Nigeria Groans under Insecurity

Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, chief of Army Staff

THE issue of security remained a big concern in Nigeria throughout the year 2016. The year started with spate of bombings of oil facilities in the Niger Delta by the avengers causing havoc to the production of crude oil, Nigeria’s main revenue earner. In addition the war with Boko Haram insurgents continued despite the fact the Nigerian military and the federal government said the insurgents have been technically defeated. The insurgency had displaced more than two million persons who suffered from malnutrition with many of them especially children dying daily of starvation. This notwithstanding, all over the country, the fact on ground showed that with the army of unemployed youths available, security would remain a serious issue for the country.

Little wonder Realnews Magazine and Publications Limited, publishers of Realnews magazine took it upon itself to make security the cardinal focus of its fourth anniversary lecture held in Abuja on Thursday, November 17. The lecture paraded international security experts from in and outside the country, diplomats, civil servants, members of business community, among others.

Nevertheless, the gale of stars at the event did not dwarf the issue at hand as Ibn Chambas, special representative of the secretary general of the United Nations for West Africa and Sahel and the guest lecturer, advocated dialogue as an essential pillar for peace, security and development, pointing out that Africa was usually weak at early warning, early intervention and action in preventing conflict from breaking and spreading. In his lecture, Chambas said: “Maybe most important was the renewed commitment of Nigeria, reiterated by the President, to pursue the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, so as to lift many Nigerians out of poverty and deprivation. The new development framework provided by the SDGs adopted by the General Assembly last year, reflects a new thinking on the linkages between development and security. The goals related to achieving peace, security, development and the rule of law can, and should be pursued simultaneously,” he said, adding: “They are interdependent, in fact mutually reinforcing; – there is no development without peace, security and the rule of law.  On the other hand, no peace can be long lasting without development.”

He warned the drop in enrollment of pupils into school for a formal education was a dangerous sign that could be a major security threat to Nigeria in future if not quickly dealt with. “The net enrollment rates in primary and secondary schools which had registered commendable progress in the past have, however, been halted by the effects of insurgency in the North-east geopolitical zone.

“This is an example of a situation where the absence of security has a direct impact on development. The ability of the State to provide education to its citizens and prepare the next generation to enter the labour market is compromised.  Citizens are deprived of their right to education,” he said.

Apparently Chambas’ reflection was based on his visit on Wednesday, November 16, to Bornu State where the UN was scaling up so as to meet the emerging humanitarian crisis in the North-East caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.

He also spoke on regional cooperation in tackling cross-border crimes, especially among West African states. He said: “Governments are working closer together to counter the threat to national security.  Nigeria has played an important and critical role, dating back to the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. And today, its leadership of the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, fighting the Boko Haram insurgency, is decisive. We at the UN are very pleased with the partnership we have established with the four countries countering Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin.”

To Alex Cummings, presidential hopeful, Liberia, and former chief executive officer, Coca Cola, Africa, who was a discussant at the Realnews Fourth Anniversary Lecture on “Security and National Development in a Plural Democratic Society,” every national security starts with economic security. He said: “I believe that without economic security national security will never be. When we have a situation of very high unemployed men and women, when people don’t have something to protect, something to believe in, they are very susceptible to violence, to ideologies that are not conducive to their values. So, unless we proactively, aggressively and systematically address the issues of economic security, national security will not be dealt with properly.”

Ibrahim Idris, inspector general of Police, who was represented by Don Awunah, a deputy commissioner of Police and Force Public Relations Officer, said: “For us, in the police, our stand is in the democracy where every other security agencies collaborate and complement one another.” To achieve the Police of everyone’s dream for the country, he emphasised the need for the communities to own their own Police.

“The inspector general of police has brought a new dawn; a new dimension and a departure from the traditional or authoritarian policing and promoting community policing and people oriented policing. There are a lot of misconceptions about what is called community policing and state policing. Community policing is an ideology and is not all about people policing themselves. It is about partnership and accountability,” Awunah said.

Indeed, security has remained a big concern for the country in past six years when Boko Haram insurgency became a permanent issue in Nigeria. In a new video by the Boko Haram, a terrorist group waging war against Nigeria, members of the group said they were plotting to capture President Muhammadu Buhari. Also in the video, Buhari was called an infidel. In the video, which was recorded in composite to capture two Eid grounds, the sect stated its willingness to continue its jihad against the Nigerian state. The footage, narrated in Hausa, believed to have been shot somewhere in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, showed suspected terrorists praying on what the narrator called an Eid ground on Sallah day Monday, September 12.

