ON May 16, 2023, unknown assailants attacked the convoy of the Lagos Consulate of the United States in the Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State, which had been under lockdown for some time over safety concerns. Three staffers of the embassy and four police officers in the convoy were reportedly killed in the reprehensible and absolutely shameful attack. The press statement issued by the US embassy said that the convoy was conveying nine Nigerian nationals; five employees of the US mission to Nigeria and five members of the Nigeria Police. They were traveling in advance of a planned visit by personnel of the US mission to a US-funded flood response project in Anambra State.
Two employees of the embassy were also kidnapped during the attack, but they were eventually rescued unhurt following a joint operation by security operatives. The Anambra State Police Command confirmed the arrest of two suspects in connection with the attack. The state governor, Professor Charles Soludo, who pointed out that the US team bypassed the security architecture in the state, condemned the attack, vowing to “smoke out the criminals and bring them to justice.” This was just as President Muhammadu Buhari pledged his government’s commitment to fishing out the perpetrators of the attack.
It is really incredible that such an attack could occur in a country that is not at war. It is benumbing that this crew of workers going about their lawful duties were killed by non-state actors in Anambra State. This incident shows the precarious situation in the country and how criminally negligent the government has been in allowing the situation in the South-East to degenerate into a state of anarchy. The dangerous and precarious situation in the South-East is a veritable comment on the relevance of the Nigerian state because if the government is negligent in its statutory duty of security, there’s little else to say about such a state.
The attack underlines the very dangerous dimension that insecurity has taken in the country, with nearly every place considered unsafe. It speaks volumes that a convoy with diplomatic protection could be attacked with such devastating consequences in a country that is not officially at war. And yet the government continues to pretend that all is well and congratulates itself on doing a good job in confronting insecurity. It should be clear now that the US, and perhaps other countries, would not be taken in by the fictitious tales of the government after witnessing the real dimension insecurity has taken in the country. Security is the most important duty of government and it is unfortunate that it in this area that the government has shown itself to be utterly incapable of delivering on its responsibilities.
We hope that these embarrassing and reprehensible attacks and fatalities will spur the government into recognising the dire security situation in which the country has found itself and start working out appropriate responses to confront it. For now, it is apposite to simply state that the government has failed the people and the country with its inability to provide adequate security, and it is this failure that explains the attack on the US embassy’s convoy.