As I left my base in Lagos for Abuja yesterday, October 30, 2022, I was a bit apprehensive. The plane was more than half empty. I visit Abuja frequently. Never have I had cause to fear anything. But, as the Air Peace Flight made to land, I looked down and remembered that British Airways has cancelled its flights to Abuja until November 7. Suddenly, the trees and rocks close to the airport looked like some terrorists gearing up to cause some havoc.
The picture of some Americans queuing up to board the next available flight out of Nigeria also flashed in my mind. It was then the import of the statement by the United States Embassy in Nigeria dawned on me. The Embassy had, on Sunday, October 23, 2022, warned of a possible terrorist attack in Abuja. The likely targets include, among other places, worship centres, government buildings, shopping malls, hotels, bus terminals, international organisations and schools. Sequel to this, it said it would offer reduced services until further notice. It also authorized its employees and their families to leave Nigeria.
The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and some other Western nations issued similar security alerts. They have all warned their citizens to beware of moving in and around Abuja. And to show how serious this matter is, these embassies have repeated this travel advisory on at least two other occasions.
This has heightened the atmosphere of fear in the capital city. In panic, some schools and businesses shut down operations. Some people have restricted their movements around the city. It is as if some strange objects are about to descend on the nation.
Perhaps, this panic mode informed the intention of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to douse tension. But he went about it the wrong way. He dismissed the terror alert and wondered why the United States was not able to predict the school shootings and other senseless killings that occur in the US occasionally. According to our minister, Nigerians are safer now than at any time in recent times. He urged people to stop spreading unverified news.
Pity! The questions for the minister are: do we need to live in denial? What do the US, UK and others gain by issuing terror alerts if they don’t have cause to do so? And have our security agencies not been issuing their own alerts?
The Department of State Services (DSS), for instance, had raised alarms over plots to destabilize the country by criminal elements. It did so in 2019, 2020 and 2021. In each of those alarms, Alhaji Mohammed did not condemn the secret police for disturbing the peace of the country.
Nevertheless, we cannot equate our country with the US when it comes to intelligence gathering and security. There may be occasional shootings by lone mad individuals who have access to guns. But since the September 11, 2001 otherwise called 9/11 terrorist attacks by al-Qaida in the US, there has not been any major attack of that magnitude in that country. Even the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, was eliminated in his compound in Pakistan in 2011 by the elite US Navy Seal. The US soldiers also raided kidnappers’ den in Nigeria in 2020, killed six of those terrorists and rescued their citizen, Philip Watson, who was held hostage in Nigeria at the time. Rather than berate the US, our government should be humble enough to seek help or collaboration with that country on security. Our various security agencies should also endeavour to share intelligence and work with a common purpose.
In any case, we do not even need America to tell us what is staring us in the face. Last year, the Governor of Niger State, Abubakar Bello, raised the alarm over the massive influx of Boko Haram terrorists in his state, which is very close to Abuja. Nasarawa State Governor, Abdulahi Sule, raised a similar alarm last year, saying the insurgents had settled at the border with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Even the presidency warned of a possible attack by terrorists from Mali during the 2021 Christmas holiday.
Obviously, we have been contending with terrorists for some time now. Last July, they invaded the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja. We thought the centre was highly fortified. But when the invaders came, there was no resistance. They attacked the facility and released over 800 inmates, including 68 Boko Haram members, from detention. Just as we were lamenting over this assault, the terrorists attacked the elite Presidential Guard Brigade in Abuja and killed five soldiers. They even had the effrontery to threaten that they would kidnap President Muhammadu Buhari. From the look of things, it is apparent that these terrorists have infiltrated Abuja and are only waiting for the right opportunity to strike again.
Those doubting the US alert should note that the country issues security alerts from time to time in countries prone to terrorist attacks. It has done so in places like Afghanistan and Somalia. The latest one in Somalia was issued October 6, 2022. The US issued alerts and started evacuating its citizens from Afghanistan before the Taliban struck and took over the government in August 2021. Also, on October 20, 2022, the US Department of State warned citizens not to travel to that country due to armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism and kidnapping.
Rather than live in denial, what we expect our government to do is to assure us that despite the plots of the enemies of Nigeria, we would triumph. They should calm the citizens down by showing in concrete terms part of what they are doing to ward off the terrorists.
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, came close to doing this last week when he ordered the Commissioners of Police in the 36 states and the FCT as well as the heads of police tactical squads to re-strategise security management in their jurisdictions. He said the police would do a counter-terrorism incident simulation exercise tagged ‘Operation Darkin Gaggawa’ in Abuja and enjoined people to go about their normal business. The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, further assured that the police would not take any threat intelligence for granted.
