Yesterday's attack on a prison on the outskirts of Damaturu, the Yobe State capital, by suspected members of the Boko Haram sect underlines the grievous gap between words and action in the security situation in the North-East region in particular.
Only two weeks ago, Damaturu was theatre once more of a fierce battle between Boko Haram gunmen and soldiers for several hours that left dozens dead and many more wounded. Victims included civilians, attackers and operatives of various security agencies. About 40 corpses of civilians and uniformed men mostly with gunshot wounds were deposited at the morgue of the Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital, Damaturu.
Reports indicated that the engagement was sparked off by the arrest of a suspected high-value member of Boko Haram in Damaturu.
Other accounts suggested that the wounded man was the wanted mastermind of the Madalla church bombing last Christmas and the United Nations building in Abuja earlier.
One source in the city's Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital said that trouble started at the hospital when some soldiers took a suspected member of the sect to the hospital for treatment.
Sustained gunshots were heard from behind the perimeter fence of the hospital. Some soldiers immediately mobilized and moved to the direction of the gunshots and returned fire while the suspect was moved away.
It was from here, according to media accounts, that the fighting between the gunmen and the soldiers started and consequently escalated to other parts of Damaturu in what looked like a co-ordinated operation.
Sounds of blasts and gunshots were heard from several parts of Damaturu in the faceoff that dragged into the night.
It was gathered that a police post located close to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam's private residence was destroyed by explosives suspected to have been planted by the gunmen, who also attacked another of the governor's property located at Sabon Fegi area of the state capital. In order to bring the situation under control, the Yobe State government imposed a 24-hour curfew.
Yesterday's attack would be the third large-scale siege on Damaturu within six weeks. Not too long ago, dozens were killed by gunmen when they set ablaze the cattle market in Potiskum, also in Yobe State, after a suspected armed robber was earlier in the day arrested and reportedly killed at the market.
It is not clear how many Boko Haram suspects detained in Damaturu were freed in yesterday's prison assault, but it is disturbing any should be there at all, instead of being moved to higher-level security facilities elsewhere.
Moreover, in spite of the over 30 military and police checkpoints in and around the city, the gunmen could penetrate them to launch their bloody attacks.
It is also worrisome that the assailants, who were said to number as many as 100, and heavily armed with sophisticated weapons, would engage JTF for so many hours. Chanting religious slogans, they appeared to be trained in military drill, according to witnesses.
Clearly, security measures that are currently in place have not proved to be much of deterrence to the bloody excesses of the Boko Haram.
This ultimately calls for a review of the strategies employed by the JTF operatives to tackle security challenges bedevilling the nation.
Security operatives must improve upon their intelligence gathering apparatus. Community support and cooperation should be sought, particularly in information sharing. Community leaders should be educated on the need to alert security agencies as soon as suspicious movements of persons or arms are noticed in their neighbourhoods.
While it is necessary for JTF personnel to periodically assess their rules of engagement and re-strategize their human and material resources, it is also important for them to handle every piece of information they obtain from the public with every sense of confidentiality.
They should be sensitive to community needs in order not to alienate the public.
Security at the country's borders must be beefed up and placed under strict surveillance in order to check illegal arms trafficking and proliferation of weapons.
Easy access to weapons undoubtedly fuels the cycle of violent attacks such as the onslaughts being orchestrated by the Boko Haram and other groups in the country.