There are stories that are disturbing and unpleasant to hear. The news of a terrorist attack on the nation’s capital is one of such news. As the nation’s seat of power, the security of Abuja should be the primary concern of every citizen and government in power in Nigeria.
Nothing is more pleasant to the ears than hearing the news debunking the fallacy, over the weekend, of news of a letter in circulation purportedly by the authorities of Nigerian Customs Service-revealing “the existence of Boko Haram terrorists camps (BHTs) in and around the Federal Capital Territory.” The purported but scary memo has exposed the plan of terrorists to launch a deadly attack on some selected targets within the territory.
It listed 5 camps set up by the terror group in strategic enclaves of Abuja: the Kunyam bush (along airport road), Robuchi (Gwagwalada forest), Kwakwu forest (Kuje) Unaisha forest ( Toto LG of Nasaraw state) and Gegu forest (Kogi state).
It is good news that the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS) has denied issuing a red alert about terrorists regrouping around the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Despite denying the memo which reportedly emanated from the Nigerian Customs Service, the Nigerian government should be proactive and be on the alert about the uncertain security situation in the country. The security agencies and their personnel should not go to sleep on hearing the soothing news that NCS did not release any warnings of attack. There is work to do. There is need to do a thorough investigation to find out the source of the alarming threat? Not only that, the culprit must be punished for causing unnecessary public fears and emboldening the determination of terrorists to attack the capital of our nation.
If the truth is to be told, the security situation in Abuja is precarious and not different from other places under the imminent deadly assault by terrorists. The pockets of coordinated offensives by daredevil terrorists in all the states that have common border with FCT is a good food for thought. Based on the reality of the situation on ground, residents of the FCT do not need warning of a possible attack. The signs are as clear as daylight. The FCT Administration, Abuja residents and the security agencies should look into their hearts, be open to truth and accept the reality that security of lives and property is a collective responsibility. It is high time we focused our attention and fight our common enemy and stop the apportioning of blame mentality.
With the recent discovery of terrorists camps in Nasarawa and Niger states, and a couple of intermittent and violent attacks in Kaduna and kogi states, inhabitants of Abuja city should not live in the delusion that they are not vulnerable to terrorist incursion. The report by Council on Foreign Relations about Abubakar Shekau’s blood thirsty “jihadist” faction establishing bases in north central Nigeria, particularly Niger State is frightening. Not long ago, Boko Haram released a video of its members celebrating Sallah eid el-fitr in a camp in Niger state.
In a related development, the Nigerian military discovered bomb factory and destroyed camp of a new terrorist group “Darul Salam” in Toto Local Government Area of Nasarawa state.
The major target of terrorist’s attack in central Nigeria is the Federal capital Territory. What we are witnessing today is the attempt by terrorist cells to regroup and launch an offensive on the heart of the nation. The government has built a fortress around Abuja. There have been escalation of minor crimes in the city. The security architecture of Abuja has proven to be impregnable so far. That notwithstanding, we cannot afford to be complacent. Sporadic attacks in the neighboring states of Abuja are a source of concern. Government should do whatever is humanly possible to forestall terrorist incursion into the city. An attack on Abuja is an attack on the entire nation.
According to World Economic Forum (WEF),cities are the new frontline of terrorism. It says: “The goal of today’s terrorist is not only to target civilians and spread fear but also to turn city residents against each other.” That terrorists target cities makes sense. Cities like Abuja May be potential targets of assault precisely because they are centres of political, economic and cultural power.
We are dealing with monsters who kill fellow human beings for amusement. Even wild beasts hunt and kill for food. They do not maim, destroy habitat or kill for pleasure. It is amazing that animals are more compassionate than terrorists. While we are sleeping, they are busy recruiting boys in north western Nigeria. Because of the failure to take a decisive action against this dangerous trend, we are indirectly emboldening the terrorists to regroup in our midst. This is how it started in Maiduguri. The terrorists are wild beasts in the garb of human beings. Their heart is hardened, and it is devoid of mercy. They take delight in causing extensive damage and inflicting maximum injury to their innocent and helpless victims.
Abuja is a microcosm of Nigeria. It is the Metropole of our country. It is our pride. A devastating blow to the city is a blow to Nigeria. We should therefore take the security of Abuja and all our cities seriously. We must not give terrorists the liberty to unleash terror on Nigeria’s seat of government. If you think you are safe because you are shielded by security escort from the onslaught of terrorists, you are wrong. Nobody is safe. We are all victims of terrorism. We must fight it together.
Saleh Bature is Abuja based journalist, social commentator and advocate of dialogue. You can reach him via email at [email protected]