Insecurity has taken hold of the land, the various security agencies seem helpless. From North, West, South and East, the situation is tense, fear is the order of the day. TAIWO JIMOH takes a deeper look at the situation and suggests the way forward.
Worrying level of criminality
Nigeria, globally known as a peaceful country where citizens and foreigners move freely from one state to the other without fear of being kidnapped or killed, despite its diversity, is today facing serious security challenges, that seems to have reversed the old order. Many now seriously consider travelling out of the country to escape the carnage, and some have already left. They are worried about the level of insecurity of their lives and properties coupled with poor economy and corruption. The insecurity in Nigeria is growing out of proportion every day.
The nation’s state of unrest can be likened to an abattoir where human blood is being spilled by terrorist, bandits, kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers on a daily basis. The havoc being wreaked by these rebellious individuals or groups could lead the country to what happened in Uganda or Somalia if drastic steps are not taken. Sad enough, the current state of insecurity is being backed with corruption in every sector. An average Nigerian lives in abject poverty, which has forced some youths to go into Internet fraud, money rituals, kidnapping, robbery and banditry in order to make a living. It is also a known fact that inactive and corruptible leaders have contributed much to the escalation of social vices in the nation, especially in the aspect of insecurity of lives and properties.
Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has made more orphans, widows, house owners homeless and widowers through their callous bombings and killings of innocent citizens and destruction of properties and farm produce. Due to the reckless and gruesome killings in the North and the damage to properties, many Northerners have fled their homes to take refuge in IDP camps in other parts of the country like Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and other states. Some have also travelled to the Eastern states to look for means of survival.
It was reported that some are also in Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroon where they ran to for safety and fear of being killed by the terrorists. Some have even refused to return to their home states, because of the peace they enjoy in the places where they took refuge. Even in the Eastern states, security is not assured, as lately gunmen popularly known as unknown gunmen have held the region by the jugular, attacking police stations and killing security men and other innocent citizens at will. The situation in the region has gotten so bad that the weekend in the East has been extended to Mondays as none state actors like the Indigenous People of Biafra have declared Mondays a work free day. Despite efforts of governments in the various states to ensure that the Monday no work day fails, it has largely succeeded, to the extent that in some states, even police stations close on such days, due to the capacity of the none state actors to enforce the order.
Youths gradually finding solace in crime Many youths now see kidnapping as lucrative business.
Many of them have abandoned their businesses to embrace kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry for survival. The herdsmen are also terrorising farmers in the Northern part of the country with cows eating up farmers’ crops without apology which have led to many confrontation and subsequent loss of lives in various parts of the country. It will be recalled that on November 28, 2020, a total of 43 rice farmers were killed by insurgents at Koshebe village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State. The rice farmers were killed in their farms when they went to harvest rice on their farms. The incident was said to be part of the unrelenting killing of farmers in the North by Boko Haram insurgents, who had been campaigning for a strict Islamic code since 2009, leading an insurgency that have taken hundreds of lives and displaced thousands of residents. Recently, on March 27, passengers travelling from Abuja to Kaduna through rail were ambushed and abducted by some bandits. Some of the passengers were killed, 26 wounded and about 300 passengers abducted. The other passengers were held back. The bandits refused to accept monetary ransom as they threatened to kill all the abducted passengers if the Federal Government refused to free their members in custody.
Meanwhile, on April 27, 2022, one of the kidnapped victims, a pregnant woman gave birth through the help of a doctor also abducted by the bandits. Also, on July 25, the bandits released four amongst the victims, but it was reported that N100m ransom was collected by the bandits.
How schools became targets
Those who have also suffered from the deadly attacks of bandits are students and schools which are now deadly places for students in the Northern part of the country. In Katsina, Kaduna, Zamfara and many other states, many schools are shut. On December 11, 2020, some suspected bandits invaded Katsina State and abducted 344 boys in school at Kankara Town,but were later rescued by the military. After the rescue of the students, the bandits went to Niger State where at least 136 pupils of the Salihu Yanko Islamiyya School in Tegina, were abducted, they spent three months in the hands of their abductors.
