THE POLICE ANTI-TERRORISM SQUAD
The recent spate of bomb explosions in some parts of the country definitely calls for serious measures from security agencies to arrest the trend. The importance of preparing these agencies for the battle against terrorism cannot be over-emphasized.
It is a task that must be addressed with all seriousness, if the dastardly recourse to bombing and other heinous acts are to be nipped in the bud.
It is with regard to this that we welcome the recent investment of the police in training of more that 1000 officers on methods of identifying and combating terrorism across the country.
The Commissioner of Police in charge of Anti-terrorism Squad, Force Headquarters, Abuja, Mr. Hassan Adamu, who disclosed the initiative in Abuja, said the training became necessary in view of the threat that terrorism poses to global peace and development.
Anti-terrorism bases, he disclosed, will be set up in Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states to curb the menace. Some have already been set up in Lagos, Imo, Rivers, Nasarawa and Abuja.
We are glad that the police has recognized terrorism as a menace that calls for specialized training of its officers. Certainly, the battle requires special training in intelligence and counter-terrorism. It is better undertaken by security agents who have been educated on the underpinnings, nuances and counter-measures best suited to tackle the problem.
Now that the police has kicked off the critical training for some of its personnel, we urge other security agencies, especially the State Security Service (SSS) and the three arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces - the Army, Navy and Air Force - to do likewise.
Officers and men of the organisations with aptitude for the job should be given the best training available on counter terrorism, both in the country and abroad. They should not only be trained, but also properly equipped and motivated. The authorities must recognise, also, that security officers, alone, cannot stop terrorist acts. They need to work hand-in-hand with the people in the susceptible areas. There should be cooperation and communication between security officials and the ordinary people in the areas that are prone to terrorist attacks.
Care must be taken, however, to ensure that the need for specialized training on terrorism for officers and men of the security agencies are not turned into avenue to line the pockets of top officials of the agencies. The training should be handled with all sense of responsibility so that the nation benefits from the investment.
We also consider the figure of 1,000 policemen reported to have been trained for this important task, low. We hope it is only the first batch, and that more policemen will be benefit from the course, in due course.
Bases for the anti-terrorism squad should also be extended beyond the three mentioned by Adamu. Officers and men of the squad should be on ground in all places that have experienced, and are prone to terrorist attacks.
Beyond training officers on terrorism, however, is the very important task of prosecuting and bringing all persons who are found to be involved in terrorism to book. There can be no greater deterrence to terrorism than to let everyone know that those who engage in it will be punished.
Factors that fuel terrorism should also be addressed by the government at all levels. These include poverty, unemployment and our unwholesome political culture. There is no gainsaying the fact that some terrorists are trained by politicians who later leave them to their whims and caprices.
When the political environment is rotten, and there is an army of energetic but unemployed and disgruntled youths, the tendency for them to become willing tools in the hands of unconscionable political and religious zealots is increased.
The government and religious leaders should strive to address political, social and economic grouses of the people to make the recourse to terrorism unnecessary.