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The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, has condemned the recent attack on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.

In a press release, issued by the anti-graft organization’s Director of Administration and Programmes, Tola Oresanwo, the Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran said, “It will be recalled that eight passengers have died after gunmen attacked a busy train between the Nation’s capital, Abuja, and Kaduna city. The gang mined the track forcing the train, carrying 970 passengers, to a stop on Monday evening. Gunmen subsequently surrounded the carriages and opened fire. An unknown number of passengers were abducted from the train, considered the safest way to get between the cities”.

The Abuja-Kaduna highway is one of the most dangerous roads in the country as kidnappers have been known to have ambushed vehicles at several points along the expressway. Over the last few years this has pushed many to avoid the 150km (93-mile) journey by road instead opting for the rail link, which opened in 2016. It is more expensive but considered safer as the trains have armed guards on board.

The recent attack on the rail line underscores the level of insecurity in the country. We cannot forget in a hurry how the security of the Kaduna Airport was also breached and an attempt was made to attack the Airport. The recent happenings are new dimensions being added to the already battered security system in the country, and has raised so many questions looking for answers.

We at CACOL would like to know “What has happened to the security votes of the states along that railway corridor? Nigerians would want to know how the governors of those states have applied the money allocated for security to security in their respective states. Have they set up local intelligence-gathering system to work with local vigilance groups with the view to supplying usable information to the security agencies to abort sinister plans of terrorists before they become emergency? The Governor of Kaduna State is supposed to be the Chief Security Officer of the State, and as long as he cannot guarantee the security of lives and properties of the people, it means he could not be entrusted with the security and welfare of citizens of the state. That means that people’s lives and livelihoods have been exposed to jeopardy ab initio. And if we have to take Mr. El-Rufai by his words before becoming the governor, it means he, like many other governors in the country, has demonstrated crass incompetence in administering the state. As long as Gov El-Rufai has confessed to know where the terrorists were camping he should route them out by any means possible, including hiring mercenaries as he has threatened. Nigerians will stand by him and against anyone, agency or institution that tries to constitute a clog in the wheel of his progress. But if he merely keeps lamenting, engaging in self-pity and does nothing about the debilitating situation, Nigerians will not pity him. It only shows he is unable to carry out his statutory duties and he didn’t raise the alarm long before the tragedy happened, the next honourable thing he would have to do is throw in the towel”.

“The situation also throws up the question: What happened to the annual huge budgetary allocation for military, paramilitary and other security and defence agencies at the federal levels? if Kaduna state that’s the repository of national security and defence headquarters could easily be placed under siege by rag-tag army of terrorists The President, being the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces should justify his continued stay in office or be legally dealt with if he should fail to account for the humongous amount that such sectors have consumed and nobody has been punished for its misappropriation, misapplication or mismanagement. At a point like this, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum should let Nigerians know how much security of life and property they apply the unaccounted, monstrous ‘Security Votes’ they allocate to themselves is able to take care of and what gaps need to be filled by the federal government. They should take responsibility for the duties they swore to carry out as the chief security officers in charge of their respective states. The governors cannot continue to claim that they are not in charge of their state’s security but collect so much money that makes no impact on the lives of the citizens. The joint security and defence system should be more pro-active than reactive in their operations. They should take the battle to the bases of the terrorists rather than waiting for them to cause irreparable damage before making usually futile efforts towards tracking them down. Also, Nigerians would want to see those arrested in connection with terrorist activities maximally punished for their crimes to deter others”.

“The Minister of transportation also needs to tell the good people of this country at what point did he make the request for the security gadgets needed for the rail line security. Was it made part of the original plan for the rail lines or mere afterthought? He should also tell us who disapproved or unnecessarily delayed or prevented the requisition from scaling through before the tragedy struck. Otherwise, he should apologize to Nigerians for lacking foresight and courage to perform the duties entrusted to him or resign from the cabinet”.

The practice of allocating a humongous chunk of state resources to security votes or whatever name they choose to call it, by federal, states and local governments in the country is an open day robbery and a carry-over effect of military incursion into power. We have always maintained that any money not appropriated for by the National Assembly, states’ legislature or local governments’ equivalent of it, or appropriated for but not judiciously accounted for by the respective Administrative arm of government is simply misappropriation of public funds.

The CACOL Boss adds, “As much as we agree that security matters of any nation or its component states are a very sensitive and strategic issue that should be handled with tact and panache, we urge all stakeholders within the security apparatai to take necessary steps to find a lasting solution to this needles waste of life. We cannot continue to expose people to this unending carnage and still be allocating billions of Naira to defence and security. This is completely outrageous, insensitive and alien to the letter and spirit of democracy and its kernel of social contract theme that presupposes that those in government only serve as custodians of power bestowed by the electorate, who ultimately, remain the custodians of this sacred sovereignty. We therefore, call on the government to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act to book while not sparing those who have been doing a thankless job of collecting money to provide security for the entire country with very little or nothing to show for the humongous amount of money collected over the years.”

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