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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Bombs, tears and questions

Bayo Fasuwon

In Nigeria today, one thing is certain. The certainty is that the airwaves would be dominated by news of sorrow which in reality celebrates the triumph of the wicked over the faithful, loyal and honest inhabitants of the Niger Area. Tranquility and hope are often shattered by the filtered information of the death of many innocent Nigerians who are struggling against the tides of an uncaring administrative structure, to make ends meet. The people of Owo are still in shock over the dastard murders of their family members; in Niger State, the cries for help have not abated, while it is still bloodbath in Zamfara State.

While going ahead to ensure a befitting and secured Sallah Day celebration for their boss, the President’s Advance Team were caught in an ambush that saw the rain of bullets, and the loss of life. For many, the attack was a clear warning that nobody in the country is immuned to the death wish of the blood thirsty bandits, who have come to take over the nation by brute force. As the nation rues over the sad and unexpected incident, the Bandits, and of course terrorists scored a major victory, and had an ace up their sleeves with the successful attack of the Kuje maximum prison where their fellow brethren in crime had been kept under lock and key. Freedom through the shedding of blood and the destruction of a maximum correctional facility, 413 deadly criminals were left to roam wild. Interestingly, these 413 were made up of  Boko Haram convicts and suspects; masterminds of the Abuja train kidnap and a host of hellish hardened criminals. The whole bombing saga has a pungent smell of conspiracy.

Conspiracy theorists would query why there was a change of troops who had understood the terrains of the Kuje vicinity barely 24 hours before the dastard attack. In other words, those who were made to replace them would hardly have gotten themselves accustomed to the environment before the terrorists, who reportedly beat security with motor bikes, attacked. While it was routine for the military to change men and officers over a period of time, yet it seemed too coincidental that attack came at such a time.  There is therefore the possibility that there is a mole in the military who informed the terrorists of this military manouvres and therefore caught the ‘gallant Nigeria soldiers’ unprepared. However, Malam Tukur Mamu was quoted to have said that “… even on the tendency and threat to attack targets and other facilities of interest like the Kuje Correctional Centre attacks, I have shared that intelligence with the security agencies and the committee that was constituted by CDS Gen. Lucky Irabor.” Given this attestation, one wonders why the new change of guards would have been unprepared for a predicted attack. Malam Mamu had since confirmed that the attacks were carried out by the same group that attacked the Abuja-Kaduna bound train, as reported in the news. Furthermore, the terrorists organisations had also affirmed that they were responsible for the attack, and even have a video evidence. Quite interestingly, this affirmation by the group deviates from the Federal Government insistence that ISWAP was responsible for the Owo massacre. The terrorists organisaton had never appointed the government as their spokesperson, so one cannot but wonder why the Federal Government took the appointment for the Owo bloodshed.

The ‘ignorance’ of the military officers of their new post had also affirmed the need for security personnel that understands and know the terrain of operation. This therefore lends credence to the need for a security organisation that are familiar with the people and area of operation. While the calls for a State Police is rife now, and in the front burner, there are questions that need be asked? While the issues of recruitment (in order to restrict the incursion of moles), the germane question is on the salaries and equipping of the organisation. The quick answer would be the State governments. However, given the paucity of funds that have left many State Governments owing huge arrears on salaries, one wonders if armed men could be trusted to endure several months of unpaid salaries without preying on the people and or support men of the underworld in their dastard operations. The other alternative is the directive given by the Zamfara State Government that citizens should obtain arms and defend themselves. The question arises as to how many people would be able to afford standard arms and ammunitions that could compete with the internationally funded terrorists? Also, given the killing spree by some disoriented Americans of their fellow men, are Nigerians psychologically prepared to exercise restraints and discipline in the use of lethal weapons?

The other conspiracy perception is that possibly the demands of the bandits have been clandestinely met, and hence the free reign given to them to attack and free their members, which was part of their demands for the release of the kidnapped victims. However, one may not accede to this line of thought as no nation would allow an attack that seeks to undermine its military strength and also promote the release of terrorists to endanger the lives of her dutiful citizens. It is however puzzling that the attack was specifically against the garrison that kept the members of the dreaded organisation behind bars.

In all these, the puzzle becomes more entangled in that the President and Commander in Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, did not give a marching order to the military to retaliate forcefully against the terrorists, whose abode are known, as we are made to believe, to the government. Rather, our President only came to ask questions. “How did the defense at the prison fail to prevent the attack? How many inmates were in the facility? How many of them can you account for? How many personnel did you have on duty? How many of them were armed? Were there guards on the watchtower? What did they do? Does the CCTV work? …How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?” were his enquiries. Like many Nigerians would say, “if you ask me, na who I go ask?” With the rate of bloodsheds going on at different places in the country since the inception of his administration, the President should have had the answers to these and many more questions at his fingertips. Unfortunately, the questions reveal two things. Firstly, is the fact that the nation lacks any functional intelligence gathering and application mechanism in the country. Secondly and unfortunately, it reveals the President as an Ostrich who had buried its head in the sand for a very long time. Instead of admitting the failure of the administration in solving security problems, government has again decided to play the blame game. The opposition had been blamed for the economic woes of the country, and now the personnel are being blamed for a forewarned terrorist attack.

In the face of failure to perform the constitutional role of protecting the lives and properties of the people of this weary nation, some have opined that the leadership of the country should be bold enough to embrace Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, British Prime Minister’s walk of honour. But such is alien to our custom and tradition, and would smell of colonialism. Given the fragile nature of our political superstructure, and an impending election, it would be safe to advise that our President should stop asking questions, but rather provide answers, and prove conspiracy theorists wrong, that his administration is comfortable with the continuous shed of blood and insecurity in this country.

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