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Offa Robbery: Our collective failure

By Oba AbdulwahabChief Press Secretary to the Kwara State Governor

The event of the now infamous Black Thursday will linger on our mind for a long time to come. Even though
there have been several words to soothe the pains, the memories of the bitter experience where some
enemies of humanity and civility massacred innocent lives in Offa all in a bid to rob banks in the ancient
community, will stay with us for a long time. They brazenly murdered sleep. They shall never sleep with their
eyes close; they shall sleep no more.

Unfortunately, some people are attempting to make political gains out of the cold blooded murder of our
innocent brothers and sisters. They are making unsubstantiated allegations.  This definitely is politics carried too
far. Rather than sympathize with families and friends of the victims and suggest ways to prevent future
occurrence, they are busy with hate speeches. And according to Governor Ahmed "what has befallen us is too
terrible and saddening for anyone to trivialize for selfish political gain. Those utterances do not reflect our
values as Kwarans and should stop, out of respect for the dead and the injured. Rather, our people must be
vigilant and be security conscious as part of community involvement in effective policing".

And as we prepare to deal with the difficulties of living with the sad tales of the brutal murders by the daring
armed robbers, we must also begin to live with questions that will assist in dealing with what has happened
effectively and proffer possible solutions that could deter a future attempt by these wicked sons of the guns.

No doubt, the major lesson to learn from the sad episode is that we were all caught unawares; apparently no
hint, no clue the evil visitors had decided to camp on our land. We were literally sleeping when they came and
emboldened by our posture, they carted away money and snatched several souls. They went about the job as if
it were leisure, spending more than one hour as they bombed and killed. And even when they had completed
their unenviable job, they still went out of the community with the air of the devil himself!

But don't blame us too much. While we weep about our apparent state of unpreparedness for the onslaught
that befell us, we must not lose sight of the fact that even the best of most prepared nations have fallen victims
of such planned attack that we all stand with mouth open in wonder. The United States of America must, in my
estimation, be one of the most policed communities on earth, but still the last few weeks have shown how
vulnerable that nation is also to these sorts of planned attacks; armed men invading public schools and wasting
the lives of innocent youngsters just because of disagreement with one policy or philosophy. This is not a
justification of the Offa attack, though. It is to show that security issue is not a one off arrangement but a
continuous and sustainable vigilance.

The Offa attack is still a wakeup call for all of us in Kwara state in particular and across Nigeria at large. We have
slept long enough and today we must be angry enough to put in place strategies and structures that will
henceforth put these hoodlums to shame and block them from ever daring as they did on Black Thursday.
From government to community, from groups to individuals, from compounds to households, we must all rise
up to action to defend our society; the gift of God to us which these robbers now seek to rubbish. It is gratifying to note that government has taken steps that are evidently assuring; the provision of armoured personnel carrier for Offa and the deployment of more mobile police units are part of efforts to prevent future occurrence of the ugly incident.

But we need more than these physical and human infrastructures to fight this menace. What happened at Offa,
which was a more brutal repeat of an earlier version of the same attack, and which has also been demonstrated
in Omu Aran and Oro respectively, demand more than that from us? My people, there is an urgent need to look
into ourselves; there is need for introspection. Why Offa again? Why Offa in the first instance? Where is our
native intelligence gathering mechanism? What are we doing to monitor our communities? Where is the place
of local internal security arrangements that could detect such evils before they enter the land?

I think there is an urgent need to strengthen our community vigilante groups by training them in intelligent
gathering and operations. That is at the level of the communal, while federal and states governments synergize
on the task of providing the needed security infrastructure. I align myself completely with the position of the
Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki on what we need to do as a nation to stop this type of carnage. According to
Saraki while speaking during a condolence visit to Offa, “this issue requires a very radical and serious minded
approach. Unless we address this, we will continue to have this kind of scenario where a bunch of criminals will
hold a town for two hours and carry out this mayhem. There is no society that will really allow this kind of thing
to happen".
The federal government also acknowledges the lacuna in our security arrangements, signifying the acceptance
of the advocacy for a review of our national security architecture to achieve something more effective than
what we have currently.  Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture shared this view when he
also visited Offa few days after the tragedy: ''I hope also that we are all going to learn from the mistakes; and we
are going to factor this into the larger security architecture in a manner that we will have a much more secured
and safer states and a country''.
While Governor Ahmed has "reassured Kwarans, and indeed all Nigerians, that the culprits will be apprehended
and brought to justice swiftly", the real issue in Offa is how to reinvigorate the security system to prevent such
a brazen rape of our collective peace. It is no doubt a commendable step that security infrastructure in the state
is currently being strengthened, especially through procurement of additional Armored Personnel Carriers (APC)
to beef up the security in Offa and strategic locations in the state.
While I find it personally challenging to support state police, I think special attention should be giving to the
welfare of our men and women in union.  The appointment and removal of police officers should be the
exclusivity of the police service commission, while the Senate must approve the appointment and removal of
the Inspector General to instill discipline and security of tenure for the office holder.
May all of us truly learn, from the mistakes that allowed those shallow minded confused men invade our land
and go unscathed. May the blood of the innocent dead, fish them out of their lockers now!
Offa Robbery: Our collective failure Reviewed by Unknown on April 17, 2018 Rating: 5

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