1 December 2012

Nigeria: Where Is Safe in Nigeria?

Photo: Vanguard
Nigeria's transformation


An embarrassing dimension was introduced into the nation's security challenge last weekend, when the suspected terrorists penetrated the defence of the Nigeria's Command and Staff College - the elite military facility - in Jaji, Kaduna State, killing more than a dozen people and injuring scores more. The very next day, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) detention centre in Abuja was hit by suspected terrorists who reportedly killed two police officers and set free over 150 detainees.

We wonder how the suicide bombers managed to penetrate such a highly secured place at a time billions of naira is being spent on security in an effort to contain the Boko Haram insurgency. It becomes more worrisome because it came barely 48 hours after the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State promised to pay almost three hundred million naira (N300m) to anybody with useful information that will lead to the capture of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and his other top commanders.

The JTF's indiscriminate arrest in Maiduguri has not stopped the violent attacks that affect mostly the poor people. Record shows that over 3,000 people have been mowed down in the maelstrom of Boko Haram insurgency. Gripped by the failure of intelligence to avert bombings in military and police facilities, the House of Representatives also screamed that the National Assembly is likely the next target of the insurgents. It underscores the helplessness and hopelessness of the situation.

Last year, suicides bombers attacked the main police headquarters in Abuja killing six people, the United Nations office in the nation's capital, killing scores of workers. Militants have also previously attacked prisons and freed suspected Boko Haram members. Prosecution has been lethargic and there is an apparent disconnect between the security forces on how to tackle the challenge posed.

It is much worse that the President admitted that Boko Haram infiltrated government and some elites in government are members. The peak of the insecurity was when the chairman of the ruling party, Alhaji Bamagar Tukur told State House correspondents in the presence of a delegation of South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), on a courtesy visit to President Goodluck Jonathan that the Peoples' Democratic Party (PDP) has no business with the security challenge and that the party "is not a security agency". We consider this very insensitive and callous.

We wonder where is safe in Nigeria if our security facilities, the National Assembly and the Presidency are enveloped by this aura of insecurity. The gaffe by the chairman of PDP is enough reason to reject the party at the polls or for the government to resign in decent democracies. We therefore, need the government to ensure it carries out its basic responsibility as enshrined in Chapter II, section 14, sub-section 2b of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

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