As a result of that and for the fear of having their children kidnapped, parents now prefer their wards at home rather than at the school. in the South West and South Eastern part of the country in order to prevent breakdown of law and order, with the tensed security threats across the country, different security groups sprouts up, the likes of Amotekun in South West and Ebubeagu in the South East, while some civilian joint taskforce are also assisting the military in the fight against bandits and terrorist in the Northern part of the country.
The Federal Government appears to be helpless as the bandits and other assorted brands of criminal gangs now dictate the pace of things in the country. While, unknown gunmen controls the South East, kidnapping, cultism, armed robbery have also taken charge of the South West, just as the Northern part of the country is battling with the terrorists, bandits and herdsmen. Unfortunately, Nigeria have sunk to the point that criminal gangs abduct Nigerians at will, and take them into the bushes, while Nigeria’s combined security forces, including the military are not able to do much in an age of technology where other countries deploy drones to do a lot of things.
The IGP deploy men for strategic patrol
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, in order to prevent breakdown of law and order has ordered the deployment of water-tight security arrangement to cover all schools, hospitals, health institutions, and critical national infrastructures around the country. The IGP has equally ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids, and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality recorded in some states of the federation. Baba gave the directive while reviewing the general security situation of the nation via reports from commands and formations across the country.
The IGP has however tasked strategic police managers at various levels to prioritise the use of intelligence gathering networks, particularly traditional/local intelligence to locate criminal hideouts and flush them out before they strike. He equally charged all officers and men to be on the offensive, and take the fight against crime to the doorposts of suspected criminal elements, including bushes and uncompleted buildings, profile them, and charge those found wanting to courts accordingly.
Against the backdrop of this development, the IGP urged Nigerians to cooperate with the Police as many police operatives will be seen at strategic areas, routes and communities, in order to suppress the antics and criminal activities of men of the underworld.
He however warned officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force to be civil, professional and humane in the course of discharging their duties. The police boss has therefore reiterated his commitment to the protection of lives and property of well-meaning members of the public by decimating the activities of criminal elements, particularly those who target schools, hospitals in a bid to strike fear into the hearts of good citizens in the country. He has similarly charged police officers to protect with courage and serve with compassion in line with his administration’s policing theme.
Criminals getting more emboldened
While security operatives were still thinking of strategies to deal with the burgeoning security challenge, in quick succession, there were unprecedented attacks on the hitherto unbreakable Kuje Prison, Guard Brigade, Army Check point in Abuja, while the presidential Advance Team was also attacked in Katsina State. In a brazen show of confidence, suspected terrorists in a video, which went viral on social media claimed responsibility for some of the attacks in the nation’s Federal Capital Territory and further threatened to kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari and the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai. The terrorists also threatened to attack Lagos.
Experts view of development
Some security experts have described these attacks as grave and worrisome, adding that the indication is that no part of the country is safe if terrorists can be so bold to attack the nation’s capital as well as the President’s guard. Seasoned security expert and writer, Folorunsho Attah, said that the country was in a war and that it calls for serious concern. He also raised the alarm that with the situation on ground, ‘anyone can be a victim.’
The security expert said: “I think the security situation in the country calls for concern as it appears we are at war with terrorists and bandits. Any ‘war’ between criminals and law abiding citizens is always dangerous. This is why anyone could be a victim. “The implication of the attacks on government facilities or centres such as the Kuje Prison and the attack on a police AIG that resulted to the killing of his aide is an indication that no one is safe.
If the one who should protect others can’t even protect himself, what do you expect. The threat by the bandits to kidnap the president and other top government functionaries should not be treated with levity or kid gloves. “ Atta also stated that: “The recent acts of the bandits via the Kuje Prison attack and the AIG and his convoy shows that not even foreign embassies are safe as they could be attacked too.
When this attacks spread to embassies of other nations in the country, we will pay for the consequences, both economically, socially and politically.” The security expert raised the alarm over next year’s elections: “My fear is that 2023 general elections may be marred by this ugly trend if not properly handled by our security agencies. The Federal Government should as a matter of priority overhaul our security agencies. More funds, logistics provisions must be at the disposal of the agencies.
