Insecurity: Terrorists On the Loose In Nigeria, Who Will Stop Them

 By Lateeed Adegbite

 Between 2021, and now, there have been rumours making the rounds that Bandits and Ansaru terrorists, a breakaway faction of  the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram and the  Islamic State of West African Province, IWAP, masquerading as herdsmen have infiltrated   the south eastern states of Eboyi, Imo, Abia , Enugu and Anambra  to throw the region crisis to be in leaque of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna,  Katsina  and Niger, home state of General Ibrahim Babangida, rtd, a former Nigerian  military President including”{   the two north east states of Borno and Yobe.

 The attack on the Nigerian Correctional Services, with IEDs and the Imo State Police Command Headquarters in Owerri, the state capital and a Bank in Ondo, in the south west state of Ondo, with boldness bear eloquent testimony to the fact that the northern based terrorists, had actually infiltrated southern Nigeria to attack and kill innocent citzens .

 The terrorists may have mobilised adequate funds through the Bank robberies and attack on bullion vans,  in state, to procure arms and IEDs, that they may have resorted to the frequent attacks on Communities.

Recall that in 2019, the terrorists in a kidnap attempt had shot and killed one Funke Oakunrin, the second daughter of Adesofaranti, an Afenifere a Yoruba So-Political Organisation, Leader.  The incident was said to have occurred between Kajola and Ore, along the Ondo-Ore road. They may have killed the woman to test the ground in the south west geopolitical region.

Govr. Akeredolu: Orders Flags To Fly At At Half Mast In Ondo State, Over The killings In ST. Francis, Owo By Gunmen

 Rotimi Akeredolu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and governor of Ondo state was said to have drawn the attention of the Nigerian President to deploy more security agencies personnel to the state to contain the activities of the terrorists before they grew, Youruba local vigilante group in the region wing  but that was how far he could go.

 Last January, the terrorists, had attacked Okeluse Community in Ose Council Area of the state and killed two people. The attack on the Community had come after five persons were said to have been killed at Arimogija community, also in the same Ose Council Area, meaning that the Bandits stay within the Ose forest. The kill and go bandits may have expected members of the Amethakun, the Yorba Local vigilante group would take up arms and hunt for them in the forest in order to throw the state into crisis but were disappointed.

The terrorists  may have bitten more than they can chew when they attacked St Francis Catholic Church worship centre in the sleepy town of Owo, on Sunday, June 5, 2022, which predates  the All Progressive Congress,  APC, Special Convention to elect the party Presidential Candidate, from the 23 aspirants who had paid the N100 million fees each to purchase the Presidential nomination forms, starting from Monday, June 6, 2022 to Wednesday, June 8 , 2022.

 The attack on the Owo Catholic church, which had come barely a week after the prelate of the Methodist   Church of Nigeria, Bishop Samuel Kanu-Uche was kidnapped in Abia state, by  suspected gunmen, clearly shows that  the Bandits and their Ansaru terrorist collaborators , are everywhere in the  country, carrying out their  attacks  and killings in Communities.

 The Methodist Prelate who was in the custody of the terrorists for days who was said to have been released   after the Church had paid a N100 million ransom demanded by the criminal gang.  The Clergyman may have opened up when he breathed an air of freedom that the terrorists who had ‘’kidnapped him were ‘’Fulani Youths’’, believed by many to be from Mali, Mauritanian, Niger and other countries in the SAHEL region’’, meaning that Nigeria is under foreign invasion.

 An Eyewitness account had   said that the terrorists who had attacked the Owo Catholic   Church which is less than 200 metres from the Palace of the Olowo of Owo, around 10 AM, when the Sunday mass was being rounded off may have properly planned for it.

They may have carried a surveillance of the Church premises to know their escape route before launching the attack. They had their way.   The police had reported that ‘’some of the gunmen had disguised as congregants to gain entry into the church’’.  Police Preliminary Investigations report, had revealed   that ‘’other gunmen had positioned themselves around the church premises from different directions , which gave them the opportunity to fire into the church with ease’’.

The gunmen attack of the Owo Catholic Church may havedrawn the attention of   the Catholic POntif, Pope Francis  and other religious Leaders including Antonio Gutterres, Secretary General, United Nations, UN, who had described the attack on the St.Francis Catholic Church as ‘’repusive’’, noting that   ‘’attacks on places of worship are abhorrent’’.

Appealing to the Nigerian government to do everything within its powers to fish out the perpetrators of the attack and bring them to Justice, as a lesson to other terrorists and their sponsors. Akeredolu, the Ondo state governor, has ordered Flags to fly at half- mast for seven daysfollowing the kilings at the Owo Catholic Church by gunmen. ‘’It is a collective loss to the people of the sate’’, the governor had said. Governor Akerdolu, who could not hide his feelings had said that ‘’the attack on the Owo Catholic Church was and calculated  assault  on the people of Ondo state’’. ‘’We will not be deterred in responding appropriately  to this dastardly act’’,  he had said. Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, had assured his Ondo state Counterpart that he is not alone in the fight to deal with the suspected terrorists.   

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and a frontline Presidential Candidate of the ruling APC, Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra state and Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party and Atiku Abubakar, a former Nigerian Vice President and PDP, President Candidate, for the 2023, general elections, had   condemned the attack of the Owo Catholic Church attack by the alleged terrorists, resulting in the death of scores of worshippers in the Owo town.

