New Telegraph

Insecurity: ISWAP’s threat to attack Lagos…

Nothing is as dangerous as power with impunity –– Isabel Allende (Chilean journalist and author)

My dear concerned readers, lest we forget, when yours truly wrote and got published the opinion essays titled: ‘The Gathering Storm!’, ‘Of Gumi, Bandits and Impunity’ both in March, 2021 and followed them up with ‘Tackling Insecurity: The Hard Way, The Only Way’, it was with the fervent hope that the current crop of politicians, constitutionally entrusted with the protection of our irreplaceable lives and precious property would live up to their matching mandate. But unfortunately, they have not! And not unexpectedly, things have gotten worse, more than ever before in our country’s chequered history. Consider the critical issues of high inflation rate, economic challenges with alarming youth unemployment, the incredible Naira-to- Dollar exchange rate at 710 (as at this day), education lockdown courtesy of the lingering ASUU strike, the aviation meltdown with huge cost of fuel.

They all stare us all right on the face and we cannot but ask ourselves if we are watching a horrifying midnight movie or these encapsulate both the ‘change’ and ‘higher level’ puerile political promises the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government promised the long-suffering Nigerians in 2015 and 2019. So pathetic the situation has become that Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed of the Northern Elders Forum expressed his concern this way: “Mr. President, please wake up and smell the coffee. This country is falling apart. It is in serious danger. And it’s happening under your watch.”

That statement was made about a year ago. Unfortunately, again that patriotic and passionate plea has not engendered the desired concern from the powers that be! It is little of a surprise therefore, that millions of peace-loving and law-abiding Nigerians woke up few days back to the fear-fuelling news item that the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of Boko Haram, is allegedly plotting massive attacks on Lagos, Kogi, Kaduna, Katsina, the Federal Capital Territory(FCT) and some other states, in conjunction with the Boko Haram. According to media reports, the piece of worrisome news came as a leaked memo from the headquarters of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, which alerted state commands to the planned attacks. But according to the NSCDC spokesman, Shola Odumosu, the memo did not originate from the security agencies. Notwithstanding that statement, security officials have been directed to keep sealed lips over it so as not to cause public panic. Following the alert, security has been beefed up in Abuja to forestall a possible attack by ISWAP and Boko Haram. This has come on the heels of the recent attack on the elite Presidential Guards Brigade by gunmen along the Bwari- Kubwa road.

There, a captain, a lieutenant and six soldiers reportedly lost their lives. In a similar proactive security measure, the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police Force have deployed troops and policemen to strategic locations across the FCT. But much more needs to be done than promised across the country to safeguard the lives of innocent and defenceless Nigerians. For now, the burning questions triggered by the audacity of the terrorists, bandits and brazen kidnappers to unleash horror on their victims remain unanswered. How would the government explain that months after the warning was given, that having laid waste several communities in Niger state, the FCT was going to be the next and yet, not much was done to prevent that from happening? If not, how come that the terrorists not too long ago laid a siege on Kuje Correctional Centre and carried out the prison break in a Gestapo style? Furthermore, how do you explain the terrible pains and anguish suffered by the victims of the Abuja- Kaduna train kidnap whose location has been inaccessible to security officers months after it took place? How come that the terrorists have formed a parallel government ordering some communities in Zamfara state to pay ransoms to get to and fro their farmlands? And yet, the kingpin of the bandits was recently turbaned by the head of one of the communities that have fallen into their widening traps? We have to ask again, how it has become easier for the bandits and terrorists to be more well-equipped and motivated than the Nigerian soldiers and policemen? In fact, the NSCDC leaked memo has indicated that Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists were reported to have acquired high-calibre weapons, including Anti-aircraft guns, General Purpose Machine Guns, among others, in preparation for an attack on Katsina State. According to media reports, the intelligence report titled, ‘Re: Heightened plots by terrorists to stage coordinated attacks in parts of the country,’ was signed by the Deputy Commandant-General in charge of Operations, DD Mungadi. It would be recalled that the SBM Security Intelligence Report had warned last year that: “The number of small arms in circulation in Nigeria, in the hands of civilian non-state actors is estimated at 6,145,000, while the armed forces and law enforcement collectively account for 586,600 firearms”. Similarly, according to the former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, who is also the Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), over 6 million illegal weapons are currently traced to civilians, many of whom are jobless, hungry and angry!

Furthermore, some 80,000 Nigerians have died in recent months with close to three million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) spread across the country, all because of growing insecurity in the country. He painted an ugly picture of the dire insecurity challenge in the country at a dialogue session of the committee with stakeholders at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja. That was about a year ago. So, with that, who is safe in Nigeria anymore?” The answer is obvious. But what is the way forward? The threat should not be taken with a pinch of salt. Our political leaders must first and foremost accept that they have failed and woefully so, in tackling the insecurity monster headlong. They have failed to curtail the fratricidal factors fuelling ethno-religious crisis and capable of tearing the very fabric of the Nigerian state into shreds.

The police should do a nationwide mop up of all arms and ammunition in the hands of nonstate actors. The president should be open to objective criticisms. There should be a declaration of a state of emergency on the insecurity challenges across the country.

The lawmakers should speed up action on the bill for state and community policing. The restructuring of the country has become an imperative. Besides, there should be mass public enlightenment so that the citizens would feel free to offer credible information to the police, to act on without much delay. The mass media should be carried along. And the powers that be should ensure that all those found culpable in sponsoring, and arming the terrorist are brought to justice to serve as a strong deterrence to others with evil minds, no matter whose ox is gored As Prof. Wole Soyinka rightly noted: “When a leader encourages the culture of impunity, the society is lost and it makes the work harder for the rest of us”.

Read Previous

Blue light exposure from phones, laptops harmful – Study

Read Next

560 Abuja residents get N11m cash transfer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular