Defence & Security

Insecurity worsens as terrorists, gunmen target FCT, military, police officers

By Paul Michael, Abuja

· Bandits attack presidential guards, injure three in Abuja

· Three officers killed in Delta, one in Ondo station attack

· Fear grips citizens as govt shutdown unity schools in FCT

· Communal dwellers should take over security – Activist

The insecurity situation in the country has further degenerated and gained prominence in all parts of the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the southern part of the country with terrorists, bandits, and gunmen targeting military personnel, police officers, police stations and schools among others.

In the northern part of the country, security agencies are already overwhelmed in tackling Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), banditry, and other criminal groups that have been terrorizing the regions for decades. Countless numbers of security agents have paid the capital price in a bid to provide security for citizens and defend the country from falling prey to the hands of criminals.

Just recently, precisely on July 5, members of ISWAP attacked the Kuje Medium Correctional Centre in the FCT, the heart of the country, freeing over 600 inmates including 64 terrorists, and killing five persons during the operation. The same day, terrorists attacked the convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari in his home state, Katsina.

Amid incessant attacks by so-called “unknown gunmen” in the southeast, terrorists on June 5 invaded a Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, killing dozens of people and injuring many others.

Last weekend, the terrorists that attacked Abuja – Kaduna train on March 28, in a gory video where victims of the attack were been beaten and molested, threatened to kidnap the President of the Federation and the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai if their demands were not met.

Barely 24 hours after issuing the threat, troops of the Guards Brigade have been ambushed by armed bandits in Abuja.

During the attack, which has thrown residents of the FCT into panic, three soldiers were reportedly wounded.

It was gathered that the bandits were headed to the Nigerian Law School in Bwari when they ran into the troops.

Military sources said there were intelligence reports that terrorists have laid siege to the FCT with the intention to attack the Law School in Bwari and other government facilities.

According to one of the sources, “troops of 7 Guards Battalion on routine patrol along Kubwa – Bwari road were ambushed by the suspected terrorists.”

He further said that the three soldiers who were injured during the attack have been evacuated to the hospital for medical attention.

“The ambush happening within the general area of Bwari shows that the terrorists are actually within the location and possibly to carry out their plans of attacking the Law School in Bwari as earlier reported,” the source stated.

Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Guards Brigade, Captain Godfrey Abakpa, confirmed the attack but said the terrorists were repelled successfully.

“They were attacked and the attack was successfully repelled. We had a few wounded in action who have been taken to the hospital and are receiving treatments.

“At the moment our troops are still combing the general area to get rid of the criminals that have been threatening the general area. It is advised that residents go about their lawful businesses and keep cooperating with us by giving us timely information to enable us to win the fight against the criminals,” Abakpa said.

In another development, the Federal Government has ordered the immediate closure of one of its colleges, the Federal Government College, Kwali located in Kwali Area Council of the FCT, Abuja.

This was disclosed by Ben Goong, Director of Press and Public Relations at the Federal Ministry of Education, in a statement on Monday.

According to him, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, gave the directive in the early hours of July 25 in a bid to prevent any attack on the school.

It was gathered that the closure of the school became necessary following the security breach on Sheda and Lambata villages in the suburbs of Kwali Area Council.

While Adamu said the timely intervention of security operatives saved the situation, he directed the authorities of the school to make arrangements for final year students to conclude their National Examination Council (NECO) examinations.

The Minister also directed principals of unity colleges across the country to communicate with security agencies within their jurisdictions in a bid to forestall any security breach in the government schools.

It was also gathered that the Minister has ordered that all Unity Schools within the FCT should be shut down following intelligence reports indicating that terrorists have besieged the FCT with government schools and other public facilities being targeted.

Following the recent development, some security analysts said if terrorists can freely operate within the FCT, that ought to be the most protected city in the country as well as throw threats at the President, who also is the most protected citizen, then no part of the country and no citizen is safe anymore.

Meanwhile, these senseless attacks have generated fear and tension all over the country with citizens placing incessant calls on the government to live up to its primary responsibility by ensuring the security of lives and properties.

However, men and officers of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), who are the government’s main security agents that bear the burden of protecting citizens and properties, are also major targets of criminal elements in some parts of the country.

In Delta State, gunmen on Sunday reportedly killed three police officers attached to the State Command in Okpanam, Oshimili North Local Government Area of the State. The incident was said to have caused tension in the community and Asaba, the state capital.

A source in the community claimed that the officers were killed in an attack on the Okpanam police station after they were overpowered by the armed hoodlums who stormed the station in their numbers.

However, authorities of the state’s police command denied the claim. Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP Bright Edafe, who confirmed the killing of the officers by the hoodlums in a recorded voice message, said they were attacked on the way to attend to a distress call.

“Today (Sunday) at about 4:40 hours of the early morning, men of Okpanam Division were ambushed while responding to a distressed call by unknown persons, unknown armed hoodlums. And they killed three of our personnel.

Read Also: Terrorists kill three, abduct school principal, others in Katsina

“The command has been able to arrest one of the suspects who is helping us with useful information. I want to use this opportunity to call on members of the public with useful information to avail us of it. We are doing our best and in no time, the remaining suspects will be arrested and brought to book,” he said.

In a similar attack in the wee hours of Monday, a Police officer, Boluwaji Temenu, with registration number AP. 207538 was killed by gunmen, who invaded Okuta Elerinla Police Division in Ondo State.

The State Police Command confirmed the incident in a statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Odunlami Funmilayo, stating that the gunmen stormed the station around 1:00 am and caught the officers on duty unaware.

SP Odunlami who said the mission of the gunmen was yet to be ascertained revealed that officers at the station were able to repel the attack. She further stated that the Commissioner of Police, Oyeyemi Oyediran had ordered the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) to immediately take over the case and ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.

Reacting to the new trend of attack by criminal elements, an activist and security analyst, Comr Sebastian Agbefe said insecurity has so degenerated that Nigerians no longer feel safe sending children to school.

“It’s quite unfortunate that the insecurity has degenerated to a state where we can no longer feel safe sending our children to school,” he said.

While proffering solutions to the challenges, Agbefe urged the government to establish alternative security outfits to complement existing security formations. He said it will be more effective if community dwellers take charge of security with support from the main security agencies.

“Security has been the major challenge confronting the Nigerian state since her return to democratic rule in 1999. The issues have come in various forms — Boko haram, farmers/pastoralists clashes, Banditry, kidnappings for ransom, etc.

“The agencies saddled with the responsibility to provide internal security have failed for either lack of proper welfare, training, or manpower. It is against these backdrops that constitutional backing for regional security, vigilante groups, or community policing has been on the front burner of every discussion across the country.

“I think we need an alternative security outfit to complement the existing structures. Let community dwellers take charge of the security with support from the existing security structures. Communal dwellers would identify criminals in their areas easier than the central police drawn from all parts of the country.

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