Between January and March 2020, at least five military operatives were killed in different ambushes in Bassa and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas. Then on April 14, 2020, mass attacks resumed with the murder of about 10 civilians including children and a pregnant woman in Meyanga village of Kwall District in Bassa LGA.
The attacks continued for weeks in different locations in Plateau, spilling over to communities bordering the State to the west in Southern Kaduna. Often carried out with clear mastery of guerrilla warfare, the attacks often witnessed the use of sophisticated military weapons.
Before the first 2020 quarter murders of securities which culminated in the Bassa and other following attacks, over nine government Forces were killed and their weapons stolen in different ambushes in the State between September and November 2019, with mass murder of civilians resuming in January 2020 in Mangu and Bokkos LGAs.
Just as the late 2019 and early 2020 attacks on securities followed border closure for elections, the recent shutdown of international travel routes for the control of covid-19 appears to have revived same. On Monday 20th July 2020, two Policemen were attacked in Barkin Ladi General Hospital and a rifle stolen. Three days later, armed Correctional Service Personnel were ambushed in same Barkin Ladi and detained criminal suspects were freed.
The practice of attacking armed securities, previously known among designated terrorists like Boko Haram, is often a hunt for arms, or an attempt to weaken security network around target civilian communities, preparatory to attacks. This is most likely to happen when only sources of arms or access to target communities is blocked.
There’d been reports of planned attacks starting July 2020. Weapons expected to be transported to the State for the purpose are believed to have been grounded by traffic lockdown. Peacekeeping operations in the State were temporarily relaxed as the country lifted lockdown in June but if the arms were successfully imported, should the reports be true, likely, the attacks would have started in full-scale.
When Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad battled in vain to seize a bus loaded with arms in Barkin Ladi in May 2018, bloody attacks resumed in June 2018 with over 300 civilians killed in series of attacks in the State. Since the lifting of the COVID-19 lockdown however, only about six people have been killed in isolated attacks.
Government therefore has enough time to plan and counter, or even prevent any bloodshed. Even if the attacks on securities are not arms hunting for civilian village attacks as reported, it is deadly to let weapons approved for securities fall in the hands of criminals. Such weapons could be used to perpetrate crimes of different sorts, making governance increasingly difficult.