Insecurity: Fear, tension over increasing attacks on military, police, others
Tension has continued to rise due to the widespread insecurity across the country with the attacks on innocent Nigerians becoming more frequent.
Boko Haram, Islamic State West African Province, ISWAP, bandits and kidnappers have been on the prowl, attacking schools, religious centres, military bases, abducting and killing so many Nigerians. Recently, security formations have come under attack by terrorists.
Recall that gunmen believed to be bandits in April 2021 attacked a military base in Mainok town, Northeast Borno State, killing no fewer than 30 soldiers in the process.
Reports had it that the militants who wore military camouflage arrived at the military base in 16 gun trucks and six mine-resistant military vehicles before unleashing their venom. After several hours, they captured the base.
Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Katsina States have been the most affected places in the Northern part of the country.
Amid the several attacks by bandits and terrorists, Buhari usually expresses “shock” but would always charge the military to go after the criminals.
Angered by the spate of insecurity, the president had ordered a shoot-at-sight order of anyone found with an unregistered AK-47 rifle. Buhari’s directive was disclosed by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, during an interview with BBC.
Despite Buhari’s order, banditry activities have increased at an alarming rate.
Just a few days ago, gunmen believed to be bandits attacked the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, in Kaduna State. The bandits who killed some officers and abducted two Majors were said to have stormed the premises in large numbers in the early hours of Tuesday.
This attack has further heightened the insecurity situation in Kaduna, which has witnessed the abduction of several students from various schools across the state.
In July, bandits had shut down an Alfa Jet of the Nigerian Air Force, NAF. Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, NAF Director of Information, who confirmed the crash, said the incident had occurred in a border town between Kaduna and Zamfara States.
The challenge of insecurity is not synonymous with the North alone as the Southeast is also facing similar insecurity problems. Lately, several killings and kidnappings have been witnessed in the region, with Imo State being the most hit.
Most of the kidnappings and killings in the Southeast are linked to the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and the Eastern Security Network, ESN. On different occasions, the mouthpiece of IPOB, Emma Powerful, had refuted the allegation, stressing that IPOB is a peaceful group.
But security operatives in the Southeast have been the primary targets of those behind insecurity. Reports have it that about 15 officers and 21 police stations were burnt down across the region within the past seven months.
Of the 21 police stations, seven stations in Imo State were attacked by hoodlums, four in Ebonyi State, three in Abia State, four in Enugu and three in Anambra State, respectively.
In October last year, an attack was triggered by the EndSARS protest organized across states in Southern Nigeria.
Hoodlums had attacked five police stations in October 2020, one in January 2021, five in February 2021, while four and six other stations were attacked in March and April 2021, respectively.
However, many Nigerians have expressed fear and uncertainty because ”no one knows the next target of these terrorists.”
Some security experts have decried the alarming rate of insecurity threatening the country’s unity.
Dr. Emmanuel Effiong, Abuja-based security expert, said, “I must tell you the truth, the government lacks the will to stop insecurity in Nigeria. Terrorists have infiltrated national security. And I can trace this to the government’s romance with Boko Haram terrorists. Knowing fully well that the government will absolve them and incorporate them into the society and the security system, Boko Haram leadership has asked some of their members to pretend to have repented, and the government has fallen for this antics, exposing the entire security system. You don’t forgive those that have killed thousands of innocent citizens and recruit some of them into your security system and expect them to be loyal. I feel very bad because the President is helpless. Everything has fallen apart.”
Also talking about these prevailing issues, Olufemi Olaniyi, a security consultant, said, “My brother if nothing is done and very quickly too, Nigerians will have nowhere to run to very soon. If you can remember, kidnapping top officials of the nation’s security agencies. I’m not talking about the ordinary Nigerians, no. That seems to be normal now. I’m talking about senior security officers. They have done the worse by even going ahead to attack Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA. This is happening because the government has failed. Many Nigerians are making the mistake of expecting the security system to be strong when the government is weak. Bandits and Boko Haram terrorists have informants planted everywhere and the president seems not to care about what is happening. The government is no longer willing to fight and defeat terrorists but indirectly empowering them by allowing them to cart away with armoury whenever they attack security units such as the NDA.
Speaking recently, Kunle Olawunmi, former Navy Commodore, stated that the Buhari government knows those behind the Boko Haram insurgency in the country.
Olawunmi said the Nigerian government is not sincere in the fight against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups.
He recalled that after the arrest of some Boko Haram sponsors, the Presidency had said it would publish names of those behind the attacks, but it failed to do so.
He said, “They [government] know. Of course, it is in the news. In April this year, the government said they had arrested 400 Bureau De Change (BDCs)-related people that were sponsoring Boko Haram. They told us.
“But months down the line, the long-waited list is yet to be made public.”
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described as worrisome, the dangerously declining state of security in the country.
While reacting to the recent attack on the NDA by bandits, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, cried out over the increasing spate of absolute lawlessness by operatives and officers of the various law enforcement agencies in the county.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday, the national coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, specially mentioned the Nigeria Police Force; the Department of States Security Services, DSS; the military, among others.
HURIWA lamented what it described as the lawless tendencies of personnel of these agencies in the line of duty.
“Lawlessness and officers misconduct and loss of discipline is the fundamental cause of the degeneration of efficiency and effectiveness of the members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria,” the rights group said.
Olusegun Bamgbose of the New Nigerian Peoples Party, NNPP, also pointed out that the bandits’ attack on NDA and other similar attacks clearly show that bandits have no atom of respect or fear for the Nigerian military.
He said that the security architecture of Nigeria has collapsed, describing the situation as not only very sad but very unfortunate, adding that a huge sum of the country’s budget goes for security, yet there is nothing tangible to show for it.
“How long will it take our security formations to neutralize once and for all these untrained hoodlums who have held this nation hostage for more than 13 years? Bamgbose asked, wondering if the bandits are more than the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police, Nigerian Navy, and Nigerian Airforce, or if they’re more equipped than them?
“Do the bandits have more resources than the Nigerian government? Do they have more Intel than our security formations?” He said.
“The bandits don’t have fighter jets, we have, they are not well trained as our security men, they don’t have access to the type of resources we have, then the question begging for an answer is, what exactly is the problem with our security architecture?
“One may be tempted to state here that President Buhari is pampering these bandits who have no atom of respect in any way for him as the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. If the bandits could operate with ease in Katsina State, the home of our President, then we have a very big problem.”
But the Nigerian government through the Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has frequently boasted that it’s winning the war against insecurity, saying it could have been worse. The government spokesman in a comparative analysis of the security situation in the country had said the country’s current security situation was better than it was under past governments, especially that of Goodluck Jonathan.