NATIONAL SECURITY AS LG AND TOWN SECURITY
SINCE 9/11, over ten years ago, terrorism has taken many dramatic changes. The modern global lifestyle has made it even easier for terrorist groups to learn and copy new methods and approaches to achieving their dastardly plans.
The constant vigilance of the security operatives in the advanced world, coupled with their ever changing terrorism resistance policies and actions, have forced the terrorists into new ways of achieving their mass destruction and maximum damage in any successful strike.
Terrorism has changed from hijacking of aircraft ,military-like ambush, to include the use of air-craft as bombs, bomb and explosives-laden vehicles, bomb and explosives-laden and wired individuals as suicide bombers, to strike at carefully chosen targets for maximum destruction and killings.
While al-Qaida and their affiliates reign in other lands, we in Nigeria have the cell called Boko Haram, BH, to contend with. Whatever their reasons, purpose and mission may be, they are terrorists who believe, like their counterparts all over the world in the use of terror, mass destruction and killings of the innocent, in instilling fear and insecurity in the psyche of the populace.
Fear is a spirit, and spirit of fear is the chief arrester for the devil who will use fear to put his victims under control, knowing fully well that no decision taken of fear or panic will be able to check or stop him and his possessed agents. These BH personnel, including their sponsors, are highly demonized human beings. A nation under the spirit of fear is bound to make mistakes, and that is where the devil is driving this country into.
In order to spread the spirit of fear, these BH terrorists ensure that their strikes receive wide knowledge through press publicity, but faith action and actions in faith overcome the spirit of fear. We, as a people, should come together to work to resolve and overcome the challenges of terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and the likes in our society.
Our national security agencies are surely stunned, and even overwhelmed by the recent spate of terrorist onslaught by the BH sect, and they are doing the best they know how to do by the training and resources available to them to tackle the situation. Our security agencies need more hands, more equipment and more establishment infrastructure, more training, to cope effectively with the new challenges of terrorism in the country.
Of greater importance is the need for a change in the mindset and thought patterns of our law enforcement personnel in Nigeria in order to control and repel the siege by these agents of darkness called terrorists and kidnappers. The road block, stop- and-search points they set up whenever there is a terrorist attack may be a good show of power, but hardly will yield the desired results in the absence of good tip off base.
When road blocks last for more than 24 hours they easily become abused and a source of reduction in the police- public confidence which work negatively against law enforcement efforts at terror reduction.
A different approach will include looking and accepting the fact that every strike by terrorists is a local crime that requires the immediate response by the very immediate local security officers and authorities.
The action is localised with a particular Divisional Police Officer in-charge working closely with his Area Commander, and such an officer must be able to work with his counterparts in the State Security Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, the State law enforcement agencies , vigilante groups, and the local government law enforcement officers within his jurisdiction.
These agencies need to work in a clearly defined collaborative effort to combat the menace of terrorism within that locality. Their response to emergency either to prevent or contain a terrorism plan or action should be in a fused manner. The response should be properly learned and rehearsed between all the arms of law enforcement in the town, community or local government level as the case may be. The military is left out here because their involvement is purely at a higher level more regimented and not as ubiquitous as the other arms of law enforcement.
One simple fact that informs the need for the collective fusion of response to terrorism at the town local level is that while planning their attacks, terrorists live in our communities, travel on our high ways and local roads, buy stuffs from our markets, attend our worship centers, live with relations, friends, and keep acquaintances from among us in the community.
It should, therefore, be the singular priority of the local Fusion Action Committees, FAC, to ensure prevention of terrorists attack. The mission is to stop them before they strike.
It is a well-known fact that the resources of these law enforcement agencies are already overstretched, with their day-to-day crime fighting responsibilities. But if they will get more hands, equipment, right training, learn to work on the collective responsibility fusion action plan, they will be able to stop the terrorist before he strikes. The major challenge is the need to work on the mind set of security operatives nationwide.
Our security operatives, especially the Nigeria Police Force, may not need to re- invent the wheel in combating this menace. Some initiatives which have helped America so far in their response to containment of terrorism can be of immense assistance if properly learned, adapted and applied, avoiding the usual half-hazard methods for which we are now notorious in the introduction of new innovative initiatives in most sectors of our economy. One of such initiatives is the Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, SARI .
The strategy here is to have a reporting system that helps to develop, evaluate and implement common processes and policies for gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing and sharing information about terrorism related suspicious activities. A proper training on SARI will enhance the effectiveness of Federal, state, local government and town agencies in reporting suspicious terrorist activities, with the intention to stop it before it matures to full terror action.
The second one is the 'Say Something if You see Something' initiative, which involves a strong campaign to effectively engage the public to identify and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime or activities to law enforcement authorities. The confidence of the public must be won and re-groomed by a complete change in the manner and method of policing when terrorism-related crime is to be busted.
The campaign should first win back the confidence of the public in their police and the law enforcement officers whose image has been so damaged, that some ignorant persons boast at old age that they never had anything to do with the police.
The IGP has a daunting responsibility to deliver a secure Nigeria, and is doing a good job, which will be more effective and easier if he allows a well-coordinated and sustained campaign that will endear the Police Force to the public, such that together, we the public and the law enforcement officers starting from the village or town will forge a partnership to stop the terrorists before they strike.
Mr. CLEMENT UDEGBE, a lawyer, wrote from Lagos