By: Abdulkadir Inuwa Suleiman
Many Nigerians are still in limbo about the prevailing peace and the end signals of anti-terrorism campaigns, which Nigerian troops have spiritedly battled in the last one year to extract from Luciferic terrorists. But it is time to wake up to the piercing lights of reality.
It was in the media recently how Nigerian soldiers are still relentless, conducting clearance operations to fish out remnants and fleeing Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the Northeast. A statement credited to the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. SK Usman, disclosed that troops of 112 Task Force Battalion, 22 Brigade, Nigerian Army on Operation LAFIYA DOLE, have been conducting joint operations with local vigilantes and civilian JTF in suspected BTHs hideouts in some communities.
Troops have been intermittently engaged in patrolling, raiding of hideouts and cordoning operations in several villages and towns in the Northeast. And interestingly, troops noticed dead and live footprints of terrorists, some of whom were arrested; weapons and operational vehicles of insurgents seized; freed captives still held in bondage and recovered terrorists flags or emblems.
But an incident in the operations is particularly striking. Troops encountered and “…arrested the terrorists’ food storekeeper and recovered 2 Isuzu vehicles, grinding machines and vehicles’ workshop.”
This is an unequivocal statement about the unwillingness of some elements in the same communities afflicted for years by insurgency, which have been rescued from terrorism to bid goodbye to the devilry. Not long ago, a politician and council boss in Borno state was arrested by soldiers. He harboured, fed and nurtured fleeing suspected terrorists in his residence. Of course, Nigerians are aware that elsewhere in the country, like in Lagos and Abuja, security agents have apprehended fleeing terrorists, who secretly relocated to these locations to explore avenues to cause more atrocities.
It is noteworthy to recount that since Sambisa forest was demolished by Nigerian troops, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai has consistently re-echoed the need for vigilance of members of the public to fish out fleeing terrorists who would sneak into villages, communities, towns and cities to recuperate and plan afresh. He intimated of his directives to the Army to maintain vigilance round the clock, to sustain the tempo of the defeat of insurgency in the country. And the military has lived up to this responsibility, as evident in the on-going clean-up operations in villages and towns in the Northeast.
But the freedom and peace troops have proudly won for all Nigerians by the defeat of Boko Haram must be perceived as a cherished and valuable asset, which all men and women of good conscience must seek to jealously protect. It is day-dreaming to think, the military alone can go the whole hog alone in cordoning every village, community or city in Nigeria to identify fleeing terrorists.
It is impossible for soldiers and indeed, even if all personnel of Nigeria’s security apparatuses are deployed to conduct a house to house or community to community search for fleeing insurgents. It is the more the duty of every Nigerian regardless of creed or affiliation to be his brother’s keeper by constantly looking out for fleeing insurgents in his vicinity. It is his obligation to instantly alert security agents of strange elements in their midst, with the character or tendencies of terrorism.
The scenario is now more deadly and scary, with the indiscernible, widespread and mixture of insurgents into sane communities. It is more worrisome with the incontestable evidence adduced recently to the effect of the sponsorship of Boko Haram terrorists by some dubious political characters and high profile Nigerians. It appears more probable now that the political wing of Boko Haram terrorism is wielding stronger, with the obliteration of religious wing of terrorism.
Therefore, it is the onerous responsibility of all Nigerians to secure this peace, by the rejection of sponsorship or shielding of terrorists from the beacons of security agents. All citizens of Nigeria, this beloved nation should decree today henceforth to become the unofficial security agents of their localities to facilitate the identification, arrest and flushing of fleeing terrorists, who escaped from Sambisa forest and other parts of the Northeast.
Failure to enlist in the project of preserving the hard-earned peace from Boko Haram terrorism would have dire consequences for such communities and Nigerians generally. It is imperative now more than ever that the civil population, co-operate and extend massive support to the Nigerian Army to enable them clip the wings of fleeing insurgents, who may disguise and take protective shelter in unsuspecting communities.
Nigerians should vow and covenant with their conscience that the labour of the Nigerian Army and the sacrifices they have endured, and for which some families are plunged into eternal pain and misery for losing their beloved ones to terrorists is not in vain.
This should be the proud duty of Community Based Organizations (CBOs), Civil Society organizations (CSOs) Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) traditional and community leaders, religious Organisations, professional bodies, human rights organizations, clannish associations, students unions, politicians, market associations, transport unions , citizens of Nigeria, visitors and a lot more.
It is therefore heart-breaking to discover that during troops clearance operations in the villages of Talwari, Agulari, Kirinari, Gubdori and Yale, a Nigerian who served terrorists as storekeeper still kept the insurgents equipment without willingly turning them over to security agents. It is bad enough that none of the community members or traditional heads alerted security agents, until troops’ surveillance operations uncovered it.
Although, no terrorist was found, but the sustenance of the weaponry store and the vehicle workshop is an indication that once insurgents regroup and stray into the area, they have ready access to the means of servicing their mobility machinery or where to store the lethal weapons. This disposition is extremely bad and should be discountenanced henceforth, because it is anti-peace.
The atmosphere of peace currently savoured in the Northeast and the entire country would once again become elusive, when minds, corrupted and focused on evil are allowed the laxity to mess it up. It is everyone’s responsibility to stop them in their tracks.
Security as repeatedly drummed is the collective responsibility of all, because when it is allowed to collapse or breached, it affects everybody, both far and near. The Nigerian Army has won the victory over terrorists; but mortgaging the sustenance of this peace to soldiers alone is unrealistic and a fatal mistake in the offing.
Nigerians must learn to imbibe the culture of not only being their brother’s keeper; but good brother’s keepers. And it is a task not so difficult to accomplish, as all it requires is a good conscience nurtured by the fear of God, respect for sanctity of lives and vigilance.
Thus far, this posture would encourage soldiers to do more to secure citizens, having sensed the appreciation of Nigerians to their sacrifices. So, the burden of finally winning the peace coercively extracted from terrorists is on the shoulders of Nigerians, by the simple adherence to these security prescriptions.
Suleiman contributed this piece from Katsina State.