The question being asked lately by Nigerians is if anyone is still safe considering the series of daring confrontations and successful attacks by terrorists in many parts of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Recently, Nigeria’s number one citizen, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari was served a ‘threat letter’ from the desk of the ‘invincible’ terrorists disturbing the peace of the nation.
Is it not a wonder that a country with battalions of tactically trained gallant soldiers, police and other security agencies is now living at the mercy of motorcycle-riding terrorists?
Is Nigeria Truly Facing Security Challenges?
In early April 2022, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, admitted that Nigeria truly has security challenges.
Adesina, who would speak boldly of his principal’s good performance any time he had the opportunity to, admitted the country is under security threat but that the war against insurgents didn’t start now in Nigeria.
Recently, in one of his publications, the presidential aide said security is everything that nobody can put aside.
“You have to be alive to enjoy every other thing government is providing; roads, rail, bridges, airports, food security, in fact, everything,” Adesina said.
He continued in the piece that “That is why whenever you hear President Buhari talk of the priorities of his administration for the country, he starts with security, stressing that before you can efficiently manage an organization, town, city, or country, you first have to secure it. He then proceeds to talk about reviving the economy and fighting corruption. But security is always number one.
“Does Nigeria have security challenges? Severe ones. I’ve always said it while adding that the government was taking up the gauntlet,” Adesina noted.
Abuja-Kaduna train attack
On 28 March 2022, terrorists attacked an Abuja–Kaduna onboard train in Katari, Kaduna State, Nigeria.
Scores of people were killed, while some were abducted by the terrorists. Subsequently, some of the victims regained freedom after the payment of ransom.
The horrible development prompted the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to briefly halt operations along the route. The route became operational, however, some days later.
The train attack had prompted a statement from Adesina, which, according to him, was misconstrued by some media platforms who submitted that he (Adesina) finally admitted Nigeria is at war.
The presidential aide berated the phrase describing it as silly and idiotic.
According to him, those quoting him wrongly failed to know that Nigeria had been at war against insurgency since 2009 when Boko Haram manifested in the Northeast.
Kuje Prison Attack
Weeks after Adesina’s defence of his principal’s fight and victory against insurgents, terrorists launched another daring attack on the Kuje Medium Security Custodial Centre in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.
Precisely on July 5, 2022, the daring terrorists invaded Kuje Prison and freed over 800 suspects, including all the Boko Haram members that have been in detention.
The deadly group in a well-planned operation shot their way into the correctional facility after overpowering security guards, HausaToday reports.
The government said 879 detainees escaped, including all 68 imprisoned Boko Haram members. About half of the escapees were recaptured, one confirmed to be from the violent extremist group.
The attackers may have responded to Islamic State’s (ISIS) call in April to free jailed fighters. Detained Ansaru (an al-Qaeda affiliate in Nigeria) members were also believed to have escaped.
Terrorists Threatened to Kidnap President Buhari, Governor El-Rufai
President Buhari eventually got served a ‘breakfast’ too. In what has been described as a major mockery of the incumbent leadership, terrorists, who kidnapped passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train on March 28, threatened in a video clip that they will kidnap and kill Nigeria’s number one citizen.
The assailants, in the video clip seen by HausaToday, said they will abduct President Buhari and incumbent Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.
This is as they also boasted that they would destroy the country, kill the remaining passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train in their custody and sell out the others.
The treat came a few weeks after the convoy of an advance team of the president was attacked on its way to Buhari’s hometown of Daura, Katsina, ahead of Sallah.
Attack on Presidential Guards
Another embarrassing episode of the mockery of the nation’s security architecture happened on Sunday, July 24, 2022, when terrorists again launched an attack on some soldiers of the Guards Brigade, who have the mandate to protect President Buhari.
Reports have it that the soldiers of the 7 Guards Battalion were on routine patrol along Kubwa – Bwari road when they ran into the ambush by the suspected terrorists in the nation’s capital city.
The latest attacks have raised series of questions about the government’s ability to protect its citizens.
The recurrent incident has caused panic among many citizens, especially residents of Abuja who have witnessed a few terrifying episodes from the terrorists lately.
A Look Into The 2022 Budget For Defence And Security
In October 2021, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, announced Nigeria’s 2022 national budget of N16.39 trillion appropriated for the year.
From the budget, defence & security got an allocation of N2.41 trillion (15%). These figures were made open at the public presentation and breakdown of the highlights of the 2022 appropriation bill at the ministry’s auditorium in Abuja, HausaToday recalls.
