‘Bandits’ downing of NAF fighter jet a declaration of war —Jonathan Ishaku


Photo: Jonathan Ishaku

Nigerian veteran journalist, Jonathan Ishaku, has raised alarm over last Sunday’s downing of a Nigerian Air Force Alpha Jet in Zamfara State by so-called bandits in the country, saying that it could be tantamount to a subtle declaration of civil war.

Ishaku, a respected and celebrated columnist, who has been the editor of many tabloids in the country and current chairman of the editorial board of The Independent newspapers, stated this on Tuesday on his Facebook page.

He said that It is not ordinary for bandits to take out an Alpha fighter jet from the sky, stressing that bandits are criminals who should scamper to safety upon hearing the sound of a fighter jet. He said for them to have the audacity to stand their grounds and dare to shoot a fighter jet implies that they are contesting territory with a sovereign state like Nigeria, and no more ordinary bandits.

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According to him, the Correlates of War (COW) fixes the dataset for a full blown war at 1,000 deaths per year through conflict, adding that the COW casualty figure is already far past in the North West.

“These armed men in the North West, are they really bandits as the Federal Government says they are? If rather than scurry for safety as criminals are won’t to do,  they stand their grounds and dare shoot a fighter jet,  aren’t they contesting territory with the Sovereign State?

“In short,  aren’t we in the throes of a civil war? Correlates of war (COW) fixes the dataset for a full blown war at 1,000 deaths per year through conflict. This dataset is far past in the North-West.

“In 2019, Govt admits 1400 casualties in seven months (Premium Times). KDSG last year admits 937 killed in 2020 in the state alone. In the first three months of this year,  Kaduna State again recorded 323 fatalities (By the way,  KDSG maintains a meticulous record on these attacks).

“The high fatality of these attacks is, for example, illustrated by a weekend attack in Kaduna and Kebbi States in early June 2021 alone which led to 93 deaths.

“Apart from meeting the criteria on  casualty,  the weapons of aggression deployed by these non-state actors, which is often on full display in videos they choose to share publicly, is beyond what is required for criminal activities!” Ishaku said.

The veteran journalist who is also the author of many books on insurgency and terrorism conflicts, expressed the fear that another indication that the aggressors are up to something beyond crime is the intensification of kidnapping for ransom (KfR) activities, adding that the link between KfR and insurgency is well documented in the academic literature of conflict studies.

He argued that the prevailing rampant cases of kidnapping for ransom strongly suggests that the  promoters of “war” may be raising funds for a more grandiose action than are presently witnessing.

“The proof of this is that we aren’t seeing the ransom money back in the market. No suspicious estates are springing up or bizarre and conspicuous purchases taking place in the northern urban centers as a trail. So where are these humongous monies taken to? More weapons purchase, recruitment,  training and logistics, of course!

“The National Assembly should wake up to its responsibility and set up a high powered body to investigate these attacks more thoroughly. It is not ordinary for bandits to take out Alpha fighter jets from the sky. A national Armed Forces should have its pride of place.

“All the celebrations  we had this week over the delivery of the Tucano fighter jets to the Nigerian Air force will be empty if ordinary bandits can take them out!” He added.

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