The growing culture of fear, accentuated the other day by unwarranted killings of defenceless worshippers in the sacred precincts of Kano Central Mosque, has further amplified the insecurity of lives and property in the country. We strongly condemn the dastardly act. Government and security operatives should take it as another warning to address the challenge of protecting citizens. Unconventional war may be new to the country, but the intelligence apparatus ought to, by now, have overcome initial setback and become proactive in operations to stave off senseless attacks on hapless Nigerians such as the one on the mosque. Insurgents whose goal is to destabilize the country cannot be permitted to gleefully create cleavages and earn a territorial space.
The dimension of the Kano mosque bombing and killing is too devastating as it is more than just another suicide attack. Security apparatus went awry; a sacred place almost 500 years old was desecrated with such impunity and on a worship day recognized worldwide for solemn relationship with the Almighty.
Although the identity of the masterminds of the mass destruction has not been established, the assault on the central mosque does not support the tenets of Islam that Boko Haram claims to profess. Why would any group of fundamentalists that claim to be in a faith and seeking conversion of others target adherents of the same faith for extermination? Any claim to purity in a faith that launches assault against fellow believers is open to queries.
Never again should such death arrogantly stalk the land and cause sorrow to hundreds of families. The Kano incident should strengthen Nigerians’ resolve to fight intimidation by this common enemy. Post-incident comments by concerned citizens, the United Nations and even Pope Francis’s description of the mass murder as “extremely serious sin against God” are weighty calls to end all fundamentalism plaguing Nigeria and the rest of the world.
The attack on the mosque where the Emir of Kano also worships, close to the palace, is most regrettable for its high casualty. More than a hundred lay dead with scores of others injured after the heinous crime.
Those minutes of madness have only reiterated how much disregard the perpetrators of the attacks have for the sanctity of human lives, as well as traditional institutions. It is equally noteworthy that before now, Boko Haram had launched similar attacks on churches and mosques during worship time.
Religion under any guise should not be an instrument of oppression, if it is to remain a measure of belief in and an expression of free relationship with one’s Creator. Any attempt to impose a belief upon another is crossing the boundary of freedom and rights freely given to individuals. Other than hidden individual or group agenda, the Kano bombings and killings clearly defy the teachings of Islam and any other religion.
While the efforts of the Nigerian security forces in containing the insurgency in the northern part of the country are commendable, the security forces ought to assume more offensive posture in engaging the fundamentalists. The past months have largely seen the operatives only responding to the activities of the attackers. Why would soldiers wait to be attacked before reacting? Also, the ease with which the insurgents break through intelligence and security checkpoints is worrisome. This lapse has to be immediately addressed. Much as the men in the trenches are doing their best in the prevailing circumstance, the impression of telling inadequacies in the armed forces needs to be erased.
The mosque bombing underscored issues of destabilization, internal complicity and sabotage. It equally showcases poor coordination in the intelligence community and weak political leadership, which are matters of concern in a country on the edge in an election period.
The Emir, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, should use his influence and authority to douse the fear of insecurity, and motivate the community to provide useful local intelligence. His earlier expressed position on the need to protect his community against perpetrators of violence and evil is a step in the right direction. As he rightly observed, the fight against terrorism cannot be left to security operatives alone. Unless citizens are prepared to make sacrifices, the country risks devastating consequences. What this calls for, is for every Nigerian to be under high security alert.
The government needs to do more to create awareness and to reassure Nigerians of their safety. Education and public enlightenment remain key factors in re-orientating the people especially in the north. The bigger lesson is that the country is greater than its constituents and no one should seek to destroy the collective heritage.