National Security: Time to Reinvent The Wheel

The NATIONAL Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomole on Wednesday the 23rd of July, 2019 at the opening ceremony of the Presidential Policy Retreat at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, told President Muhammadu Buhari to rejig the security architecture of the country.

This assertion coming from a frontline member of the President’s Party has elicited varying reactions from the various divides of the Nation: while some feels that such coming from the Chairman of the Party was not good enough, other sighed relief that the voice of reasoning was prevailing at last. A critical look at the security of the country however reveals a rot that requires the deepest attention and action of the Federal Government in concert with other stakeholders in the sector.

Nigeria inherited much of its security architecture from the British system, as her colonial masters and over the course of history has not carried out any major change aside some infusion of the American style; primarily because of her adoption of the American style Federalism and probably because of the successes recorded by the various American security apparatuses in the course of their policing the World.

However, recent events have shown that even the American security despite its seeming advantage in conflicts across the Globe is not infallible as it has experienced shocks and have equally carried out extensive changes to her Security Networks, both in terms of personnel orientation and weaponry on several occasions. On the other hand, the Nigerian Security system has remained much the same despite the glaring transformation that has bestrode the country’s security situation, especially in recent times.

The stagnation of the system has shown in the handling of the various security challenges across the length and breadth of the country including but not limited to the Boko Haram saga, Herdsmen/ Farmers skirmishes, the Oil thieves of the South, cattle rustling and other crimes like kidnapping for ransom. Even cases of Armed Robbery have proven rather too heavy a burden to tackle effectively for the Security Agencies without any exemption.

Students of history will recollect the exploit and eventually annulment of Anini’s reign in the Old Bendel State. Lawrence Nomangbon Anini aka Ovigbo the Law had become a major threat to the peace of Bendel State and had equally attained the status of an untouchable. At a National event, the then Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida was reported to have asked the Inspector General Police, Mr. EtimI yang rhetorically, “where is Anini?”. After a reign of terror that lasted just 4 Months between August and December 1987, the “Law and his criminal gang was smashed by a special team set up by Inspector General and led by the then Superintendent of Police Kayode Uanreroro. Anini and his gang were executed on March 29, 1987after a diligent prosecution that saw Justice James Omo-Agege of the Benin High Court sentence them to death by firing squad.
One will wonder whether same can happen now with the various criminal groups pitched against a seriously disoriented and disorganized security apparatus like the Police.

The Nigeria Police was established in 1930, while the Nigerian Army was established in 1863 as the “Glover Hausas”, and metamorphosed in 1963 when Nigeria became a Republic and like the Nigerian Navy which had been established as the Marine Department of the Royal Navy established in 1887 as a quasi-military organization into the Nigerian Navy. The Nigerian Air Force was established on the 18th of April 1964, while the Nigeria Security Organisation was dissolved into three groups in 1986, that is the Nigerian Intelligence Agency(NIA), the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). However the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) was established in 1967 as a Voluntary Paramilitary Organisation but metamorphosed into a statutory organisation in the year 2007.

Nigeria’s Security Agencies were highly respected and trusted as they performed their statutory functions with dexterity and commitment; as a matter of fact the fear of the Nigeria Police was the beginning of social wisdom. This confidence must have informed the position of General Gowon before the 30 Month Civil War began, when he posited that the recalcitrance of the Eastern Government was going to be ended by a mere Police action.

The first notable Armed Robbery Gang in Nigeria was led by the infamous Dr. Oyenusi, while Folorunsho is reported to have followed closely behind in terms of notoriety. The two criminals were believed to be extremely fetish and famed to have the abilities to disappear into thin air when under siege. Despite the fear these two men evoked, the Nigeria Police effectively arrested and prosecuted them before they were executed according to judgments of the Courts.
Another interesting case in the annals of the Nigeria Police was the celebrated murder of Apalara, an Islamic scholar by members of the Oro Cult in Lagos in January 3, 1953.The case caught national attention and the citizens waited to see the outcome of Police investigation into the celebrated murder. Although his body was never found, Ten months after, in October, 1953 precisely, 11 members of the Oro Cult including two siblings were apprehended and convicted of murder.

Either of Boko Haram or the Shites are not the first Islamic Group in Nigeria and ardent students of history will remember that in the early eighties, the Maitatsine Group emerged in Kano and raised dusts, but within the twinkle of an eye, in 1981 to be precise the Nigeria Mobile Police in concert with Officers and men of the regular Police routed the group and put the members to flight. Although one of the key figures of the group was reported to have attempted a resurgence of the group some years later, but this was again nipped in the bud and till date the Maitatsine has not been heard of again anywhere in Nigeria.

