One of the most distressing things that have happened to Nigeria since the security threat posed by Boko Haram got out of hand is the seeming inability of the country’s security agencies to square up with the challenge. But the failure becomes even more appalling when the terrorist sect, in an act of dare-devilry, infiltrates the base of our security agencies and deal devastating blows to the people and facilities therein.
This ugly scenario has played itself out on a number of occasions. But the most recent was the twin attacks on the headquarters of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Abuja and the military cantonment in Jaji, Kaduna State. The two attacks were not only devastating in terms of the damage recorded, it was embarrassing to the military establishment, considering the clinical efficiency with which the attackers carried out their dastardly act.
We have had cause to say on a number of occasions that the Federal Government has demonstrated its incapacitation in the face of terror. The government has severally failed to arrest the slide in security despite all the arsenal at its disposal. Almost on daily basis, parts of the North are subjected to bombings and shootings which leave death and destruction in their wake. Clearly, the country is in a state of siege owing to the nefarious activities of Boko Haram. Government security network has failed to tackle this menace.
The much the people get are mere assurances that terrorism will be stamped out. But the real tragedy in all of this is the inability of the police and the army to protect even their own territory. If they are taken unawares in their bid to protect the generality of Nigerians, we expect that their bases should be adequately protected from external assault. So far, our expectations in this regard have been misplaced. The embarrassment which this failure engenders in the psyche of Nigerians was replayed last week with the bombing of SARS office and Jaji military cantonment.
In the case of Jaji, the Defence Headquarters has taken some actions to register its disappointment with those whose responsibility it is to ensure security of life and property at the cantonment. Principal among them are the immediate redeployment of the Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Air Vice Marshal Ibrahim Abdullahi Kure and the Corps Commander, Infantry Corps Centre, Major General Mohammed Danhonne Isa. The Defence Headquarters has also raised a Board of Inquiry to unravel the circumstances of the bomb explosion which rocked St. Andrew’s Protestant Church at the Jaji military cantonment.
As the inquiry goes on, there are also speculations that the bomb which exploded in Jaji may have been manufactured within the cantonment. Whatever may be the case, and without prejudice to whatever the findings of the Board of Inquiry may be, one fact that cannot be discountenanced is that there was failure of security at the cantonment. If it were not so, the facility would not have been easily overrun by terrorists.
It is the embarrassment that this situation represents that irked the military authorities into taking the steps they have taken. We urge for a thorough investigation into this ugly incident. The authorities should ensure that those who may have played any complicit role in the act do not go unpunished. Nigerians are keenly waiting for the outcome of the inquiry because it will help them to either shore up their waning confidence in our security operatives or make them to lose hope in them completely.
Nigerians need to be reassured, one way or the other, that the country has not surrendered to gunmen and suicide bombers. The situation at SARS headquarters is equally appalling. Reports have it that about 40 gunmen invaded the SARS premises. We consider this invasion a shame on the part of SARS. What happened to military intelligence? Does vigilance still have any place in security matters? The problem here is that our security agencies do not ever imagine that anything can go wrong until it actually goes wrong.
They prefer to react to situations rather than take steps to nip looming dangers in the bud. This incident should equally be investigated with a view to knowing what went wrong. While that is being done, government must rise to the occasion on security matters. This dance of death has become clearly unacceptable.