in a country now that elder statesmen cannot access even simple healthcare, what have we done to ourselves?
“These are perilous times; there is trouble in the land. Even in the National Assembly, sometimes, I wonder if they would not come…
“I am not even talking of kidnapping, I am talking about that they could come and open fire and kill everybody, so this is where we are.
“We are bleeding, there is a problem. There is no way the elder statesmen would not have solutions. Nigeria is bleeding, a country where there is no industry, how would we not be having free fall of naira?” he asked.
The House of Representatives has called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba and other heads of security agencies in the country to step up joint operations against bandits dislodged from Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states that are attacking and killing people in Plateau and Taraba states.
This was after the adoption of a motion on matters of urgent public importance sponsored by the deputy speaker, Ahmed Idris Wase (APC, Plateau) at the plenary on Tuesday.
Presenting the motion, he said, “As a result of the intense military campaign against these bandits in states like Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto, a lot of them are escaping and relocating to other parts of the North.
“Several escaping bandits have gradually relocated and infiltrated the forests around Wase Federal Constituency and environs through Bauchi and Taraba states.
“It is also imperative to note that these bandits have set up camps in surrounding forests and have been carrying out attacks, killings and kidnappings in communities within Wase Federal Constituency in Plateau State, Kanam LGA, Plateau State, and Lau and Karim Lamido LGAs in Taraba.”
He said on December 11, 2021, several bandits attacked Pinau Village in Wase LGA of Plateau State killing several persons and injuring many.
“Before this attack, there had been several incidents of killings and kidnappings within Wase and Pankshin/Kanke/Kanam Federal Constituencies in recent times.
“Instances include kidnappings in Bashar, Yuli, Zurak, Safiyo (Wase LGA); Kukawa, Bagwas, Wanka, Shuwaka (in Kanam LGA) and several other communities and connecting township roads,” he said.
The House, therefore, urged the Minister of Defence to initiate a coordinated joint security operation within Wase Federal Constituency and adjoining towns in Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba and Nasarawa states to flush out the bandits and prevent them from escaping to other states.
They also urged the chief of air staff in collaboration with the chief of army staff to provide aerial surveillance and support to flush out bandits while the DSS and the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) gathered intelligence information on the influx, camping and operations of bandits.
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