Eleven Fundamental Problems Breeding & Worsening Insurgency & General Insecurity In Nigeria
Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria: 20th June 2019-Solutions to Nigeria’s insurgency and general insecurity will remain a mirage or unresolved until fundamental problems facing the country’s security establishments or architecture are frontally tackled. Of these fundamental problems, eleven, highlighted below, are of extremely public importance. In other words, the country’s insurgency and general insecurity challenges are like a sickness that must be diagnosed before being treated; failure of which leaves the sickness continuously sickening until it is properly diagnosed and followed with treatment.
This was the expert-position of Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Intersociety, in its specialist statement issued in Onitsha, Eastern Nigeria and signed by Ndidiamaka Bernard, Esquire, Head of Int’l Justice & Human Rights, Chinwe Umeche, Esquire, Head of Democracy & Good Governance, Obianuju Joy Igboeli, Esquire, Head of Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Chidinma Evangaline Udegbunam, Esquire, Head of Publicity and Emeka Umeagbalasi (criminologist & graduate of security studies), Chair of the Board.
Intersociety’s specialist statement followed pressures from different social quarters in Nigeria and beyond urging it to take an informed and unbiased position concerning the rising and worsening insurgency in the Northeast and general insecurity across the country, leading to recent declaration by a leading western democracy that not less than 20 States in Nigeria are “unsafe or too dangerous” to visit, particularly by its nationals.
Intersociety’s reaction also followed recent defeatist and misleading statements credited to the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lt Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai and the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; both Northern Muslims. The COAS, who is the longest serving Army Chief in Nigeria (since July 2015), with several conduct atrocities in his hands, was recently quoted by leading Nigerian media as “blaming soldiers for increase in the insurgency attacks” particularly in the Northeast.
The IGP, on his part, was also quoted as claiming that “the crime rate in Nigeria has reduced”. This is against the backdrop of killing of dozens of innocent and defenseless citizens on weekly basis with security agencies watching by or turning their publicly procured rifles into instruments of roadblocks robberies and shootings. Similar defeatist and misleading statements or utterances have also come from Nigeria’s Defense Headquarters and other inter-agency (security) authorities; including recent unsubstantiated allegations of coup planning targeting members of the political and civil opposition.
Generally speaking, the Nigerian security agencies and their authorities are presently beating about the bush; trivializing or playing down or politicizing serious security issues and over-blowing or over-criminalizing minor others such as “simple offences” or “misdemeanors” or non criminal social deviances. To them, “simple offences” and “misdemeanors” are now capital offences while “felonious capital offences” are now “banditry” or “herders-farmers clash” or “communal clashes”; warranting round table talks or offering of group bribes.
For instance, in the “intelligence wisdom” of Nigeria’s SSS, use of social or web or internet media including posting and reposting of articles and publications is now “an act of undermining national security” and “capital offense”. Those who research and post or repost articles about comparative origins of the Peoples of Nigeria including those being taught in the universities; accessible online, are now defined by SSS as “acts of breeding ethnic divisions and threats to national security”.
In other words, the SSS has developed a new concept of “pen insurgency or terrorism in Nigeria”; yet in the “intelligence wisdom of the same SSS”, those who go about recklessly addressing the media and admitting carrying out massacres of members of some ethno-religious groupings and threatening which part of the country to attack next “are those committing no crimes, but preserving the national security”. It is so tragic that while Nigeria is in dire need of rebranded intelligence or “man-mental-machine intelligence”, the SSS, legally charged with gathering and inter-agency sharing of internal intelligence, is busy cracking down on internet users or chasing irrelevancies.
Consequently, the Nigerian insurgency and general insecurity challenges do not lie on the above highlighted defeatist and misleading inter-agency statements, but are evidently located in the following fundamental inter-agency security problems:
Who is in charge as Nigeria’s C-in-C: Is Mr. Muhammad Buhari truly in charge as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces or is he a symbolic C-in-C? What kind of C-in-C will continuously extend or retain Service Chiefs that are widely noted as bunch of failures who have also long overstayed their usefulness and welcome? Is the counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast masqueraded or are they being conducted transparently? Why the continuous service elongation for the country’s Service Chiefs and who really is responsible for the elongation? Are the Service Chiefs afraid of their atrocious past (i.e. massacre of Shiite, Northeast and East or Igbo civilians) warranting constant lobbying for elongation of their Service tenure even when it is against the law and existing military or security convention?
