The unrelenting wave of attacks on Christian places of worship by the militant sect, Boko Haram, continued on Sunday, October 28, with the bombing of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Kaduna, the Kaduna State capital. About ten worshippers were killed in the bombing carried out by a lone suicide bomber who drove a bomb-laden vehicle into the walls of the church, as the congregation was about to be served the Holy Communion. More than a hundred worshippers were injured in the incident.
President Goodluck Jonathan has, as usual, condemned the attack and assured the people that the country would not give in to forces of terror and retardation. The president’s recurring assurances in the face of the government’s inability to contain the Boko Haram insurgency have, however, become hollow. They are no better than clanging cymbals in the ears of a people that have become so traumatized by the failure of the goverment to stop the attacks. The incessant assurances of the president on the Boko Haram problem have become meaningless to Nigerians, as his government appears to have given up on the battle against the insurgents.
There is really nothing to show that the government is still making serious efforts to fight Boko Haram. The impression that has been created by recent incidents is that the authorities have capitulated to this sect. One of the incidents that buttress this view is the handling of the recent reported arrest of a Boko Haram commander, Shuaibu Bama, in the house of Ahmad Zanna, a Senator representing Borno Central in the upper legislative chamber. Since the sect leader was arrested by the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri about a fortnight ago and Senator Zanna confirmed the terrorist to be his nephew, nothing serious has been done by the government and its security agencies to demonstrate interest in getting to the root of the operations of the sect. Instead of handling the Senator in a way to get him to shed light on his nephew and his involvement with the sect, Nigerians are being entertained with cross-allegations between Zanna and former Borno State governor,
Ali Modu Sheriff, on the actual place the sect leader was arrested. Zanna has alleged that Bama was not arrested in his house but that of Sheriff, a claim that Sheriff has disputed. Zanna further claimed that the JTF killed 15 innocent boys playing football on a field in Maiduguri, but decided to frame him with the Bama arrest because of his protests against extra-judicial killings in the town. The ongoing altercation on matters extraneous to the matter at hand, and the indecisive handling of the suspects by the authorities, do not suggest that the government is serious about solving the Boko Haram problem. Government’s incessant statements on the attacks without any success in stopping them have become boring. We expect the president to go beyond speechmaking and demonstrate leadership necessary to put the problem behind Nigeria
. It is not enough for security agencies to only quickly move in to prevent reprisal attacks after Boko Haram succeeds in bombing churches. They ought to be more proactive in their assignment of protecting churches against attacks. What is urgently required now is success in this assignment, not condolences as we have it now. We condole with the people who suffered injuries or lost loved ones in this dastardly incident. Let government agencies do all they can to provide succour for the victims.
The bombings also demand prompt and decisive action from the authorities. It is unacceptable that people now live in fear of attacks in the Northern part of the country. Security of the people, as we have had occasion to quote from the Nigerian Constitution several times, is the primary responsibility of the government. A government that cannot secure life and property in the country is not worth the name. It is on the brink of failure, no matter what it is able to achieve in other sectors of national life. Boko Haram, we daresay, has become an albatross for the Jonathan administration. Whether this government likes it or not, its success or failure will be largely determined by how it is able to resolve the insurgency logjam. W
e, therefore, urge the government to rededicate itself to the fight against terrorism in the country. It must strive to stop the insurgency through information obtained from the suspects that are now in its custody. This is the only way to demonstrate that it is serious and committed to the bid to end the problem. The way to end this insurgency is not for the authorities to continue changing the leadership of the police and other security agencies in a game of musical chairs.
It has become glaring that the frequent change of guards in the agencies has not resolved the problem. This goes to show that beyond the issue of the person leading these agencies at any point in time, the government has to demonstrate sincerity on the matter. It should not give up the fight as appears to be the case now, and there should be no sacred cows that cannot be brought to book.