Thursday, November 10, 2011

Containing homegrown terrorism: A grave imperative

Sun News
10 November 2011

By Lindsay Barrett

Of the many problems facing Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and they are legion, none is more frightening in its intensity and the potential to destroy Nigeria’s fragile nationhood than the rise of home-grown terrorism. Last week’s improbable atrocity in Damaturu, the hitherto peaceful capital of Yobe State, should be a wake-up call.

This operation was aimed largely at members of the state security apparatus with deadly effect. Of the scores who died in the mayhem a substantial proportion may have been members of various uniformed services. However even more tragic is the fact that scores of ordinary people are also reported to have been killed or injured in these attacks and some of these were people who had fled Maiduguri hoping to escape such attacks.

The irrationality of this kind of violent outburst cannot be compared in any way to the insurgency that occurred and is still occurring, although on a much reduced scale, in the Niger Delta. There the target is clearly to undermine the economic fortunes of oil companies and their collaborators. Wherever the Niger Delta militants extend their operations to affect communities rather than oil installations they have always tried to reduce the effect on the ordinary people.

What we have been witnessing in the case of the so-called “Boko Haram” uprising is the exact opposite. Instead of trying to direct their attacks at a special sector of the economy or the society these attacks appear to be aimed at spreading terror regardless of who is affected.

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