All well-meaning Nigerians should be seriously concerned about the recent terrorist attacks on the convoy of the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum. Coming on the heels of efforts to resettle internally displaced persons, it is either there is a fifth columnist trying to sabotage these efforts or the governor is not adequately protected. The latest deadly ambush, which occurred near Baga town on the shores of Lake Chad, came in form of explosion from multiple improvised explosive devices planted on the road by the terrorists. At least, 18 people died in the incident.
Some reports claimed up to 30 people died. According to the Defence Headquarters, four soldiers, 10 policemen, and four civilians were killed in the attack. However, the Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Major-General John Enenche, said troops successfully repelled the assault and captured one gun truck. They also recovered three vehicles, two of which reportedly belong to the Nigeria Police Force but were earlier taken away during an attack by the terrorists.
Barely 48 hours after the attack, another set of insurgents laid ambush on Monguno-Maiduguri axis and attacked the governor’s convoy. They reportedly shot the back tyre of a vehicle conveying journalists attached to the governor but the driver was said to have escaped from the scene. Luckily, there was no casualty in this particular incident.
In July this year, the Boko Haram terrorists also ambushed the governor’s convoy on his way to Baga town and Monguno in Borno State to distribute food to internally displaced persons (IDPs).
With the frequent attacks on the governor, it appears the insurgents are gaining ground everyday contrary to the official information that they are being degraded. In February this year, they struck at Auno in Borno State and killed at least 30 people after setting several trucks carrying passengers ablaze. The victims were stranded at a military checkpoint because of the curfew imposed by the military in Auno before the attack. Last month, the insurgents ambushed and killed the commander of 25 Task Force Brigade in Damboa, Borno State, Col. D.C. Bako.
Over 36,000 people have been killed and over two million displaced from their homes since the insurgency in the North-East started in 2009. Between January and June this year, Amnesty International says over 1,100 villagers have been killed in different parts of northern Nigeria.
The attacks on Zulum underscored the need to offer him more protection. Although the reason for the attacks has not been revealed, some analysts believe that they are aimed at frustrating the governor’s efforts towards reducing the plight of the people in the IDPs.
While we deplore the incessant attacks on the governor, we call on the military authorities to reinvigorate his security. The governor must also be conscious of his security. All the security details around the governor must work in concert to ensure his overall security at all times.
The governor should also be more circumspect about his movement. He must take security advice very seriously in view of the increasing threats to his life. Good enough, he has pledged to be more careful about how he executes the efforts to restore peace to the communities in the state. The security around him must be overhauled.
Before ever he moves out with his convoy, there should be an advance or dummy team to comb the area. Intelligence gathering is also vital here. Every attempt should be made to protect the governor because he has been outspoken against Boko Haram insurgents. The attack on him should not be allowed to recur.
The situation also calls for the reinvigoration of the war against insurgency. That we are not winning the war despite the amount of money and resources deployed shows that something is wrong somewhere. It is also time to take a critical look at the security situation not just in Borno State but in the entire country as well. Perhaps, it is time to bring in new service chiefs, cognisant of the fact that they will likely come with fresh ideas.