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Insecurity: When truth hurts

By Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa
11 January 2022   |   4:23 am
Our expectations are high for the year 2022 and this is expectedly so, for many reasons. The year gone by was a very difficult one for many, especially in the area of dwindling economic capacities...

[FILES] Photo: AA

Our expectations are high for the year 2022 and this is expectedly so, for many reasons. The year gone by was a very difficult one for many, especially in the area of dwindling economic capacities, given all the variables of inflation, the climbing exchange rate, unemployment and the consequences of the global pandemic. Ordinarily, many are on the fringes, barely managing to survive the biting effects of recession and the economic downturn, even though constant promises from the leadership reverberated to cushion the effect, with little or no tangible results. The major challenge as it were, is the crippling effect of insecurity, which has more or less put the nation at a standstill. The reason why the Constitution in section 14 (2) (b) gives priority attention to security as the yardstick to measure governance is because of its strategic importance to human existence. A society where life is not secure, where living has no guarantee and where the fear of death grips the larger populace would necessarily experience slow development. So, we cannot exhaust discussions on security since it is the primary purpose of the government.

Without any doubt, one of the reasons that led to the ouster of the previous administration was the growing insecurity in the land at the time and the seeming inability of that government to contain it. The emergence of an infantry expert, a war hero and an experienced soldier gave hope to many, but things have not changed much. Even though serious acts of terrorism have been contained and limited to the base of the insurgents, we do not seem to be getting out of the woods, going by spate of attacks in recent times. The nation at large has wondered why the President has not been able to tackle the security challenges facing the nation headlong, given his experience and knowhow, on the subject. On March 24, 2018 during the convocation ceremony of Taraba State University, another war veteran, General Theophilus Danjuma (Rtd), shocked the nation when he stated pointedly that the Nigerian armed forces were colluding with insurgents and killer herdsmen, saying that Somalia would become child’s play, should the President fail to act promptly. He called on the people to rise up to defend themselves.

“The Armed Forces are not neutral. They are conniving with armed bandits that kill people. They facilitate their movement. They cover them. You must rise to defend yourselves from these people. If you are depending on the armed forces to protect you, you will all die one by one. I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country. Defend your territory, defend your States, because you have nowhere else to go.”

As usual, government propaganda went agog, vilifying the retired general, until reason prevailed and the President had an audience with him, after which everything returned to business as usual. We have heard stories (though not verified) of helicopters with military men said to be aiding terrorists and bandits with supplies of weapons and foodstuffs, in line with General Danjuma’s assertions. In answer to this malady, military intelligence can be deployed effectively to combat the connivance, if indeed it is true, or else we may just be going round in circles. Long after the dust gathered on General Danjuma’s explosive revelation, a former Naval officer, Commodore Kunle Olawunmi (Rtd) on August 26, 2021 on national television, stated that terrorists named current governors, senators and Aso Rock officials as their sponsors during interrogation by the military authorities. He said the government had not been able to prosecute the sponsors because it was partisan. You then wonder how low things can go. Let’s hear him.

“I told them that the centre of gravity of Boko Haram in Nigeria is the sponsors of the programme. It was beyond us because the job we needed to do was kinetic but we cannot resolve issues of sponsors of Boko Haram that were in Buhari’s government that we know them. That was why we couldn’t pursue that aspect that could have resolved the issue because we need to arrest people.”

The late former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, said in August 2020 that repentant terrorists revealed that a serving northern governor is a Boko Haram leader. So, why is the government pretending not to know what to do? This matter is not peculiar to terrorists though but also extends to armed robbers, kidnappers, fraudsters and other criminal elements, who all make society ungovernable. What is needed to tackle them is the will power from those who are in authority. This is why the solution of state police or community policing as the case may be, should be embraced by the government holistically. The Neighbourhood Watch in Lagos State has proved to be an excellent idea, just as the Amotekun Corps in Ondo and Osun States have proved effective in combating the festering crisis of kidnapping. This should be replicated in other parts of the country, with necessary modifications.

Commodore Olawunmi had stated that most military formations had been compromised by the infusion of religion into the system, which the insurgents exploit to maximum advantage. When criminals invade religious places of worship, it becomes easier for them to take advantage of the spiritual atmosphere to perpetrate their evil deeds. Recently, two ex-convicts who were absorbed into a church for rehabilitation, turned around to kill the pastor in order to rob him of money belonging to the church. Though a delicate choice to make in the prevailing circumstance of present-day Nigeria, the government must nonetheless insulate all military formations from religion, at least in profiling the civilian populace that throng these centres to perform their spiritual obligations. This concern was recently confirmed by the former Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai (Rtd) who was reported to have said that “there is a strong religious affinity between the people in the town and the bandits and terrorists in the forests.”
To be continued tomorrow
• Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)