· Militarism & Militarization: By militarism, it is an official act or policy of seeking violent solutions to preventable conflicts or soluble social problems as against the use of positive peace and negative peace approach. By militarization, it is a practical process of increasing influence of the military on all levels of the society including judiciary, legislature, executive, streets, roads, border and boundary posts, electioneering, places of worship, government policies and programs and general public psyche, etc. The two violent concepts not only increase gun culture but also bring about and escalate self help and non state actor reprisals and radicalization.
· Demilitarization: By demilitarization, it is a search for a new framework for implementing security at areas or an area emerging from conflicts and attempts to deconstruct ideological and institutional structures of militarism and reassertion of civil control over the organs of state and economy. By demobilization, it is act of formal or controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces or armed opposition groups and their preparation for rehabilitation, reinsertion or reintegration into civil society or reformed armed forces.
In the case of Nigeria’s insurgency and counter-insurgency operations, how are these being handled? Are they hidden in ethno-religious motives and unprofessionalism or done professionally and secularly? What about unilateral injection of the so called “Civilian JFT members” and “repented Boko Haram fighters” into the Nigerian Armed Forces? Was the constitutional process followed? What about the effects of “strawmen” or “returned wars” or “repeat offences” on account of injecting “repented terrorists” into the Nigerian Armed Forces?
· Gun Control: By gun control, it is the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of (prohibited) firearms by violent civilians or armed opposition groups as well as Government’s sound database regulating the movement of licit small arms from their point of purchase or manufacture, to Government armories and fields where they are being used or retrieved after use.
How does this (gun control) relate to the Government of Nigeria with respect to insurgency and general insecurity in the country? Are there sound database for Government’s stockpiled Small Arms & Light Weapons? How many licit SALWs are presently in Government’s armories in Nigeria and how secured are they? Are there direct or indirect arms linkages between Government or its treacherous or disloyal security top-shots and the armed opposition groups (i.e. B/H, jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and “Bandits”)?
How many illicit Small Arms & Light Weapons are in wrong hands in Nigeria or in the hands of insurgents, jihadist Fulani Herdsmen, communal warlords, “bandits” and street crimes’ violent actors (i.e. armed robbers, kidnappers, assassins, human traffickers, carjackers, burglars, house breakers and murderers)? How many un-prohibited or licensed gaming guns are in legitimate civilian hands in Nigeria? How secured or policed are the country’s four transnational or international land borders and international marine ways or waterways?
· Inter-Agency Security Trespasses: The incidence of inter-agency security trespasses has risen to an apogee or damning and damaging proportion particularly in the present political dispensation in Nigeria. Despite clear legal provisions including clearly spelt out divisions of labor, trespasses or inter-agency encroachment on duty assignments is getting out of control, if not already out of control.
The greatest violator of these trespasses is the authorities and personnel of the Nigerian Army, who have virtually taken over the functions of the Nigeria Police Force and the SSS. The Nigerian Army has even gone further to criminalize conducts not categorized or recognized in Nigeria’s written criminal laws as “misdemeanors” or “felonies”. Soldiers of the Nigerian Army are now the arrester, investigator, torturer, prosecutor, convicter and executor of those they extra judicially accused of being “criminal citizens”.
- Nigerian Army has also taken over the Nigerian Police duties of detecting, investigating and combating street crimes or crimes against persons and properties such as armed robbery, kidnapping, oil bunkering and illegal mining, homicide, rape, domestic violence, student and street cultism, looting, vandalism, arson, burglary, carjacking, cyber crimes, house breaking and non crimes such as street protests, debt collection, land disputes and civil disagreements; as well as victimless crimes such as prostitution, drug addiction including consumption and trafficking, trafficking in persons, alcoholism, etc.
By law, for instance, the SSS is empowered to gather all intelligence data within Nigeria and have them thoroughly investigated to produce credible intelligence information; situate them accordingly to existing felonious crimes contained in written law and share them with other security establishments specifically responsible for each of the intelligence information gathered.
The SSS can only play the enforcement roles under special circumstances and strictly within its first class legal mandates. The Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, on its part, is charged with legal mandates of detecting, investigating and combating crimes of looting, vandalism and bunkering or illegal mining; likewise the Nigeria Police Force. The NIA is in charge of the country’s external intelligence (.i.e. at borders, international airports, international marine borders and foreign missions). Such gathered external intelligence information can be sent to the President or shared with SSS, DMI, Interpol, FCID and Defense Intelligence Bureau, etc.
