— by Dr Chris Ikedi Durueke —
By Sunday afternoon, Nigerians woke up to what they thought was the impossible- a Boko Haram attack on the highly fortified National Headquarters of the State Security Service, Abuja. Initially, the news was thought to be a rumour, then it took the picture of a hoax. When the newsreel started quoting the glamorous SSS Spokeswoman, Marilyn Ogar, it dawn on people like us that this was no fluke. This was reality in live transmission. As was expected, rumour mill then actually went to work dishing out its versions of what was happening within and outside the SSS facility popularly called “The Yellow House”.
I personally followed all the accounts trending with the event, being particularly excited by a bunch of brave fellas who I was following on Twitter. While residents of the adjoining Aso Drive including Femi Fani Kayode were frightened and holed up in their houses, this particular bunch of youths took the risk of staying in the shadows to take pictures of Nigerian soldiers advancing strategically towards enemy targets. I knew that an event of this magnitude was bound to provoke enormous speculations throughout the country and mostly to negative ends. Therefore, I have reproduced here an almost perfect detailed account of what transpired, within and outside the National Headquarters of the State Security Service on the fateful day. I do not want my people misled by false information.
It was about 6.30am and time for daily shift duty routines of SSS personnel. The last duty of those on the outgoing shift was to feed suspects, which at this time included some Boko Haram agents, still under investigation. As the suspect handler, whose name, as expected could not be disclosed or known, made to take in the food of the suspects who were in handcuffs and limited in capacity to be aggressive, launched at him in a suicide bid. The idea was that even if he let off a shot, the rest of more ten suspects would get at him even with the handcuffs, which they succeeded in accordance to their plan. In the process, they disarmed the firing SSS agent and also fired a shot at him as he desperately engaged them with the strength remaining in him. They failed to finish him off due to two reasons-they were desperately in a hurry and needed all ammunition they could get to fire their way out of the facility.
At this time, alarm was raised throughout the facility and emergency drills were immediately activated as SSS Special Tactical and Rapid Response Team (START) were called in. They immediately created a safe zone in front of their Headquarters through which all non-guard force were guided to exit to avoid being victims of friendly fire. As the safe haven was being created the army had already intercepted the firing and guided in based on existing mutual agreement with SSS. They moved military personnel and hardware, mainly to cordon off all possible exit or escape for the Boko Haram agents while they are being mopped up by SSS START team in the inner perimeter and the army at the outer perimeter. As operations were ongoing, it was realized that there was an axis that led to a small forest area that was mainly inhabited by crocodiles, pythons and anacondas. Given the daredevil tendencies of BH agents nothing was left to chance so the air force was called in to survey the entire area until all operations were stood down by all agencies involved. Even after operations died down, till 1.30pm all routes across the Aso Drive were still cordoned off. By this time 20-30 Boko Haram agents were reportedly dead while one or two SSS personnel were injured without any fatalities.
After surveying all reports in the public domain including the statements of the DSS which I reconciled with information from my army sources, I fashioned out this detailed account aided by my background knowledge of security and the Abuja terrain. I have little doubt about the accuracy of this account. However, there are lessons to be learnt here both for the good, the bad and the ugly.
Firstly, the fact that the entire incident was effectively contained is a pass mark for both the SSS and the army. Given the number of Boko Haram agents, it was a massive operation and to have been contained in the manner it was done, shows a thorough level of preparedness in contingency measures. Definitely, there must have been human errors rather than organizational. At the organizational level, there was efficiency on account of the measures and mechanisms already emplaced and activated eventually. Every activity involving human beings can witness human error. As an expert in this field, I could easily deduce the human errors but I would not in such a public domain else it may be turned into a political weapon.
The hard lesson here is that no area of this country is safe. It also warns us of the level of skill that exists with this group. As the operation at the North East dies down whenever it does, this group will fragment into isolated and independent cells operating on their own and using such skills to run amok across the country. We must stop too much politics in this country and face the challenge that faces us-teeming unemployed youths. The way this country is going, it would reach a time if you are rich and unemployed, you would be endangered in your very family, if the rest are not. It is already starting. It is time to introduce social security for everybody aged 20-50. We can afford it. The amount being spent by Governors and private heavy weights on private jets is enough to do it. So let us do it or regret not doing so.