LAGOS HERALD – The Senate on Tuesday, bemoaned the worsening insecurity in Kainji Lake National Park and existential threat to communities in Kaiama, Baruten, and Borgu Local Government Areas of Kwara and Niger States respectively.
This was brought to the fore by Senator Umar Sadiq Suleiman (APC, Kwara North) in a motion during plenary in the Upper Legislative Chamber and co-sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Aliyu Sabi (APC, Niger North).
The sponsor noted that kidnapping and other forms of criminality are becoming a recurring decimal in communities close to Kainji Lake National Park particularly Nanu, Nuku, Woro, Kale in Kaiama, and Yashikira in Baruten Local Government Area of Kwara State and some parts of Borgu Local Government Area in Niger State.
“This has led to people living in perpetual fear of either being kidnapped and or Killed by kidnappers suspected to be armed bandits.
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Senator Suleiman further noted that Kanji Lake National Park covers an area of about 5,341km square with deep forest vegetation.
“This park which is reserved for tourism is becoming fort-filed in harboring bandits and other forms of criminals;
The park rangers meant to man this park could no longer protect the forest reserve as they have lost control of the park to terrorists,” Suleiman noted.
The lawmaker expressed worries that people living in these communities are predominantly farmers and their means of livelihood are threatened by the activities of these criminals, as many are leaving their villages and farms to seek refuge in the towns that will soon be threatened as well if nothing is done about insecurity.
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“In fact, some communities have started paying the criminals some sort of tax to be allowed to stay safe;
The first incident occurred in year 2008 which led to the death of several local vigilante group members in an attempt to dislodge these criminals from the Kainji Lake National Park;
There is a Forward Operating Base (FOB) established immediately after the first attacks and subsequent approval for the establishment of a Military Barrack in the local government, but these attacks keep on happening with reckless abandon.
In this year 2022 alone, several cases of kidnapping were reported in villages like Nanu, Nuku, Woro, and so on with several people reported dead. Others who returned were released after the payment of millions of Naira,” he recalled.
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The Senate accordingly resolved to mandate the Committees on Defence; Finance and National Planning to jointly inter-face with the Ministry of Defence to determine the status of the establishment of an Army Barrack in Kaiama.
It also urged the military authorities to carry out a comprehensive onslaught on bandits and other criminal elements within Kainji Lake National Park, especially Kaiama, Karonzi -Yashikifa in Baruten local government, and Wawa and Babanna areas in Niger state; and
The Red Chamber further urged National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to send relief materials to victims in the affected communities.