It is heartwarming that some of the efforts of the security agencies are yielding dividends. Last week, some suspects were arrested and some explosives confiscated at an estate in Abuja. Nigerians should be very mindful of their movements these days. As the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would say, if you see something, say something. Meanwhile, Abuja is still calm. At the end of the day, these alerts and alarms may turn out to be all sound and fury, signifying nothing. Whatever, let’s keep our eyes open.
Re: Atiku ‘s phobia and Tinubu’s poisoned Holy Communion
Atiku Abubakar and Ahmed Tinubu are totally not morally qualified to aspire to the presidency because of their crass disregard for the rotational agreement in their respective political parties. Morality should define politics otherwise politicians should be regarded as wild animals whose everyday life revolves around immorality, impunity, and without rules of human engagements. All Nigerians are on the same page that the core problem of Nigerian unity is lack of trust, equity, fairness and justice in all aspects of governance. To find pragmatic solution to the challenges of disunity and mistrust, Nigerians through the sonorous and noble voice of the ex-president of Nigeria, Dr Alex Ekwueme, agreed on the rotation of presidency among the six geopolitical zones given the unassailable fact that there are capable elites in all the geopolitical zones that can be president of Nigeria. Sadly, those who naively believe that they will be dictating what will happen in Nigeria, the supposed “Northern political Emirates establishment” (or the Caliphate Colonialists apology to Vanguard columnist Dr. Douglas Anele) bluntly refused to agree on the rotational agreement based on the geopolitical zones on the ground that when it comes to North Central geopolitical zones, the Christian president will emerge; an ‘abomination’ to them for a Christian from the North to be president.
-Polycarp Onwubiko, JP, Author and public affairs analyst, Awka Anambra state, +234 906 112 3026
Mr. Casmir Igbokwe, greetings. Thanks so much for the nice ideas you brought to the limelight in your article. Keep it up.
-Rev. Fr. Tom Asen, +234 808 894 0828
Igbokwe, you see, Nigeria is an abnormal country because it was founded on deceit. This present APC govt. has made everybody to speak negatively in tongues, and can be likened to when Ben Hadad ruled Samaria, when women were eating their babies. Solution: peaceful dissolution of the Nigerian union, or if to be together, on what terms!
-Barry in Ogoniland, +234 803 435 6380
Dear Casy, please note that APC and PDP, as political parties, are of different nomenclatures but same in certain respects, to wit: (1) their organizational behaviour, same. The two parties selfishly change colours like chameleon while pretending to do so in the interests of the masses. (2) The individual interests of the members of the two parties take priority, and so, the members do everything possible to outwit each other within the party. The Ayu-Tambuwal-Wike-Atiku and President Buhari-Lawan-Abdulahi-Tinubu debacles are veritable case-studies wherein the Bourdillon Chief, on discovery of the high-wire intrigues within their party and burdened by frustration against his sense of entitlement, retorted publicly that it was his turn to rule Nigeria. (3)The two parties, on matters of ZONING, began ‘speaking in tongues’ and, in the process, denied the right zone, the Southeast, their rightful place in the national political equation. The two parties forgot that he who covets what rightly is not his, is euphemistically, a thief and so, should face curses and the attendant restlessness! Hence, the instability in their parties!
-Steve Okoye, Awka, 08036630731.
Casmir, that Tinubu is overtly educationally deficient needs not be over-emphasised. How can he apologise? What someone is ignorant of is certainly above him/her! ‘From rotten situation to a bad one’- I dey laugh o! He should not toy with ‘our divinely used items of worship’. He is an anathema. Holy Communion represents the flesh and blood of Jesus. Words like rat and poison should never be linked to it in utterances and in whatever disguise. More so, he is not a believer and should be seen as deliberately denigrating our altar! Anyway, he has never shown respect to Christians, hence, I am not amazed at his gaffe! Incompetence starts from the mind/thought process. Senility challenges have eventually caught up with Tinubu. Nature cannot be short changed.
-Mike, Mushin Lagos, +234 816 111 4572
Either by accident or design, acts of desperation and verbal slips, as we now observe, form part of the necessary evils of the trail of presidential electioneering. It is not out of place for the electorate to be fed with such mouth-watering promises such as building an uncommon bridge over where there’s no river. Ross Perot – the Texan billionaire – while addressing a gathering of High School students got his campaign train instantly derailed when one of the students criticized Perot’s use of the expression ”you Americans” instead of ”we Americans” as if he wasn’t one of them. Occasioned by this unpardonable slip, Perot was labelled as an empty suit with more Dollars in his head than sense. Atiku has exhibited so much desperation: hence, his erratic and embarrassing reactions which have helped to expose his divisive agenda as opposed to the ‘unifier’ that he claims to be. Tinubu’s use of an allegory to evade the science of climate change is not abnormal. But his ’emi lokan’ appeal needs more explanation – Is it his personal or regional turn?
-Edet Essien Esq. Cal South, 0803 795 2470