The Nigerian Army, on its part, is strictly charged with the duties of defending Nigeria inter-territorially and militarily engaging armed opposition groups that take up arms against Nigeria and Nigerians in part or in whole including ISWAP, Boko Haram, jihadist Fulani Herdsmen and the economic insurgents called “Bandits”. The internal role of the Army includes violently disengaging armed opposition groups taking up arms against Nigeria or any part thereof. These are those operating on the basis of: economic insurgency, religious insurgency and political insurgency or terrorism.
· Failed Intelligence: Nigerian security intelligence is a monumental failure; likewise Police criminal investigation and prosecution management. Insurgency or terrorism in the world over is intelligence driven, requiring modern and effective counter insurgency intelligence to dismantle or checkmate same. Using infantry alone, in the case of Nigeria, in the fight against insurgency or terrorism is constantly fraught with heavy losses including collateral fatalities; likewise use of air bombardments. Nigerian security intelligence works only when used in going after unarmed and defenseless political opponents and other dissenting voices or populations but collapses woefully when needed in the line of duty or in the course of checkmating real national security threats or challenges.
Modern security intelligence including policing intelligence, military intelligence, spying intelligence and investigative and preventive policing intelligence; involves man-mental-machine intelligence or handler, mental/skilled and electronic intelligence. This has totally eluded Nigeria. In the area of criminal investigation, lack of skilled or mental and electronic intelligence has given rise to indiscriminate use of torture and other inhuman methods for extraction of citizens’ confessional statements; leading to high number of deaths in police and other security custodies; to the extent that at least four out of every five citizens under investigation are physically and mentally tortured so as to extract their confessional statements.
· Failed Crime Labs & Statistics: Nigeria’s crime labs or forensic science and the central crime statistics database domiciled with the Nigeria Police Force are nothing to write home about. They are presently in a sorry state. Credible official data about killings and their different categories as well as other crimes and social deviances in Nigeria are nonexistent or where available, they are too dangerous or harmful to be relied upon; except being referenced as “Government official statement on the issue”. Detection and investigation of violent crimes using crime labs or forensic science is totally a thing of the long past in Nigeria; to the extent that it can never “answer or resolve key investigative questions arising from crime scene-perpetrator-victim cycle”.
· Faulty Composition of Nigerian Security Establishments: Nigerian security establishments or agencies are fundamentally faulty in composition; with most citizens of other ethno-religious nationalities having little or no faith in them. In other words, they see their composition as far from being true reflection of Nigeria’s multi tribal and religious groupings. The country’s present security establishments are substantially composed along “Hausa-Fulani-Islamic” lines, with crumbs allocated to Southwest or the Yoruba Ethnic Nationality. This is in spite of the clear provisions of Section 14 (3) of the existing Constitution of Nigeria which outlaws sectional or ethno-religious domination of the agencies of the Federal Government particularly its security establishments; thereby endangering the country’s pluralistic composition.
· Inter-Agency Security Corruption & Immorality: Present providers of public security in Nigeria have systematized corruption and other acts of immorality in the conduct of their official duties. From Nigerian military’s counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast, election duty security, anti bunkering security, to police and military roadblock security, they are all riddled with corruption and other acts of service immorality; with the Government of the day turning blind eyes; yet noising from left, right and center of “fighting corruption”.
· Service Unprofessionalism & Quackery: The entrenched service corruption has also robbed the country’s inter-agency security chiefs and their subordinates of direly needed professionalism and consistent upgrades capable of turning around the country’s insurgency and general insecurity. The service corruption has reduced them to “empty kaki generals”; making them to chronically beat about the bush in matters of the country’s insurgency and general insecurity.
· Role of Compromised CSO “Activists”: As never seen before, Nigeria’s Rights CSOs, are now composed of human rights defenders and “human parts defenders”. The latter now function as “defenders of the perpetrators of the conduct atrocities, majorly drawn from the country’s inter-agency security chiefs. The stained activists’ despicable role including image laundering and covering of the perpetrators’ conduct atrocities, etc, has emboldened the perpetrators and brutally waned their chances to make amend and take full responsibility for atrocities perpetrated as well hindering them from waking up and taking full charge of the country’s dwindling public security.
Email: [email protected]