Take ISIS Threat Seriously, Ekhomu Tells Govt
What is your reaction to the resurgence of global terrorism?
Global terror acts have increased recently as a result of multiple factors.
One is the revenge factor. Countries like France, Russia, Turkey that have recently launched military attacks against ISIS have been attacked in direct retaliation of their air strikes on Raqqa, the capital of Islamic State.
Another factor is that it is a strategic initiative by ISIS. The terror organisation has vowed to carry out worldwide terror attacks against its perceived enemies.
The terrorists are therefore seizing the strategic initiative of first strike in order to cower and frighten the nations of the world.
There is also the fear factor. The goal of terror organisations is to spread fear among people and get them to act in irrational manners. Fear beclouds reason.
For example, it was fear of ISIS that made the Turkish air force jets to attack a Russian fighter jet that strayed into Turkish air space and was there for only 17 seconds.
The Turkish air force commanders probably feared that the stray jet was an ISIS jet on its way to carry out a suicide attack in Turkey.
Increasing radicalisation is another factor. Obviously, too many young people have been radicalised and are still being radicalised daily.
However, while governments around the world are investing in guns, bombs and information against terrorist attacks, not much is done about ideological reorientation.
Here in Nigeria, we have evidence that many young people are being radicalised by ISIS agents here in Lagos.
However, what is the counter-narrative? Nothing!
What is your tour take on the global fight against terrorism?
The global war on terror is not going too well on the part of governments and peace-loving people because of lack of coordination, cooperation and the drawbacks of the nation-state as envisioned in the Treaty of Westphalia.
Nation states are constantly in competition while the Jihadists are clearly united. The unity of the extremist jihadists makes them exchange notes on best methods and weapons of mass murder, and more recently exchange encryption methods and techniques.
With encryption applications that are available on the Internet, a terrorist can go “dark” or “off the grid” and their plans would be a complete mystery to government intelligence agents.
The global war on terror is going well for the bad guys, because they are successfully spreading fear throughout the world.
The outlandish statements by some United States (US) Republican Presidential candidates against Muslims and immigrants demonstrate how people tend to go overboard when they are scared.
Unfortunately, these political actors are not being rebuked for their extreme comments and views. So, fear is flourishing around the world.
Boko Haram was recently rated the deadliest terror organisation, going by the number of people it has killed over the years. How do you feel about this and what does it tell about the security situation in the country?
This is not a surprise to me. I am rather surprised by the low number of deaths that the Global Terrorism Index credited to Boko Haram.
The truth is that despite all the political rhetoric and posturing in Nigeria, we didn’t fight a consistent, logical and purposeful war against Boko Haram.
Until today, the government of Nigeria does no agree that we are at war against Boko Haram. The government rather thinks that it is trying to reform Boko Haram elements.
Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, a committee set up to negotiate with the sect expended time and resources dialoguing with terrorists who were already in security custody, instead of finding ways to reach the sect’s supreme leader, Sheikh Abubakar Shekau.
Unfortunately, Nigeria is the only country that captures terrorists in the battlefield and elsewhere and then releases them, admonishing them to be of good behaviour. I wonder who told them that jihadists’ moral instruction or attitude adjustment.
In the last general elections in Nigeria, the actions and inactions of government against terrorism were made political campaign issue. Due to deep divisions in the polity, Nigerians would not rally to the national flag. Instead, they rallied to political party flags.
The fact remained that Nigerians were still under attack, despite the denials by our leaders. The picture I am painting is that we have not competently conducted an assessment of the threat posed by Boko Haram and we have continued to minimalise it; hence the huge carnage.
I think we also don’t value Nigerian lives. So, our collective conscience could not be shocked by the huge body count.
About the security situation in the country, the extremely high mass murder figures show that much more work needs to be done before we can get it right.
Whatever the government is doing right now is not working. There is an urgent need to restrategise, restructure and reorganise our security system.
We must completely overhaul our security architecture to make it effective against the terrorist threat.
Are we fighting the fight (against terrorism) effectively and if not, how can it be better done?
My answer to this is “not entirely.” We have recaptured many important towns that the terrorists held previously in the northeast. That is a major achievement.
The terrorists no longer control large swathes of Nigerian territory where they raised their abhorrent jihadi flags. I give glory to God and kudos to the gallant Nigerian military for the success in pushing Boko Haram into the Sambisa Forest.
Unfortunately, we are still being terrorised on a daily basis by Boko Haram and ISIS. Just this week, I called for new anti-terror strategies, as recent Western intelligence intercepts have ISIS mentioning Nigeria in their chatter.
It is a well-known fact in intelligence that an increase in chatter indicates an imminent attack. I think the numerous PBIED and VBIED attacks we have had in the North- Abuja, Kano, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, etc show that our efforts at combating terrorism have not been quite effective.
I really would like to see a situation where there are no deaths in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram violence. That will be my measure for an effective fight against terrorism.
Why is the international community, particularly the West, not assisting Nigeria in concrete terms in the fight, considering their resolve against ISIS, which was even rated below Boko Haram?
Well, there are many things that could be responsible for that. First, if the West does not have critical national interest involved in a conflict, then it is not interested.
Mass death of Nigerians, millions of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Boko Haram taking over 75 per cent of Nigeria’s northeast state does not affect the critical interests of the US, United Kingdom (UK), Germany, France or Italy. The West does not have permanent friends; western nations only have permanent interests.