SOME of our brothers have turned the country upside down. Fear stalks citizens like long lazy shadows. Abuja, in particular, is as nervous as a virgin.
If it’s not Boko Haram today, then it’s herdsmen who also happen to be experts in directing helicopter drop-offs and are equally smooth in their use of semi-automatic weapons. I suspect most of their sponsors have lost control of the boys. The violence seems to have taken on a life of its own and co-ordinating its stoppage is proving damn near impossible at the moment.
It has become too painful to hear about the regular, unchecked and unnecessary loss of lives. The abduction of the young girls from a secondary school in Borno State and their unimaginable fate is simply too depressing. We have finally confirmed our membership of that exclusive but ignoble club of mad primitive countries where repression seem their only raison d’être.
I mean, look at the North East. Boko Haram is close to shutting down education and social life there. And you cannot find a decent party to attend there anymore. This was why Jonathan had to boogie-woogie in the relative comfort of the North West last week.
Easter Sunday was a burst for most churches in Abuja. Pentecostal pastors were especially unhappy. Private jets and four-wheel drives on order would have to wait a little longer. Continuing fuel shortage and the Nyanyan bomb blast mean that most motorists don’t go anywhere in their own vehicle. Comprehensive vehicular insurance is a tricky business in Nigeria, so cold rationalisation is setting in. Folks are beginning to think that it would be altogether a bad thing to lose one’s life and one’s vehicle in a single incident.
And the police are back on the streets. Every other vehicle with tinted glass is pulled over, not to check its interior for safety reasons, but to demand to see the tinted-glass registration papers. Inevitably, disappointment climbs onto the face of the officers when the correct document is produced.
Mistrust is rearing its ugly head again amongst neighbours. Homeowners are beginning to re-interview their gatemen. You don’t even want to hear a motorcycle or a car backfiring on your street. Everyone’s nerve seems on edge. Female education might become negatively impacted in the North East in the short-term, and NYSC postings of female graduates to any part of that region at this time would seem a cruel and morbid assignment.
And some miserable people are beginning to exploit this unhappy situation for their own gain. T B Joshua recently pulled a tasteless stunt when he paraded a man he claimed was a Boko Haramite sent from Adamawa State to Lagos to bomb his church. Rather than hand the so-called terrorist and his so-called accomplices to the police, Joshua was parading the man in his Synagogue Church.
A nation without security is no serious nation. A nation that cannot protect its own citizens, especially within its own borders is not a serious country. But that is the bad news:
It is very easy (and right) to sometimes blame the lacklustre nature of the current government. Also, it is only human to think that our security operatives are not protecting us adequately enough – especially in light of past reports of Army personnel caught collaborating with the insurgents. But it is not all bad news. There are also good interceptions and foiling of potential violent or terror attacks by both security personnel and vigilant citizens.
Recently in Wadata Market, Markurdi, a female ‘beggar’ was caught with a bomb under her wheelchair. Also, a tattered looking fellow who looked like a scavenger was nabbed by security agents in Abuja. He turned out to be a Boko Haramite on reconnaissance. Another was caught with a bomb in his possession. Yet another who looked like a destitute was intercepted with a bomb in a wheelbarrow near a mosque in Abuja just this week.
In Kaduna, security operatives intercepted a group of Boko Haramites as they were puttting finishing touches to their plan of attacking a police station in Kwanan Dangora. Items recovered from the miscreants included improvised explosives devices, a machine gun, AK 47 rifles, fully charged magazines, 66 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition and a jerry can of petrol. How much were these criminal elements paid to carry out the aborted dastardly act? All of N17,000 in total.
In Lagos, security operatives reported quietly nabbing some 54 suspects in the last few months. All suspects reportedly had some sort of explosives and AK 47 riffles stashed away when they were caught.
I am sure that there are many more cases of terror prevention by some vigilant citizens and hardworking security operatives that go unreported for obvious security reasons. We have to applaud those folks where they have excelled. It could not be an easy job at all. So, kudos.
However, those little but significant victories weren’t obtained without vigilance. It is now incumbent on every person to be conscious of his or her immediate environment. As citizens, it behoves of us to be extra vigilant at this time and to be very security-aware. This situation won’t last forever of course, but it is the hand we have been dealt by our fellow brothers. We must do all we can legally to protect ourselves and our properties.