Nigeria suffered its worst Independence Day tragedy ever last Monday as gunmen stormed hostels of three higher institutions in Mubi, Adamawa State, and killed about 48 students. The massacre in the evening of the nation’s 52nd Independence anniversary on October 1 involved students of the Federal Polytechnic, School of Health Technology and Adamawa State University, all in Mubi.
The killings, reportedly perpetrated by about 50 gunmen in spite of a curfew in the town, caught all the security agencies in the area napping. Reports indicate that there was no attempt to interdict the assailants, as security officials did not arrive the scenes of the multiple murders until about 5.30 am on October 2, even though the massacre began around 10.30pm on October 1. Some newspaper accounts said they only came in to pack the corpses to the mortuary several hours after the gruesome attacks. Some suspects have, however, been arrested in the town.
The unconscionable murder of students in university hostels is a gory, new dimension to the problem of insecurity in the country. It is horrible and unacceptable that so many students are killed without any interdiction of the attackers by the security agencies. This disgraceful incident is a sad commentary on policing in Nigeria. The police and other security agencies should be on alert at all times, especially in the Northern part of the country, which has been under the siege of terrorists since last year.
The State Security Service (SSS) is also expected to have its ears on the ground to pre-empt such dastardly attacks. From the Mubi incident, it is glaring that there was no effective security arrangement for that area. It is unfortunate that insecurity in the country is increasing instead of abating, despite all the assurances from the Federal Government. The agenda of terrorists to instill fear in Nigerians is succeeding as planned.
Nigerians cannot afford to allow this situation to persist, because it has the potential of driving a wedge between the North and other parts of the country, and may threaten Nigeria’s stability. Already, it is beginning to appear foolhardy for any Southerner, Christian or Muslim, to remain in Northern Nigerian.
The freedom of Christians in that part of the country to worship in their churches has been greatly circumscribed. No responsible government should tolerate a situation in which students or other citizens are killed by terrorists. The government, so far, has not come up with any effective plan to curtail the activities of extremist gunmen in Northern Nigeria.
This situation is of great concern to all peace-loving Nigerians. Security of the nation is the primary responsibility of the government. It has become necessary for the people to demand that effective measures are put in place by the authorities to protect Nigerians in the troubled parts of the country. This persistent insecurity reflects poorly on the competence of the government and security agencies.
The government should, therefore, review the efficiency of its security agencies, including the Joint Task Force (JTF). The JTF needs to be re-invigourated to enable it rise to the challenge of securing troubled areas of the country. Its officers and those of other security agencies need to be kept on their toes. The mindless guerilla warfare in Northern Nigeria is fast making the area ungovernable. Both the Federal and State governments are clearly unable to stop the killings.
It is necessary, therefore, for the government to restrategise on terrorism in the country with a view to stopping it. In the present instance of the Mubi attacks, we urge the relevant security agencies to get to the bottom of the massacre. Some reports have linked the attacks to a recent election in the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi. Although the reports indicated that the election was peaceful, the fact that eyewitnesses to some of the attacks said the gunmen identified and killed their victims from a prepared list of names suggests that the incident may be more than the usual terrorist attacks that the country has been suffering of late.
However, the attacks followed the recent discovery of two bomb factories, and the apprehension of some suspects, in the town. It behooves the security agencies to get to the root of the massacre to unearth the motives that informed it. This will help in determining and fishing out the persons behind the dastardly act. The incident should not be allowed to end up like other killings in the country for which nobody was arrested or punished.
We sympathise with Adamawa State and the families that lost their members in this sad incident. It is painful, indeed, for young promising students to be killed in this way. Government must do everything possible to bring perpetrators of this heinous act to justice. Failure to do this and prevent recurrence of such massacre will seriously dent the nation’s image both locally and abroad.