THE UNWRITTEN CODE OF SILENCE BEHIND THE SPIKE IN KILLINGS OF SECURITY OPERATIVES IN S/E
Nigeria as a country plagued with security crisis is a statement of fact; however, the code of silence and lack of attention given to security crisis plaguing the Southern region, especially South East zone has become worrisome as the Northern region continues to enjoy the undivided attention
This year, the spike in the killings and security breakdown unfolding in the South Eastern region played out in a similar fashion this period in 2021.
Attacks were gradually unleashed on Security Operatives in the South East from January 2021. However, before the spikes reached the crescendo where 1800 prisoners from the Owerri Correctional Facility were released, there were targeted attacks on security operatives in the Southern region, leading to the killing of over 20 police officers at least 10 police stations between January and April 2021.
Meanwhile, from January 2021 up to June 2021, according to EONS Intelligence report with the theme: "Analyzing the Violence Against the Police in South Eastern Nigeria" (read here), 39 Security Operatives were killed in a total of 31 attacks, while a total of 23 stations and 6 vehicles were set ablaze.
From the trend, the Owerri Correctional Facility incident was seen as the most severe of criminal activities bent on destabilizing the country, with the hoodlums welding a manpower capacity consisting of hardened criminals as recruits.
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EONS Intelligence, had therefore, warned of the possibility of the released prisoners forming foundational grounds for insurgency in the South East and hence needed to be quickly nipped in the bud before the region's insecurity situation degenerates to that of North-Eastern Nigeria.
However, the disturbing news during the April 2021 incident is that even after the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu called on South East respected Igbo monarchs and thought leaders to speak against the recent deliberate attacks on security operatives in the region, the "omerta" (impenetrable code of silence) persists.
Following the Owerri Correctional Facility incident, the Police Command reiterated its commitment to curb the activities of criminals hell-bent on threatening the unity, safety and socioeconomic well-being of Nigerians while calling on citizens to avail the Police and other security agencies with valuable information that can assist in identifying and arresting the criminals
According to the statement released by the then Police Spokesperson CP Frank Mba, the Command on orders of the IGP ordered the immediate deployment of additional units of Police Mobile Force (PMF) and other Police Tactical Squads to Imo State to strengthen security in the State and prevent further attacks on security formations or any other critical national infrastructure in the State.
However, the prevalent silence trailing the perpetrators behind the dastard acts of continuous killing of Security Operatives may not be unconnected with the fact that the killing of Monarchs surpassed the killing of Security Operatives after the call for information was made.
Hence, it seems the people that can salvage the situation have become weary of speaking either for fear of being labelled traitors or the possibility of an attack.
Statistics indicate that from January 2022 to February 15, the reported killings of Security Operatives at over twenty have already surpassed the 20 killed in four months last year.
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Reports today, Tuesday, February 15 indicate that suspected IPOB members attacked Ezzilo Police Station in Ishielu LGA killing 3 policemen and razing down the station in the early hours of the day.
This portends that if a jailbreak of 1800 inmates unleashed after the death of 20 Security Operatives was orchestrated after four months of testing murky waters, the attendant security crisis that may accompany the current trend might make the Owerri Correctional Facility incident of last year a child's play.
It is expected that the same speed and efficacy which government agencies deployed in unveiling the video of the drug incident, drug barons and NDLEA collaborators in Abba Kyari drug-related enigma will be brought to bear and unlock the code of silence shrouding the spike of the killing of Security Operatives in the South Eastern region of the Country.
The result of the Abba Kyari incident shows that Nigeria has what it takes to deal with any presumed threat security threat; hence, citizens of the South Eastern region anticipate that this same efficiency and tradecraft would be brought to bear on the current degenerating situation that seems to be neglected in the daily pursuit of the fight against terrorists in the Northern region.
The Southern security crisis, primarily as it affects the spike in the killing of Security Operatives among other criminal acts (ritual killings, violent attacks etc), will determine whether the expedience in the Kyari incident was to score a political point or an improvement in the security architecture within the nation.
Experts strongly believe that Nigeria will need more than indicting a few "scapegoats" to demonstrate zeal and determination in the fight against the nation's insecurity.
The battle of conviction in the mind of the people is key towards getting the needed support to win the battle as the absence of prosecution of those behind these acts demonstrates the government's helplessness in assuring Security Operatives especially, and the citizens of their safety in perilous times.
It was therefore not surprising that a mob of irate youths trooped out in their thousands and, going beyond pacification, broke into Oja Odan Police Cell and set ablaze two suspected ritualists, Idowu Afolabi and Johnson Adebiyi is an indication that the citizens have lost faith in the nation.
The above suggests that the citizens who have lost faith in a government that cannot protect its Security Operatives will begin to assume jungle justice tactics to protect itself. The unabated attacks have weakened the morale and capacity of Security Personnel, hence, the loss of confidence by the residents.
If the current trend is not checked to preserve national security, several people may resort to self-help, jungle justice and any possible means envisaged to protect the individuals against envisaged violent attack.
The following weeks are pregnant on how the improved security architecture that nabbed Kyari will destroy the code of silence shrouding those killing Security Operatives in the South Eastern region and bring them to book.