The Day Lightening Struck Twice by Maigida Johnson
Lightening struck Nigeria’s security agencies twice. And the second strike was most devastating, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 30. It was the Nov. 25 twin suicide car-bomb attack on St. Andrews Protestant Church inside the Nigerian Military Cantonment in Jaji, Kaduna.
For people who don’t know, the Jaji Cantonment, as the facility is known, is one of the most significant military institutions in Nigeria. It holds amongst others, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College and the Infantry Corps; two of the most important components of the Nigerian military. In other words, if officers in Jaji are not happy with the government, then there is serious cause for concern. Officers from Jaji have been responsible for more coups in Nigeria than those from other military formations combined. But then, let’s get back on course. Coup issues are for another day.
The significance of the Jaji attack was that it came barely 48 hours after Lieutenant-Colonel Sagir Musa, a military spokesman, announced a 290 million naira bounty for the capture of Abubakar Shekau, head of the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, or Boko Haram, and 18 other Shura, or council, members of the Islamist group. Now rewind to June 16, 2011 to get to the first lightening strike. It was a suicide car-bomb attack on the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, the first of what is now a Boko Haram signature.
What the Jaji and Force Headquarters attacks have in common is that they both came hours after top security chiefs ran their mouths. Recall the erstwhile Inspector-General of Police Hafiz Ringim mouthing off about Boko Haram and almost got blown away immediately, no thanks to a traffic warden who decided to exchange his life for Mr. Ringim’s. For me, it didn’t come as a surprise. It just typifies our leaders who would rather talk about what they plan to do than get the job done. President Goodluck Jonathan promised to end the Boko Haram attacks by June but five months later his most formidable military formation gets blasted away right in his face.
The Jaji and Force Headquarters attacks clearly depict how inept the approach to fighting the Boko Haram scourge has been. Every Sunday, we all sit and wait to hear news of which church was attacked and how many lives were lost. While the security agencies’ inefficiency to cost us dozens of lives weekly, the Jonathan administration continue to exhibit its trademark cluelessness and a clear lack of political deftness to negotiate a truce. More than 1,500 Nigerians have been killed in Boko Haram’s bomb and gun attacks since 2010, according to an Amnesty International estimate. Sadly, many more will be killed in these senseless attacks that now seem to be an integral part of our national lives while the rest of us live in fear.
Christmas is less than three weeks away and one gets the feeling of déjà vu. I wonder which is worse; the knowledge that it’s probably going to be another Boko Haram death fest or the fact that there’s nothing anyone can do to avert it.
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