Being a press statement by concerned people of Toto LGA (CPTL):
It is with regret that we bring to the attention of the world, and especially, those of the Nigerian authorities that Toto Local Government Area (LGA) has become the next nest of all sorts for criminal elements terrorizing the Nigerian state and its citizens.
Events of the last few months regarding the security of lives and property of our people in the local government area have left a sour taste in our mouths. We are at that point in our communities where our lives could only compare to Hobbesian stage of nature where life is short, brutish and nasty. Our lives can be taken ( sometimes, in the most gruesome form) at any time without any form of retribution.
Our people now sleep with their eyes wide open and have learnt to guard their loins at all time as bandits, kidnappers and the monstrous ones; people who exhibit all the signs associated with hardened terrorists hitherto only found in the north eastern part of this country, now run riot at any time of the day. They now seize our people at random and only get released after payment of hefty amount of money as ransom and those who could not afford the ransom, pay with their lives.
- Kidnapping for ransom:
We fear that Toto LGA is replacing Birnin Gwari in Kaduna state or parts of Zamfara state once held as fiefdom by bandits and kidnappers. These criminals now reign with impunity in Toto LGA. They abduct at will and sometimes even do a return to the same area the next day to carry out similar act unchallenged. They fire sporadically to scare the people away while they make away with their abductees.
All the communities and villages in the local government, including Toto, the headquarters, have had and are still having ugly encounters with incidence of kidnappings.
The latest incidence being the attacks carried out on two vehicles, first along Ugya – Turunku- Umaisha route, and secondly, on Ugya – Shafan Akapka axis, all within a space of two days.
The attacks on the first day reportedly claimed seven lives with at least two others missing, while three others still were confirmed kidnapped. Although, the one that took place on the second day was largely unsuccessful for the kidnappers as they couldn’t go away with anybody, it nonetheless, resulted in the death of one person, leaving one other person severally injured.
But, before these two incidences, our people witnessed the most cold bloodied display of vampirism yet when on precisely May 12, 2020, Nine out of 12 kidnapped people were grizzly slaughtered as a result of the inability of their relatives to pay for their ransom. It was the most explicit display of thirst for blood by the criminals.
As a consequence, our people have not only been denied their right to live in peace and security, they have also been pushed into unwarranted poverty as they can no longer go to farms or markets, for those who are business men and women.
Our people can no longer travel between Umaisha, through Ugya to Toto, the local government headquarters, even as traveling within villages is not any safer. They can be violently fired at and killed at will and the lucky ones not killed on the spot, get seized for ransom. Indeed, kidnapping for ransom is now big business in the LGA.
- Likely presence of terrorist cell:
Our worst fear, however is that we might be witnessing a regrouping of the dreaded Boko Haram or Darul Salam elements or any other armed group in that mould in our area. We believe some of these group (s) have found our area a safe heaven from which they could reach their targets in Abuja and elsewhere.
It is our contention that since it is increasingly becoming clear that it is impossible for the terrorists to hatch their plans in far away north east and travel all the way to Abuja for execution without being taken down, setting up a Cell nearer to the Federal Capital has become an alluring option to them.
We also believe that they have now realized that with the increased assaults on them in their operational base in the north east, it is no longer ingenious to operate from a single Cell and that operating from different scattered Cells in and around the country is the new way to go.
We strongly believe that they may have found our area a suitable launching pad for their nefarious mission because of its hilly and densely forested nature which makes it difficult to come under military radar.
We believe that our position is further reinforced following last month’s massive military operations carried out in this area, which saw the military deployed both aerial and land troops, to route out the terrorists.
We recall that after the operation that lasted for about three days, a Military Commander, Abdulsalam Sani, in an interview with BBC Hausa service, detailed the scope of the operations where he informed that at least four terrorists were neutralized, while their houses were razed and some arms and ammunition’s recovered. He also promised that the troops were on the trail of the fleeing ones.
While we are not downplaying the scale of the military operations undertaken, we fear that for such assaults to have only recorded four casualties on the part of the terrorists, it may have only served to disperse them into our communities, a situation that only heightens our insecurity.
With the benefit of hindsight drawn from what happens in the North east, where the civilians in the communities become easy targets as soon as the withdrawal of the military after each operation, we fear that this operations, like a still born child, may have exposed us to more danger because it was too little and too far between.
The operation was too hastily conducted and the retreat hurriedly made, leaving the job half done. It is our view that what is required to have a lasting results is a sustained operations and not a flash – in – the pan operation.
We therefore, believe that the recent resurgence of violent attacks on motorists on our roads that resulted to instant multiple deaths a few days ago may not be unconnected with the aftermath effect of the military operation. Indeed, it is needless to say that our people are even more vulnerable today than they were before the operation.
While we commend the security agencies, especially the military the DSS and the Police, for their efforts at overcoming myriads of security challenges across the country, we demand that the following actions be taken to permanently bring the challenges in Toto LGA to the end or at least curtail to the barest minimum:
- We call on the Military authorities to approach the security situation in Toto LGA with all the attention it deserves and desist from treating it as though the criminals involved are some ragtag miscreants. They must note that this criminals are international terrorists with all instrument of violence usually associated with such group and that they mean business;
- The Military authorities must go all out to annihilate and not just to scare and disperse them now that their threats level is still at teething stage in order not to have a resurgence of Sambisa forest close to the seat of power (FCT). The military must see them as present and clear danger that must be nipped in the bud;
- The Department of the State Security (DSS) must heighten its complementary work of gathering all the necessary intelligence as precursor to military actions in order to eliminate the terrorists’ informants who live with the civilian population in the communities with a view to cutting off their source of information on the plans and movements of our troops. The DSS must begin to treat any one, be he a traditional ruler or a political chieftain, who approaches them to negotiate the release of any apprehended informants in our midst, as benefactor of such informant until he proves himself otherwise;
- We commend the Governor of Nasarawa state, Engr Abdullahi A. Sule, for all the attention he has given to the security challenges in our area and the actions has taken so far. We can only say their is always a room for improvement.
- We particularly commend the Governor for going to see Mr President to brief him on the security situation in Toto LGA and to request for what needed to be done for everlasting peace and security of our land. We must not fail to note Mr Governor’s request to Mr President for more military and police deployment to the area. Mr Governor’s request perfectly aligned with our thoughts.
- We call on Mr President to quickly, without further delay, accede to the request of Mr Governor, believing that sustained military aggression is the only language understood by the criminals. Routing out these criminals is the only way, to not only ensure the peace and safety of our people but also those of the authorities in Abuja. Overlooking their antics at this stage can only birth a Hydra headed monster akin only to the spectre in the north east, in the not distant time.
- We further urged the Governor to look into the operational strength of our Vigilante personnel with a view to strengthening their capacity through equipping them with necessary operational kits such as vehicles, short guns and such enablers like monthly stipend. The Governor should be guided by the critical roles being played by this Vigilantes in the north eastern part of the country. As locals, they know the terrain, the people better and are not hampered by language barrier;
- We call on the Chairman of the Local government to wake up from his seeming slumber and approach his job with all the seriousness it deserves. We make this demand of him believing that if the Hon Chairman, Prince Nuhu Dauda, was on top of his game, the Governor would have been adequately informed of the happenings in our area, to take the necessary action.
Engr Sani Aliyu– Chairman(CPTL)
Alh. Sabo Ahmed – Secretary(CPTL)