By Col. Sagir Musa
The current stage of the fight against terrorism in Nigeria appears multi faceted in nature and execution. It is a mop up as well as post conflict phases, – that of crushing remnants of fleeing terrorists and recovery of arms, reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement. It is also a period of disarmament and deradicalisation where reportedly hundreds of Boko Haram combatants voluntarily surrendered themselves and their arms or were forcefully disarmed and taken to deradicalisation centres in Gombe and Borno States.
Each of these phases has its peculiarities and challenges which if not effectively handled, could lead to post conflict disaster that can be difficult to manage. Experience has shown that at the resettlement stage of the fight against terrorism, terrorists exploit opportunity to dissimulate with the IDPs and cause maximum havoc. Unfortunately, this has happened in some IDPs’ Centres in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
To checkmate this problem, there must be a whole of government approach to the issues as no single agency can do it. All relevant security agencies and ministries, as well as Civil Society Groups, Non Governmental Organisations, International Donar Agencies and the media must jointly collaborate and synergize for the successful fight against terrorism particularly at the resettlement phase.
Thus, it is commendable to the Nigerian security agencies, that despite the occasional attacks on soft targets/vulnerable localities and associated setbacks , – the defeat of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) has so far been visible.
BHTs are undoubtedly in disarray, their command and control centre is dismantled and their capacity to capture, talkless of holding territories or staging multiple spectacular attacks has been shattered. Similarly, their logistics and ordnances have been effectively decimated. Above all, most of the key commanders and fighters were either neutralized, incapacitated, arrested or are on the run. Majority have also surrendered and their recruitment capabilities are massively checkmated.
Scholars of security (terrorism) studies and experiences from many countries like Afghanistan, Cameroon, Kenya, Iraq, Mali, Somalia etc have indicated/shown that in a country bedeviled by terrorism, – complete terrorists’ inactivity could take longer time to achieve.
Hence, infrequent, localised, low intensity bomb blasts and terrorists attacks, are somehow ‘endemic’ in a nation hamstrunged by, but recovering from the shackles of terrorism or insurgency. Of concern here is the scale, duration, frequency and intensity of the terrorists’ acts. The earlier affected peoples come to this reality the better for themselves, their security agencies and the collective national efforts to destroying the insurgency.
Casting aspersions on security agencies or their leadership in the event of slightest terrorists’ act or propaganda, as well as politicising security matters will only complicates the insurgency and may slow down the tempo of anti or counter terrorism operations.
Similarly, security agencies (although difficult)must continuously strive to stop attack or bomb explosion from happening and where it happens perpetrators must be dealt to account. To achieve that, security organizations must constantly and pre-emptively review their tactics and strategies to keep pace with the dynamics of terrorism. The polymorphic including ‘phantasmagoric’ nature of terrorism and its various stages and forms must be holistically understood and appropriate proactive actions must be taken accordingly.
Slating terrorism or insurgency requires national unity, commitment and sincerity of purpose. A situation where security personnel are struggling to end the insurgency, while a few bad ones in the society are reportedly illegally enriching themselves in the process, or politicising, sponsoring and supporting terrorists will only compounds and continue to prolong the crisis and challenges of terrorism.
Of greater concern is the seeming systemic inaction, in the sense that – alleged, in some cases – known saboteurs, sponsors and supporters, – those aiding and abetting terrorists and their atrocities are moving freely. It is high time the nation particularly those responsible for arrest and prosecution wake up to their responsibilities for total, speedy and an enduring victory against Boko Haram terrorism.
Musa is the Deputy Director of Army Public Relations (DDAPR), 82 Division Nigerian Army, Enugu