“The other time the government gave out 200 patrol vehicles to the police. This figure will do only for the patrol of Abuja-Kaduna Expressway. What of other states where banditry, terrorism hold sway? I think giving 200 vehicles to the Force to combat banditry, terrorism and other related crimes in an oil rich nation is a slap on the psyche and mentality of the people. The government must really wake up from its slumber security wise.” Another security analyst, Ebere Francis, on her own said: “The insecurity in Nigeria has reached the stage where terrorists are holding us by the jugular and we can no longer breathe. It’s a tragic situation and many of us have become desperate and worried. In the last few weeks, the advance team to Daura was attacked, Kuje Prison was also attacked and the Brigade of Guards was also attacked.
“These attacks are not random, they are calculated and intentional, to show that the terrorists can attack anyone and anywhere. These attacks also show that the danger is getting closer home to everyone. Nobody is safe.” She also noted that: “We should not take the threat of kidnapping the President and El Rufai as an idle market women tale. It’s going to happen unless something happens, like our security forces synergising against a common enemy. Perhaps our greatest challenge, threat and reality, is the realisation that these terrorists are among our security forces and politicians. They are informants, undermining the strategies of the genuine security forces.
“The implication now is that we need desperate solutions and measures. We can no longer sleep with our eyes closed. Mere anarchy will be loosen up on Nigeria and Nigerians and will no longer be localised as was the norm.” On the way forward, she said: “We need a leader who will stop treating issues of terrorism as child’s play and ensure prosecution and life penalty. A leader who will see forgiveness of terrorists and terrorism as a sin. More importantly, let’s all become prayer mantis, more on our knees than legs. Right now, we need divine intervention more than ever because is in a mess, a recipe for civil war and coup.”
Top security practitioner, Frank Oshanugor, told our correspondent that the attacks on Kuje Correctional facilities, Brigade of Guards and Army check points in Abuja were sad indicators that Nigeria’s security system under President Muhammadu Buhari as Commander-In-Chief has failed woefully.
He said: “The attacks which came after some intelligence reports had reportedly been made available to the presidency by DSS seems to suggest that President Buhari is sympathetic to the terrorists. Revelations from security quarters at the national level showed that President Buhari could be privy to the attacks, but chose to look elsewhere, otherwise why would he not act on the intelligence report submitted by the security agencies, particularly DSS. “It is a big shame that Kuje Correctional facilities could be under attack for about three hours during which about 800 inmates were set free by the attackers.
Why were the military personnel who were guiding the correctional centre redeployed less than three days before the attack? “Even during the attack, why did it take about three hours for the terrorists to act freely with little or no counter attack from the military and other security agents.” Oshanugor also stated that “President Buhari may want to provide enough alibi exonerating himself from being complicit in the attacks, the fact that the terrorists and bandits could dare Nigeria’s security forces by staging the recent attacks was a complete sign of weakness on the part of our leadership. No serious government would allow the sovereignty of its country to be threatened in a manner akin to what is currently happening in Nigeria.
“The recent attack on an Assistant Inspector General of Police and killing of his driver also speaks volumes of Nigeria’s state of hopelessness, security speaking. If a top rate police officer of AIG status could be brazenly attacked by bandits, it then means that the ordinary man on the street is living by the grace of God. “The solution to all these is by enthroning a people oriented government. Nigeria now needs a leadership that has the capacity to provide employment, reduce cost of governance, unite Nigerians irrespective of religious or ethnic coloration and so on.
“The choice of who becomes Nigeria’s President in 2023 should be based on competence, physical and emotional fitness, less ostentatious in life style, reduction in cost of governance, massive funding of education at all levels etc.” Mr. Dennis Amachre, a former Assistant Director, Department of State Services, said the successful attack on the Kuje Correctional Center has emboldened the terrorists to be issuing threats and raising the level of tension and fear in the society. However, he said the security forces in Lagos and other parts of the country should be on high alert and should sustain it. The whole of society approach is necessary where all hands should be on deck to fight this menace.
“See or hear something, tell it to the security agencies.” He added that, to deflate this escalating ego of the terrorists, the Federal Government should take the fight to the terrorists. Let them feel a devastating blow that should keep them on the run. Till when these will last is what no one could predict. Hopefully, soon, Nigeria will be free from its insecurity and shall jubilate for freedom from Boko Haram, bandits, killer herdsmen and other rebellious gangs that keep provoking her tears.