Terrorists have used suicide bombers for decades. Suicide attacks have been employed successfully around the world. This tactics although new in Nigeria has become common place of recent. Suicide bombers used a car to destroy the UN headquarters in Abuja. The Pentagon and World Trade Center were brought down by the use of plane. Ships or other kind of vehicles have been used as a bomb (either carrying explosives or using the fuel aboard as a makeshift explosive). Suicide bombers may also conceal explosives on the persons.
These kinds of attacks are generally perpetrated without warning. The most likely targets are symbolic locations, key installations, VIPs or mass-casualty soft targets. Readily available examples in Nigeria include: the 19th September, 2011 suicide bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja, the suicide attacks of several Police Stations in northern Nigeria, the killing of Major-General Mamman Shuwa in his residence in Maiduguri and other prominent civil servants including soldiers and other security agents, and the bombing of the Christian Churches across northern Nigeria. Because of the wide scope of impacts of suicide bombing and its ability to attract press attention, the Boko Haram Islamists have continually used the tactics.
Several remedies have been advanced to solve the problem of suicide bombing in Nigeria. This article will not delve into such large scale suggested solutions rather we will restrict ourselves to solving the problem of suicide bombing in the church. Therefore, when considering protective measures against suicide bombers in the Church, the following recommendations can be adopted to suite individual church circumstances:
1. Although it is not easy to deny access to anyone or anything that required to be thoroughly searched before granting such entrance into a church, the church authority reserves the right to designate its auditorium, cathedral, building or even premises a protected area as a matter of priority and to ensure that church security or ushers are trained to be security conscious, vigilant, and to look out for the odd or extra-ordinary always and report same promptly and appropriately to a designated Senior Church Leader and the police.
2. Ensure that no stranger under any disguise visits or enters the protected area without security or ushers being sure of his/her identity or without proper screening. Visitors and first-timers should be received at an appropriate isolated point before being ushered into the protected area without breaching or compromising the security of the protected area. This can be done politely in Christ-like manner without causing anyone embarrassment or attracting unnecessary criticisms.
3. Establish the visitors/first-timers reception spot at a distance from the protected area, set up regular patrols by ushers and brief them to look out for anyone behaving suspiciously or anything unusual. Many bomb attacks are preceded by reconnaissance or trial runs. Ensure that such incidents are detected timely and reported to the designated Senior Church Leader and then to the police immediately.
4. Effective Close Circuit Television (CCTV) systems can help prevent or even deter hostile reconnaissance, and can provide crucial evidence – link and investigative lead.
5. There is no definitive profile for a suicide bomber, so remain vigilant, maintain high level of security consciousness/awareness, and report anyone suspicious or anything out of the ordinary to the designated Senior Church Leader and to the police.
So many churches in Nigeria today can afford a 24/7 technology-driven close circuit television (CCTV) and professional security personnel charged with the responsibility of providing church leaders, worshippers and other church assets the needed protection. Unfortunately many church leaders consider cost thus hide under the erroneous believe that they cannot do anything about protection and concludes, “God protects”. Yet they provide for their own self protection and that of their immediate families leaving followers to their fate. Statements such as, bombing that will never happen here, or I/we can’t do anything about it signify a sorry altitude of fatalism and defeatism, which is quite common today among Christian leaders and security professionals. Hear me out, The LORD Watches the City through People and Technology. Employ them prayerfully and use them professionally. It is not sin to be wise! Let the Living Praise the LORD!