Among platitudes that have been deployed in addressing Monday’s early morning incident in Owerri Prisons is that it was a “terrorist attack”. President Muhammadu Buhari, momentarily, cast aside his medicals to task security chiefs to go after the attackers.
The triteness of the presidential directive deserves no comment.
Confusion that is deliberate, elaborate has been thrown around the attack that reportedly lasted two hours, in the heart of Owerri, in a security zone that encompasses the Government House, police headquarters, and other important offices aligned to security.
Some of the earliest news was that the terrorists were chanting that Jesus Christ had risen, that the prisoners had no business being in bondage. When that is tied to the resurrection belief Christians celebrated a day earlier, and the crime location, Owerri, the South East heart land, conclusions can be drawn.
The terrorists were Christians. The presidential order to go after them can also be seen as the support security agents, dedicated to terrorising the South East, need to continue their mandate.
Mohammed Adamu was still issuing orders to policemen to use their full arsenals on IPOB, who he blamed for the attacks, when his removal as Inspector-General of Police came. His orders stand.
Owerri reflected the sameness of attacks in the North, particularly the disinterest of security agencies in countering it. If the terrorists spent 30 minutes, on solidarity songs in front of Government House, did anybody hear them? Did security cameras at the Government House gate capture anything?
A persistent and pertinent question remains how security agencies operate. It is unfortunate that police headquarters Owerri, and maybe elsewhere, can be attacked with obvious ease. Were “sister agencies” forbidden to come to the rescue of the sieged police facilities or even the prisons? Something is definitely not right.
The profiling of the attackers is a poor excuse for the Owerri disaster but a potent reason for the terror that would be unleashed on innocent youth in the guise of searching for almost escaped 2,000 inmates.
The army barracks in Obinze, about 10 minutes from police headquarters did not help. It is from Obinze that soldiers hurried to Orlu to fight IPOB. The Air Force base at Naze that is closer had no response.
For the weeks that there have been attacks on Ebonyi communities, the Federal Government’s weighty silence has been the reaction. The lives lost, the uncertainties created, are of no importance for reasons that are still unclear. The dispatch applied to Owerri points at how government evaluates security. Are we waiting to confirm if the Ebonyi terrorists know Christ before we go after them? Or no links have been established between them and IPOB?
Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, minister of Internal Affairs, after gassy claims about how government was protecting Nigerians, imposed responsibility for securing Nigeria on others, no longer the Federal Government that controls every security handle.
“The onus is on traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders, professional associations, family heads and others in positions of leadership and authority to make our communities incommodious to criminals. No criminal should have accommodation and protection in our communities,” Aregbesola’s statement read.
When read more soberly, Aregbesola is to tell us that outside harvesting security budgets, our governments have no further interests in the matter. Does Aregbesola assume Nigerians do not know?
WAS the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba as the Inspector-General of Police while Mohammed Adamu was inspecting the ruins in Owerri part of the solution or the President’s anger at his extension of Adamu’s stay? With already 33 years of service, Baba barely has enough times to read the handing over notes before writing his. Our security issues are beyond these fleeting appointments that consume so much time and deepen divisions in our security agencies.
Ikedy Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues