The Aso Rock shooting incident

THERE was comprehensible alarm across the country following the report that shooting took place on Thursday, June 11 at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Although the president’s spokesperson clarified that the president was never put in harm’s way while admitting that the incident occurred, the event shows the poor management of protocols and security in the Villa.

Such an event was unheard of since the residence of the country’s president was moved from Lagos to Abuja almost three decades ago. Accordingly, many individuals and groups expressed concern about the dangerous precedent which cast the country in a bad light.

The president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, declared that the incident was under investigation. But it is difficult to come to terms with his claim that armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House received the necessary training, especially on weapons handling. The incident shows that this is not the case: not all of the security details understand proper handling of weapons within the premises of the Villa. It is also apparent that those who are supposed to put them under control have not been effective.

The fact that the tension that led to the shooting was the result of a disagreement among close relatives of the president shows the leadership gap in the management of the domestic affairs of the presidency. This management deficit has become a public issue that requires urgent attention. The deplorable state of affairs in the Villa is not in the interest of the country. Neither is it promotive of the image of the president and his family.

The president should infuse order into the familial arrangements in the Villa and ensure that discipline is enforced.  The fact that Garba Shehu claimed that the president was not in danger of contracting Covid-19 buttresses media reports that the gunshot occurred during a brawl as the First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, tried to force a presidential aide, Sabiu Tunde Yusuf, to self-isolate on his return from a trip to Lagos. The brawl and gunshot show that there is a problem with the answering lines and hierarchy of authority in the handling of armed security agents in the Villa. This explains the security agents’ dangerous conduct within its hallowed grounds. The Chief Security Officer to the President and the Brigade Commander have to reorganise the security arrangement around the Villa to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

The shooting sends wrong signals to citizens that the president is unable to exercise effective control over his domestic affairs. That is not good for the public perception of the first family. The first family symbolizes the country as a unit. Members of the family need to learn to follow protocol and support the security agents to provide them with effective protection. The shooting incident was a clear disrespect to the office of the president. There is simply no basis for gunfire over the issue of self-isolation. It is gratifying that there was no record of injury or fatality during the incident.

We hope the president and his handlers will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that such incidents do not recur.



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