Security Consciousness in the Face of Terrorism ,By Ola Lookman

Boko Haram(bbc pic)There is no gainsaying the fact that the Nigeria’s security personnel are doing their best to ensure safety of lives and properties from acts of terrorism in the country. As citizens, we still want them to do more even though domestic policing against sophisticated criminals can be daunting and risky.

Collaborative efforts with relevant security agencies and other stakeholders Including volunteers and community leaders could make some positive differences.

The General Officer Commanding (GOC) 2 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Ahmed Tijani Jibrin, recently disclosed how Boko Haram members were arrested by his men in Ondo, Edo and Kwara states through the supports of the public who provide useful information on suspicious movement and behaviours of strangers in their communities.

The military officer disclosed how the military had been on alert closely monitoring entries into various cities in the south. This, he added where necessitated after the declaration of state of emergency in some Northern states with awareness that some suspects may find their way to the South, particularly the South West.

While admitting that the task of detecting and apprehending suspected militants and other criminals is not easy, he sought for more understanding and support of the media and the public in curtailing the activities of the underworld.

Also the recent boko haram attacks in Sabon Gari area of Kano came after persistence warnings by security agencies for the public to be more security conscious of strange objects and movement in their communities. The public refused to heed the warning until the terrorists attacked.

In a statement issued by spokesperson of Joint Task Force (JTF) in Kano, it said that the disaster “could have been avoided if citizens maintain vigilance to observe when packages are dropped as it was in this case.  The JTF had urged residents of Kano metropolis to keep an eye on their environment as members of the terrorist sect had planned to drop packages in bags or cartons in areas with high human traffic.”

The JTF therefore reminded residents that the security agencies will continue to count on the support and cooperation to achieve an atmosphere of peace conducive for business.

While the JTF and other security agencies should not rest on their oars to rid the state of all terrorist elements, the general public are enjoined to report promptly all unattended packages or suspicious persons to the closest security agency for immediate action.

It is worthy of note the impressive activities of some of those joint-security team including the Quick Response groups that operate in fast-moving vehicles. The security personnel are well composed in terms of men and equipment and able to rapidly assemble, come down, form quick checkpoints, conduct their checks and quickly assemble again and move forward.

Deliberate measures should be put in place to ensure that, at least, the security agencies detect movements of terrorists and other criminals and apprehend them.

Relationship with people in the local communities should also be intensified, as most arrests have been made when the resident alert the appropriate authorities on movement of suspicious people in their environment.

Nigerians need to be extra careful when hiring security personnel. Such measures would circumvent the mistake of recruiting terrorists and people with criminal tendencies. Investigation had revealed that some of the security personnel patronised by several individuals, communities and organisations were in most cases unqualified people with questionable characters.

While the military should ensure that they hand over suspected individuals to relevant agencies after investigation, regular patrol and surveillance should be mounted by plain-clothed military, police and SSS.

The supports of critical stakeholders too are very essential like landlords, tenants, road transport workers, okada riders, traders, and others who come across travellers and strangers most of the times.

As disclosed by Major General Ahmed Tijani Jibrin the security agencies need the media to draw the attention of the public to the fact that no matter how good the intelligence outfits are, no matter how well widespread they are, they are not as widespread as the people on ground. The public will help by giving information about the arrival of people from other part of the country.

The media through their corporate social responsibility should also publish emergency numbers and email where the public and those in distress can send an alert on suspicious movements.

Ola Lookman Youths Against Disaster Initiative (YADI) ,Abuja

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