Northern elders fault closure of markets, telecoms networks in Zamfara, others

The Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement issued Tuesday, said the Forum had been receiving reports since January 31, and has taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers.

Elders from the Northern region of the country have criticised some governors for suspending weekly markets, restricting the sale of petrol, closure of schools, declaring curfews, banning of movement of cattle and shutting communications networks as measures put in place to curb growing insecurity.

Newsmen had reported that Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) ordered telecommunication companies to shut down their base stations in Zamfara state following incessant abductions of school children.

Other states like Kaduna, Niger have also suspended weekly markets and restricted the sale of petrol into jerrycans among other measures to curb growing insecurity challenges in their respective states.

But reacting to the measures, the elders under the aegis of Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF) through their Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed in a statement, said the measures would embolden the bandits to wreak more havoc.

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Baba-Ahmed argued that the measures represent virtual economic and social lockdowns on people who had been at the mercy of criminals for a long time.

According to him, 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”.

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

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The Forum, however, called 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,” the NEF spokesman added.

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