Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, reappeared last week with a threat to bomb the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The terrorist kingpin, who was earlier reported to have been dethroned and replaced by Abu Musab Albarnawi, son of Boko Haram founder, Mohammed Yusuf, warned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, to prepare for the “mother” of all attacks.
Nigeria cannot afford to write off this threat. We, therefore, urge the Federal Government to raise the nation’s security system to the highest alert. Shekau’s 24-minute video, which appears to have been shot in a Nigerian forest, is worrisome. It will be a great disappointment if the elusive Shekau is still in the Sambisa Forest, several months after the commencement of Operation Lafiya Dole and the declaration by the military that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated.” What Nigerians expect at this time is a final mopping up of operations in Sambisa and a declaration by the government that the insurgency war has been won, not a threat of an impending attack by the terrorists.
Shekau’s threats must be thwarted at all costs, so the military should be equipped to accomplish that. There should be no complacency. We must not allow terrorists to attack Abuja or any other part of the country. The country is dealing with men who have no compunctions. They have attacked the United Nations (UN) head office and the Nigeria Police headquarters in Abuja.
Even if Shekau was bluffing, we still must not take the bluff lightly. Consistent intelligence gathering must be pursued and vigorously expanded. We need to do more in that department. The disappearance of large quantities of high explosive from our ports and the discovery of Boko Haram elements even in government circles tell us that we need to do more to secure the country
The watchword of the nation at this time should be vigilance. This is not the time for our security agencies to rest on their oars. This is the time for them to institute measures to secure all public places, especially the schools, markets, churches, mosques and motor parks. This is the time to conduct necessary checks and be on guard against bombers who may wish to take advantage of laxity in security operations to launch attacks.
It is important to ask at this time what happened to the CCTV cameras that were supposed to have been installed in Abuja long ago. The government should revisit the initiative and mount surveillance cameras in all places that are susceptible to attacks throughout the country. It is unacceptable that while countries that are serious about their security commit money and other resources to secure their citizens, Nigerians only pay lip-service to this critical imperative. The reality in the country is that we can no longer afford this lackadaisical approach to our security.
Any attack on Abuja or any other part of the country today will be a great setback to the war against insurgency. It will further heighten the sense of insecurity in Nigeria and shake the confidence of Nigerians in the government’s ability to secure the country
Already, there is an alleged Nigerian Army document circulating on the terrorists’ plan to also attack states like Imo, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi, Yobe, Adamawa, Bornu and Katsina. Although the Army has dismissed the plan and described the document as fake, the security agencies cannot afford to be complacent.
This situation calls for all our security agencies to be on high alert to forestall attacks in any part of the country.