Retired Brig.-Gen. Abu Ali, a first class traditional ruler in Kogi, Etsu of Bassa-nge kingdom in Bassa Local Government Area, has described complicity of traditional rulers and religious leaders in cases of insecurity in some state in Nigeria as “very unfortunate” and “callous.”
Etsu Bassa-nge said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bassa that the chieftaincy law in the country stipulates that traditional rulers are expected to be apolitical and non-partisan.
The retired general, who was former Military Governor of Bauchi, said traditional rulers, who are custodians of the people in their local domains, should be able to assist the government in handling security matters by identifying criminal elements and their harbourers.
“It’s callous and very unfortunate for a traditional or religious leader to be complacent in the insecurity that is negatively affecting the peace and development of the society and the nation at large.
“In fact, there is no way a criminal can come into my domain without me knowing. So any traditional ruler allowing criminal elements to operate within his domain is a clear sign of complacency, which must be tackled by the authorities with dispatch.
“I mean, there should be a very strong and stringent measure taken that will serve as punitive on any religious or traditional ruler that compromise his position as a leader of patriotic Nigerians,” he said.
According to him, a traditional or religious leader should be one to expose any sign of evil around him and not tolerate or at worse, harbour the criminals.
He said a serious and sincere leader would put machinery in place to ensure that those within his domain that are harbouring criminals be identified and punished to serve as a deterrent.
“But if it’s the traditional ruler doing the harbouring himself, he should be dethroned forthwith to serve as deterrent too. I want to tell you that no royal father wants to lose his exalted stool of royalty.
“Therefore, any traditional ruler found complacent, he should be dethroned with immediate effect so that he doesn’t criminalize the entire community with the venom from the criminal elements he is harbouring,” he said.
The royal father said as part of remedy in checkmating harbourers of criminals in communities, the traditional rulers should always hold regular council meetings with community leaders/heads to get feelers and at the same time pass information to the people within his domain.
He also suggested that there should be a law whereby all the community leaders/heads should present weekly report on security situations in their domains to the traditional ruler or the chairman of the local government area.
According to him, that way meaningful discussion could be carried out on how best to keep the peace of the community or society.
“In Bassa LGA, my domain is the most peaceful. Why? Because of what I can openly described as leadership by example.
“A traditional ruler should be mandated to seek for permission from his Head either LG chairman or the Chairman, Council of Traditional Rulers in the state or the Governor when he wants to travel.
”By that rule, the traditional rulers would be forced to sit at home or be around their subjects and see for themselves what’s happening in their domains.
“Another solution is the formation of community vigilante groups in the communities, who are more with the people and know where the trouble spots are in the communities, “Ali advised.
While in Niger, the Most Rev Bishop Bulus Dawa-Yohanna the Catholic Bishop of Kontagora said that the context of the church is not to have anything to do with criminal activities and its elements.
Dawa-Yohanna, who is also the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Chairman in Niger represented by his deputy, Rev Ibrahim Ezekiel-Pocho, disclosed this in an interview with NAN in Minna.
“The Church is one and will continue to be one, we do not have hand in banditry, kidnapping or anything that is associated with insecurity, the church will not deteriorate to complicity of insecurity, it is immoral.
“Whether for ransom or for selfish reasons, I can vouch the church will not be involved in such a sin against God and humanity.
“As a church is not part of our tradition, it is not part of our practice or calling” he said.
He explained that even though some impostors had planned their kidnapping and made members to pay ransom under the guise of being a church.
“They are not church but fake when they are verified, we cannot generalise insecurity, when it comes to insecurity, as far as universal church is concerned our ethics does not allow us to have such indulgence.
“The church preaches against sin and all its elements and we cannot go back to our vomit.
“A true Christian should fear God and live, to fear God is to have life,” he said.
Similarly, Dr Idris Sulaiman, Chief Imam at Police Head Quarters in Minna, an Arabic Lecturer at Fati Lami Abubakar Institute of Legal and Administrative Studies, Minna said that Islam is a religion of peace.
“To be complicit to such crime as insecurity is not associated to Islam, we are peace loving people and that is what our religion taught us and we live by it. Islam prohibits insecurity, it teaches us that we should live in peace even with one another.”
Sulaiman explained that during their sermons in every Juma’at prayers, they anchor and emphasised on the need for Nigerians to coexist peacefully with each other irrespective of religious, political and cultural differences.
“I want the world to know that our Holy book Koran and Prophet Muhammad taught us to cohabit in peace with one another,” he said.
Similarly the Niger Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr Kumar Tsukwan said it was totally abstract for any security agent to be complicit in the issue of insecurity.
“We are all meant to protect life and property; all the security agencies are paid under the taxpayers’ money to protect the lives and property of law-abiding citizens of Nigerians.
“For us we are to monitor and complement other security agencies, vehicular movement on the road and the kind of people that ply such vehicles and our road.
“We check for overload, and the kind of load vehicles are carrying, we have observed sometimes while on routine check, cannabis and other illicit drugs were being transported by criminals.
“This we have on every arrest brought to the attention of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and this is to say we are working in concert,” he said.
Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, CP Ogundele Ayodeji, said no security agent would sabotage the effort on security.
“Crime rate has reduced in Niger to the barest minimum and we are not going to rest on our oars. The Police will never be complicit with the crime it is fighting. We are civilians friend, to protect them and their property,”