Posted by: Tony Akowe, Kaduna Austine Tsenzughul Bauchi
Last week’s abduction of former Petroleum Minister, Dr. Shettima Ali Monguno, by suspected members of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, has sparked a wave of relocation by prominent northerners from cities like Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi.
The 92-year-old former Petroleum Minister was released on Monday last week.
Many who are yet to relocate have asked for protection from the police and other security agencies.
Some have simply restricted their movements for fear of the unknown.
Police sources in Kaduna confirmed a rise in requests for protection from traditional rulers, politicians, top civil servants, business tycoons and even foreigners.
The requests are said to be putting the police authorities under serious pressure.
A top business man in Maiduguri has relocated from the Borno State capital with his family.
A source quoted him as saying: “I have to relocate from Maiduguri because apart from the threat letter issued to me by members of the sect, I was informed by security agents that I am among those being hunted by terrorists after they were apprehended in the state while trying to kidnap one of my colleagues recently.”
Many northern leaders who have made Kaduna their home are now hardly in the city.
They prefer Abuja where they believe they are safer.
Second Republic governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, is one of the few exceptions keeping faith with providence.
He said he lacked the resources to meet any ransom demand.
Besides, he said, he had no other place to go apart from his Kaduna home.
According to him, all his belongings put together cannot meet the expectation of whoever kidnaps him. He recalled warning government before now about the need to address the Boko Haram issue. He asked government to adopt a holistic approach to end kidnapping in the country.
Armed policemen have been deployed at the palace of the Emir of Bauchi, Dr. Rilwanu Suleiman Adamu, to beef up security there. A palace source said the security beef up was imperative. He said: “If the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, could be attacked on the road or an attempt made on his life, I want you to know that things have become bad.
“You can see (pointing) that is the prison where criminals and those awaiting trials are kept. The prison officials are armed. Down there is the state Ministry of Education where we have armed soldiers with their armoured tank. These are very sensitive areas that must be protected.
“You will recall the attempt on the life of the Emir of Fika, Yobe State, was made while in a Mosque.
Here in Bauchi, the security situation is not as bad as other states in the Northeast, but we don’t have to take things for granted. “We have our traditional security men, but we also need the government security with modern security gadgets to assist, and that is why you must have something very special before coming to the palace. “Still you have to be thoroughly screened by security operatives, though we believe that Allah is the protector of everybody. But God helps those who help themselves.” It was gathered that similar security measures have been extended to the palaces of the Emirs of Dass, Ningi, Katagum, Jama’are, and Misau.
When contacted for comments on the security beef-up, the Bauchi State Police Command spokesman, Hassan Auyo, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, said: “It is the constitutional duty of the Nigeria police to protect lives and property of Nigerians, and if you have observed any change, the Police are performing their assigned duty”.
Some influential personalities in the state have already relocated to Abuja and Lagos.
Spokesman for the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) in Borno State, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, had said kidnapping became attractive for the terrorists as a way of making money after the task force made it difficult for them to rob the banks.
He said: “Intelligence reports available to the Task Force have indicated that Boko Haram terrorists have resolved to concentrate more on kidnappings than robbery. They alleged that kidnapping is more lucrative, less dangerous and requires short time to plan and execute.
“A special kidnapping squad has been earmarked and tasked by Boko Haram Sect to kidnap persons who could have wealthy relatives, politicians, businessmen/women, traditional rulers, senior civil servants and foreigners alike.
” The public are advised to avoid or be very sensitive to strangers and friends that have not been in contact for long. Additionally, members of the public are also warned to avoid isolated areas and shun meetings or friends found through telephones or social media.”
Following the recent abduction and subsequent killing of seven foreigners working for a construction company in Bauchi,hundreds of foreigners have fled from the North.
The victims included a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese.