Curious Mass Movement Of Strange Men To The South

By Casmir Igbokwe

These are not the best of times for Nigeria and the world. Coronavirus pandemic is still wreaking havoc. Some lockdown measures imposed by the government to curtail the disease have crippled businesses and social life. To worsen matters, there are suspicious mass movements of youths from the North to Southern Nigeria in clear breach of the ban on interstate travels. Ordinarily, there is freedom of movement in Nigeria. But when this movement is discreet; when human beings are packed like cargoes inside trucks from one part of the country to another, then there is serious cause for concern.

Security agents intercepted some of these trucks in some parts of the country recently. In Edo State, security operatives stopped a truckload of 84 human beings from Kaduna at Irrua on Benin-Auchi Road. They caught 26 others in Benin, the state capital. They were all escorted out of the state. A few days ago, security operatives also arrested about 60 Lagos-bound men who hid in a truck conveying cows at the Berger end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The men came from some northern states.  Some of them reportedly jumped down from the truck and ran away. But the ones arrested were denied access and turned back. These are the ones the security operatives decided to show us. Many others might have infiltrated without detection. How they were able to do that without interception is another matter entirely.

Outside the influx of the able-bodied young men, there is the disturbing trend of Almajirai also migrating in their numbers from the North to some other parts of the country. The other day, security operatives intercepted a truckload of these children at Enugu-Abia border on Enugu-Aba Expressway. In Akure, Ondo State, a truck carrying 20 of these children from Sokoto and Kano States was intercepted and sent back. In Enugu State, nine busloads of Almajirai were similarly stopped and turned back at the Enugu-Benue boundaries in Udenu, Igbo-Eze North and Nsukka Local Government Areas. In almost all cases, they hid themselves inside trucks conveying goods.

The motives for these suspicious movements remain hazy. The questions are: Who are the sponsors of these strange youths? Are they coming to the South to look for jobs, to beg for alms, or to establish businesses? Or simply to export terrorism to areas that have not known such criminality before now?

Whatever is their motive, it is obvious that there is serious tension in the South. The suspicion is rife that these migrations are not ordinary; that some terrorist groups are trying to infiltrate the South to create havoc and confusion.

Recall that the Boko Haram insurgents had made attempts in the recent past to infiltrate the South and Middle Belt. The recent exploits of the Fulani herdsmen in some parts of the country signpost the enormity of the challenges at hand. In Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Edo, Ondo and many others, they waylay travellers, rape some, kidnap some for ransom, terrorise some and kill some others. The daughter of the Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, was a prominent victim. She was killed on Benin-Ore Expressway some months ago.

The death of the woman apparently prompted the South-West governors to quickly establish Operation Amotekun. The South-East Governors Forum broached the idea of a regional security outfit. I have heard different names: Operation Ogbunigwe and all that. So far, I am not too sure what is delaying the smooth take-off of the regional security outfit.

My worry is that the Federal Government does not appear to realise the enormity of the threats facing us as a nation. The security agencies also appear not well prepared to ward off any invasion of any part of Nigeria.

Simply put, there is danger. The ease with which these strange movements to the South occur even with massive roadblocks is worrisome. Security agents appear to have been compromised. This has serious security implications. It means if terrorists could pay the right price, they would be allowed to enter anywhere. If these strange movements ever snowball into attacks, the consequences will be disastrous.

When herdsmen were killing people like chickens, the government had no strong answer to it. President Muhammadu Buhari would always tell us that his government was equal to the task. At the end of the day, nothing much would be done. Rather, it was the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) whose major weapon was a flag that was harassed, intimidated and proscribed.

From the look of things, waiting for the governors to take action may end up being a long wait for Godot. Different communities in the South-East and South-South should begin to strategise on possible responses to any security challenge that may arise. Besides, the task of policing the state borders should not be left to the police alone. Traditional rulers of interstate boundary communities should ensure that vigilance groups in their communities also help out.

Truck owners should monitor what their trucks are being used for and where they are going. They should educate their drivers on the dangers inherent in flouting the ban on interstate movement.