Fast forward to the present and the story is torrid and sordid to those who know what it was like in the years of yore. Fela Anikulapo Kuti in one of his blockbuster songs had accused the Police of corruption and he described the Police Station as a Bank, where the Divisional Police Officer is the Branch Manager. Several incidents in the history of the Nigeria Police have reinforced this assertion, consequently waning the confidence of the populace in the Force.

However, the Police is not the only one in this messy situation as recent events in the history of Nigeria has signposted the decadence that seem to have taken over the once great country, where persecuted people and the poor of Africa found solace.

Although Nigeria has never really been involved in a war, the prowess of the Nigeria Military is well acknowledged and the dexterity of its men and Officers had reached a global acclaim as a result of its numerous Peace efforts across the World. History is awash with its roles in various conflicts including the uprising in Katanga, Zaire now Congo Democratic Republic to Mogadishu in Somalia, Beirut in Lebanon, where the Nigeria Military, especially the Army proved its mettle beyond any iota of doubt.

It is also not a surprise that the same Military returned peace to Liberia and Sierra Leone during their Civil Wars between 1990 and 1998 with a performance that stood them tall among their peers from other African countries. Even the much maligned Nigeria Police gives dazzling performances at every opportunity to join their other counterparts during International Peace keeping operations.

There is no doubt that our National Security is at tethers end with the numerous challenges facing the Country today. And from every part of the country comes the news of Kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Cattle rustling, ethno religious clashes and other forms of crimes.

It is thus pertinent to ask the question; what suddenly went wrong?

Sometimes at the twilight of Military rule in Nigeria, one of the Inspector Generals of Police confessed that the Nigeria Police had recruited unscrupulous elements into the force and made allusions to wanted Armed Robbers and other high profiled criminals. Despite the confession, no one has come out till date to tell the Nation what happened to the said criminals who found their ways into the force.

We also have it on good authority that a few years ago, the Nigeria Army discovered a number of recruits who lacked the required prerequisites into the force. Subsequently and with dispatch, the said recruits who had already received training were eased out of the force, without any mechanism to monitor them afterwards and ensure they do not deploy the training and information at their disposal to criminal tendencies.

From the scenarios painted above, it is apt to say that the recruitment process is deeply faulty and totally unreliable as it currently stands. Various narratives have shown that a large number of those recruited are not even interested in the first place and according to one of such narratives, the traditional rulers and other community leaders in the hinterlands often push their subjects into the Military and other paramilitary agencies in order to fill the quota allocated to their state or geo-political zones, as the case may be.

In the same vein, quite a number of young men and women from the other parts of the country see the Military and other similar organisations as an alternative route out of the unemployment menace currently bedeviling the country. The consequence of this is not far-fetched from the current security burden the country is facing as the various agencies are populated with a majority of men hustling for financial gratification rather than providing the statutory professional services.

This no doubt has aggravated the level of corruption in the various security agencies with the Police Force in the forefront with a strong believe that the hitherto upright Military having served in various operations with the police have equally learnt the rope of massive corruption and this cannot be faulted if the various cases of malfeasance perpetrated by top Military Officers during the Jonathan administration is put into consideration. Keen followers of the North East theatre of war will also remember the case of the General that was almost killed by his men in a corruption related affair, while this is further reinforced with the constant harassments of a number of Nigerians by Men of the various Security apparatuses that make up Nigeria’s Security architecture.

A former Security Chief who does not want his name in prints believes this is the result of years of nepotistic tendencies employed in the recruitment process which has seen so many undeserving men and women employed into the various Security Agencies. In his words, “over the years, our security agencies have been populated by people who were not interested in the service and were either coopted by people who had interests to protect or forced by poverty.”

Corruption is the most endemic problem of the Nigeria Nation as a whole, and the recent statement released by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) names the Nigeria Police as one of Nigeria’s most corrupt and a school of thought believes that the institutionalisation of corruption start from the Training schools where recruits are trained.

Our Investigation shows that the trainees actually buy their kits including shorts, T-Shirts, the training canvas and other necessary materials. Dr. Ariwajoye Alabi a behavioural Scientist believes the backlash of this is the kind of Police we see today among our security personnel across the various Agencies. Dr. Alabi in his words said, “You can’t have anything better than the kind of operatives you have today in Nigeria. These are people trained to know they have to fend for their needs right from training school to through their service life.”

The investigation also shows that the Security Authorities conduct shoddy or don’t conduct the necessary background check on the prospective recruits and where it is conducted and there are grey areas, those responsible for the conduct either cover-up or shade the facts for various reasons. This must have accounted for the recruitment of unscrupulous elements into the Police force like an IGP once confessed.