Despite this chunk of money allocated and reportedly spent on securing Nigeria, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), bandit terrorists and some so-called unknown gunmen have made a laughing stock of the country’s security architecture.
Tension In Abuja Environs
Worried by the happenings in Abuja lately, HausaToday interviewed a residence of Anagada, Gwagwalada area council who lamented that Abuja is no longer safe for both locals and elites.
The source who goes by the name Joseph Olufemi said there is tension all over the federal capital territory and that residents now sleep with one eye open.
Olufemi said serious kidnapping and robbery incidents are happening at his location and in other parts of the city.
When asked about the response of the security agencies, Olufemi said: “My brother it’s very worst even more than worsts this very week almost five (5) commission officers in Nigeria just got killed in Bwari.
“Even all schools have been closed down since yesterday because bandits are treating them.
“So Abuja is very dangerous right now.”
The Big Question is; Why Are The Terrorists Threatening To Kidnap Buhari And Governor El-Rufai?
Sharing his thought with HausaToday about the country’s security situation and recent threats by terrorists to Buhari and El-Rufai, Nigerian journalist, David Hundeyin, said: “We can only speculate as to what the intentions of the terrorists are this time.
“Bearing in mind that these are people whose entire mission and operation are shrouded in several layers of mystery and misdirection, it is even possible that this is merely a way to divert public attention away from those most responsible for enabling their atrocities.”
Hundeyin observed that El-Rufai is the governor of the ‘most unsafe’ state in Nigeria which only 4 months ago witnessed the largest terror attack in the country’s history.
For President Buhari, the investigative journalist said Nigeria under the former military man slipped to number 142 of 163 countries on the Global Peace Ranking behind the likes of Niger, Chad and Palestine.
On why the terrorists may have directed their threats to Buhari and El-Rufai, Hundeyin said: “Both men share direct and indirect responsibility for the empowerment of terrorists in Nigeria, particularly El-Rufai who has openly admitted to providing material support for them on at least one occasion.”
He added: “I find it extremely unlikely and convenient that the same terrorists who owe so much to these two men would suddenly take it upon themselves to launch a campaign against them.
“I find it even more convenient that said campaign has been announced from the rooftop, effectively providing advance warning to 2 already heavily-protected individuals. For reference, this is significantly more warning than the terror attack victims in Owo received.”
“My personal position is that this is narrative warfare on the part of the terrorists to effectively exonerate 2 of their biggest direct and indirect benefactors in all of Nigeria. I absolutely do not buy it for one second,” Hundeyin reiterated.
Thoughts From A Security Expert
HausaToday in our quest to dig further into understanding why terrorists will single out two leaders among many to threaten with abduction and death amidst the ongoing unrest, interviewed a Preventive Terrorism Consultant, Author and President of Africa Security Forum based in the United Kingdom, Temitope Olodo.
The security expert when asked to share his thought on why the daring terrorists directed their threat to Buhari and El-Rufai said;
“Whether we want to admit it or not, both individuals are critical players in the New Nigeria Agenda and they were involved in commentaries pre-2015 election that centred around perceived marginalisation. There is a school of thought that align with the thinking that some of the elements responsible for 80% plus serious violence in Northern Nigeria felt abandoned by the two individuals in question.
“There is another school of thought that believes the recent successful attacks by these hybrid bandits had increased their confidence that they have the capacity to hit at the heart of government without any difficulty.”
Is there something more Nigerians need to know about the threats?
“Yes, Nigerians need to know that the current security infrastructure in Nigeria is a big hurdle to security matters and there is an urgent need to modernize the structure to align with global best practice.”
Recently there was an attack on the presidential guards… coming after the attack on his convoy going to Katsina during the festive period. Now that even the President is no longer safe, can Nigerians conclude that the president failed in security despite the claims of winning against terrorism?
Temi responded saying: “For FGN to claim victory in their war against terror then we need to measure their successes against the global benchmark and specific criteria.
“Since 2015 to date, FGN has never produced an official report about their counter-terrorism activities which is available in the public domain. In the past 7 years, our global ranking in terrorism or serious crime management is not improving.
“The attacks on the Presidential and Governor’s convoy only attest to the fact that our security management protocols are weak.”
Can Nigerians conclude that these incessant attacks are political or just the major agenda of some criminal elements?
“There are no doubts in my mind that there is evidence pointing in the direction of political involvement but the majority is purely criminality,” Olodo said.