The question on many lips since the first bomb explosion in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, in 2011, has been “Is the FCT no longer safe? At the time, security buildings like the army cantoment, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Nyanya motor park, a church in Kubwa, United Nations headquaters in Abuja and the Madala church bombing all destabilized activities in the federal capital. Buildings were destroyed and vehicles were burnt, while a number of residents died in various bombing incidents. Fear gripped residents.
Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria, in the middle of the country. The skyline of the city, which was built largely in the 1980s, is dominated by Aso Rock, an enormous monolith. It rises up behind the Presidential Complex, which houses the residence and offices of the Nigerian President in the Three Arms Zone. Area: 1,769 km².
Metro population: 6,000,000 (estimated). Since those devastating security breaches, residents no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. They have upgraded their knowledge of self-preservation, personal and environmental security. They taught themselves every aspect of high security. Suddenly, government institutions and private companies started upgrading their security architecture, and religious centres were not left out; security agencies mounted several security checkpoints along the highways into and outside the five major roads entering the federal capital territory. However, no sooner was a new administration sworn into office than the tightened security measures were relaxed with changes of heads of security agencies.
As is usual with the country when national issues are concerned, laxity crept into every aspect of governance, thereby producing inefficiency, to the overall detriment of the country. We wait until situations get to an uncontrollable point before we start acting. This attitude has permeated into every fabric of the society. A time was when robbers were operating in the country. We waited until it became a national menace before we started to strategise to root them out. Before then, robbers had multiplied and produced robbers like Oyenusi, Ishola, Panko, Lawrence Anini, etcetera, across the country. Today, we only experience pockets of robbery activities. It is the same situation with terrorism that has created insecurity in the country. As usual, it started like a joke to those in government. As these terrorists were being rooted out of their stronghold in Sambisa forest and other parts of the North-East and North-West, our security agencies were oblivious of the fact that they would be escaping into other states close to Borno and Yobe. Before our very eyes, they started operating differently,by attacking farmers, and and we erroneously named them Fulani herdsmen when actually they were the same Boko Haram we used to know. Again, they started to inch into Zamfara, Kaduna and Niger states and they started kidnapping for ransom to recoup their lost arms and ammunition and, without studying their antecedents, we erroneously tagged them as bandits, instead of their real name, which is still Boko Haram. They fooled us once again. Today, their real image has become more clearer, their modus operandi has been the same, instil terror, kidnap for ransom and attack security personel to destabilize them and instil more terror in the people so as to make their attacks very easy and make the people vulnerable. After all, when you throw a stone into the midst of fowls, it creates fear and as they run helter-skelter it affords the attacker room to catch some of them as victims. That is the strategy the terrorists are applying this time around, as they are targeting the FCT by terrorizing residents, thereby creating a tense atmosphere all over the city.
This writer had earlier in previous columns alerted that these terrorists have a strategic plan to find their way into Abuja.
Today, they are targeting our security personel around the fringes of Abuja to instil fear when the news is published that terrorists are killing our security agents who are supposed to protect residents, thereby leaving the residents of Abuja vunarable and in psychological fear. Painfully, soldiers attached to the elite Brigade of Guards were killed and policemen on patrol were also killed, while civilians were not spared.
Meanwhile, those who ought to calm and reassure the people are already fidgeting and issuing fear -inspired press statements to further exacerbate the already tense situation, like the statement credited to the Senate President, the immediate closure of schools in Abuja, the fearful disposition of security operatives not showing off in uniform along the streets and calls by non-state actors issuing statements warning residents to avoid certain places without backing evidence are all part of this.
In a chaotic situation like the one Abuja residents are grappling with, it is more advisable for only the security agencies to issue public security statements.
An example is the reassuring statement and encouraging posture of the Inspector-General of Police, which was to reassure the populace rather than instil more fear in them. The FCT is already tensed up with bad news of insecurity that is giving the terrorists the guts to further terrorise the people.
As earlier stated, we always wait until the water starts choking the baby before we try to rescue. Why did we wait for members of the National Assembly to issue a red card of impeachment threat before taking off the leaders of Boko Haram? Why must we wait for the people to run helter-skelter shouting “insecurity everywhere” before security agencies were dragged to the streets of Abuja?
IGP Tafa Balogun: A star has fallen (1)
The news of his passing on rocked the security community across the globe, not excluding security journalists in Africa. He was an Iroko tree despite falling earlier to the whirlwind of Nigerian society. He still stands and can be counted as one of the best brains that had worn the Nigerian police uniform. Writing about him evokes deep nolstagia. To many Nigerians who are using the lenses provided by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, he was that IGP that was convicted for corruption and sentenced to jail. However, to many others, he was that intelligent and bright student whose academic records from primary to university were excellent and remarkable. Even his academic records at the National War College, later renamed National Defence College (NDC), are yet to be equalled many years after. His War College project, which centred on what he later implemented as “Operation Fire for Fire,” still stands out as one of the best projects from the institution. I am writing about a fallen star in the security firmament who was a distinguished alumni of NDC.
(To be continued)