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Nigerians Lambast Wike For Downplaying Abduction Epidemic

Posted by Samuel on Wed 24th Jan, 2024 -

Angered by his statement, the Northern Elders Forum, Middle Belt Forum Youth Forum, and other stakeholders chastised the former Rivers State governor, describing his utterance as insensitive and unfortunate.

Nyesom Wike

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, is facing criticism for his casual approach to the abduction crisis in the nation's capital. He attributed the issue to political detractors, drawing public ire.

Angered by his statement, the Northern Elders Forum, Middle Belt Forum Youth Forum, and other stakeholders chastised the former Rivers State governor, describing his utterance as insensitive and unfortunate.

Under Wike, the FCT had come under massive attacks from bandits who abducted residents who paid huge ransoms to secure their freedom.

At the last count, over 25 persons had been taken away in the past two weeks while no fewer than four victims were gunned down by their captors for failing to cough out a ransom.

But reacting to the development during a media chat on Monday, Wike said the tension over the kidnappings was unnecessary, stressing that crimes could not be eliminated.

The video of the media interaction was uploaded on YouTube and later deleted.

“Some politicians are bent on making sure the government does not survive. And how do you do it? By creating unnecessary tension, and carrying propaganda that something just happened here, they tell you it has happened 25 times. You must understand how our system works. They are those who are blackmailers, who are paid,”
he had said.

Wike dismissed the public outrage over the kidnappings as unnecessary saying, “You cannot stop total crime. Let somebody tell me as a professional that there is anywhere in this world where there is no crime.

“Because kidnapping happened last night in one or two places, therefore, there is insecurity in the whole of FCT. That is not correct.”

He lamented that citizens do not complement government efforts and are ready to fault areas that have not been resolved.

“When we came here, people say everything in Abuja has collapsed, no street light, no road. How many of you have even come out to commend us in these five months? All you do is pick one that has not been solved or that appears to be the problem. You forget the ones that the government has put effort which has yielded results,”
he added.

State insensitive

Expressing displeasure with Wike’s cavalier attitude to the security issue, the Spokesperson for the Northern Elders’ Forum, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, described the comments by the minister as “insensitive and dismissive of the experiences of the victims.”

 While admitting that politicians often engaged in propaganda for their selfish agenda, the NEF insisted that the situation in Abuja was not solely a product of propaganda.

 Suleiman stated, “It is undeniable that politicians often engage in propaganda to further their own agenda. In a highly competitive political environment such as the one in Nigeria, politicians exploit security concerns to gain public support or discredit their opponents.

“By exaggerating or distorting the reality of the security situation, they can manipulate public opinion and create a sense of fear and insecurity. However, it is crucial to recognise that the security situation in Abuja is not solely a product of political propaganda. There are genuine security challenges that affect the lives of people living in the city.’’

 “Abuja, as the capital of Nigeria, has recently become a prime target for various criminal activities, including terrorism, kidnapping, and armed robbery. These incidents have resulted in the loss of lives, property, and a general sense of insecurity among the population.

“Dismissing the concerns of those directly affected by these happenings the way Wike did, is insensitive and dismissive of their experiences,”
he noted.

The President of the Middle Belt Youth Forum, Bright Kane, described Wike’s statement as sad, adding that the minister was shifting blame to absolve himself of the kidnap situation in the territory.

He accused the ex-governor of being economical with the truth in a bid to hide his failure to protect the FCT, hinting that Wike was probably overwhelmed by the security crisis.

Kane said, “It is sad and unfortunate that the FCT minister refers to what is happening in the FCT and the nation at large as politicians creating unnecessary tension. He is being economical with the truth, as a result of his failure as the Chief Security Officer of the FCT.’’

 “What is happening in the FCT today in terms of insecurity has never happened in the history of this country, so the minister wants to shift the blame to his co-politicians to absolve himself.

“Finally, it seems he is overwhelmed by the challenges he finds himself in, which is piloting the affairs of the FCT and that of Rivers State”,
he concluded.

