Certainly yes. Nigeria needs a Federal Anti-Terrorism Agency to combat the domestic terrorism siege on the country today. This does not necessarily mean exaggerating the impact of terrorism on the country’s resources and human psyche to the global community. For whenever the tide of terrorism goes down, such an agency can be merged with one of several security agencies and from there they can still be in veiled operations to checkmate those gangs and other emerging threats. As commendable as the military operations against terrorists are, these gentlemen were trained to protect the territorial integrity of the country and so may only try their best in the offensive that requires counter intelligence that is sophisticated and complex.
This is what zoologists refer to as evolutionary adaptability: as the predator evolves new ways to devour the prey, nature also makes it possible for the prey to evolve new ways to escape or evade the predator, so that it cannot be wiped out of existence. Terrorists are like wild animals- very dangerous, highly unpredictable and suspicious of every other animal except one of their kind. Knowledge of the behaviour of animals and animal studies has been used to extrapolate to human findings and this explains while those researches are valued and applied in developed countries. Psychologists and zoologists use animals to study behaviour and to predict patterns in them for human applications. Perhaps we need such an agency where these experts and graduates of these fields and other related ones can be called upon to serve their fatherland.
But do we value them, our complaint will first and foremost be about funding such an agency. Luckily, in his May Day address to workers, President Jonathan asserted that Nigeria is a rich country, so what are we waiting for. The biggest economy on the African continent cannot be ranked as poor, even if the wealth is not fairly distributed.
With the granting of amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta and the provision of some opportunities, restiveness in the region has abated save for some pockets of occasional flash points by those claiming to be sidelined or not well-catered for in the program. Curiously, the emerging threat of oil thieves operating in that region has impacted negatively on the national economy. This has often resulted in the dwindling allocations to vital components of the government machinery. More worrisome is the recent calls that oil subsidy should be removed. Stealing oil should be considered as an act of national terrorism against the economy and should be matched with appropriate force and enforcement. If at some point, certain militia were demanding to be outsourced for the protection of federal facilities especially oil pipelines that traverse their local domain, it only shows that such hands need to be properly engaged. Recent happenings show that there is no limit to allocating resources for security matters that affect our country; therefore existing security agencies must see the establishment of such an agency to combat terrorism as a boost to their collaborative joint operations.
The outstanding performance of our country in regional peace keeping operations and major Security Council role at the United Nations makes us (Nigeria) a global player in security issues which calls for establishment of such an agency. For we will have no moral justification pontificating on regional and global security issues when our house is in disarray as a result of a rag-tag boko haram sect that is threatening us with extinction.
Terrorist activities especially in the northern part of the country have undeniably placed Nigeria on the unenviable global map of terrorism whether we like it or not and this is serious and should be dealt with proactively. Terrorism is a very serious crime against the individual, community and state that needs a special agency or body to tackle it headlong and in perpetuity. The global community has always practised a peer-review mechanism with various ramifications and built on the shoulders of giants with a critical mind. For instance, our presidential system is modeled after that of the United States, yet we have not become copy cats as the doctrine of necessity and other variants in our democracy have shown. After the deadly 9/11 attacks in 2001, America with one of the most efficient and well funded security forces in the world did not stop at taking the war against terror to the door steps of presumed terrorist enclaves, the Department of Homeland Security was formed proactively with a lot of powers to boost security of the homeland and to prevent a recurrence.
In our own case, the terrorists noticed all these lapses and staged a second attack within the same Nyanya, Abuja, barely one or two weeks after. This is sad and unfortunate. Public comments are taken for granted on the grounds that one is not an expert in that field, whereas our African fathers of old relied on information sharing from all sources to preserve their families, kingdoms and dynasties. A permanent anti-terrorism structure that is agreeable with democratic norms needs to be on ground that will eventually fill the void after the troops must have been recalled back to their barracks from the emergency zones of terrorist activity, since they will not be there in perpetuity. Given the fact that, there was once a traffic gridlock along the Lagos-Ibadan last month over fears of Boko Haram invasion, it therefore means that we also need an Anti-Terrorism Agency that will be on ground in permanence to tackle current and future terrorist threats in the country.
The planned massive recruitment into the army ought to be for a clearly defined anti-terrorism agency that apart from carrying out offensive in collaboration with other security forces with gather intelligence. With such an agency in place, it will be able to identify vulnerable locations and provide the information to the military to beef up security in such location. I don’t think with such an agency in place, those fatal school invasions would have occurred nor the Chibok incidence. It will be difficult to say precisely whether the military offensive against terrorists in the Northeast will end terrorism there, for it is a festering wound. Unfortunately, terrorism seems to be perennial wherever it occurs and this requires such an agency. An autonomous and independent agency in all time that will fight terrorism and coordinate all anti-terrorism security is needed and should be established. The anti-terrorism agency will definitely work in collaboration with other security agencies.
This will boost the security of Nigerians, instill confidence in foreign investors who will have greater level of confidence in the safety of their foreign direct investments (FDI), bring about development, and create jobs that will mop up potential terror recruits. Above all, it will send a strong message to the international community about our readiness to fight terrorism, that our shores are an unwelcome and unsafe territory for terrorists and terrorism, and that our country is a safe place for the citizenry, visitors and investors. In addition, a lot of opportunities will be created collaborating with other countries that have similar anti-terrorism outfits. This will generate a lot of good will among the people even though the beneficiaries may form an insignificant proportion of the populace as with other government agencies.
I wish to conclude that the anti-terrorism agency is an agency of necessity for our country at this point in time of our national life since security matters affect all of us whether young or old, rich or poor, Christian or Muslim, atheist or traditionalist, Tiv or Yoruba and any other ethnic group. Indeed, an anti-terrorism agency is needed now. Again, where are all the Nigerians that were united against apartheid in South Africa? Where are you? Boko Haram terrorism is yet another good cause to fight against. Every tool must be deployed whether physical, spiritual, temporal or corporate; the battle against terrorism in Nigeria must be won. God bless Nigeria.
Emmanuel Tyokumbur. Department of Zoology, University of Ibadan.
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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters