Today at about 1110hours, this writer stepped out from a bank situated along the arterial Allen Avenue in the Ikeja area of Lagos to the sound of wailing sirens. Looking towards the left direction, one was treated to the spectacle that was a slowly approaching convoy of 4X4 trucks which turned out to be so large that it had to caught on the camera of a BlackBerry device.
Indeed, a large retinue of anywhere between 500 and 700 defence and security forces were apparently undertaking a flag-showing exercise. Toyota 4WD trucks belonging to the Rapid Response Squad of the Lagos State Police Command, the anti-riot Police Mobile Force aka MOPOL (the Nigerian near-equivalent of Gendarmerie), the counterinsurgency and counterterrorism Anti-Terrorism Squad(ATS) of the Nigeria Police Force and “OP MESA”, an adhoc military outfit created to support internal security operations by the Defence Headquarters all formed part of the convoy.
Disciplined as the security forces appeared to be (they were unobtrusive really), it did take a supreme show of confidence for one to capture amateur footage of the passing contingents who one must add, looked very intimidating and unpredictable. The contingents of the Police ATS (special forces) looked the most menacing in their jet black zip-up suits and bright red berets.
But we had a job to do in the name of this blog and so, with one hand giving the thumbs-up to the contingents in a show of solidarity, we managed to take a few shots with the free right hand. Nigeria can indeed be a funny place sometimes. Mortified bystanders looked at one, seemingly unimpressed by what they probably thought was either a tactless display of audacity or naivety on one’s part.
On the part of the passing security forces, while most of the operatives, all clutching AK-47 rifles, looked at this writer with a mix of amusement and indifference, some seemed rather edgy and perhaps watched one’s antics with seeming disbelief. The seizure or destruction of my clicking BlackBerry looked to be a distinct possibility at some point and indeed, that would not have been unheard of in situations of that nature in Nigeria.
In all, this writer counted fifty six (56) 4X4 trucks, three power bikes with sirens blaring and one Casspir armoured personnel carrier which brought up the rear.
In over two decades of being of domiciled in Lagos, this writer cannot recall having seen such a large retinue of defence and security forces on the move in one convoy.
Analysts believe that the show of force, coming at a time when terrorist attacks and insurgent action are occurring ever so frequently in places which lie to the north of Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, was aimed at sending strong signals to would-be mischief makers to keep of the mega-city of Lagos. It is also expected to assure the apprehensive multitude of fifteen million Lagosians that the security forces are ready to face any challenge, if and when the need arises.