Tackling insurgency and terrorism - Punch Newspapers

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Insurgency, Terrorism

1/24/2022 8:10:00 AM

Tackling insurgency and terrorism - Punch Newspapers

The most widely read newspaper in Nigeria

24 January 2022The guarantee of the right to life is the most fundamental of the fundamental human rights. It is the fulcrum upon which other human rights revolve. The first and most basic duty of the state and government is the maintenance of law and order, which principally protects the rights to life and property. With the background of these premises, this discourse reviews the deteriorating security situation unfolding under the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government. It provides recommendations for action.

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Published 24 January 2022 The guarantee of the right to life is the most fundamental of the fundamental human rights. It is the fulcrum upon which other human rights revolve. The first and most basic duty of the state and government is the maintenance of law and order, which principally protects the rights to life and property. With the background of these premises, this discourse reviews the deteriorating security situation unfolding under the retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government. It provides recommendations for action. At the time Buhari was sworn in as president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the country had one major security challenge. It was the challenge of Boko Haram which had, to a great extent, been limited to the North-East of Nigeria, with Borno State as the epicentre. Being a retired general and a former head of state, there was every hope that he had the capacity and experience to bring the challenge to an end within a short period. Furthermore, his presidential campaign, to a great extent, focused on changing the tide of what was then considered an unacceptable security situation. Instead of the security situation improving, the sore of insecurity has spread from the North-East to the North-West, North-Central and indeed to all geopolitical zones in Nigeria. Armed herdsmen have been allowed a free run across Nigeria, leading to deaths, rapes, destruction of livelihoods across the federation. Several camps for internally displaced persons have emerged in places like Benue State. Pre 2015, one could identify the major highlights of the gains of the insurgents and outlaws, leading to campaigns such as “bring back our girls.” In the Buhari days, Boko Haram would be reported as technically defeated. However, before the news of insurgents controlling local government areas in Borno State (contrary to their being technically defeated) was affirmed by the governor, hundreds had been killed in Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto and Kebbi states. The governors and police in these states will only dispute the numbers of the dead, injured and displaced reported by the media. The ease with which the terrorists and insurgents have been operating and the lack of effective follow-up action by the security agencies suggests an absence of political will at the highest levels to bring the insecurity to an end. How else could one explain the length of time it took to declare known killers— called bandits — as terrorists. How can we explain Sheik Ahmad Gumi’s interventions through his regular visits to these terrorists, speaking for them and bringing their inordinate demands to the public? Yet, the security agencies pretend not to have a clue as to the whereabouts of the terrorists. How do we explain the embarrassing attacks on the Nigeria Defence Academy in Kaduna; the Tukur Yusufu Buratai Institute for War and Peace, a research institute of the Nigerian Army University in Biu; and the Mobile Police Training College? If these establishments can be easily desecrated by insurgents, where else is safe? If the authorities are really serious about restoring law and order and peace to Nigeria, it will be imperative to consider a few of these suggestions. The days of the arrogance of “security experts” should be over, and over for good, because if the so-called experts had the expertise they claim, we would not have degenerated to this position. The first is to establish a tight protocol for collaboration between all security agencies in Nigeria, from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Civil Defence, Department of State Services, etc. This protocol will involve the quick mobilisation of other agencies when a primary agency is leading an operation and needs support to successfully decimate terrorists or protect life and property. The idea that nearby security agencies will be going about their “normal duties” when sister agencies are either under attack or being overwhelmed is senseless. The protocol should apply at the pain of punishment across the board and defaulters should be treated as saboteurs. The second is to establish a quick mobilisation protocol and mechanism. This will essentially involve a number of critical points. The first part is toll-free lines available to communities and known to all Nigerians. This will be used to contact the security agencies by persons under attack. The second aspect of it is to establish teams of security agencies ready, with the necessary logistics, to be moved to the theatre of combat activity within one hour of attacks by terrorists. This will require a lot of collaboration between the Air Force and the logistics arms of other security agencies. That terrorists operate, maiming and killing for hours, without a response from the security agencies, who eventually show up hours after the event, is a big dent to any claim of being up to the task by the security agencies. Citizens are entitled to protection and defence by security agents at the time they need them. It is not about “assurance” after the event when lives have been lost. No one can bring a dead person to life. The third is about the political will for action which will involve sanctions on the leadership of agencies that fail to act on credible and verifiable information provided by citizens. There are reports available in the media about communities that received letters on taxes and monies they have to pay to terrorists or they will be punished. The authorities wait until the terrorists kill, maim, extort money, etc. This cannot continue in a regime that claims to be serious about ending terrorism. Read Also