February 16, 2012
IT is with total delight and appreciation that we note the increasing capacity of our law enforcement agencies to come to terms with the unusual terrorist challenges posed to the nation by the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in various parts of northern Nigeria.
When the group, which is widely associated with the Al Qaeda worldwide Islamic terrorist network, made a surprising resurgence after it was crushed in 2009 by the regime of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua, everybody in the society was a victim because the group started targeting police and military facilities at will.
They issued threats and lived up to their words. They served notice on their next targets and in spite of efforts by the security agencies they were able to pull off stunning raids that left hundreds of citizens dead or injured and property in ruins. They even sent gunmen to kill Baba Fugu, the father in-law of Boko Haram’s slain leader, Yusuf Mohammed, a day after a conciliatory visit by former President Olusegun Obasanjo at the instance of the Federal Government.
An atmosphere of fear reigned supreme, as nobody, not even the President, was seen to be safe from the rampaging group. The signs that our state agencies of security, particularly the Nigerian Army and the State Security Services (SSS) are gradually getting on top of this ugly situation are many.
These include the discovery of their bomb factories and arms dumps in Suleija, Damaturu, Maiduguri and Kano; the capture of Abdul Qaqa, the spokesman of the group as well as the recapture of Kabiru Sokoto, a senior operative responsible for the Christmas Day church bombing in Madalla, Niger State.
There also have been a series of foiling of their hits on military facilities in Kaduna and Maiduguri. The security agencies are sifting useful information from those captured alive. Slowly but surely, we are getting to understand the enemy,their mode of operation, financial sponsors and moral backers in high and low places as well as their foreign connections.
Boko Haram has put Nigeria at the centre of world attention as a terrorist hotbed. This accounts for the many friendly gestures extended to our country by the USA, UK, the European Union, Israel, South Korea and others. They are ready to join forces with us to eliminate a virus which, if not tackled, will spread to other parts of the world.
The impact of the onslaughts by our security agencies is illustrated by the factionalisation of the group and the fact that a former implacable group committed only to the imposition of their own warped form of Islamic rule which runs counter to our constitution, now seems ready to embrace dialogue.
If our country is to eventually dialogue with this murderous group we must do so from the position of strength, having overcome the military threat by superior force. We seem to be well on the way to this juncture, as more and more patriotic Nigerians have started shaking off the climate of fear.
They are now speaking out against the group publicly, portraying them for the fact that they are not true Muslims but agents of national disintegration. We wish to call on the security
agencies not to relent in their brave and gallant efforts to assert the power of the nation and eliminate the threat posed by this sect. We have done it several times in the past and we must do it again.
The effort requires the cooperation and partnership of all Nigeria to help in alerting the security agencies on suspicious happenings within our neighbourhoods.
The high amount dedicated to security this year must be justified by ensuring that we acquire the necessary technology and strategies for overcoming this threat. A nation faced with a common enemy must put aside their differences and face the enemy together.
For our security agencies to continue making progress in their constitutional duty to protect all citizens,they need the cooperation of all Nigerians. We must stop seeing the Boko Haram threat through the prism of politics and religion.
Once again, we doff our hats to the men and women under arms empowered by the constitution to preserve the peace, law and order of the nation. They have done us proud so far, but the work ahead is still a lot.