Ban on motorcycles not a good idea
Last week, Nigerians were embarrassed by the news of the turbaning of one of the most notorious bandits’ kingpins, Ado Aleru, as the Sarkin Fulani of ‘Yandoton daji in Zamfara state. Among the many atrocities he committed, Aleru is directly responsible for the death of more than 100 people in Kadisau village of Faskari local government area of Katsina state. He was declared wanted by the Katsina state police command and a price of N5 million was put on his head. Well, the paltry sum of N5m is itself enough to show the lack of seriousness with which Nigerian government takes the life of its citizens. Of course, the amount is to be paid by the Nigeria Police. The police doesn’t have much money. The government is even poorer. It cannot afford one Naira.
The turbaning of Aleru was a gathering of some of the most deadly criminals responsible for acts of terror in the North-west and North-central geopolitical zones of Nigeria. On ground to witness the ceremony were officials of Zamfara state government including the commissioner for internal security. In other words, the turbaning was done with the knowledge and approval of the state government.
Soon after the ceremony, Katsina state government indicated its disapproval to the chieftaincy title conferred on the criminal and maintained that it is still looking for Ado Aleru. This too raises other questions. Is Katsina state government serious or is it just playing to the gallery? Why didn’t it raise the alarm before the turbaning which date and time were widely circulated ahead? Where are the police? Is Katsina state police command operating independent of the Nigeria Police Force? If the police declare a person wanted, is it not the responsibility of every policeman and indeed every security operative to arrest them? Where is the inspector general of police? Why was a deputy inspector general of police there to witness the conferment of a traditional title on a criminal declared wanted by the Nigeria Police?
By the way, where is the Commander-in-Chief? If Mr President thinks he is helping Fulani by turning a blind eye to the crimes they are committing, I would like to say with due respect that he is making a big mistake. Now that a Fulani man is at the helm of affairs is the right time to separate law-abiding Fulani from the criminal ones and let the law take its course. By the time a non-Fulani takes over and begins to clampdown on the Fulani race, it may be too late.
I, like many other Nigerians, reserved my comments and waited to see the reaction of the federal government. Of course, I knew it would be disappointing. If there was a genuine desire by the central government to fight banditry, that turbaning ceremony would never have been allowed to hold. The state governor would have been queried. The federal government under the person I love so much is now making me to praise former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a leader who declared a state of emergency and suspended a governor for condoning a lesser crime than the many atrocities of Ado Aleru.
The reaction came on Thursday, July 21, 2022. It is not an order for the manhunt of His Royal Highness, the Sarkin Fulani of ‘Yandoton daji Alhaji Ado Aleru, nor was it a query to the governor for aiding and abetting crime. It is a punishment for all Nigerians who are using motorcycles. The reason? Bandits use motorcycles for their operations. Thus, the federal government is considering a ban on the use of motorcycles throughout the federation.
In 2020 I wrote to ask if at all Mr.President was under a spell for some of the things coming out of the Presidential Villa that do not make sense. Later, I came to the conclusion that Mr. President is under no spell but he is most likely surrounded by people whose primary interest is not the success of his government. Otherwise, what is the percentage of bandits among the users of motorcycles in Nigeria? What alternative does the government intend to provide for law-abiding motorcycle users that it thinks the bandits cannot access?
Which policeman will go to the forest to arrest bandits using motorcycles? If a security operative can go into the forest and arrest a bandit using motorcycle, is it not easier to kill same? Most security operatives are now afraid to confront the deadly bandits operating in the North-west and would abandon their checkpoints on hearing that armed bandits are on the way. You may wish to find out the number of checkpoints on Katsina-Jibia highway, the most policed highway I know in Nigeria, and why bandits still kill people on that road and get away with it.
Ban on the use of motorcycles is a method tried at the state level and failed. When Katsina state government introduced it in night hours, the scapegoats were the legitimate users of motorcycles in the city. Many of them were arrested and prosecuted. Along the line, the state government had to abandon the law which was passed by the state house of assembly.
If the federal government would ban motorcycles because bandits are using them, then it is even more necessary to ban the use of mobile phones because the bandits use them to negotiate with relatives of their kidnapped victims. Federal government should thus revoke the license of MTN, Glo, Airtel, 9mobile. Finally, the Nigerian Communication Commission, NCC, should be disbanded. Is the federal government also contemplating that?
Professor Jibia writes from Kano via [email protected]