To them life is meaningless and they take pleasure in taking other people’s life. Whatever their motivational drive is they wanted to play the martyr in order to obtain sympathy or admiration for their cause. They carry out malicious destruction of lives and properties and they have succeeded in silencing majority of the people by instilling doubt or fear for the consequences of reporting them or talking ill about their atrocities. Bombing has become almost a commonplace of public life in Maiduguri. Living in this terror-stricken city is so horrific that no one dared to talk freely about the activities of Boko Haram.
Maiduguri residents are faced with a dire situation that is difficult and dangerous to fathom. Living in the city has made citizens adapt to ways of avoiding danger and also there is a cautious distrust against everyone. It is feared that their condition is being overlooked by the authorities and most residents have resigned to their fate. As a consequence there is distrust and disconnect between the people and their authorities and both hold each other under contempt and suspicion. While the law enforcement agents suspect the wider society to be guilty of wrongdoing by sheltering Boko Haram insurgents on the one hand, the people also blame the security personnel for their high handed approach, indiscriminate arrests, impunity and carrying out of several extra judicial civilian killings on the other.
To avoid the risk of getting killed in an attack many find themselves in an unpleasant situation from which it is hard to escape from both sides of the divide. The cruel and violent condition under which residents of Maiduguri live has exposed them to sheer wanton acts of vandalism allegedly carried out by security officials assigned to offer them protection against terrorrists. Usually these deliberate and unprovoked assault against the ordinary citizens are being carried out in retalliation for similar attacks against them by boko haram insurgents who operate in the midsts of the common people.
That those in charge of affairs are disconnected from the reality of the situation is not doubtable. Apart from the deployment of the joint task force, the Nigerian government has never employed any independent observers to investigate the conduct of the JTF or deem it fit to visit the victims of the insurgency who get caught up in violent exchange and lose lives and properties due to the clashes between JTF and insurgents.
The physical exertions, trauma and living under terrifying conditions of daily attacks has been having damaging effects on the people and the situation is becoming more complicated. Sorting out security and securing lives has so far not been possible since the people are worried that those deployed to provide them with security have apparently failed to do so but were rather seen to be perpetuating the crisis because they are suspected to be profiting from the state of insecurity.
All the people are concerned about is for the authorities to restore peace and normalcy since it is evident that they have nothing to gain from the current state of insecurity. Unfortunately even though the ordinary people are the victims of the violence emanating from both sides of the divide, yet in their usual characteristics the Nigerian law enforcement agents are treating ordinary people as suspects and take advantage of the situation to extort, brutalise and harass them.
The people need proper protection and the enthronement of proper utilization of authority by those exercising them. The government must have full control to encourage and promote the development of rule of law by restricting the arbitrary exercise of power and by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.
A M Bashir Shuwa writes from Leeds,UK