LAST week, there was palpable tension in council areas of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as news filtered through that hundreds of migrating herders from Niger Republic had made their way into the territory. According to reports, the rampaging herders had linked the Abuja-Kaduna highway in order to make the onward journey to the Sabon Wuse area of Niger State where they intended to set up camp. Countless numbers of schools were immediately closed as teachers and students scampered for safety, petrified at the possibility of a deliberate and contrived havoc by the invaders.
It is unbelievable that hundreds of migrating herders could traverse the distance between Niger Republic and the middle of the country without any challenge by any of the country’s security outfits. The intelligence arms of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) both failed to raise the alarm, let alone apprehend the hordes of armed herders until they landed at the very centre of the country in Niger State after having caused consternation among residents of the FCT. Naturally, the reaction by the FCT residents was a corollary of the ceaseless acts of brigandage, murder, arson, rape and mutilations being perpetrated by nomads across the country, a phenomenon which has earned Nigeria a prominent spot on the Global Terrorism Index.
This incident is obviously an indictment of the security architecture of an already beleaguered country. It is certainly not something that should have been allowed to happen in a country challenged on all fronts. It is an unpardonable security lapse on the part of the NIS and the NCS. It is interesting that the NCS, which has been conducting overnight raids in markets in the south-western part of the country, carting away traders’ money and foodstuff, including rice and other staples, was nowhere to be found when these foreign herders invaded the country’s shores, apparently without any form of identification. The NCS found ample time to disparage the Senate following its expression of genuine concern for traders’ well-being and well-thought-out objection to clandestine, ethnically insensitive and illegal raids, but had no response to the invasion of the country by herders from another country. The implication is that massive hordes of humanity will always slip through its fingers, provided that they are of a particular ethnicity.
Pray, how long did it take for these migrating herders from Niger Republic to travel through the neighbouring Katsina State before they reached Niger State? How come they eventually made it to Niger State so freely despite the security implications? Without any doubt, Nigeria’s security lapses are inflicted by the lackadaisical and desultory attitude of the security agencies. The country’s borders remain porous, especially in the northern part of the country. Arms and ammunition are regularly ferried into the country with limited or no inhibitions. And the worst crimes are eventually perpetrated without recompense. There is no country in the developed world that is governed in such a criminally loose manner, and it is really surprising that those in leadership positions feign shock when infamy occurs.
The ceaseless infractions could have been checked if uniformed personnel paid the least attention to detail. Of course, the propensity for compromise fuelled by corruption should be factored into the equation. The government should take security issues more seriously before looking elsewhere for assistance. Clearly, the security lapses being experienced in the country would not be in the current epic and astonishing proportions if the security agencies were more professional.
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