EDITORIAL: Killing of security personnel: FG must carry out holistic investigation

EDITORIAL
EDITORIAL
EDITORIAL: Killing of security personnel: FG must carry out holistic investigation

The blight of social insecurity is associated with myriad of tragedies, including loss of lives, limbs and properties. Thousands of innocent lives have been felled in various parts of Nigeria as a direct consequence of the social insecurity that has gripped the nation by the jugular in the last one and half decade.

It is worrisome to note that the lives of security personnel who ought to ensure that we are all safe are not spared in the raging onslaught. The flip side is that In most cases, these security personnel come under direct onslaught by the communities they ought to protect in the first place.

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It is a well known fact all over the world that social insecurity, especially the type we are experiencing in Nigeria, comes with a lot of collateral damage on everyone, including the security personnel who usually pay the supreme price on the line of duty to ensure the safety and security of all.

To highlight the hazards which confronts security operatives, it is pertinent to state that in the last 15 years, more than 3000 personnel have paid the ultimate price for our continued freedom. Last year alone, no fewer than 262 state security personnel were violently killed while defending our country.

In the first quarter of this year, we have recorded the killings of at least 62 state security agents.

In spite of the hazards of the job and other challenges facing them, our gallant security operatives have remained resilient and doing their best to ensure the return of peace to our beleaguered communities. For that singular and spectacular sacrifice, we must remain indebted to our gallant security operatives.

That is why, the tragic killing of 16 officers of the troops of 181 Amphibious Batallion, Bomani, LGA of Delta State by unknown assailants in Okuama community of Ughelli South Local Government Area and Okolaba community of Bomadi Local Government Area in Delta State, on Thursday, March 14, 2024 is not only unacceptable but must be seen and treated as a treasonable felony.

The officers were ambushed and killed while responding to a distress call after an intercommunal clash between Okuama and Okolaba Communities.
The extrajudicial killing of the soldiers in cold blood leaves much to be desired. It has remained one event that has kept Nigerians in sorrow and amazement.

In the past, security personnel on the line of duty have come under such brutal and unspeakable attrition by the communities where they operate with a number of them killed in cold blood.
Two examples of such attacks in Odi and Zaki Biam communities of Bayelsa and Benue States respectively stand out as the shining relics of this act of brazen incivility.

However, in the course of carrying out their duties, security personnel have been variously accused of perpetrating monumental human rights abuses making them to lose public support and sympathy. In some cases, the security personnel were accused of taking sides during conflicts especially ethno religious conflagrations.

For instance, at the beginning of Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State, soldiers have been accused of maiming, communities and carrying out extrajudicial killings of innocent members, especially youths, whenever Boko Haram insurgents who were then living in the communities killed army personnel. That action made them to lose the support and confidence of the general public as the people rather see them as enemies not partners in progress which compounded the already fragile situation.

Another issue that is still in contention and under the kleigh light of investigation is the report by Reuters which accused the Nigerian Army of forcing women to abort pregnancies owned by Boko Haram insurgents.

It is pertinent for the government to ensure that a holistic investigation into the recent massacre of soldiers is carried out. The need for the investigation becomes even more compelling in the wake of a viral video in which a member of one of the communities said the killing of soldiers was a consequence of their partisan inclination in the conflict by supporting one side of the divide.

Nigerian Army has over the years gained global acclaim for their exemplary and stellar conducts in peace keeping operations, especially in Africa. But in recent times, the army has come under severe scrutiny for failing to live above board while carrying out similar operations in Nigeria.

But we should be quick to add here that as a result of the raging and rampaging social insecurity which gripped the nation, Nigerian Army whose sole mandate is to defend the territorial integrity of our country has also taken an added duty of upholding, servicing and maintaining internal security across all nooks and crannies of the nation with the advent of bandits, Boko Haram insurgents and other violent criminal gangs across all the regions of the country. That has really overstretched the organization beyond doubt.

We will not also fail to acknowledge the efforts and investments which the Nigerian Army has made and is continuously making to ensure smooth relationship between its personnel and their host communities including training of personnel, establishing civil military relations department and opening up for more engagement with the civil societies in its desire to build resilient friendship.

But the recent tragedy shows that more needs to be done to concretize the civil military relations in order to curtail such mishaps and unpalatable scenarios in the future.

In order to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated, this paper calls on President Ahmed Bola Tinubu to set up an independent judicial commission of enquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause(s) of the latest event and to bring perpetrators to book.

We also implore the president to cause an investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the communal clashes between the two communities which led to the attack on the officers and men of the Nigerian Army and the extent of partisanship of the army or otherwise in the conflict.

The government should as a matter of necessity address all the welfare concerns of soldiers especially those in the line of duty and also mitigate the lingering hardship, food insecurity and multi-dimensional poverty afflicting Nigerians which is responsible for some of the violent tendencies we see.

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