IT must have come as a shock to many Nigerians when the Kano State Command of the Nigeria Police revealed, weekend, that it combed the city and arrested no less than 87 suspects, including three Boko Haram commanders and others paraded for armed robbery, kidnapping, theft and banditry.
The most worrisome elements among these suspected outlaws are the Boko Haram commanders. We have no doubt that a comprehensive sweep of our major urban areas, especially in the North, will reveal more of these terror suspects who are lying low for now, perhaps waiting for an opportunity to conduct strikes against innocent citizens.
All over the world where terrorism has taken root as in Nigeria, Islamic Jihadists have a habit of forming and operating “sleeper cells”. Many of the top ranking terrorists who escaped from the war fronts are given the mandate by major international networks such as Al Qaeda and Islamic State to pose as Koranic teachers and sheikhs, indoctrinating gullible, unemployed, idle youth and preparing them for enlistment.
It is these “sleeper cells” that are responsible for the apparent unending flow of fighters to terror outfits like Boko Haram and Islamic State for West Africa Province, ISWAP. Many of the incapacitated terrorist commanders who can no longer handle weapons and carry out raids quietly ease back into civilisation and continue serving as indoctrinators, recruiters, intelligence agents, improvised explosive device makers and organisers for logistics and supply without which terror outfits cannot last.
It is these “sleeper cells” that are activated at short notice to deploy suicide bombers against soft targets within the civilian populace when the need arises. They act like the viruses within the human body while their arms-bearing colleagues continue to menace the populace from the bushes as guerrilla fighters.
We commend the Police for their successful sweep in Kano, the most volatile centre of Boko Haram activities outside the North East. We also call for the expansion of this effort to all major urban centres in the country, including the South where many besieged Nigerians have migrated for greater security. Some of these escapees include Boko Haram elements and sympathisers who can be used to cause a lot of damage.
We call on law enforcement agencies not to rest on their oars. There is an urgent need to combine efforts, along with the various vigilante and Civilian Joint Task Force groups, to maintain vigilance in urban centres. We must continually fish out these undesirable elements before they are ready to wreak havoc.
Having lived with terrorism for ten years, Nigeria is no longer new to this threat. We must capitalise on our wealth of experience to contain Boko Haram terror.