Above all, the Federal Government should move fast to halt this looming danger. It should prosecute security operatives manning the borders between states for gross negligence. South-East and South-South governors, particularly, should also wake up. They should emulate their South-West counterparts and set up security outfits that will counter any invasion from any strange quarters.

Re: Fireworks over Oyedepo’s missed target

Casmir, I feel sad that you dragged yourself into this controversy. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing: and with all thy getting get understanding.” On the whole, what do you get by courting controversy? The earlier you allowed this to die the better for you. With all my broad mindedness, I feel that you don’t have sufficient Christian, religious and spiritual experience to dabble into this. Look at the ignorant, responses you attracted. My getting interested is because you are one of us. Religion is between one and one’s God. To offer a podium for puerile commentaries is unfortunate.

–  Dr. E.O. Sibeudu, 

My brother, Cassy, as a servant of Jesus, Papa Oyedepo is truly concerned about the flock of Christ, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer. See Acts 20:28. Closing churches for such a long time makes it difficult for the real servants of Jesus to perform this duty and from this perspective you will understand his call for opening of the churches. “Your argument gives away a Christian without deep root.” This statement by Mr. Ralph Egbu rightly describes your type of Christianity. Biblical injunctions to obey civil authorities apply when such injunctions are in line with teaching and practices of their faith. See Daniel 3:18. To be anointed means to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and Jesus is the Baptiser in the Holy Spirit after you have received Him as Lord and Saviour. See Acts 1:8. Christian religion and human reasoning cannot go together, see Isaiah 55:8-9. God’s way is the way of the Christian religion and you can read also 1 Corinthians 2:14

  Anaeli I.C.,

The issue of your piece is as intriguing as its attendant debate. Naturally, what’s on the mind of a typical Nigerian pastor is the amount of money lost via the shutdown of churches, which constitute the bases of the pastors’ upkeep and related matters. Hence, the resultant conflict between their economic survival and observance of COVID-19 guidelines. And in the same vein, out of the worry about when, where and how the next meal graces the table of the poor and underprivileged Nigerians who make up the more than 70 per cent of the self-employed populace, they are forced to defy the order of a confused and insincere government that has been overwhelmed by this unfortunate emergency occasioned by the fear of the unseen enemy. Blame not these churches – including the Oyedepos – that want their doors thrown open for activities, even if their complaints are under the guise of any fallacious argument.

 – Edet Essien, Esq. +2348037952470

Dear Casmir, it’s time we established an agency against fake ministration, just as there are on fake drugs and substandard technology products. One cannot claim being anointed whereas he or she violates morality in the course of ministry. Anything rape, greed, extortion, rituals, undue defiance, etc, are against the law of God and country.

– Cletus Frenchman, Enugu, +2349095385215

Why all this hullaballoo about your last article? Are men of God exempted from criticism? Are they infallible? Does it mean that whatsover they say/tell us is the voice of God? People should not arrogate power of God to men of God because, according to Karl Marx, man makes religion, religion does not make man, and it is the opium of the people. The verbal attack is inconsequential. Everybody should take coronavirus very seriously, please.

–  Smart, Abakaliki, 08134774884

Casmir, why all this hullabaloo by some over pastor Oyedepo missing it? He is not infallible. He is a “man of God” and “not God of man”. As a teacher of the word in a Pentecostal church, I am unfazed by Bible quotes that another deploys to intimidate one into careless submission to their whims and caprices. We should not be dogmatic in this regard. Quoting Bible is also my favourite pastime. I miss service and the attendees but not at the detriment of my health/life. The scripture says wisdom is profitable to direct. Jesus applied different methods in solving people’s challenges. We should not place a heavy burden on faith for what wisdom, patience/great perseverance would ultimately solve. After all, we were taught to exhibit “the fruit of the spirit” of which perseverance/longsuffering is a member. Why are some of our senior pastors that should mentor us now foot-dragging? Is it now a matter of do as I say and not as I do?

– Mike, Mushin, +2348161114572

  • Also published in the Daily Sun of Monday, May 25, 2020

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