What seemed an assassination attempt on former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, in his home town of Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State on March 31, underscores, once again, the serious crisis of insecurity in most parts of Nigeria today. Anambra State had hitherto enjoyed a large measure of peace and appeared to be insulated from the various acts of violence in which most of the South-East states, like other most other states in the country, are embroiled. The import of the abortive attack on Soludo only shows that no state in the country, no matter how seemingly secure, can afford to be complacent in its attitude and disposition to the safety of lives and property within its territorial jurisdiction.
Perceived as a strong contender in the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra, slated for November 6, this year, on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Soludo was engaged in an interactive session with over 1,000 youths from Isuofia at the town’s civic centre when the assailants struck at around 5.30pm. While Soludo escaped from the venue unhurt, three of the policemen guarding him died during the gun battle between his security details and the attackers, while the state commissioner for public utilities, Emeka Ezenwanne, was whisked away by the gunmen.
Giving an insight into the seriousness of the situation, Soludo in a television interview a day after the incident said, “When it was all over, it took several minutes, 10 or 15 minutes of continuous gun battles going back and forth of stopping and starting again. By the time we came back, we saw three bodies lying in a pool of blood. They were the three policemen. May their souls rest in peace”. We agree with the former CBN governor when he declared in the interview that “no political office should be worth the blood of a chicken let alone human life”.
Professor Soludo was in the town for an interactive session with the youth presumably to listen to their perspectives and sell his programmes to them as part of his efforts to actualise his gubernatorial aspiration. We expect all political aspirants at all levels to seek to win supporters through intellectually engaging the electorate and persuading prospective voters of the superiority of their manifestoes, vision and competence to perform in office compared to their fellow contenders. The kind of cowardly and barbaric attack, which disrupted the Isuofia meeting and caused avoidable bloodshed and loss of lives, would appear to have been perpetrated by those who cannot confidently present their persons and plans to the people, and thus seek to eliminate their opponents through violence.
Even then, we urge the police and other security agencies not to jump to conclusions but to investigate the incident thoroughly, pursuing all leads. It is noteworthy that some arrests have already been made. However, it is important that all suspected persons be brought before the law to ensure that justice is done because these kinds of violent acts have become a recurring feature in our polity because their perpetrators are confident that they can always get away with their crimes.
It is unfortunate that three policemen lost their lives in this dastardly attack in which the attackers seemed to have got away all too easily without any casualty on their part. But, the rate at which policemen in particular are being killed in different criminal incidents across the country raises serious questions as regards the quality of their training and equipment. In this case, Professor Soludo only just luckily escaped, because it takes alertness for policemen on security missions to properly secure the people they are detailed to protect. It seems many policemen are distracted at their duty posts, with some of them becoming participant observers at events rather than concentrate on their duty of providing security.
The lesson from Soludo’s narrow escape is that all our political elites must work concertedly to proffer and implement ideas that will help guarantee security of lives and property. In the final analysis, no one is safe when pervasive insecurity has become the norm as it has in contemporary Nigeria.