Just a few days ago, Nigerians watched in total shock the horrific video of terrorists brutally flogging the abducted male passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train attacked on March 28. In the viral video, shared on social media, the terrorists, who have held their victims captive for 123 days and still counting, threatened to abduct President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, other prominent Nigerians and reinforced their threat destabilise the country.
Beyond doubt, the latest arrogant display by the terrorists is emblematic of how terribly Nigeria’s security situation has deteriorated. In a space of one week, between June 30 and July 6, terrorists carried out audacious attacks that caught the nation’s security operatives worryingly unawares.
Forty-three Nigerians including 30 soldiers and seven Policemen were killed at Ajata-Aboki community in Shiroro Local Government Area of Niger State, the Presidential convoy advance team was attacked in Dustinma, Kastina State and the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre was under siege for more than two hours, resulting in the escape of 879 inmates including 64 Boko Haram suspects. The Kuje attack still occurred in spite of the fact that “44 reports were given by the DSS before the attack” as recently revealed by the Deputy-Speaker, House of Representatives, Idris Wase. Also, two separate attacks on July 22 and 28 left three officers of the Presidential Guards Brigade dead in Bwari, Abuja and an undisclosed number of soldiers injured at a military checkpoint at Zuma Rock in Niger State.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) finds these latest developments disheartening and embarrassing. It defies rational thinking that violent non- state actors, who should be at the receiving end of a well coordinated military response to their heinous crimes, are openly threatening the President, the symbol of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Even worse, the inability of the security operatives to apprehend and unmask the identities of the terrorists in spite of all the hype and general public inconvenience that attended the NIN-SIM registration/ linkage exercise is quite unsettling
Sadly, nothing depicts the helplessness of the President Buhari led administration to the existential threat confronting Nigerians more than his reactions to the Kuje attack and the threat by the terrorists in the viral video. During his visit to Kuje, President Buhari, short of resigning to fate, had reportedly lamented, “I am disappointed with the intelligence system. How can terrorists organise, have weapons, attack a security installation and get away with it?.” More so, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu reacting to the viral video released by the terrorists announced to a bewildered nation that, “the President has done all, and even more than what is expected of him as Commander-in-Chief, by way of morale, material and equipment support to the military and expects nothing short of good results in the immediate”.
Clearly, recent happenings confirm that the Commander-in-Chief’s best is not up to scratch. It falls grossly short to inspire the armed forces and other security agencies, and allay the fears of Nigerians who are now practically living in fear. As recently disclosed by Governor El-Rufai, President Buhari “was not even aware of the terrorist’s video” until he told him about it. This seems to suggest that the President is not on top of his game.
President’s Buhari’s lamentation about the failure of the intelligence system he superintends indicates he is overwhelmed. The unrelenting attacks show that the current administration is either unwilling or unable to tackle the insurgency engulfing Nigeria.
It is perturbing that since the President expressed disappointment about the failure of the intelligence system under him, not a single security chief or correctional service official has been dismissed for the embarrassment the Kuje jailbreak brought on the nation. The intelligence security system has crumbled on his watch; yet he fails to muster the will to make his intelligence chiefs led by the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, account for the embarrassing laxity that has given terrorists so much latitude for their murderous barbarity.
In several instances, military personnel have been arrested for colluding with insurgents. The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, recently admitted the presence of fifth columnists in the Armed Forces. Irabor worried about the trend in a memo to Field and Operation Commanders, implored them to “sensitize personnel on the implication of collaborating with the enemy while taking appropriate actions that would forestall such incidents”.
However there is no concrete evidence to show whether those caught have been punished accordingly or whether the trend of military personnel feeding insurgents information has abated. Nigerians are yet to see the fruit of President Buhari’s endless meetings with security chiefs. Just recently all schools, public and private in the Federal Capital Territory were ordered to shut down because of a feared terrorist attack! Nasarawa State Government has also followed suit directing the immediate closure of all private and public schools in all the 13 local government areas to safeguard the lives of students. The National Security Adviser, has also confirmed that Nigerians are “getting tired” of worsening insecurity and “many are gradually resorting to self-help.”
We implore President Buhari to stop playing the ostrich, grid his loins and accept full responsibility for the escalation of terrorism in the country. His outsourcing of leadership at critical moments, failure to summon the political will to deal decisively with insurgents, inability to fire incompetent service and intelligence chiefs have created unsavoury situation for terrorists to seize the long end of the stick in the on-going war against insurgency.
We reiterate our stand that it is the President’s constitutional duty to halt Nigeria’s headlong drift into anarchy. His administration must take urgent wholehearted steps to fight the war against terror. He must demonstrate sincerity of purpose by immediately directing relevant authorities to commence the trial of the 400 Boko Haram alleged sponsors and financiers held by the Federal Government. The delay of their trial and countless others in detention across north-west meant to serve as deterrence ridicules the war against terror.
We call again on our intelligence services to swiftly identify and flush out traitors within the military and other security agencies. Their treachery has come at a huge cost to the country, as evidenced by growing casualty numbers among troops and the civilian population. Such traitors once exposed should be made to face prosecution in accordance with extant laws against treason.
Finally, in the light of widespread impression that the Federal Government has no concrete strategy to defeat terrorism, we urge President Buhari to re-evaluate the war against terror by devising a strategy that goes beyond changing incompetent service and intelligence chiefs, and replacing them with another set of mediocre officers. It is also not just voting bogus funds for the security budget which in the recent past, the National Security Adviser disclosed has been “misappropriated” and no one can account for it.
If need be, he should headhunt for capable military commanders to prosecute the war while he provides the desired leadership. We restate our position that the Federal Government should discontinue the rehabilitation programme for repentant terrorists until a well-defined de-radicalisation policy is put in place.
Above all, President Buhari has no option than to first, safeguard our country. The verdict of history will be harsh on him if the sorry state of affairs persists any longer than it already has.