He was once the nation’s top security officer who superintended over the safety of Nigeria for about two years under former President Goodluck Jonathan. Besides being one of the most decorated military officers in the country, the Adamawa-born pilot who rose to become the chief of air staff (CAS) and later elevated to chief of defence staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Sabundu Badeh, had a fulfilled career and saw it all in the 35 years he served his nation. When on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, gunmen along the Keffi-Bade road in Nasarawa State snuffed life out of him, it was the end of the road for a man whose main duty was supervising the safety of law-abiding citizens and defending the territorial integrity of Nigeria. Like some of his colleagues who became victims of illegal arm bearers, Badeh did not die in the battlefield in defence of his country; he was taken out without resistance by a bloodthirsty gang of cowards that may have been stalking him.
Since his brutal killing, there is unanimity among commentators in the condemnation of the cold-blooded murder that shook the nation. Even before the killing of the former CDS, the Keffi-Bade road had been a playground for kidnappers and armed robbers, with several lives lost and ransom paid to secure the release of abducted persons. This week’s assassination of the nation’s former top security chief not only signalled the rising spate of insecurity plaguing the country, it also calls to attention the need to arrest a country sleepwalking into an unprecedented terror hole as citizens prepare for another general elections in 2019.
When news of the murder of the former CDS filtered in the late hours of Tuesday, not many Nigerians believed the story. Badeh, it can be recalled, was the nation’s highest military officer between 2012 and 2014 as the chief of defence staff in a period characterised by an insurgency war that turned the North-east geo-political zone into a frightening spectre of human catastrophe. Even the late Adamawa-born air officer was once forced to evacuate his relations from the wrath of insurgents few hours before the once dreaded Boko Haram overran his hometown.
The killing of Badeh this week brings to memory the murder of yet another retired senior military officer, Major General Idris Alkali, in September this year by misguided youths in Plateau State and the swift response of his constituency. With an unprecedented determination, the military authorities waded into the knotty issue of resolving the whereabouts of the missing general and those behind it. In less than eight weeks, the army not only located and retrieved the corpse of Alkali, it arrested those alleged to be behind the killing and handed them over to the police for prosecution. When men of arms who once superintended over our security are killed without the perpetrators brought to justice, such act strengthens the resolve of future criminals whose main objective is to torpedo our vision for a secure society based on constitutionality.
The killing of Badeh adds to the list of killings of our top security officers, including those felled by Boko Haram. These killings, if not urgently tackled, are capable of sending fear down the spines of ordinary Nigerians who are without any form of security cover for their personal safety. Beyond the fright of gunmen stalking the citizenry, we are living in constant trepidation of being deprived of our lives by these unseen angels of death. There are some Nigerians that have called for caution; some have insisted on the need to have the matter investigated to get to the roots of Badeh’s killing. Many have alleged that the murder may have a political undertone that suggests that somebody somewhere may have terminated the life of the former CDS, who is billed to commence his defence next month in matter that has attracted national and global attention over corruption charges brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Some have even suggested that Badeh’s knowledge of the Boko Haram insurgency and other allied matters may have led to his assassination. Whatever may be the reason for this dastardly act, one fact remains: Badeh’s murder is a most despicable act and exemplifies how cheap human life has become in Nigeria. If the killers of the former CDS are not arrested and brought to justice, it will encourage agents of death and other criminal gangs to continue unleashing terror on Nigerians. The death of Badeh should not be seen from a political perspective, but from the need to secure the lives of Nigerians, no matter the socio-political, economic, religious and ethnic divide.
The federal government should take urgent steps to tackle the issue of insecurity that has claimed the lives of prominent men and women of arms who put their lives on the line in their prime to defend the citizenry. If these men and women survived the hazardous career of ensuring our security, the government should not allow them to be victims of armed gangs who are out to throw this country into chaos. Considering the position Badeh held in the top echelon of the nation’s security, his murder without any form of resistance from his security detail is alarming. Is it true that Badeh’s guards were withdrawn a week to his murder? Who ordered the withdrawal and why? Yes, it is true that the former CDS was enmeshed in legal battle over a N3 billion money laundering case, but was that enough to withdraw his security even when the court had not declared him guilty?
It is tragic that insecurity has become a major focus when the lives of prominent Nigerians are involved. We are witnesses to the gruesome killings of military men and women engaged in the battle against Boko Haram and other criminal gangs in various parts of our country. A nation that allows the murder of its military personnel without taking concrete steps to stem it courts self-destruction for its corporate existence.
The fight against insecurity in the country should be fought beyond partisanship. The war to secure all of us should be our collective resolve and not the mandate of the military alone. Security, being a collective responsibility, should be demonstrated through inter-agency collaboration and the irrevocable willingness of citizens to provide vital information to deal with criminal persons.
Nigeria’s military and other security organisations have the capacity to unearth and tackle the raging insecurity that has weakened our corporate resolve to live together. All we need is for the military and other crime-busting agencies to put their acts together and put an end to this culture of avoidable bloodshed that has turned us into a nation where the blood of innocent citizens are shed unceasingly and without ant regard. The greatest honour we can bestow on the memory of Badeh is to ensure that no Nigerian, no matter their social status, becomes a victim of any murderous gang.
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