To sleep with both eyes closed in Nigeria these days is a luxury only few can afford. To walk and work during the day in many parts of the country without looking over one’s shoulders at each juncture is a gift – an extremely rare one at that for it would seem that wherever one turns, terror turns up its tentacles as tenacious as its reach is relentless.
Explosions recently rocked Taraba State in Nigeria’s North-East region to send jitters down the spine of ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’ and alarm bells tolling across the country.
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On April 19, 2022, a drinking joint at the International Cattle Market Iware, in Ardo Kola Local Government Area of Taraba State was shelled. As per police sources, when the pandemonium ceased, at least six persons lay dead. Locals have since put the number of the dead at 16 while about nineteen persons were injured.
On the night of April 22, 2022, terror charged into the heart of the state when explosions rocked another drinking joint this time in the Nukkai area of Jalingo the state capital. Fortunately, no life was lost.
On April 26,2022, the National Emergency Management Agency conducted a damage assessment of the sites and found that the explosions affected some 121 households. The Agency put the casualties at nine dead and 28 injured with many others displaced. The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of the terrorist group Boko Haram, has since claimed responsibility for the attacks. And apparently as at the time of its claims, it had not exhausted its terrorist box of tricks.
But how much longer do we have before more terrorist explosions are recorded and more lives lost to the train of terror that is gradually gaining traction in a state that was terror-free until recently, even if ethnic clashes were a thing there?
How much time does ‘Nature’s Gift to the Nation’ have before it becomes `terror’s gift to the nation’? It makes the heart heavy that practically no place in Nigeria is safe now. People now have to walk awkwardly as if their feet are covered with sores – sores of insecurity.
A time was when rural communities sacrilegiously short-changed by Nigeria’s savagely skewed sharing formula – and left with nothing – retained some vestigial sense of security. But all that was swept away when Boko Haram milked its seething fury at the extrajudicial killing of its leader, made venom out of it and began to coat vast swathes of the country.
To conclusively show that the trail of terror brooks no obstacles, entire communities have been razed; their populations annihilated as Boko Haram, ISWAP, bandits and herdsmen have coalesced into the four horsemen of Nigeria’s apocalypse, pulling the carts of devastation to practically every nook and cranny of the country.
Even in Nigeria’s Southeast, long immune from insecurity, the peace has finally been ruptured and every other day, innocent people are killed or abducted with many of them never seen again.
While terror treacherously traces its trail through the country with tumultuous consequences, many public officers marooned in the capitals of their states or in the Federal Capital Territory labour under the illusion that the heinous hurricane of terror will never rip off their roofs and lacerate their lips.
But enough must now be made enough. Boko Haram, ISWAP and all those who work with them and for them have long drunk the blood of innocent Nigerians. They have long amused themselves with the agony of innocent Nigerians for far too long. It is long past the time to pay them back in their own coin.
But from where will the devastating response from the Giant of Africa come? Is it from the security personnel who work on shoe strings while fighting terrorists by the skin of their teeth, or is it from poor rural villagers routed again and again by merciless killers?
Is it from the corridors of power where calloused fingers now know to shutter windows lest cries for help or cries of protests break through and assail their delicate but derelict aural senses?
Nigeria needs to tear apart the tapestry of terror now hanging over its skies. But who will bell the cat?
Kene Obiezu writes from Abuja