President of Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu has described the deadly attack on five banks in Otta, Kwara State as a terrorist attack.
"The attacks exhibited all the hallmarks of a spectacular terror attack including violent neutralization of law enforcement, use of IEDs, use of automatic weapons, large number of attackers, ISIS-style vehicular convoy, aggressive combat tactics, large number of wanton deaths and so on." he said.
In a release issued in Lagos, Ekhomu said: "The narrative of bank robbery was grossly erroneous and patently false." He described it as “a brazen terrorist attack aimed at causing mayhem, deaths and striking fear into the hearts of Kwara citizens. The seizure of cash was a secondary objective."
Ekhomu, a renowned security expert, said that while "we can understand the need for fear reduction on the part of the authorities; it is not helpful to mischaracterize incidents thereby giving citizens a false sense of security." He argued that Kwara State had recorded incidents of violent extremism and terrorism in the past, and cited the case of the bombing of Ilorin Township Stadium many years ago and cases of foreign espionage agents and their Nigerian conspirators detected in the state.
The security expert argued that with the displacement of Boko Haram fighters from the Sambisa Forest and the mass release of Boko Haram suspects by the Federal Government, it is conceivable that a terror cell might now be active in the Offa area.
"The authorities must thoroughly investigate the terror attack and give Nigerians a proper explanation of what happened on that day. The actual perpetrators must be arrested and they must provide corroborative evidence of their complicity. Investigators must resist the temptation of arresting vagrants and labelling them Offa bank robbers in order to look good. When the real perpetrators are caught, the police must resist the temptation to commit extra-judicial killing.
The story of the perpetrators must come out. It takes a very evil psychopath and sociopath to lay siege to a police station and kill nine policemen in one fell swoop and then proceed to murder at least 21 others," he said.
Ekhomu, who is the first chartered security professional in West Africa, advised that there was an urgent need to conduct adversarial threat assessments and vulnerability assessments of police facilities in the country. He said that the design basis threat (DBT) for these facilities must be determined so that the security architecture and engineering of facilities would be robust enough to address the threat.
Ekhomu said: "The Boko Haram insurgency has shown that there are some terrorists who delight in killing police personnel. The Offa terrorists did not have respect for police lives or human lives. Police fatality must be reduced to the barest minimum so that we can have a civilized society."
The current over-deployment of military personnel, with all the attendant risks is because police personnel are an endangered species based upon the actions of home grown terrorists.
The police agency and the Federal Government must ensure that persons or groups who harm police personnel pay dearly for such savage acts.