Security Worsening in Nigeria with Endless Official Excuses

By John Uwaya

Precarious best qualifies state of security of lives and property in Nigeria six months into the tenure of new security service chiefs.

Therefore, the lower house of the country's bi-camera legislature couldn't but summon the nation's security chiefs. And they all, on 21st November 2023, filed out behind their head, General Christopher G. Musa - the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) whose submission apparently summed up, those of his subordinates. Hence his presentation, informed this reaction especially as he agrees national security is a collective responsibility.

The defence chief indicted staff of correctional centres in northeastern Nigeria as couriers for terrorists - between inmates and those outside, to plan attacks. This might be no news nor restricted to correctional centres in that part of the country given the well over ten jailbreaks within a short period as the eight-year rule of President Buhari.

In fact, the climax of those jailbreaks is the audacious July 2022 jailbreak that freed terrorists in their hundreds from Kuje Correctional Centre - a short distance from the seat of government - Abuja. And till date, no consequences followed - a pat on the back for more crimes.

The CDS similarly accused the judiciary of flippantly freeing hardened criminals to return to crime. Again, this is merely following a trend and a tip of the iceberg. Actually, since May 2015, there has been a lack of official will to arraign or prosecute terrorists and their financiers even where foreign security agencies and countries including the FBI and the UAE are doing us a favour by indicting or turning over suspects to us.

That is why Finland might not be keen to extradict Mr. Simon Ekpa of IPOB to Nigeria as the CDS is soliciting. Their other reason could be fear of injustice - selective prosecution which has seen only M/S. Nnamdi Kanu and Godwin Emiefele arraigned out of all high profile suspected enemies of the Nigerian state.

Meanwhile, if from far away Finland, Mr. Ekpa could be impactful in Nigeria via technology, by the same token, why can't he be stopped in his tracks? Is it not rather ambitious to be after one suspect that is 6,027 km away when here in Nigeria, we cannot rein in notorious banditry kingpins like Bello Turji and Dogo Gide among seventeen others who although declared wanted a year ago, most are still maiming, massacring and kidnapping, unchallenged?

Again, the CDS forgot Nigeria's terrorist deradicalization program which at best is dubious with terrorists never handing over their weapons in exchange for rehabilitation. Similarly, some state governors in their naivety, sign peace pacts allowing terrorists to retain their weapons based on a religious sentiment of swearing by a holy book according to Alhaji Aminu Masari - former governor of Katsina State who deceived thrice, learnt the hard way.

Apparently, terrorists are being rehabilitated to continue their onslaught against Nigerians. On this saddening reality, a recent corroboration is the audacious terrorist attack on the convoy of visiting Yobe State governor - H.E. Alhaji Mai Mala Buni right inside Nigeria's avowed deradicalization centre - Borno State - just after the state governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum stunned the country that despite deradicalization efforts, terrorists could soon over-run Nigeria.

That would be no surprise because with all the noise about deradicalization, you cannot see piles of weapons turned in by so-called repentant terrorists. Neither is there talk of arms mop-up across the country.

The other reasons adduced by the CDS on why insecurity is festering, are: absence of good governance, porous international borders, inadequate defence budget, sensational news reportage and poor security awareness on the part of the populace.

Agreed; good governance is both the first line of defençe and strike against insecurity. And besides socio-economic wellbeing of the governed, good governance goes against selective justice presently being witnessed with most post-election court judgements going in favour of members of Nigeria's ruling party. This, including the governorship tussle in Kano State, is a threat to law and order

On porous borders, Nigeria is only one of so many countries with vast international borders. So, if her contemporaries' borders are secure, Nigeria should find out "how". However, we should not be talking about porous borders in an era of effective border security technologies including round-the-clock drone surveillance.

Regarding inadequacy of defence budgets, it appears more transparency is needed in funds utilization with the late Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru casting aspersion on a claim of $1 billion arms procurement for the army. A parallel is perhaps 178,459 firearms reportedly unaccounted for by the Police between 2019 and 2022 alone without consequences.

Those are snippets on just two security agencies - army and the Police. So, you can imagine what is happening in others. Apparently, there is a cancerous trend of transparency deficit with earlier arraignment of the Late Air Marshal Alex Badeh, retired Col. Ibrahim Dasuki, et al on allegation of misappropriation of defence funds.

Also, it is shameful that although the Nigerian civil war was partially fought with locally fabricated weapons, we cannot improvise over fifty years later. By the way, how can terrorists - non-state actors, be better funded and armed than national security agencies? This could be the natural consequence of doing nothing about terrorism financiers. And that might be what is needed and not raising the defence budget.

However, a defence budget that is actually dwindling, calls for a national security architecture that is more and more intelligence and technology driven. That could be what the military doctrine of C4i2 - command, control, communications, computing, intelligence and interoperability is all about - less boots on ground for overall savings in money.

But regrettably, however, much as interoperability or synergy is imperative, it is not possible under raging inter-agency rivalry among Nigeria's security agencies. This surprisingly, escaped the CDS' mention for priority attention. Yet, we cannot strategically deploy our scarce resources in a counter-terrorism war where the enemy is faceless and lacking in battle lines, is never waged conventionally.

On news reportage, it is true that sensationalism is counter-productive to war efforts just like a populace lacking in security awareness. In fact, when every resident is security aware it adds up to national security. Hence the incisive text: "Security Awareness: An Imperative and the Urgency". It's an off-the-shelf material for mass security awareness.

Meanwhile, with former governor Alhaji Aminu Masari learning the hard way and Prof. Zulum's bombshell that failure of sentimental terrorist deradicalization efforts could soon spill negative fallouts across Nigeria, the indiscretion of a few individuals should no long portend collateral or national consequences. No head of a tier of government should any longer be allowed to naively take sentimental security decisions ominous of national consequences.

On the whole, with the magnitude of security challenge confronting Nigeria, H.E. President Ahmed Bola Tinubu could constitite a war cabinet comprising private sector/civil professionals, serving and retired security service chiefs. The body should have the sole prerogative to decide on war strategies/tactics, arraignment of suspects including saboteurs/fifth columnists, ratification of court rulings, amnesty/deradicalization, etc.

To sustain the envisaged victory, state policing should be introduced thereafter so state governors can be held responsible - penalized for insecurity by declaration of state of emergency or impeachment and arraignment for criminal negligence.

Disclaimer: "The views expressed on this site are those of the contributors or columnists, and do not necessarily reflect TheNigerianVoice’s position. TheNigerianVoice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements in the contributions or columns here."