Imo Terror Attacks and the Show of Executive Incompetence

The spate of insecurity in Nigeria is rising in exponential dimension as citizens now sleep with one eye closed, not knowing the next community or institution that the hoodlums may attack.

Anarchy recently broke out in Owerri, Imo State, a relatively peaceful town as thousands of prison inmates from Owerri Correctional Service (NCS) located along Okigwe Road were freed by heavily armed hoodlums with General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs), Sub-Machine Guns (SMGs), AK49 rifles, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The terrorists were also said to have set ablaze military checkpoints along Onitsha and Ugwu Orji Roads attacked the Police Station in Owerri, released some suspects detained in the SCID cells, and set ablaze many vehicles parked at the headquarters premises, including the SCID office building.

Some analysts said that there appears to be a lack of symbiotic relationship in the sharing of intelligence amongst the security agencies in Nigeria, as each of the agencies are said to be feeling more superior to the other; hence hoodlums always have a field day when acts of crimes and criminalities are being committed in several parts of the country.

A former Assistant Director at the Department of State Services, (DSS) Dennis Amachree said during his appearance on Channels Television’s ‘Sunrise Daily’ that the police and the governor of Imo were warned thrice that some IPOB members were planning the dastardly act before gunmen attacked a correctional facility and police headquarters facility in Imo State, but nobody did anything.

Could it be that poor symbiotic relationship among security agencies based on a false sense of superiority that caused the police to ignore the reports from the DSS?

What could be described as pure executive incompetence was given a utopian colouration as the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodinma, swiftly blamed the recent attacks on security facilities in the state on aggrieved politicians who aim to destabilise his government and that of President Muhammadu Buhari.

But Amachree suggested that such attacks could have been averted if the police and the chief security of the state in the person of Uzodinma, were on their toes.

Amachree said “There is enough actionable intelligence; actionable in the sense that it allows for space for people to execute it.

“One week ahead of this particular event and 72 hours before the event and 48 hours – so three times – the Nigeria police was informed that this was going to happen.

“Some suspects were found around the area surveying the prisons and the police headquarters repeatedly.

“But you know, in our lackadaisical way, when the intelligence would come, they throw it by the side, and then of course when something happens, everybody will start to run around.”

Amachree posited that the DSS could not have acted on its own intelligence because it is not “a fighting force.”

“The actionable party is actually the police,” he said. “Because when they say a particular installation or facility is under threat, then the actionable party would go ahead to correct it.

“The DSS is not a fighting force. They have a protective department that is basically responsible for the security of persons, VIPS. But when it comes to fighting, they always liaise with sister agencies, either the police or the military”, Amachree added.

The Chief Security of the states are the governors and all security reports on the state are delivered on their tables, as well as those of all other sister security agencies. This is why the deadly attacks in Imo state can be attributed to executive recklessness and incompetence.

Following the aftermaths of the siege, IPOB mocked the Southeast governors for refusing to set up security outfits to confront security threats to the people of the zone.

In a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, IPOB denied its alleged involvement in the attack, stating that it was not part of its mandate or that of Eastern Security Network, ESN, to attack security agents, their facilities let alone the ones in any Biafra State, since Biafra actualisation was built on a peaceful approach.

Indeed no society is immune from this thorny social problem of violent crimes but what differs is the frequency and magnitude of the situation and the response mechanisms to address the same.

The ESN was founded on 12 December 2020 and commenced operations almost immediately following his proclamation of its creation in a broadcast by the IPOB leader Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

The IPOB hierarchy has long stated the movement has no intention of going armed, but many of the movement’s followers have long rejected that position as a result of the frequent crackdown on the group by the Nigerian Army and Police to justify their taking up arms to defend themselves.

This was the fallout after the clampdown on IPOB during the Operation Python Dance and an attack on the home of Nnamdi Kanu in Afaraukwu-Ibeku.

Recently, the Nigerian government saw the ESN as a threat to its authority and deployed the army to locate and destroy ESN bases in Orlu. This culminated in the military confrontation with ESN.

IPOB then accused the Nigerian Army of working in collaboration with the governor of Imo state to continue the harassment and intimidation of civilians in Orlu and the environs.

In response to the deaths of 20 security personnel in the region in early 2021, including the destruction of three police stations, Nigerian forces raided an ESN camp in Aba, Abia on the night of 23 March 2021 captured the camp, and “neutralised” 16 ESN fighters.

Investigations have linked the recent attacks to the failure of the authorities to free members of pro-Biafra groups in police formations and the correctional facility after several warnings, calls, and ultimatum.

Some security analysts have made some germane comments on the operations of the country’s military and para-military organisations, stressing that every operation that they are about to undertake are first known on the media, before commencement.

Read Also: Between Okorocha and Uzodinma: Guymen Politics in Imo State

The immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who had earlier accused IPOB and ESN of the attacks, described the deliberate and criminal attack on security operatives as an attack on the soul of the nation and urged leaders in Imo State, the South-East and other parts of the country to speak out against the unfolding violence and criminality. The terrorist attacks also culminated in violence against some Hausa-Fulani residents and their cattle in Imo, leading to the likelihood of the crisis taking an ethnic dimension.

This prompted the Southeast, apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to sue for peace while urging the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Elders Forum to restrain their people from reprisal attacks against Ndigbo residing in the North.

The expanding trends of events in Imo were pointing towards an imminent danger to the safety of both the Northern communities residing in the East and Ndigbos residing in the North; hence the efforts made by Ohaneze to prevent reprisal attacks both in the North and East seem to be quite a sensible one. Hopefully, with time, the police in Imo State and the entire Southeast would rise up to tackle the current security threats in the region.

Anthony Nwakaegho

Categories: Features, News, Politics

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