Before the infamous failed bid of the “Underwear Bomber”, Farouk Abdulmutallab, terrorism seemed to be alien to Nigeria. Terrorism was only heard of in the news and read about in the newspapers. Even after the failed attempt to blow up the Detroit bound flight on December 25, 2009, Nigerians were quick to denounce the act and deny the bomber. Nigerians were quick to claim that the young man schooled abroad and was initiated and indoctrinated into the ways of the sinister world of terrorism outside the shores of Nigeria. Not very long after, Nigeria found its way to the terror watch list. Nigeria was listed as a “country of interest”. The Nigerian government even went as far as giving the US an ultimatum to delist the country from the countries on the terror watch list. The Government even stated then that Abdulmutallab could not be used as a yardstick for the over 150 million people in Nigeria.
Quite unfortunately, while Nigeria was laying claims to being innocent of international terrorism, lots of acts of domestic terrorism were being perpetrated with impunity. Plateau State has been a flash point even before 2009 with ethno-religious clashes resulting in loss of lives. Sometimes the clashes in other places have political undertones. Several panels of inquiry have been set up to investigate such killings and most of the reports led to nowhere.
Militant youths engaged security agents in the Niger Delta region for so long until the Government struck an amnesty and rehabilitation deal with the militants; yet the country insisted terrorism was an alien culture.
Things however took a new turn on June 16, 2011 when the first ever suicide bombing in Nigeria took place. The daring bomber chose to expose the seeming inadequacy of the law and its agents as he drove into the Police Headquarters in Abuja and if not for security checks, the then Inspector General of Police would probably have been the first suicide bomb victim in the country. Since then, the Boko Haram sect has not stopped unleashing terror on Nigerians.
While the notorious sect continues to kill and maim people, one thing many have failed to note is that there is an element of terrorism in a large percentage of the population. Terrorists cut across all ages and strata of the society. Where the government should provide basic needs and it fails in its responsibility, it has successfully trampled on the rights of the people and thereby terrorized them.
There is indeed a terrorist in the contractor that failed to repair roads despite being paid mobilization fees, thereby facilitating the death of hundreds of innocent people through accidents on such roads.
The media was awash recently with the grandiose looting of pension funds that should have accrued to retired policemen and other law enforcement agents. While many of the pensioners die of poverty induced ailments, those feeding fat on the pension that should go to them should be made aware that they are nothing but mass murderers.
Sadly however, while the crude terror and its civil companion go on, the passage of anti-terrorism laws has not changed much as bombings, gun attacks and other acts of terror have not reduced in any way. Not even the offer of amnesty has changed the minds of the brute elements.
Nigerians should learn from the American example, days after the bombing incident that killed 3 people and maimed dozens of others at the 2012 edition of the Boston Marathon, American security agents came together and launched a manhunt for the two suspects believed to be the perpetrators. Results became obvious on the fourth day as one of the suspects was gunned down in a shootout with policemen while the other was captured alive about 12 hours after. The authorities there waged a determined war against terror and it paid off. No negotiations, no compromise, the Government simply refused to be terrorised.