• Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Return of suicide bombing in Borno calls for improved intelligence, military’s commitment

We are ready partner military, critical stakeholders to unravel causes of recent attacks-NEDC

The resurgence of suicide bombing in Borno State, located in Nigeria’s North East, has sparked urgent calls for enhanced intelligence gathering and a stronger commitment from Nigerian security agencies to tackle the growing security threat.

Borno State was once again plunged into turmoil following a series of devastating suicide bombings by female attackers in the Gwoza Local Government Area—an area formerly controlled by Boko Haram terrorist groups resulting in significant casualties and widespread fear.
The attacks occurred on Saturday, June 29, when female suicide bombers targeted a wedding, the victims’ subsequent funeral, and a hospital in Gwoza, near the Cameroon border. These coordinated attacks resulted in at least 32 deaths, with dozens hospitalised and currently battling for their lives.

This incident follows a period of relative calm, raising concerns about the reemergence of extremist activities in the region. Gwoza was seized by Boko Haram in 2014, and taken back by the Nigerian forces in 2015 – though the group continued attacks near the town. The Nigerian Army recently reported that the insurgents prepared 15 suicide bombers for Gwoza but only three succeeded.

The Gwoza suicide attacks have reignited suspicions that terrorist groups may be trying to reinvent themselves and demonstrate their continued capacity for destruction.

“The bombing indicates that the challenge we had, which government thought had been degraded is still very much present,” Kabir Adamu, the CEO of Beacon Security and Intelligence Limited, said in an interview with BusinessDay Sunday.

Read also: Suicide bombing leaves 20 dead, 52 injured, as troops foil 4th attack in Borno

The security analyst described the recent attack in Borno State as a significant intelligence failure, while urging greater intelligence gathering and coordination.

Adamu noted that his organisation had previously reported a 58percent increase in IED (Improvised Explosive Device) usage in Borno State, warnings he said were regrettably ignored by the authorities. He expressed concerns that government has becoming too relaxed after some successes, suggesting that this perceived relaxation allowed terrorists to capitalise on security lapses.

Adamu further stressed the need for enhanced and comprehensive synergy across the entire security sector and other relevant agencies, not just the military. He pointed out that the likely origin of the terrorists from the Mandara Mountains in Cameroon underscores the necessity for a more robust approach involving several relevant agencies including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He also urged state governments to take a more active role in ensuring the security of their regions, rather than relying solely on federal intervention.

Concerns have also been raised about the potential impact of Niger Republic’s withdrawal from the Border Patrol/Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) on the resurgence of terrorist assaults. However, Adamu noted that while this withdrawal is concerning, it may not have directly influenced the recent attack in Gwoza, given the town’s closer proximity to Cameroon than Niger.

Though no terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility, the attacks are similar to previous suicide bombings carried out by Boko Haram, an Islamist group responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of over two million people in the region.

Several studies suggest that Boko Haram has utilised more women as suicide bombers than any other group in history. A 2017 research work published by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point revealed that Boko Haram used more than 200 female suicide bombers between 2014 and 2017.

Captain Sadiq Shehu (rtd) explained that for Boko Haram members, suicide bombing carries many advantages: it is low cost and allows the bomber to hide the device effectively.

Ali Ndume, the lawmaker representing Borno South, while leading a debate on the attacks, during a Senate plenary session last week, disclosed that the Mandara Mountains, Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region remain major terrorists’ strongholds. A faction of Boko Haram group reportedly controls the territories from the Mandara Mountain camp.

Chidi Omeje, a security analyst, also expressed concern over the resurgence of suicide bombings, indicating that terrorists are still active and capable of employing new tactics.

Omeje noted that the use of suicide bombings suggests that the terrorists are under pressure to demonstrate their relevance.

“The terrorists are now in a very tight corner. Once they lose ground, they resort to such tactics. They are reverting to these methods because they lack the capability to confront the military directly, so they are targeting soft targets through conscription,” Omeje explained.

He also stressed the need to improve intelligence gathering and urged security forces to leverage technology to enhance their capabilities.

The Nigerian Senate has also attributed the recent suicide bombings in Gwoza town, Borno State, to failure of intelligence among security forces, and

The Senate urged the federal government to direct the military to rethink its conventional strategies in fighting insurgency and other crimes by deploying modern technology and scientific tactics.

The lawmakers noted that relying solely on conventional methods, such as troop deployment, was ineffective as terrorists continued to use non-conventional approaches to kill Nigerians and destroy livelihoods.

Mike Ejiofor, a former Director of the Department of State Security Service also commenting on the recent Borno attack in an interview with BusinessDay, emphasized that intelligence gathering should not be the sole responsibility of security agencies, but should involve all citizens, especially locals who have a better understanding of their communities.

Ejiofor highlighted the need for strengthened civil-military relations to enhance security efforts.

