My heart goes to the families of our gallant security officers and innocent Nigerians who died from various terrorist attacks launched recently across the nation. May their souls rest in peace. May the Lord grant their families the fortitude to bear the losses and their memories be a blessing.
I have never doubted the true worth of our security forces, but I am at a loss as to how a repeat of the pre-2015 election bombings can ever repeat itself in the nation’s capital. I say this because one of the silverwares of this administration is that the nation’s capital has been peaceful until Tuesday night. The reassurances of hope over despair from those who should know tend to have collapsed in our faces, and I wonder what would happen next after Kuje correctional attack and the attack on the advance convoy of our number one citizen. I think the Federal Government declared victory over Boko Haram or ISWAP too early.
Leadership is not like peace and light. It is challenging and sometimes despairing. I am sure many of the Ministers and Heads of the Military apparatus are praying for 2023 to be tomorrow. These are times when the night is usually too long and look like thirty-six hours. That is why I also empathize with the president of the Federal Republic.
I see our leaders trying to give hope in a state of hopelessness. I can see leaders shouting that there is a lifting up when the people are downcast and pained. I can see leaders who look like stress pacifiers and sponges trying to soak up the emotional burdens of anxieties of the citizens who thought things should have been better. I can see leaders trying to give hope and constantly reassuring the people that there is a better tomorrow. But sometimes, our words of reassurance become a heavy burden, and people lose hope because they see only despair and hopelessness.
President Muhammad Buhari, in December 2015, in a BBC interview, reassured Nigerians that “Boko Haram has been technically defeated and reduced to fighting with improvised explosives devices (IED) and remained a force only in its heartland of Borno state,”
In contrast, insecurity perpetuated by terrorists is no longer just a force in the heartland of Borno. They are active in Zamfara, Kaduna, Benue, Niger States, etc. A reminder of their dispersals in the form of mutated terror viruses relive their trademarks in the Kaduna train disaster, in which many Nigerians of mixed tribes and religions are still in captivity, more than a hundred days after the attack. Other recent terror attacks include the Shiroro killings, which President Buhari himself described as an attack on Nigeria, and the slaughter of over fifty people at the Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State. There are also sad reminders in the killings of Reverend Fathers Luke Adeleke in Ogun State, Vitus Borogo, in Kujama, along Kaduna-Kachia Road, Christopher Odia, an Edo State. To rub salt on our injuries, these criminals had the guts to attack the advanced team of Mr. President and operated in Kuje successfully and left trails of blood, tears, sorrow, and anger.
Lai Mohammed, in January 2021, was quoted by several online media saying, “I can say without hesitation that, though Nigeria is facing security challenges, the situation is far better than what we met in 2015.” In 2015, terrorists’ activities were confined mainly to the North East. But today, almost all the states of Nigeria are in the eyes of the terror storm.
A few days ago, the Guardian reported that three coordinated terror attacks took place in Katsina, the home state of Mr. President, on the same day. The first attack occurred in Zakka forest, Safana council area, which claimed the life of a high-ranking police officer and three others. The second attack was launched at President Muhammadu Buhari’s advance team’s convoy on the Dutsinma-Yantumaki road. Two persons were said to have been killed in that incident. The third attack allegedly occurred at Kwanar Dutse village, Dutsinma, where a whole community was sacked and three people were killed. How did they carry out the coordinated attacks in one day without catching any of them?
The Punch and other newspapers also quoted the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, to have said in February 2022. “There is no local government area in Nigeria under the control of Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists.” If the terrorists did not have a haven anywhere in Nigeria, how come they quickly launch attacks, disappear, and are never caught? Are they spirits? Were the attacks at Owo, Shiroro, and Kuje launched from Chad or the Niger Republic?
Is there anything that can be done to avert future occurrences? Yes!
1. Have CCTV cameras installed in all correctional Centers and linked to a central control point where operators can pick up the minutest movements in and around those facilities
2. Though I am one that has been circumspect over the state police, I think we must accept that we need it now to complement the efforts of the Federal police.
3. Recruit more Nigerians into the police force, get the officers motivated, and train and retrain them in line with current realities and modern interventions for dealing with terror.
4. The Judiciary and all stakeholders must ensure that awaiting trial cases are dispensed without delay.
5. Consequence management must now take the front burner in which every segment of the security system has to be held accountable for the failure in operational procedures. Leaders must be held to account in their areas of control.
6. Citizens must play active roles in information gathering and dissemination. There is no way an operation like the Kuje correctional center attack would be successful without weeks of surveillance by the terrorists. We must learn to identify strange elements coming into communities.
7. Fortify all correctional centers countrywide.
I worry that we are not united enough to deal with our differences more cohesively. The political season is not also helping matters. I hope we all know that not working together to do our little bits at different corners will likely create more avenues for terror to fester. If we refuse to work together, we do not know where who and when next. May we not be victims of the concerning waves of attack. Amen.
Grace and peace!!!