Arase, Falae, Boko Haram and the se­cu­rity chal­lenge

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

There can be no na­tion with­out se­cu­rity. The very duty of any gov­ern­ment is the safety and se­cu­rity of its cit­i­zens. Right now, ev­ery citizen is a sit­ting duck and po­ten­tial vic­tim of the gen­eral in­se­cu­rity plagu­ing our na­tion. Boko Haram re­mains a po­tent dis­trac­tion push­ing armed rob­bery to the back­burner of na­tional dis­course - it re­mains a se­ri­ous draw­back. Over­tak­ing these ills is kid­nap­ping for ran­som. The rea­son these ills are of con­cern is that it plagues the down­trod­den and ex­cuses the rich elite with the money to hire the best public or pri­vate pro­tec­tion there is. If the elite class had been af­fected by these ills as they af­fect the down­trod­den, a so­lu­tion would have been con­trived to ar­rest them by now.

This is why the spat be­tween el­der states­man Olu Falae’s fam­ily and Solomon Arase, the In­spec­tor-Gen­eral of the Po­lice is a se­ri­ous na­tional scan­dal that must not be swept un­der the car­pet. Falae’s ab­duc­tion was the sec­ond most in­flu­en­tial kid­nap­ping since the mother of for­mer Fi­nance Min­is­ter, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. His ab­duc­tion is a se­ri­ous na­tional em­bar­rass­ment if ever there was one; Falae is a strong na­tional and po­lit­i­cal fig­ure. That he could just be picked up from his own farm is enough rea­son to in­still fear in us all. It was so em­bar­rass­ing that Pres­i­dent Buhari or­dered the po­lice to do ev­ery­thing to se­cure his re­lease be­fore jet­ting out of the coun­try. No doubt, the po­lice high com­mand must have taken that or­der se­ri­ously, ex­cept that it would ap­pear that they did not suc­ceed in ei­ther res­cu­ing Falae nor ar­rest­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the old man’s or­deal. Most scan­dalous is the re­port cred­ited to the IG that his men res­cued Falae ap­par­ently with­out a shot be­ing fired. Falae was not and has in­sisted that his fam­ily had to cough out mil­lions to se­cure his safe re­lease.

It is scan­dalous that the IG was not prop­erly briefed, but more so that he is yet to re­turn to the na­tion to con­fess that he was lied to and then made to lie to the na­tion. Both Arase and Falae are men of in­tegrity, so the truth must lie some­where. Surely Falae has no rea­son to lie about his re­lease. What is ex­pected of the IG is the an­nounce­ment of a high­pow­ered in­qui­si­tion and brief­ing of the na­tion quickly and aptly - his in­tegrity is at stake here. If the IG was wrongly briefed, he should con­fess that and let the mat­ter rest with an apol­ogy to the el­der states­man.

At the na­tional level, Pres­i­dent Buhari or his in-com­ing min­is­ter need to de­clare kid­nap­ping a na­tional dis­as­ter and to set up an in­ter-agency task force to deal with it. In my view, Anam­bra State un­der Peter Obi got it right when it passed a law de­stroy­ing the homes and prop­erty of kid­nap king­pins and spon­sors. We can­not run a coun­try where Boko Haram kills peo­ple in the mar­kets and malls while kid­nap­pers pick peo­ple up on the way to their farms or of­fices.

While the army is now in the ca­pa­ble hands of a more dy­namic lead­er­ship led by Gen­eral Bu­ratai, the Boko Haram ter­ror­ism has not abated. It’s at­tacks has been masked by other na­tional scan­dals. It would ap­pear that our army is now bet­ter mo­ti­vated, maybe be­cause it has re­ceived the needed weapons to fight the ter­ror­ists, at least its lead­er­ship is lead­ing by ex­am­ple. The re­cent re­trial and re­call of sol­diers is a welcome de­vel­op­ment aimed at restor­ing con­fi­dence of sol­diers in their cho­sen pro­fes­sion.

While the army con­tin­ues to do its best to se­cure the na­tion, its also needs to come clear on is­sues. There is need for a na­tional au­dit of the fight against terror and com­ing clean on strate­gies, faults and plans go­ing for­ward. The army must sub­mit to civil author­i­ties on all is­sues. To this end, there is need to bring to book those sol­diers who re­cently stripped and mal­treated a civil­ian and those who burnt buses in La­gos. The worst form of cor­rup­tion is the di­ver­sion of re­sources meant for na­tional se­cu­rity into pri­vate pock­ets. If this hap­pened, as ev­i­dent in the past regime, it should be probed.

The army public re­la­tions unit is do­ing well but it must con­sider strate­gic em­bed­ding of lo­cal jour­nal­ists in its re­portage. Talks of re­cent at­tacks be­ing the spas­mic thrusts of a de­cap­i­tated terror group are just not it. As long as Boko Haram is still able to launch sui­cide or armed at­tacks lead­ing to the maim­ing of one per­son, it’s not over. A high com­mand brief­ing is a re­quire­ment. A mon­u­men­tal catas­tro­phe is con­fronting us with dis­placed per­sons most of who are now or­phans and wid­ows. Those who sur­ren­dered would need doses of re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to rein­te­grate. Re­ports that the army would soon ex­pose the brains be­hind terror are pure bull. If the army knows them, bring them to book with iron­clad ev­i­dence or for­ever hold your peace.

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