10 Jul

The week ahead – More suicide bombings ahoy

More suicide bombings on the way
The government of President Buhari appears to have made a little shift from the previous government’s strategy on tackling Boko Haram. The doctrine of “relentless pursuit” is not being fully adapted, and the attempt to deny Boko Haram freedom to move around without hindrance seems to have been hampered with the despite the reinstatement of road blocks and check points in flash point areas. Within the last week, the sect launched coordinated suicide attacks across three states: Kano, Kaduna and Plateau. Thankfully, security agents intercepted the masterminds at a checkpoint in Gombe, and they have been detained. In the coming week, one thing is very clear; if the government fails to revamp the intelligence network for gathering information and stopping the attacks, the terrorists will continue to have a field day wreaking havoc on innocent citizens. Boko Haram appears to have very active urban cells who are likely to be emboldened with their apparent success and will continue suicide bombings across the region, with their eyes set on Abuja, the federal capital.

Another sore spot is the security of the North Central is the daily killings of persons in indigenous communities in Plateau State. On Tuesday, villagers who left for a bank verification exercise were ambushed and hacked to death. These have been blamed on the activities of Fulani herdsmen but intelligence reports suggest there is an active Boko Haram cell in the North Central, and they have been conducting these mass serial killings with almost reckless abandon. Citizens in the affected areas are advised to exercise caution as they go about their normal lives because danger still lurks around the villages and high ways leading to these communities.

Political deadlock at the National Assembly will go on
The political situation is still very tense at the national level. We had hoped the intervention of President Buhari would have resolved the National Assembly crisis but it seems far from over. An APC senator petitioned the Inspector General of Police alleging the rule book guiding the conduct of the election of the principal officers was forged, leading the PDP to claim that the opposition is out to remove the deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, at all costs.

In the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, conceded the selection of Majority Leader to Femi Gbajabiamila but with a proviso he must not nominate himself, thereby leading to another deadlock. This situation is not likely to improve any soon as all the parties involved in this matter are sticking their positions, despite its negative impact on the image of the new government, and derailing whatever good will they may have garnered.

EFCC will bark louder, but will they bite?
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arrested some former governors and got a judge at the Federal High Court, Kano, to remand the former Jigawa State governor, Sule Lamido, and his two sons in prison pending the next hearing of the case in September.

Earlier, a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, had reached a plea deal with the EFCC and forfeited most of the assets that he acquired illegally during his time as state governor. Also, ex-governor, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa State, and former governor, Ikedi Ohakim, of Imo state are currently being detained by the EFCC and awaiting court appearances.

More former public officers and their cronies are bound to be arrested and queried by the EFCC in the coming weeks as part of a new drive by Ibrahim Lamorde, the EFCC boss, to revamp the war on corruption, a drive which began with the swearing in of President Buhari. Many are sceptical of the outcome due to the past poor prosecution of cases by the agency, but some are of the view that the government of President Buhari may compel the EFCC to get its act together.

Recommendations
The federal government needs to reorganize the intelligence services and also pursue a programme of countering violent extremism, in order to reduce incidences of recruitment and radicalization of young people. A plan for the economy of the region has to be put in place in short order.

The people of the North-Central, especially the isolated villages need urgent security assistance because the menace of active gunmen be it Boko Haram terrorists or Fulani herdsmen is causing mass migration to safer states, and this will lead to more conflict in future, as well as the collapse of the economy of the region.

Nigeria may have to appeal to the factions at the National Assembly to accept their fate and move on. But since none of them appears willing to shift ground on a genuine reconciliation, what effect this will have on the running of the country remains to be seen.

The EFCC is no longer trusted by Nigerians, and this will remain so until they jail some former public officers who clearly misappropriated public funds, but they can only happen under a reformed EFCC. So we urge the Federal Government to hasten the process of reorganisation of the corruption watchdog.