A nation under siege By Lawal Ogienagbon

Nigeria is not at war, but it is at war with itself Why do I say this? In the past three years, internal security has been stretched beyond its limit while trying to curtail the activities of those who have declared war on the country. With no corresponding response from the security agencies to their murderous acts, these renegades have made the country virtually ungovernable.

Yet, we have a government and a thing like this is happening. It is the job of government to secure the country and ensure the safety of lives and properties; but doing this has become an Herculean task for the present administration. These days, all sorts of characters with guns strike at will, killing, maiming and looting.

If Boko Haram is not doing its own, bandits are busy terrorising the people. No part of the country is safe now from the grip of these bad boys. Perhaps, if it had been Boko Haram alone, the public would have known the direction to face to seek divine solution to this gargantuan problem. As things are, the people are between the devil and deep blue sea.

Who do we run to or who do we run from between Boko Haram elements and your run-of-the-mill bandit? None, I say, because there is no difference between them; it is like six and half a dozen. They are only different in name, but similar in evil deeds. As if to see who will outdo the other, these renegades have been unleashing terror on the country in a relay race like manner. As soon as one finishes a lap, it hands over the baton to the other and vice versa.

Between Sunday and now, the nation has known no rest from these animals in human skin, apologies to the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. And I tell you, they, especially Boko Haram, are not selective in those they attack. They attack civilians, military and para-military personnel. So, if the military and the police can be attacked, who then is safe from Boko Haram and those we commonly refer to as die-hard rogues?

Although, Boko Haram has a history of attacking military and police formations, it has never done so in quick succession as it did on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, it hit the elite Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, and on Monday, it took its destructive campaign to the Force Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) Headquarters in Abuja. That same Monday, gunmen struck in the polytechnic town of Auchi in Edo State, looting and killing.

In Jaji, 15 were officially confirmed dead. The figure is believed to be higher than that unofficially; two reportedly died in the SARS attack. Fifteen persons, among them three soldiers, were said to have died in Auchi. Chances are that the casualty figures are likely to be than these by the time we take proper stock of what happened. I will be putting it mildly to say I’m not shocked by the attacks on the military and police formations considering what they went through in Boko Haram’s hand not too long ago.

The attack on the 244 Recce Brigade also in Kaduna a few months ago prompted the army to devise means of stopping the Islamic group’s suicide bombers from hitting home easily. The metallic security device, we were told, can stop any bomber who runs into it at the entrance of any building, particularly a church, where it is placed. Were there no security device at the entrance to the church in Jaji last Sunday when Boko Haram struck? Or is it a matter of complacency by the army? Could it have relied only on its name-army- to scare away the fundamentalists?

What about the police? With the havoc Boko Haram wreaked on the Force Headquarters not too long ago, should the police have gone to sleep so quickly in taking steps to tame the group? Does it not speak volume about our police that Boko Haram could successfully hit another of their facility and get away? The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), it was reported, has ordered that security be beefed up in all police and public buildings, is that to say, there were no such security measures in place before now?

Boko Haram and hoodlums will always be a step ahead of our security agencies if they are only quick at taking fire brigade measures. With the way Boko Haram has been terrorising some parts of the country, these agencies don’t need to be told that they have to be pro-active and not reactive to curtail the group’s activities. If they continue like this, it will only amount to shutting the stable when the horse has bolted away.

But for how long will the people continue to live in fear of Boko Haram and hoodlums? The fear of these people is the beginning of wisdom for many Nigerians now. We live in fortresses, yet, we are not safe. Billions of Naira are voted for security and defence, but we don’t know how the money is spent because neither us nor our properties are safe. We-the leaders and the led- are at the mercy of renegades, who have become law unto themselves. Will we ever know peace?

Yes, we can, if the government can get its act together and use its might to do what should be done in matters like this. Should a government keep quiet in the face of serious challenge to its authority by renegades? The answer is no. I pray that the government will summon courage to act before things get out of hand (as if they haven’t) because it will be too late to cry when the head is off. No renegade can be bigger or mightier than government, except a government which does not know the enormity of its power.

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In the beginning...Let there be Light http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japheth_J._Omojuwa

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