Security: Precarious All Through 2015
IN a year that Nigeria held a general elections which for the first time in her history saw a ruling party which had bragged to rule Nigeria for at least 60 consecutive years losing to the opposition party, security of lives and property was of major concern to many Nigerians in 2015.
Before the elections, Nigeria had the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East to contend with. Meanwhile, elections in Nigeria had been war-like. In 2011, over 800 lives were reportedly lost to pre/post election violence while about 65,000 people were displaced. With the 2011 experience, the atmosphere before the election was as though Nigeria was heading to war. But the security agencies were up and doing.
On February 7, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the postponement of the elections, saying the nation’s security agencies had indicated to the commission that they were not available to support the elections planned for February 14 (Presidential and National Assembly) and February 28 (Governorship and State Assemblies) as they were commencing a six-week special operation against Boko Haram insurgents in the north eastern corridors of the country and would rather not be distracted by the elections. The strategy worked. Nigerian security operatives effectively engaged Boko Haram in the North-East, which paved way for the peaceful conduct of the elections in the area on the rescheduled dates.
However, wide-scale violence was recorded in some states in the southern part of the country, especially in Rivers and Akwa Ibom states during the elections. To the credit of the security agencies, the INEC and the National Peace Committee on the 2015 elections, which constantly held talks with the two leading presidential candidates on the need for peace to reign before, during and after the elections, Nigeria experienced widespread jubilation, instead of violence after the elections, a development which proved those that had predicted that there would be no Nigeria after the 2015 general elections wrong.
With the elections over, many of those who had thought that the insurgency in the North-East was politically motivated to force a power shift to the north and as such Boko Haram would sheathe the sword with President Muhammadu Buhari in the saddle, were proven wrong. Buhari had promised to bring the insurgency to an end on assumption of office. But as soon as he mounted the saddle, Boko Haram, may be to test the will of the administration, unleashed terror on Nigerians. In fact, their acts were so heinous that within a week (between June 28 and July 5), no fewer than 200 Nigerians were reported killed by the sect. But the administration was undeterred.
Describing the increased wave of attacks as a “heinous atrocity” the President went ahead to form military alliances with neighbouring countries in the administration’s bid to subdue the insurgents. While doing that, a serious re-organisation was going on in the security circles which culminated in the President giving the security agencies a December 31, 2015 deadline to completely rout Boko Haram and restore normalcy in the North-East.
According to Amnesty International, at least 17,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed since 2009, when Boko Haram launched its violent uprising in Nigeria. But the efforts of the new administration are no doubt yielding dividends. However, whether the Army will meet the December 31 deadline remains to be seen. If it happens, Nigerians would really be happy to put everything about Boko Haram behind them.
But the defeat of Boko Haram would not mean an end to insecurity in the country. In the course of 2015, kidnapping returned in full swing to the South-East and South-West geo-political zones while making serious in-road into the South-West geo-political zone. In April 2015, a nanny identified as Mary Akinloye kidnapped the three children of one Mr. Leke Orekoya in Surulere area of Lagos State and gave the victims’ family two days to produce N13 million ransom or lose the children. She reportedly kidnapped the kids after their parents had gone to work about 24 hours after she was employed. Police operatives from the Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB) of the Lagos State Police Command, however, rescued the three kids and arrested the kidnapper few days later.
In July, a 20-month old child, Opeyemi Ogundele, was also reported stolen during a naming ceremony at Mile 2, Iyana Concord, Akorede Estate, Ilugun Inukosegba Community in Abeokuta North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Also, what ought to be a day of merry making turned one of misery for former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Olu Falae, who was kidnapped by suspected Fulani herdsmen on his 77th birthday on September 21, 2015.