Notwithstanding the threat, the Nigerian military has recorded a lot gains through killings, recovering of captured territories and rescuing of some those in captivity of the terror group. Indeed, after about two and half years in captivity, 21 Chibok schoolgirls out of more than 200, were released to the Nigerian government on Thursday, October 13, thereby raising hopes that others might be released soon. Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group that has killed thousands of civilians, overrun villages and terrorised the region, seized the girls from a school in the town of Chibok on April 14, 2014. Soon after the girls were kidnapped, an international campaign began urging the Nigerian government to do more to secure their release, using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls and drawing support from Michelle Obama and others.

On Saturday, November 5, the Nigerian Army announced the rescue of another Chibok schoolgirl in Pulka, Borno State. Maryam Ali Maiyanga, according to the military, was discovered during the screening of escapees from Boko Haram’s hideout in Sambisa forest.

  • On April 6, the Nigerian Army said that no fewer than 11, 595 civilians held at various enclaves by Boko Haram had been rescued. The army said the rescue operations were carried out within the past six weeks, noting that women and young children who had been caught in the Boko Haram crossfire regained their freedom and settled temporarily in camps for internally displaced persons, IDPs.
  • Nigerian Army announced that about 5,000 people were rescued from the Boko Haram by soldiers and members of the vigilante, Civilian JTF, on Saturday, June 25. Sani Usman, a colonel and the Army spokesperson, also said a member of the Civilian JTF was killed on Saturday during the battles with the Boko Haram. Usman, in his statement also said weapons, ammunition and transport equipment like motorcycles were recovered from the raided camps around Mafa, a local government headquarter about 40km from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
  • On June 2, religion intolerance assumed a new dimension when a mob in Kano killed Bridget Agbahime, 74, for allegedly blaspheming of Islam. Five persons who were standing trial for the murder since June 10, were summarily released when the prosecution abruptly withdrew the case from court on November 3.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, November 1, met with some Niger Delta stakeholders including state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, over bombing of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta, which reduced Nigerian oil production since the begging of the year. A group known as Niger Delta Avengers has been responsible for the wanton destruction.
  • On September 23, the Nigerian Army said it had freed more than two million women, children and adult males held captive by members of the Boko Haram sect in the North-East since President Muhammadu Buhari came to power. Tukur Burutai, a lieutenant general and chief of Army Staff, said the feat was achieved after series of coordinated attacks and operations conducted against the terrorists. Buratai, who was represented by the Maj.-Gen. Peter John Bojie, a major general and chief of Civil Military, stated this in Abuja during a conference organised by Bassey Etuk Williams, president of Coalition of Civil Society Groups, a non-governmental organisation, in commemoration of the United Nations World Peace Day, with the theme: “Civil society, media and military synergy in the sustainability of peace and generation of objective narratives.”
  • On Sunday, September 2, no fewer than four soldiers were killed and 16 others injured in a bomb attack, the Army authority said in a staement. The attack was carried out in an ambush by suspected Boko Haram members of an army convoy outside Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.
  • On Sunday, October 30, at least five Nigerian soldiers and four civilian vigilante support force were killed in an ambush by Boko Haram terrorists in Damboa local government area of Borno State, officials said. Nineteen soldiers and a Civilian-JTF operative were also injured in the attack. The troops came under the attack as they returned to their camp after a raid of the insurgents hideouts in villages around Damboa local government area.
  • On Sunday, December 18, two female suicide bombers died in a failed attempt to invade Maiduguri. Victor Isuku, Police public relations officer, PPRO, of the Borno Police command, said the suicide bombers were halted at the outskirt of Maiduguri.
  • On the global scene, suicide bomber killed at least 40 Yemeni soldiers in Aden on Sunday, December 18, the latest in a string of deadly bomb attacks against recruits in the war-torn country’s second city. Islamic State, IS, an Islamic international terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.
  • More than 20 people were killed on Sunday, August 21, when suicide bombers from the militant al Shabaab group detonated two car bombs at a local government headquarters in Puntland region, Somalia’s semi-autonomous witnesses and officials said. Al Shabaab, Islamist organisation, which has carried out a series of deadly attacks in the Horn of Africa country as it seeks to topple the Western-backed government, claimed responsibility for the bombings.
  • Egypt faced the prospect of a surge in sectarian bloodshed on Tuesday, December 13, after the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Coptic Cathedral in Cairo that killed 25 people on Sunday, December 11. The group warned of more attacks to come.

—  Jan 2, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT


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