Security expert seeks proactive steps to protect Nigerians

By Job Osazuwa

Security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has advised the
federal and state governments to accept the reality that terrorists and
extremists will continue to mercilessly and viciously attack Nigerian civilians
who they consider soft targets, in pursuit of their nefarious goals.

“Rather than whine about the fact that insurgents, bandits
and herdsmen kill and kidnap people, the national and sub-national governments
should target-harden Nigerian civilians and reduce their vulnerability to
threats,” he counselled.

Presenting a paper at an international colloquium
organized by the Men’s League of Christ Church, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on
Democracy Day, Ekhomu, president of the Association of Industrial Security and
Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), said the recent pronouncement by
President Muhammadu Buhari that states should find solutions to their security
challenges means that governors can no longer sit on the sidelines and complain
that they do not have the authority to protect their citizens.

In his paper titled “Current State of Insecurity and
the Rise of Insurgency in Nigeria”, Ekhomu said that the terrorists had redrawn
the battle lines to include churches, mosques, schools, hospitals, shopping
malls, villages, highways, waterways, farm settlements, railway stations, motor
parks, etcetera.

He stated that terrorists were picking on soft
targets as their goal to keep citizens in fear and erode the legitimacy of the
government: “Armed non-state actors now collect taxes and levies in the
North-East and North-West. ISWAP is now acting like a government in communities
in northern Borno State.”

Ekhomu, who is West Africa’s first chartered
security professional, said civilians are held captive by soft target emotional
mentality of hopelessness, inescapability from attacks, invulnerability of the
bandits, insurgents and herdsmen and inevitability of attacks, meaning “what
will be will be”. He condemned the verbal cues of government officials, which
often adopt these pessimistic narratives of hopelessness, inescapability,
invulnerability and inevitability. He said that often stated excuses by government
officials that bandits, insurgents and herdsmen were intentionally selecting
and attacking soft targets were true but had the effect of strengthening the

Said he: “rather than cower and make excuses in the
face of an unprecedented assault on our national security, the government,
federal and states should target-harden the citizens.”

He said the mindset of civilians should be changed
from victim (soft targets) to winner (hard target).

He advised state governments to make security a part
of their socio-cultural DNAm assess the threats in their jurisdictions, as well
as map their vulnerabilities. He further advised states to organize, train and
equip an armed vigilance force to provide a community defence shield. He said
vigilance personnel should be armed with shotguns that are allowed under extant
laws. He elaborated that vigilance and other community resources are intended
to provide initial response, while federal law enforcement and military
resources would provide secondary response to neutralise the threats.

Ekhomu advised state governments to purchase and
install air horns in all communities as a physical security measure to
annunciate attacks on the civil populace. He said the air horns should be
activated by assigned individuals in the event of bandit, insurgent or herder
attacks. The extremely high decibel of sound emitted by the air horns would
provide a psychological defense against the killers, he added.

Said he: “The aggressors may kill a couple of
people, but the carnage will be reduced.”

He advised state governments to accept that they are
now in charge of their own security and to educate citizens about threats in
their areas, “this will give adequate mental preparation to civilians to engage
in the struggle with the terrorists.”

The expert also advised Nigerians against night
travel or going to the farms alone, as these acts expose citizens to danger of
kidnap or murder. He said there was strength in numbers.

Ekhomu encouraged Nigerians not to be afrai: “We are a strong, resilient and proud people. We should adopt the mentality of a hunter and invent creative solutions in defending our communities.”


Post by: Chinyere

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