It is time for the Federal Government to wage a total war on bandits and terrorists, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) said yesterday.
The North has been reeling under serious terrorism and bandit attacks which took a turn for the worse in recent weeks.
There have been daily attacks, including kidnapping for ransom, insurgency, killings and incessant farmer-herder clashes, among others.
In a renewed wave of terror, the gunmen on March 26 attacked facilities at the Kaduna Airport where they killed an airport worker. Eight passengers were killed on the Kaduna-bound train; 41 people were injured, while 21 others are believed to have been abducted.
The ACF, however, rejected the call for mercenaries to be brought into the country to fight the battle against terrorists.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai threatened to rally the Northwest states to bring in mercenaries. The military has consistently reiterated that it is capable of ending terrorism and banditry.
The ACF urged the government to employ whatever is available to secure lives and properties and make every inch of the land peaceful and habitable.
ACF Secretary-General Murtala Aliyu, who spoke for the organisation, enjoined the military to deploy men and arms to attack terrorists’ enclaves, instead of providing security escorts for trains across the country.
The ACF urged the Federal Government to strengthen the anti-terror war with the utilisation of volunteers, such as ex-servicemen and women, civilian task forces and hunters.
The ACF said: “The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) calls on the entire Muslims, Christians and all religions, to embark on prayers towards the sustenance of peace and tranquillity in the North and the country in general.
“The Forum wishes the various religions utilise the entire holy month of Ramadan and the Easter period, in addition to, at least all Sundays and Fridays of the months of April and May, as a sober period to atone for our sins and pray for mercy from our creator.
“Nigeria, most especially the northern states, could not be said to be in the state of tranquillity that warrants development. The entire country cries for peace. This calls for sober reflection and absolute return to our creator for repentance.
“The ACF calls on the leadership of our political parties to structure their manifestos to address our challenges and refocus our psyche towards the peaceful growth and development of the country and not the current race for the sake of power or material gains.
“The holistic submission on the failure of governance, as attested by our governors, is an indication that all is not well in the nooks and corners of the territory called Nigeria. We have no other territory than this, so also a country but Nigeria.
“The survival of the country therefore must be paramount and lives and property of citizens, law and order and freedom of expression must be protected.
“The Arewa Consultative Forum appreciate the frustration of leaders at the sub-national level. However, we call on the governments, governors and citizens alike, to avoid any fire brigade approach on any pressing issue bedevilling the country.
“The security of the country rests on the central government and calls for a cursory, calm, implementable and lasting solution.”
It emphasised that invitation of foreign forces or mercenaries to fight our course must be treated with utmost caution.
ACF said: “On the proposition to escort trains from Abuja to Kaduna, Ibadan to Lagos or the Itakpe routes, by the Nigerian Airforce, the Forum calls on the security agency to redesign their operations and instead deploy their machinery and manpower in launching attacks on the bandits and terrorist enclaves.
“Dedicating such operations to only railway lines shall make air and road users more vulnerable to such attacks. The new dimension of the terror attacks, in the country, both on humans and infrastructure calls for total war.
“The authorities may look at the possibility of utilising volunteers, such as the ex-servicemen and women, the civilian task forces, hunters and whatever is available to make every inch of Nigeria habitable and peaceful.
“We must appreciate the responsibility bestowed on us by providence as the largest black nation and as a leader on our continent must do everything within our powers to keep Nigeria stable and strong.”