 The trio, were said to have called on the Nigerian President and the security agencies Chief to endeavor ‘’to get to the root of the matter and ensure that the perpetrators of the Owo attack were brought to Justice.Usman Alkali Baba, the no nonsense Inspector General of Police, IGP, may have heeded to the call as he had said that ‘’full-scale investigations into the Owo c, atholic church attack have been ordered with a view  ‘’to bringing  to book the perpetrators of gruesome killings’’ , confirming what Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice President had said that that the perpetrators of the Owo attack would face the full weight of the Law.   

   Olumuyiwa Adejobi, a Chief Superintendent of Police and he Force spokesperson had said that the investigations had shown that the gunmen had stormed the Owo catholicchurch with arms and materials suspected to be explosives. He noted that the Police investigators  who were deployed to the scene  at the time of the attack  had recovered  pellets of the  expended AK 47 ammunition  while  the Explosive Ordinance Devices-Chemical  Radilogical and  Nuclear Explosives , EOD-CBRNE, unit   were said to have confirmed  the use of explosives  as fragments  of the IEDs, in the attack which were found  at the cene of the incident after weeping.

  The Force spokesperson was emphatic    that police Investigators recovered ‘’pellets of expended AK 47 ammunition from the scene’’, pointing to the direction of the Terrorists, as having carried out the attack, which Osinbajo, the Vice President  had described as an ‘’unspeakable evil’’ .

  There have been conflicting reports about the number of people killed during the Owo Catholic Church attack.  The Federal Medical centre and St. Louis Hospital, both in the town had said that 35 dead worshipers, put together were brought to their Hospital. But Reuters and BBC, had reported that no fewer than 50 worshippers were killed by the mindless Bandits who had used IEDs and AK 47, which are used in their operations in the north, to attack Communities, public facilities , Churches and Mosques.  

 There is no gain saying the fact that the northern based terrorists which may have introduced a culture of violence to the south by attacking a church in   which is more pronounced in the north east states of Borno and Yobe and the north western states of Kaduna and the north central state of Niger, appear to be giving the Leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, a cause for concern.

There are fears in both official and unofficial circles that with the successful attack of the St. Francis Catholic Church at Owo, more churches including Mosques in the south west geopolitical region   may be attacked  to  forestall  the people from congregating in the Church or Mosques for  fear that the trigger hungry terrorists  might attack and kill them. They have tried it in Kaduna, Niger and Plateau state but failed as the worshippers remain committed to serving God.

.  This is where Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the RCCG, which whose Church holds monthly Holy Ghost service, at the Redemption Camp, along the Lagos Ibadan Expressway, Bishop David Oyedepo, the General Overseer of Winners Church and other big time Churches in the south west, with large population, to tighten up security in their various churches to avoid exposing the worshippers to danger.

 The terrorists who had attacked the Owo Catholic Church, may have done so with the intention to draw the anger of the Leadership of Afenifere, the Pan-Yoruba Socio-political Organisation to spill fire.   Sola Ebiseni, the Secretary General, of the Yoruba Socio-Political Organisation had sent a message to’’ the terrorists that’’ the attack on the St Francis Catholic Church, Owo, was a deliberate show at testing the self defence  strength  of the Yoruba people in resisting the  importation  of the horrible  culture of violence into the region’’.

  He had lambasted the Nigerian President   that  despite’’ the  government  monopoly of the country’s security architecture,’’it has proven most helpless and irresponsible in securing life and property, an irrefutable sign   of the failure of the Nigerian state’’

The Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP,  has asserted  that the alleged silence of  the APC,  on the Sunday, June 5, 2022, attack  and killing of scores of worshippers  at the St. Francis Catholic  Church, Owo, in an APC, controlled state,  clearly confirms ‘’ the party complicity  and implicit support  for terrorism in Nigeria’’.

 Debo Ologunagba, the PDP, spokesperson had said that ‘’Buhari’s personal silence  is deafening and points to allegations  in the public space  that terrorists  are enjoying   tacit accommodation  from the  highest level of the APC , Administration’’.  He had said that the Nigerian President failure to give his promise to lead the fight against the bandits and   terrorists from the front may have continued to embolden them to carry out more terrible tacks in different parts of the country, with little or no resistance from the people.

Many believe that if the   attack on Owo catholic church had occurred in Imo or any other state in the south east, the Presidency would have linked IPOB and ESN, to it, and  the security Operatives  and the DSS, personnel would go after them. Nigerians are waiting to hear to the outcome of the Police Investigations on the Owo catholic church attach and the terrorist group responsible for it and their sponsors.

 For now, no Organisation had claimed responsibility for the Owo Catholic Church attack and the Presidency has not linked any Group to it.  The Owo incident may have forced the Northern Governors Forum, chaired by Samuel Lalong, to have recommended five Presidential aspirants for the Party Leadership to pick its consensus Candidate for the 2023, general elections.

The listed Presidential aspirants  were Tinubu, Osinbajo,  Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister of Transportation,  Kayode Fayemi, Governor of Ekiti state and Chairman, Nigerian Governor’s Forum and Dave Umahi, governor of Eboyi state.  Lalong, the Plateau state governor had said that Buhari had told the apc governors from the northern region the five Presidential aspirants from the south are qualified to take over after  him  after the 2023, general elections  and have contributed immensely to the growth of the party over the years. He had said that he comfortable with any of them, Governor Lalong revealed.

Abdullahi Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa state and APC , National Chairman, had reportedly  Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President , from the north east geopolitical zone, as the part Consensus Candidate but Tinubu, ha vowed not to step down for any othe aspirant.

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