Terrorist Attacks As Fresh Fears Call For Vigilance

Terrorist Attacks As Fresh Fears Call For Vigilance

In a terse warning, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has signaled of likely fresh terrorists attacks which could be indiscriminate and could affect various interests, as well as places visited by tourists.

The UN agency was specific on the groups responsible for attacks in the area in question, mentioning Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, pointing out Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States in the North East.

They further highlighted that humanitarian staff and assets have been targeted during attacks in the North East, including in garrison towns and on roads. Humanitarian sites have also been targeted. There is a continued threat from extremist groups operating in the region. The al Qaeda-linked terrorist group Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan, better known as Ansaru, has previously carried out attacks and kidnappings, including that of westerners, across northern Nigeria. The most recent attack was in mid-January 2020 when Ansaru claimed to have killed at least six people, kidnapped dozens, and destroyed several vehicles during an ambush along the Kaduna-Zaira highway in Kaduna State.

Further attacks are likely, including in Plateau State. Public places where crowds gather have been targeted, including places of worship, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, football viewing centres, displacement camps, transport terminals ,including train networks, government buildings, security and educational institutions ,schools, further education colleges and universities are all regular targets, and international organisations. Attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays in public or crowded places, including places of worship as well as during election periods.

 With the benefit of hindsight, the attack by terrorists on July 5, 2022 on the Kuje Correctional Centre in the Federal Capital Territory was bombed with yet unspecified numbers of prisoners have escaped. Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP, claimed responsibility.

The alert from UNODC coincides with military intelligence sources released recently that terrorists are planning more prison attacks targeting facilities in Gusau, Birnin Kebbi, and Katsina to free their imprisoned fighters as a warning has already been passed to the Nigerian Correctional Service, NCS, it was learnt.

The attacks were planned out successively, first, in Gusau, then Birnin Kebbi, and finally Katsina, the military told the correctional service, reports indicate. The phased plan, sources said, is because the terrorists are unable to mobilise sufficient logistical capabilities to strike simultaneously in three states.

The target facilities are in Nigeria’s North-west facing aggravated violence by terrorists, also named bandits, and other violent extremist groups like Boko Haram, Ansaru, and ISWAP, who have expanded into the region in the past years from the North-east.

In a new video depicting the torture of kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, believed to be a terrorist act, one of the armed men claimed to be a Kuje escapee was seen hailing his men’s escapade. The terrorists have repeatedly said the government knows the reasons the captives should be freed. Intelligence sources say they are seeking the release of their jailed members in exchange for the freedom of the train attack victims. This is a bad omen from a group which should be adequately tackled.

Again, we are worried that communications between terrorists in and out of prisons depends on telephone communications facilitated by compromised warders as that appears to be the most potent channel.

With this heightened alert, it would be disheartening to allow the nation to get further humiliation from these attacks from supposed ragtag groups who take advantage of our failing security architecture.

As we have often argued, there is an urgent need to rejig our security apparatus which is lacking in proper coordination. The manner in which the guards and prison officials were caught off guard in the Kuje attack was anything but professional.

With the benefit of this intelligence report coming earlier from these sources, it is time to take decisive moves to forestall ugly consequences. We must allow ourselves to be a laughing stock in the global space by allowing these terrorists to continue their reign unhindered.

In addition, we urge the government to scrutinise the report submitted by the committee which investigated the Kuje attack so as to properly situate the lacuna in the whole saga.

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