The African Heritage Institution (Afri-Heritage) says the nation’s security agencies need to be properly equipped to successfully fight banditry and general insecurity.
The Executive Director of the institution, Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, said this on Thursday at a news conference on the ‘Big Idea Podium’ conference coming up soon in Enugu.
Okeke-Uzodike, therefore, said the Federal Government had a responsibilty to strengthen existing security with equipment, training, intelligence capacities to check the growing spate of banditry across the country.
“More recently, Nigerians are being fed with sensational stories about the deadly exploits of armed bandits, who have been terrorising all parts of Nigeria.
“In fact, many parts of the north have become enclaves of armed banditry by reputed hoodlums and ‘cattle rustlers’.
“Quite frankly, there are no regions or zones in Nigeria these days that are free from serious and deadly dramas.
“As things stand, national security appears to be severely compromised, in spite of the ridiculous proliferation of security agencies,’’ Okeke-Uzodike said.
He said that the present security challenge in the country “is highly surmountable with clear vision, direction and political-will’’.
He said that government at all levels must take concerted steps to deal with issues of human insecurity.
“A vast majority of Nigerians in rural areas cannot carry out economic activities due to bandits in form of hoodlums or armed gangs,’’ he said.
Okeke-Uzodike said that bandits had been able to keep the government and its agents away from some forest areas to enable them to freely engage in illegal activities.
“Reports now suggest that they (bandits) are deeply involved in kidnapping, robbery, rape, cattle-rustling and even murder,’’ he said.
On the upcoming conference, he said that Afri-Heritage was working with the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja to organise the conference.
He said that seasoned resource persons, studying conflicts in West Africa, proffering solutions and advocating for peace, would do justice to the conference theme: “Trend and dynamics of armed banditry: Making sense of the problem’’.
Okeke-Uzodike said the conference would be held virtually with moderate physical attendance in line with COVID-19 safety protocol.
According to him, a Ghana-based scholar on Conflict and Peace in Africa, Dr Chukwuemeka Eze, will be the keynote speaker at the event.