Nigeria security woes grow from monumental to colossal
DESPITE spirited efforts of security agencies to curb criminality in the country, insecurity continues to pose big challenge to socio-economic harmony and growth in Nigeria.
Security issues in the last 10 years come in multi- dimensional form that calls for advanced peculiar approach, given the history and convolutions contained in its trails and operations.
Perhaps, the biggest folly is to assume that security challenge is a universal issue which Nigeria should not be singled out for circumspection. Fact remains that security situation in some other climes could be as humongous as that of Nigeria if not more but the centrality of Nigeria in global affairs as one of the supposed leading economies in Africa makes every narrative of her security development a global concern. Again, the positive response which other climes invest in bringing their own situation under control within meaningful time places them on edge over Nigeria’s situation.
From electoral thuggery to youth restiveness and pipeline vandalism predominantly in Niger delta, kidnaping in the southeast, abduction in the north and ultimately widespread insurgency bearing the tag, Boko-Haram and dovetailing into full scale terrorism, the last decade had indeed seen Nigeria pass through the crucibles in her nationhood history. Armed robbery incidents which used to be the greatest threat to security became a lesser evil as terror herdsmen besieged some parts of the country, especially, the north central axis, unleashing terror in a neo savage design to render all known menace in the past mere prelude to evolving tough era.
When explosive device was detonated near the Eagle square, Abuja, during an Independence Day celebration, under ex-President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration, the signal became clearer what was to come if proactive measure was not taken to stop the harbingers of evil on their track. Efforts were made by the country’s security agencies to bring the culprits to book but probably not much to deter further intending perpetrators from toeing similar lines.
The near absent harsh deterrent measure spurred renewed courage and the next target was the United Nation’s building in the heart of the country’s capital, Abuja. Gradually, the spate began to spread and on April 14, 2014, as many as 112 school girls in Chibok town, Bornu State were kidnaped. Book-Haram sect claimed responsibility and before the euphoria could die down, series of bomb blasts rocked different parts of the northeast, including market places, churches as well as other public centres with Boko-Haram claiming responsibility and getting away with the law at some points.
In the Boko-Haram siege, not less than three states mainly from the north fell into their net. Bornu, Adamawa, Yobe states were all overran and had not recovered from their constant attacks, while their governors and political leaders engage in double-speaks that never helped in the country’s bid to tighten the noose over the terrorists’ necks. Authorities put death toll from Boko-Haram insurgency in the past few years at 11, 471 but observers believe the statistics is inaccurate as they estimate scores much higher than is peddled. For any group to cease any territorial part of the federal entity either by declaration or action, such acts amounts to treason. Such is the gross violations these terrorists have engaged in; daring the might of the military deployed to intervene in the insurgency.
To mention the volume of property destroyed in the process when lives were freely wasted may amount to struggling to save the nose when the neck has been cut off. But for Nigeria to rebuild and recover from what had been destroyed, even a decade would not be enough.
Like a television drama, the acts were performed while the police stood at a distance. Nigeria may not be the only country with compromised police force, else what would one say of Israel in all her security might but could not stop the assassination of her Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in cold blood on a fateful Saturday, November 4, 1995, after attending a peace rally in Tel Aviv, the old Israeli capital.
His assailant, Yigal Amir, 27 years old and founder of illegal Jewish settlement on the West Bank and a member of an extreme right-wing organisation did not deny charges of murder, having been overpowered and arrested by the same Israeli police after the damage had been done. The biggest intrigue was that the rally where the PM was assassinated had over 100,000 Israelis in attendance with water-tight security that compromised their operations and looked the other way while opposing forces to peace deal from the same right-wing was carrying out protests so close to the PM. The result was three close range shots at the prime minister that sent him to his early grave, while Israel and the rest of the world were left to mourn the peace ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin.
According to a security analyst, Fabian Ozor, “Nigeria’s security reports may not have taken a very ugly detour if the security agencies were alive to their responsibilities.’ Principal amongst these under achieving agencies is the Police.”
In recent Nigerian history, herdsmen menace has added a new twist to the spreading terrorism in the land. The incidence that left scores of Agatu men and women in Benue State massacred by rampaging herdsmen in 2017, defined a country with practically misfit police, incapable of dealing with rancorous situation. A further inability of the Police and her allied agencies to track the evil perpetrators and bring them to book, emboldened the marauders to take advanced steps in their conquest quest. Today, Yobe, Taraba, Plateau States have joined in the league of states in Nigeria where reports of killing, arson and banditry have become a regular story.
Before now, armed robbery used to be the most dreaded factor in the society, especially on highways but that has changed, as herdsmen have taken the acts down to the forests, roads and communities.
From Kwara State down to Kogi in the middle belt of Nigeria, a catalogue of attacks had been recorded. This had taken scores of innocent citizen’s lives, including prominent and non-prominent ones in the society.From Kaduna to Suleja, down to Markurdi, Auchi and Okene, it had been barrage of attacks on citizens either embarking on journeys through the road or walleyed right in their homestead.
It would be recalled that even a former Chief of Army Staff, Rtd. General Alex Badeh lost his life in a very bizarre circumstance, while returning from a visit to his farm. If a former army chief could be so wasted, who can be spared? Can anybody still say, it is not bad? Nigeria is not in any war situation but ‘Internally Displaced People’, caught in manmade conflicts than natural disasters such as famine, flood, hurricane and the likes run into several thousands. What is lacking in the country’s security system that has stoked this ember much?
When United States of America listed 21 states in Nigeria as security-threat areas a few months ago in their website, warning their citizens to desist from travels to such areas; concerned Nigerians did not take it with a pinch of salt, while the rest of the world watched with more curiosity, the bearing of such development. But did anybody have reason to refute the report or confront America for damaging report? Fact is sacred and any attempt to subvert truth can only expose further prevailing falsehood in a system.
Like the Israeli police, her Nigerian counterpart can be said to posses high level of training and brilliance. They (Nigerian Police) can be very professional in operation when they are out to do thorough job.
Surprisingly, this level of atrocities is being carried out right under their nose, while they provide no clear solution to assert their professionalism. In the invasion of Nimbo, a community in Enugu State by alleged Fulani herdsmen in 2017, expectations were that those behind the dastardly act against a peaceful agrarian community should be apprehended and tried in accordance with the law. Not much encouraging story was made available to the public domain on their capture and trial.
The same goes with herdsmen activities in the flashpoint areas of Benue, Taraba, Kwara States and others.
Then comes the question, when will the Nigerian Police Force be one that should be both feared and respected for their professionalism and astuteness?
The deployment of the army in nearly every civilian conflict as that of communal clashes between herdsmen and farmers in a community is already divesting the country’s apex security organisation – the army of valued honours before the public.
Reports of killing of military personnel on intervention duties by rag-tag insurgents or even sophisticated arms bearing Boko-Haram terrorists in some flashpoints is not doing any good to the reputation of the country’s army.
Recruitment of more police personnel as embarked on, by the government in recent time is apt but beyond that, the existing Nigerian Police Force must brace-up to take responsibility of their charge and save the nation further embarrassments of insecurity.
No economy has been noted for unprecedented growth or reputed for record development under prevalent insecurity; Nigeria cannot afford any attempt to climb a mountain from the top.