The recent arrest of 486 suspected Boko Haram members, including eight girls, by the 144 Battalion of the Nigerian Army in Asa, near Aba, Abia State on June 14 has once again raised the question of how secure the entire country is presently?
It also underlines the belief in some quarters that the insurgents are finding their ways to the southern part of the country which before now was a no go-area for them. Coming a day after bombs were discovered in a Pentecostal church in Owerri, the Imo State capital that shares border with Abia State, calls for serious concern and concerted response efforts.
The timely arrest of the suspects who were moving in the convoy of 35 buses at the odd hour of that day has shown that the Nigerian military personnel in Abia State are very much alert. Many security agents on duty at such an odd hour would have been asleep fail to notice or stop the suspicious convoy. It is another milestone in the fight against insecurity in the country by the Nigerian military. It could be recalled that the 144 Battalion of Nigerian Army at Asa was established at the height of the kidnapping saga that once grounded activities in the commercial city of Aba.
The security agents should do everything possible to fish out the two buses that reportedly escaped with their occupants as they still portend danger to the people of the state and its environs. Also to assist the security agents in their investigation is the unnamed person who came to secure their release, but was arrested. The alleged statement credited to the Borno State governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima that the arrest of the suspects was a sign that if the Boko Haram insurgency is not tackled in the North, it might consume the whole country, is misguided and unwarranted.
The claim by the military authorities that one of the most wanted terror kingpins was among those arrested is a clear confirmation that the insurgents are becoming more desperate to destroy the country by all means and pull down government at all levels. It is also an indication that they now have have allies or collaborators in the Southern part of the country who are determined to use them to achieve their devilish aims.
It has been proved in our clime that nothing is impossible, especially as the 2015 elections are fast approaching and people who have lost out of the power equation are desperate to stage a comeback by all means. The security agents in the course of investigation should beam their searchlight at all corners, because some political opponents are capable of doing anything to destabilise the present government in Abia State. Before the arrest, they have been doing everything humanly possible to bring the government down, but have failed. So nothing is ruled out here, because we all saw ahead of the 2011 elections how politically-motivated kidnappings became rampart in the state, especially the commercial city of Aba. There is urgent need for regular security meeting involving all stakeholders in the state to raise awareness of the people on need for security consciousness. No stone should be left unturned in nipping in the bud the forces of darkness trying to make a return to the state.
It would be recalled that at the peak of the kidnapping menace in the state which turned Aba to a pariah city, those suspected to be behind it and their allies were in the fore-front in calling for the resignation of the state governor and declaration of the state of emergency in the state. It took the timely intervention and commitment of the state governor, Chief Theodore Orji for the scourge to be tackled. For almost two years plus, billions of the state’s funds which would have been used in the development of the state were channelled into fighting the kidnapping. Special allowances were arranged for the security agents and provision of operational equipment and the people were very co-operative.
It was during the period that the state government, in collaboration with the Federal Government established the Military Battalion in Asa and another Military Base at Abayi, Ngwa area of the state. The state government provided adequate incentives for the security agents which motivated them to fight the kidnappers until their kingpin Osisikankwu was killed in a gun duel. Since then the state government has been adequately funding and supporting the security agents, thereby making the state one of the safest and secured states in the country today. The arrest of the suspected Boko Haram members at Asa is a true manifestation of the level of security in the state which was made possible by the massive support of the state government.
The development is also a signal that the state is not and can never be a safe haven for criminal elements and their collaborators under any disguise. Other state governments have a lot to learn from Abia State on how to fight insecurity. No wonder, today the state governor, Chief Orji is a recipient of several awards on security by different organisations and countries.
Charles Urattam , a security consultant, wrote from Ikeja, Lagos.
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