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Friday, December 2, 2022

UK, US Terror Alerts

THE recent terror alerts issued about Nigeria and South Africa, as well as the travel advisories offered by the governments of the United Kingdom and United States of America have generated mixed feelings among Nigerians. While some citizens commended the two countries for making public what could have signaled an imminent doom, others berated them for violating known diplomatic procedures that govern the highly classified manner such security information should be shared. It is for the latter reason that the terror scare was dismissed by ardent critics as nothing but another imperial inscription about subservient periphery, noting that some past alerts were frivolous.

IT would be recalled that the United Kingdom and United States had warned of possible attacks in Abuja, especially targeting government buildings, places of worship, schools and other centers with large crowd. These countries had followed up the public travel advisories with the evacuation of the families of diplomatic staff, and willing non-essential embassy workers. 

WHEREAS the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, dismissed the alerts as an attempt to stampede Nigeria, and the President, Muhammadu Buhari, calling for calm and vigilance from citizens, and not anxiety, it is instructive to advise Nigerian government to handle the terror alerts with the needed attention, as demonstrated in the raid on some security flash points in Abuja, that led to the arrest of some high-profile terror suspects. We must be reminded that Nigerians and lovers of Nigeria are yet to recover from the disturbing monumental attacks recorded in Abuja metropolis and across the country not too long ago. On July 5, 2022, insurgents invaded the Kuje Correctional Service Center and freed hundreds of inmates, including hardened Boko Haram fighters and most of the freed inmates are still at large.

AT about the same time, there was an attack on the advance convoy of the president near Dutsinma in Katsina State, followed by another disdainful siege, attack and killing of some members of the Presidential Guards Brigade in Abuja by the vociferous terrorists. The spate of coordinated terror attacks also included the murderous attack and killing of parishioners at Saint Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State, on June 5, 2022, and the brutal attack of an Abuja-Kaduna train, leading to the killing and abduction of some passengers that were held hostage for over six months. The security pictures have been gory, to say the least!       

WE are of the opinion that the popular notion of once bitten twice shy should guide the Nigeria government in dealing with these latest security alerts, even as lack of, or lackluster handling of intelligence reports were said to be largely responsible for preventable previous major attacks. Therefore, there is the high need for the security concerns to be taken seriously. The Hope is aware that this is not the first time terror alerts or travel advisories would be issued by foreign countries about other nations, but for the umpteenth time, such pieces of information and advice are expected to be processed and shared responsibly. As much as the two countries have the right to give the advice, they did not handle the latest one with decorum to say the least.

THE HOPE is also of the opinion that there is more to the terror warning than we know, as experience has it that terror alerts are usually given by the US when Nigeria is preparing for major elections. The frivolity inherent in the issuance of the alerts notwithstanding, concerned stakeholders must be proactive in taking necessary measures. We are pleased with the various interventions that are being emplaced already, like the interface the Minister of Foreign Affairs is having with western nations on the sharing of intelligence/security reports. This is more so as the assurances of security given by the Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, were laced with the notion that there is no smoke without fire.

WE are nonetheless also worried with the reading made by some security experts about the challenges posed by the policies of absorbing captured terrorists into the Nigerian society without adequate deradicalisation and lack of prosecution of terror financiers. This clinical deployment of terrorism is seen by these people as an attempt by moles within the ruling regime to bring down the country. These fears are reinforced by the various previous espionages witnessed within the security architecture of the country at different times, which were believed to be responsible for the easy ambushing of troupes and attacks on people and facilities.      

THE foregoing is without admitting that the American and British governments have demonstratively shown in the past their neocolonial interests in political leaderships in Nigeria, and the 2023 election would not be an exception. However, The Hope strongly advises that irrespective of the usage of insecurity for the performance of political power, government must rise to the responsibility of the constitutional requirement of protecting the citizens, and no excuse would be tenable when another hell of mindless killings and destruction is let loose!  

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