20 Nov

The week ahead – Boko Haram will probe for more signs of weakness

After weeks of relative silence, Boko Haram unleashed terror at a trailer park in Yola, Adamawa state, killing over 34 people. The next day, female suicide bombers hit the GSM market in Kano, killing 15 and injuring 20. This was followed in quick succession by an announcement from the Army of the arrest of two of the most wanted Boko Haram insurgents, bring to eleven, the suspects that have been captured. Then, that announcement was followed rapidly by the announcement that 105 soldiers of the 157 Battalion had gone missing after an ambush by insurgents in Gudunbali, Borno state. Their commanding officer is also missing.

This week, South East governors met in Enugu over the agitation by pro-Biafran agitators, and asked the protesters to embrace peace in order to ensure the stability of the geopolitical zone. The governors also resolved to consult widely with other stakeholders towards a comprehensive engagement of the region in order to avert untoward developments resulting from recent events. Meanwhile, the Army warned the pro-Biafra agitators that it will do everything within the rules of engagement to protect the territorial integrity of the Nigerian state.

This week, gunmen invaded Odoni community of Sagama Local Government Area of Bayelsa state, and kidnapped the mother of Nigeria’s Under 23 Coach, Samson Siasia. While the Deputy Senate President claimed that he escaped an attempted assassination in Abuja.

Reports suggest that the former service chiefs in the last administration may be called in for questioning following the release of preliminary report of the security panel constituted by the President to probe arms procurement contracts, with former NSA Col. Sambo Dasuki, at the centre of the probe.

On Wednesday, the President sent a supplementary budget of N4.6 billion to the National Assembly for consideration and approval. According to the details of the document, N4.13 billion is earmarked for the payment of petroleum subsidies. Also during this week, the Minister of State for Petroleum, suggested that there will be a price review in January. These subsidy payments are coming as a biting energy scarcity cripples business activities and has made life a hell for Nigerians.

The international terminal of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, was thrown into darkness on Wednesday night following a power outage. Passengers had to make use of mobile phones as a means of illumination, while the Nigerian Immigration Service were forced to stop passenger facilitation after the Uninterruptible Power Supply system connected to their machines shut down. It took more than three hours for the situation to be resolved.

Citizens in Kogi state will go out to elect a new governor on Saturday, November 21. To this end, the Inspector General of Police has seconded a Deputy Inspector General of Police to oversee the process with active deployment of Marine Police Unit, the anti-bomb squad, Counter Terrorism Unit, Police Mobile Force, Force Intelligence and Mounted Troops, to complement the conventional police on the ground. He also deployed a Police helicopter to patrol the state, during and after the election. The main candidates in the poll are the incumbent governor, Idris Wada, and a predecessor, Abubakar Audu, who has governed the state twice, between 1992 and 1993, and 1999 and 2003.

COUNSEL

  • We continue to lend our voice to calls for a robust reform of the counter terror intelligence capacity of our security forces. We also call for urgent steps to be taken to improve on their specialist approach. Human lives are sacred and we expect the state to use all necessary means to protect and safe guard human lives, not only in the North East but across the country.
  • We urge all Nigerians to continue to support our military in the war against terror, and hope for the rescue of the missing troops. We also call on the military hierarchy to ensure that the welfare for families of fallen soldiers are taken care of.
  • We commend the governors in the South-East for the approach they have adopted towards the resolution of the wave of protests over the detention of the IPOB leader. However, they need to do more in terms of the economy of the region because, as we stated last week, we believe that the causes of the protests are mainly economic in nature. We urge all the stakeholders in the region to ensure they work the round the clock to stabilize situation. We understand the age long grievances of the protesters which are rooted in the failed Biafran secession of the 1960s, and urge the Nigerian state to assuage the feelings of all geo-political zones by altering the Constitution to devolve powers and give the geo-political zones more say in how they are goverened.
  • The Army’s intervention in the pro-Biafran protest is uncalled for, smacks of a dictatorial approach to solving a decades’ long issue, and betrays a lack of understanding of the root causes of the problem. The IPOB situation is an internal and civil matter that is better left for the Police and DSS. Despite the apparent lunacy of their leader in Radio Biafra, there is no evidence as of this moment that IPOB have embarked on an armed insurrection. We expect the Army to stay above the current fray, leave matters to internal security to deal with, and only intervene when there is an attempt to violently breach the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
  • While extending our sympathies to Mr. Siasia, we must point out that unfortunately, the Nigerian Police is a dysfunctional institution. Along with the Department of State Security, they have refused to evolve a national security strategy to curtail kidnapping and violent crimes. We urge the Minister of Interior to set up a mechanism to reform the Police as a matter of urgency.
  • Regarding the probe of the arms procurement contracts, we urge the Federal Government not to be hasty in arriving at conclusions, but to undertake a thorough audit of all inflows and outflows relating to the arms purchases, and to ascertain whether they correspond with the platforms that were said to have been bought or not.
  • The petroleum subsidy regime does more harm to the economy than good for the people it ought to benefit. The Minister of State, Petroleum, posited that the subsidy is still in place on account of magnanimity of the President. We do not appreciate this kind of magnanimity. We maintain that the petroleum subsidy is a drain on scarce national resources and should be removed as soon as it is practical and the sector fully deregulated. To make it practical however, sincere and practical mechanisms must be put in place to cushion the effects of the removal of subsidy. We are not unmindful of the abuses of the past, but knowing Nigerians elected a government on the mantra of change, we demand that they do better with the management of any accruable resources from the removal of fuel subsidy.
  • It is a national disgrace to have the lights go off at our premier airport. It shows the level of negligence by the agencies at the airport and calls to question the management capability of the heads of those agencies. We express doubt at the manner this outage happened and we call for a comprehensive investigation. We have reason to believe that criminal activities are often perpetrated during these outages and officials are complicit because of illicit profits to be made from such activity. Still on that, it is important that given the context of the plane bombing in Egypt, and the terror attacks in France, that activities at the airport are better monitored before Nigeria’s own homegrown insurgents, Boko Haram, become more daring and take advantage of such laxity to unleash terror.
  • The level of deployment of force for the Kogi polls shows the level of depravity of our electoral democracy. It is very sad, though necessary, for the protection of citizens. The signs for a peaceful election are not present, which makes the show of force a necessity . We urge electoral reforms to reduce incidences of insecurity that come with every election.