The Spokesperson for Abuja Original Inhabitants Youth Empowerment Organisation, Isaac David, also faulted the minister, adding that Wike failed to listen to the people who cautioned him before the kidnapping became widespread.

Belated moves

David stated that the minister was ‘crying late.’

He said, “If he is saying the kidnapping issue in the FCT is propaganda, yes, he is saying so because he has not sat down with the indigenous people to know what their challenges are. So, what do you expect him to say?

“Definitely, he will say it is propaganda because he has been living his life in politics, and the life of a human being is beyond politics. This is evidence of politicians not valuing the life of the common man in the community.

“We cried and shouted; now he wakes up at 5am, going up and down to the communities to sympathise with them. He is crying late. Assuming he visited the communities, and the area councils from the beginning, by then, we would have given him information about the kidnapping activities in the FCT.’’

The Chairman of the Centre for Accountability and Open Leadership, Debo Adeniran, admonished Wike to accept responsibility for the security failure rather than justify the cause of the challenge.

He asked the minister and the Federal government to “throw in the towel” if they could not explain why they failed to secure Nigerians.

“Yes, it could be true that they are playing politics with human lives. It could also be true that they are playing politics with the welfare of the people. That, in itself, is an anathema. It means that they are not paying the necessary premium on human lives and their livelihood.

“So, any leader that is looking for excuses, is a failed leader already. Every responsible leader should accept responsibility for any security breach. Let the people adduce reasons why the security failed, not the leader,’’
he noted.

Reacting, the Kogi State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Nuhu Mohammed, said Wike’s statement showed he lacked the knowledge of happenings in his domain.

Mohammed said, “We all know that the country is faced with a high level of insecurity, be it kidnapping or whatever kind of insecurity. I don’t know how the FCT minister gathers his information but everyone knows Abuja is seriously on fire.

“The FCT minister may not know what the ordinary citizen is facing because he sits in the office and he has a lot of security. I don’t think he has a good defence for that statement. He can’t just say that people are just hyping the situation.

“What hyping? This is something that the common man on the street knows that it’s happening and he is in his office denying what is obvious. The statement shows that he doesn’t know what is happening in his domain and I doubt he can keep Abuja safe.”

The National Vice President of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, Yinka Folarin, asked President Tinubu to call Wike to order, stressing that the minister appeared unfit for the office he is occupying.

Folarin said, “It is quite unfortunate that those we put in a position to protect the right of the people are seeing no wrong in the threat to the lives of the people, especially the right to life and freedom. We at the CDHR are joining well-meaning Nigerians to condemn the statement of someone who is supposed to be in the custody of the rights of the people.’’

The General Secretary of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Gerald Katchy, similarly disagreed with Wike, stressing that the kidnapping incidents in the FCT were not feigned.

“The statement is uncalled for. If he thinks the kidnappings are exaggerated, why has he been busy holding meetings with community leaders and setting up security task forces? A child can’t be beaten and you don’t expect him to cry. How he cries does not matter, what matters is if he was beaten or not. Are the kidnappings in FCT faked? No. He should sit up. “

 Also, the National Coordinator, Advocate for People’s Rights and Justice, Giwa Victor said, “I do not agree with Wike on that. Why was the anti-kidnapping squad in the FCT set up?

“Kidnapping incidents in the FCT are real and Abuja residents are worried. There was a report I saw on how the incidents have scared investors away from FCT. Wike should get to work and not try to give excuses.”

The Executive Director of the United Global Resolve for Peace, Olaseni Shalom, demanded a better response from the security agencies.

The Executive Director of the African Centre for Media Information and Literacy, Chido Onumah, described the minister’s statement as unfortunate, uncaring, and insensitive, adding that he seemed to be alienated from the sufferings of the people.

“If the minister made a statement like that, then it’s really unfortunate. How can a minister be this uncaring and insensitive to the plights of Nigerians, to the plights of residents of Abuja who are living through this issue?,’
he wondered.

The National President of the MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu, expressed concern over the escalating insecurity in the country including banditry and kidnapping.


Source: The PUNCH

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