Kano and Kaduna residents have called for the “open trial” of traditional and religious leaders accused of colluding with bandits and other criminals.
Responding to a survey on the issue, they said that considering the esteemed position of the leaders and the ‘weighty’ nature of the allegations, transparency ought to be displayed.
According to them, keeping “mute” on such matters after names have been mentioned and leaders dethroned from positions held portends danger.
“If allegations are confirmed, people have the right to know, through open trial, the ‘devil’ they had as their leader,” said a resident who did not want his name mentioned. “If allegations were baseless, the alleged culprit deserves to be cleared in the open, in the interest of justice and fairness, especially considering his or her esteemed integrity.”
John Hayab, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kaduna, said in handling matters of security, the issue of respect for culprits, be he religious or traditional ruler, should not arise.
Mr Hayab said leaders found culpable had betrayed God and individuals and should be prosecuted.
“Constitution of our country does not have immunity for anyone who is a threat to national security; therefore, our laws should make him pay for his action,” he added.
Mr Hayab, however, said allegations of complicity against some traditional and religious leaders in some states should be treated with honesty and caution. According to him, sometimes, there are a lot of accusations and counter-accusations that can not be substantiated.
“Some traditional and religious leaders are only being accused because they refused to play along with the powers that be; politics play a prominent role in some of these issues,” he cautioned.
Yusuf Bida, acting administrative secretary of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) National Headquarters in Kaduna, said with happenings in some states, traditional leaders had to be dethroned over alleged security breaches and complicity.
Mr Bida, however, said thorough investigations were needed to unearth the truth, adding that it was a misnomer for a traditional or religious leader to aid, instead of abate, unwholesome activities.
In Kano, Ibrahim Abdullah, spokesman for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state, said the alleged complicity of some traditional and religious leaders in insecurity matters was worrisome.
“They should always be engaged and incorporated in finding a lasting solution to our security challenges, including saddling them with a constitutional responsibility,” said the civil defence spokesman. “Society still sees traditional and religious leaders as custodians of culture and morality; they must strive to retain this golden respect passed on to them by generations.”
A traditional leader in Kano, Adam Ibrahim, said traditional rulers had much to contribute to checking security challenges but under an atmosphere of collaboration.
“If government bodies will collaborate with traditional leaders, security challenges would become a thing of the past”, he said.
A community leader in Kano, Golly Tarosi, said some traditional and religious leaders might be accomplices to insecurity bedevilling their communities, calling for close monitoring and the reintroduction of tax collection by community leaders as practised in the past.
“This will help traditional rulers know every member of the community, thereby assisting in securing their communities as no foreigner will arrive without their knowledge,” said Mr Tarosi.
Another Kano resident, Halifa Sadam, said the security situation is improving considering the decline in kidnapping, phone snatching and other criminal activities.
Mr Sadam, a religious leader, said it was alleged traditional leaders are complicit in the security breaches.
“This allegation, if it can be proved, is enough for the government to take appropriate actions against them. If the allegation continues and nothing is done, others will also try to follow suit to derive benefits being enjoyed by those supporting illegality,” Mr Sadam explained.
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