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Soyinka laments insecurity, says Nigeria’s sovereignty taken over by armed groups

Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka has condemned the insecurity across Nigeria, saying the nation’s sovereignty has been taken over by armed groups.

He also said President Muhammadu Buhari needs to do more to stop Boko Haram terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements who threaten Nigeria’s security.

Mr Soyinka said these during an interview on Arise Television programme on Saturday.

“From a self-protective point of view, it is a common problem (insecurity); it is a national, collective issue. Don’t just sit there and think that you can solve it from Aso Rock, no. This now concerns even the lowest common citizens in this nation because that lowest, that most impotent individual has become a prime target. So, it’s a collective issue.

“Instead of that, what do I hear? Somebody gets on the podium and say, ‘The sovereignty of this nation cannot be challenged.’ Please, don’t let us hear any more of that rubbish. The sovereignty of this nation is in the hands of the murdering herdsmen. The sovereignty of this nation has already been taken over by Boko Haram, it’s been taken over by ISWAP, it’s been taken over by those with absolutely no respect for what is called national integrity,” he said.

It was reported about several cases of insecurity across Nigeria with killings and kidnappings now common.

Apart from the activities of the terrorist group Boko Haram in the Northeast, armed bandits routinely attack communities in Northwest Nigeria, killing and kidnapping residents.

Kidnapping for ransom and attacks by armed herdsmen is also commonplace in many other parts of Nigeria.

In many cases, government officials engage in negotiations with the bandits and kidnappers, sometimes leading to the payment of ransom.

Mr Soyinka, in the interview, frowned at making payments to armed groups.

He said it is unreasonable for leaders “to pay protection money to killers instead of dealing with that cancer in the only way which they should which, is excision, to take out killers instead of giving them money. You don’t appease evil and we are dealing with evil; there is no other word, we are dealing with the proliferation, the enthronement of evil in the society. And unfortunately, we have encouraged its manifestation, its proliferation, its entrenchment.”

He also declared support for the call by some Nigerians including the Borno State governor for the government to hire foreign mercenaries to help battle Boko Haram.

“I’m not surprised some governors now say let us reach outside help; it’s something I have said also. I don’t say mercenaries necessarily, but this has gone beyond a Nigerian problem.

“So, let them get away with the issue of sovereignty. If they have to pay people to come and help us, then call them whatever you want. Please go ahead because we’ve reached that stage of desperation,” he said.

Speaking further, Mr Soyinka said the president appointed wrong people into offices, a claim that has often been made by Nigerians on social media and has on several occasions led to the call on Mr Buhari to sack all service chiefs.

“There are those on whose shoulders must be placed the primary responsibility and that include some former Heads of State who refused to see the inevitability of what we are going through right now.

“I am very glad that the northern elite is now speaking up, boldly and practically now taking measures which they should have taken years ago. They’ve moved beyond the unbelievable policies of actually paying killers to stop killing.”

“I have told them that anytime they want us to come and assist; we will come even if it is just on the ethical session so that as you are training them to defend us, we are also training their minds so that Amotekun does not become another SARS. We must do everything together.”