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Analysing 2019 security challenges

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IT IS widely believed that security and peace of nations is contingent. The global community has faced a lot of security issues ranging from corruption, terrorist attacks, religious bigotry, cyber-crime, climate change, kidnapping to other factors escalating in the Middle East.

These pose  great challenges to global security due to the rapidly developing ability of technology users. In relation to terrorism, the ability and ease of communication via online platforms has facilitated the spread of extremist propaganda. There has been a sharp rise in the number of individuals being scandalised on the internet.

Nigeria, like every other nation has faced myriads of security issues such as Boko Haram attacks, herdsmen attacks, terrorism, kidnapping, human trafficking, religious intolerance, among others.

Tragically, across the country, many people lost their lives in outbreaks of violence in the last presidential election won by President Mohammadu Buhari which ushered him into second term as President of Nigeria.

This no doubt led to heightened tensions and more violence in the preceding weeks and months though there had been series of promises from the presidency on the establishment of measures to tackle insecurity, yet many lives and property are being lost in different states on daily basis.

The militant Islamist group has destabilised the North-East. The group killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions more. About 2.5 million people fled their homes and towns and the direct consequence of the conflict was that the North-East was plunged into a severe humanitarian crisis – as at 2018, one of the worst in the world – which has left about 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

In his first term, Muhammadu Buhari claimed that his government would bring an end to the national suffering inflicted by Boko Haram insurgence. Though his government made significant military gains but nevertheless, the crisis is not yet over, and it would be a grave mistake for the president to disregard the continued importance of the conflict. There have been continued suicide attacks and kidnappings being carried out by the group this year.

Another major security threat is the farmer-herder clashes. The Middle Belt region has faced prolonged violent clashes between the predominantly Christian farmers and the mostly Muslim cattle herders. At the core of the conflicts are disputes over access and rights to land and water resources and rapid desertification which has changed the grazing patterns of cattle.

These clashes are not necessarily new, but since 2015, the disputes have become more frequent and violent. In 2018 alone, more than 2,000 people were killed in such clashes – more than the number killed in the past two years combined.

The conflict now claims an estimated six times more than the Boko Haram crisis. The clashes have escalated to other states in the country with many lives lost and farmlands destroyed and this has adversely affected food security of the nation.

The leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), an Iranian backed Shia group in Nigeria , Ibrahim Zakzaky is opposed to the federal system of Nigeria, Israel, the US and also opposes secular governments.

Correspondingly, Zakzaky had called for an Iranian-style revolution in Nigeria. The group’s strong position on these issues and their regular protesting resulted in clashes with security forces. However recently, these clashes became more frequent and more violent. In 2015, the leader of the sect was arrested, and in 2016, a judicial inquiry revealed that the army had unlawfully killed 347 members of the group in Zaria.

Late last year, the security forces arrested 400 IMN members and allegedly killed dozens of civilians in the capital city, Abuja and surrounding areas. According to Amnesty International, the security forces’ use of automatic weapons was an excessive and horrific use of force.

Moreover, Niger Delta, the oil-producing core of Nigeria has for decades suffered from oil pollution which has led to the loss of livelihoods and sources of food for locals. The area has also been neglected by the federal government even though the bulk of the country’s fund comes from the region.

In the last decade, clashes between armed groups in the area and the security forces reached an all-time high; kidnappings were rife, and oil infrastructure destroyed at a phenomenal rate. In 2016, one of the most prominent armed groups in the region, the Niger Delta Avengers (and other smaller groups), destroyed oil production infrastructure reducing production from 2.2 million barrels per day to the two decades low of 1.4 million barrels a day. The infrastructure vandalism contributed to the onset of one of Nigeria’s worst economic recessions on record.

Although efforts were made by the Buhari administration in his first term to address the grievances of the region, the Niger Delta Avengers have just ended their ceasefire with the government claiming that the government has not made good on bringing peace and development to the region.

In  Anambra State, issue of security of lives and property is paramount to Governor Willie Obiano, who has not left any stone unturned. On his assumption of office in March 17, 2014, he vowed to fight crime and criminality in the state having been a victim of criminal attacks in the famous Upper Iweka in Onitsha.      He then decided to fight crime with the latest technology anywhere in the world by procuring technology-driven security initiative- the Smart City project, also known as the second phase of Operation Kpochapu. The CCTVs are being installed in Awka, Nnewi and Onitsha, and other parts of the state.

As part of the launch of the second round of Operation Kpochapu, Obiano procured 109 vehicles and equipped them with state of the art electronic devices to work in unison with the super smart gadgets while some police officers are being trained on how to operate the sophisticated CCTVs and the equipment in the new 109 vehicles.

In recognition of the governor’s feats in security, he has been given series of awards. Paramount of them was the recent recognition to the governor at the 16th Africa Security Watch Awards, held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. He was adjudged as the winner of the Security Icon in Governance in West and Central Africa Awards. It was in recognition of efforts by individuals, institutions and governments in Africa at ensuring security of life and property.

Anambra State, Light of the Nation once again set the pace during the awards ceremony with the theme: “Celebration of Africa’s Best in Security, Safety and Governance” and carted away five significant awards in different categories from the event.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr John Abang won the Best Crime Bursting Police Chief in West Africa Award while the Chief Security Officer to Gov. Obiano, Mr Chinedu Aniagboso, CSP, received the Best Executive Protection Security Officer in West and Central Africa.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Command, Mr Haruna Mohammed, SP, received the Most Outstanding Police Public Relations Officer in West Africa. Mr Williams Oduma, CSP, won the Best Police Operations Officer in Nigeria.  Anambra State Police Command won awards as the Best Crime Bursting Police Command in Nigeria.

However, notwithstanding these feats, there are still incidences of kidnapping, armed robbery and violence in some parts of the state. Recently, Enugwu-Agidi community was besieged by the activities of armed robbers and herdsmen who kidnapped a university lecturer from the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University along Enugwu-Agidi-Nawgu Road and was later recovered by the operatives from the state police command.    Another hit on the community came last month when a pastor from the community was abducted at the boundary between the community and Isuaniocha in Awka North Council area.

More so last month, Police in Anambra State arrested two men, Anthony Robbert and Udoka Nwoko, who are members of a kidnapping syndicate who recently took N3million from a victim’s family and instead of releasing him, they killed him.

In October, five persons were killed and scores sustained varying degrees of injuries during an armed robbery attack in Onitsha. In the first quarter of 2019, herdsmen attacked Mmiata Anam community in Anambra West LGA, killing six persons, burnt houses and raped women while many were wounded.

At this time, the federal government should not just focus on security but invest in peace-building, reconstruction, rehabilitation and socio-economic development.

The president must find inclusive and creative ways of addressing and deescalating this complex conflict.

Countries need to work together to tackle challenges that extend beyond their own borders. They should cooperate to reduce high level of insecurity bedeviling their nations especially the threats of cyber security and terrorism.

There is need for global communities to rise to the challenge of addressing high scourge of insecurity. International organisations, UN, NATO and others, local organisations like the CSOs and NGOs should keep governments accountable for actions involving peace development and building of lasting security that will foster unity in states.

 

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