Agrieved at the renewed mayhem, Adams Oshiomhole, who represents Edo North in the Senate, boldly stepped on some sacred toes in his accusation that the military diverted security funds to private use, particularly in building universities.

Apart from Oshiomhole, Abba Moro, Senate Minority Leader, was also displeased with military in the renewed attacks. He challenged them to take the fight against insecurity serious and confront the terrorism and insurgency frontally.

Toeing the same line with the former governor of Edo State, Chijioke Umelahi, an Abuja-based lawyer, queried why the insurgence keeps rearing its ugly head despite the huge funds expended so far in meeting the demands of the military and other security agencies in curtailng the menace.

“Nigeria has spent billions in fighting insecurity since 2010, but there is little to show for that humongous amount. That is why Oshiomhole and people like us are worried over the sincerity of security agencies in the fight against insecurity,” Umelahi said.

Also, considering the way the Senate rejected Oshiomhole’s call for oversight of military budgets in the face of the renewed attacks, Umelahi decried that the insurgency, which started as a largely peaceful religious movement in northern Nigeria about 12 years ago, is far from being over.

“Those senators who shouted down Oshiomhole in his call for oversight of military budget are the enemies of Nigeria. In fact, they are benefiting from the sad situation.

“How can we keep spending without getting the desired result and we still keep spending?
“We need to ask the military what went wrong, how they spend security budget, which other strategy to adopt because the spending spree has not worked,” the former Abia lawmaker noted.

Beyond the money expended so far with little result, most concerned citizens are more worried about the thousands of lives lost to the attacks, dreams cut short, and properties destroyed.
Hence, they are calling for a permanent solution to avert more losses.

“I overheard Shehu Mohammed, the medical director of Maiduguri Specialist Hospital on TV, saying that 15 patients out of the 49 injured victims have been treated and discharged. What about the 32 that died in the attacks, the families they left behind in this hard time?

“The government shouldn’t allow this to happen again, they should find the perpetrators and deal with them now, else the bombing will escalate,” Nasir Gumti, a deputy director in Borno State Civil Service, lamented.

According to the deputy director, the sad incident shouldn’t have happened in the face of the daily victory the military has been claiming for some time now.

Read also: Gwoza suicide bombing, Frankenstein’s monster and South East governors’ salutary move

In his opinion, Mohammed Goni Alkali, managing director, North East Development Commission (NEDC), noted that the region has gone past that sad path and level, which the recent bombing is trying to renew.

“We have forgotten that such kind of thing will happen in such a manner, but unfortunately it happened,” he decried.

According to him, the region is now at the level of recovery from the over one decade unslaught by the Boko Haram, hence the need to fish out the perpetrators and deal decisively with them to curb the escalation of the renewed bombing.

Far from the usual and mere condemnation of the attacks, many Nigerians want the government to be firm in dealing with the terrorists this time.
According to them, the lipservice being paid to the fight against the insurgency has been the bane of insecurity in the country.

“The government should name, shame and prosecute those accused of funding Boko Haram and those sympathetic to the terrorist group should also be prosecuted,” Umelahi suggested.

“If a governor, senator or top government official is perceived to be supporting the group, he or she should be impeached or recalled imidiately.

“The security budget should be investigated as Oshiomhole suggested because more is spent and less achieved. Our people are dieing everyday, farms are vacated and hunger is biting harder now,” Tongrit said.

It would be recalled that in 2021, the Unitrd Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Court of Appeals in Abu Dhabi, convicted Abdurrahman Ado Musa, Salihu Yusuf Adamu, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad for transferring $782,000 from Dubai to Boko Haram in Nigeria. Salihu Yusuf Adamu and Surajo Abubakar Muhammad were sentenced to life imprisonment for violations of UAE anti-terrorism laws; Abdurrahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf, Muhammed Ibrahim Isa, and Ibrahim Ali Alhassan were sentenced to 10 years in prison, followed by deportation.

But the Nigerian government seems to only call names without corresponding prosecution as done by the UAE and the US to prevent funds from being used further to support terrorism in Nigeria.

On its part, the North East Development Commission assurred of its readiness to partner military and other critical stakeholders to unravel the causes of the recent attacks and find permanent solutions too.

“Surely we are talking with the state government and other stakeholders, we are going to have a committee to see how best we can help the victims in a short moment and also find a lasting solution to the problem,” Goni, MD of the Commission, said.

Military renews vow to end insurgency

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Military has vowed to annihilate the terrorists behind recent attacks, even though they also dismissed the attacks as acts of cowardice by terrorists after suffering defeat.

Lieutenant General Taoreed Abiodun Lagbaja assured that the Nigerian Army will up its game to ensure total defeat.

Edward Buba, director, Defence Media Operation, has assured that the military will win the war against terrorists’ groups.

The Nigerian Army has already commenced clearance operations to ensure that no further threats infiltrate any part of Borno State or its neighbouring states.