The recent statement by President Goodluck Jonathan that the Boko Haram insurgents were exploiting the conflict between pastoralists and farmers to perpetuate terrorists acts in some parts of the country should be taken seriously by the nation’s security agents. There is no doubt that the weighty assertion coming from the president himself is a reflection of the situation. In this part of the world, it is possible that bandits and other social miscreants can ingeniously camouflage with the various uniforms of the armed forces and the police and disguise in so many other ways to perpetrate their heinous criminalities against the society.
It is, therefore, not strange that terrorists could now masquerade as pastoralists to commit terrorism and other insurgent indulgences as Jonathan asserted. In most countries, access to service uniforms and other official accessories and gears is usually exclusive to governments and not sold in the open market where devilish people could procure it for devious usage. Beyond fraudulent clothing, impersonation is another deception that may be as challenging as terrorism.
The issue now is, how can this dimension to the sporadic mayhem be checkmated? President Goodluck Jonathan has consequently urged Nigerians to join hands with the Federal Government to address the issue of terrorists masquerading as pastoralists to cause mayhem in the country. What this development means is that Nigerians need to be extra-vigilant and on the alert all the time.
The situation the country has found itself demands such consciousness. Security nonchalance at this crossroads can only further imperil our collective existence. People should report suspicious characters and movements even in their neighbourhoods and anywhere there is human gathering, especially in public places and institutions which are usually the targets of terrorists.
Going by President Jonathan’s avowals, it is obvious that the insurgents are exploiting the festering conflict between pastoralists and farmers to perpetrate terror. According to him, the intensity and dimension of the conflict over the last few years had reached an alarming proportion with attendant and unfortunate loss of lives and property. This feud has been predominant in Plateau, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Benue, Taraba and other states in the North and the South.
Even when there were conflicts over grazing lands between herdsmen and farmers, the magnitude of the carnage was not significant. It seems terrorists have infiltrated the ranks of the Fulani herdsmen and are now clandestinely using them and intermingling with both the herdsmen and the famers to commit criminal activities. A few days ago, both Kaduna and Yobe states experienced fresh bouts of mayhem by terrorists who posed as pastoralists and caught their victims unawares. Reports from the North-East indicate that the wanton destruction of innocent lives and valuable property by terrorists has not abated.
It is not enough for President Jonathan to explicate the nature of terrorists’ onslaughts. His government must equally create an architecture that should be able to fully diagnose the new modus operandi of terrorists and find lasting solutions to the novel twist. Government should consider setting up counter-terrorism special units as advocated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal.
According to Tambuwal, “The fact remains that we, as a people and a government, still need to do so much more to contain this menace and restore to our people the peace and peace of mind that have been so rudely snatched away from them. It will be necessary to formally bring on board the youth Civilian Joint Task Force in the proposed counter-terrorism training programme. When fully operational, this Special Forces Unit shall be maintained in a state of permanent readiness to respond to terrorist incidents anywhere in Nigeria. These special forces will be exposed to continuous training to maintain their skill and readiness levels.”
Therefore, we appreciate the sacrifice, steadfastness, hard work and commitment of the armed forces and security agencies in combating this national assault. We also believe that Tambuwal’s suggestion should be considered as part of the concerted effort to end terrorism in the country. No meaningful proposal on resolving this matter should be thrown away