The role of Training and retraining in every spheres of human professional life cannot be de-emphasised, but for the Security Personnel, it is the very breath on which they must survive and progress in the disposal of their duties to the tax payers. Over the years, the Security Agencies have had various issues with the training of its personnel and on several occasions, the men and Officers have complained about various forms of favouritism in the process of selecting Officers and men for special training opportunities.

According to a retired Army Major, “special training, especially overseas training are reserved for those who have godfathers in the Service. If you don’t have a voice soliciting on your behalf, you don’t get these privileges. That is why you see the rot the Military is going through today and this is partly responsible for the inability of some members of the Officer Corp to provide the kind of leadership required during operations.”
The level of incompetence in the Nigeria security apparatuses is gradually becoming legendry. Sometimes in year 2011, the Owutu Police Station was sacked by men of the underworld, who also freed all the detainees in the Police cell. About year 2016, at the height of the Pillaging of the product Pipelines in Arepo, a combined team of Police and Men of the Department of State Security had paid a visit to the area for some unclear business. They were rounded up and summarily shot by the criminals.

Some years ago, the pictures of men of the Nigeria Police and Army and another showing two Security personnel engaged in fisticuffs went viral, drawing the anger and reprimand of well-meaning Nigerians across the various divides. Years back people in Uniform were well known for their Spartan and disciplined life which earned them the respect of all Nigerians and elicited fear in the heart of the criminal and crooked. The situation has since changed as criminals no longer respect men of the security agencies anymore while Officers of the various Security outfits no longer get the expected honour and respect they rightly deserve.

Another issue that has drawn the ire of the observers is the level of Discipline of men of the Security forces and their interactions with criminal elements, especially known miscreants and others men of vicious tendencies. Across the Nation today, various men of the Security forces have been arrested for aiding criminals in their crimes and misdemeanours including Superintendent George Iyamu of the Anini saga in Benin and many others like him.

The Nigerian Security forces have become a mirage of what it should be with the various Agencies competing for attention. As a result, the various arms of the security layout do not share intelligence as expected of them to create an effective synergy that will attain the objective of having them in place. The consequence is that men of the underworld have a free day at the market place of vices.

According to a former Police Chief, the forces engage in ego trips to the point of abhorrence for each other and this has affected the way in which they discharge their constitutionally recommended duties to the Nation.

In an exclusive interview with a retired Lieutenant Commander of the Navy, he said, “we are indoctrinated to see ourselves as above other organisations in the security arrangement and relate on the basis of collaborating sister agencies with only the Army and the Air force; respect the NIA, tolerate the DSS, understand the Immigration and Custom, while the Police and others are considered none existent at all, except maybe the Mopol arm.”

Modern battles are not won by lopsided advantage in numbers, but by the deployment of superior thinking gravitated on the deployment of modern technology; ingredients lacking in the security arrangements currently operated by the Nigerian Nation. It will interest the reading public to know that the Nigeria Air Force as at today operates Alfa Jets and recently bought a number of equally old aircrafts including Super Tucanos, Augusta Choppers other countries are willing to faze-out of their services.

In the same vein, the Army has acquired some Armoured vehicles that are either of the lowest armour or fazed out altogether, while the Police got some 18th Century Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) for their State Commands. A journey along the major roads of the city presents one with the pictures of the scrap like heavy metals lined across the road in the name of APCs.

Men and Officers of the Military has been known to complain about the kind of weapons at their disposal including equipments as simple as their ration plates, water canteens, ammunitions, rifles, night goggles and other regular materials that makes the regular modern soldier in our fast evolving world.

In a recent article in one of the National Dailies, the drones deployed by the Nigeria Military in the Boko Haram War were described by a columnist as too large and cumbersome. He called for a review of the models in use and advised the Military Authorities to immediately purchase high quality modern versions of the drones.

It is surprising to note that the city of Abuja was reportedly fixed with CCTV Cameras some years back, yet we are yet to be informed that the CCTV Cameras helped to solve a crime.

With the growing crime rate and insecurity, it is time for the Government to review the technologies in use, introduce new technologies and upgrade those in use to meet the current demands.
Serious minded countries are known to have security architectures clearly segmented into very intricate groups to handle divergent tasks and needs within the Security Network. Unconfirmed sources have it that the Nigeria still operates the old system where the Army is one and same and for name sake designate the various groups in names that do not reflect the current needs of the Country.

The source claimed that the country does not have a real elite group like the British Green Berets, American Navy seals or Marines and that the group called Special Forces are just soldiers that have displayed some level of dexterity in the discharge of their duties. “Can you imagine we don’t even have designated sniper groups within the Security apparatuses? And that is why our security operates in the crude manner of engaging the criminals in fire fights that often cost them heavy casualties?”He asked and thus advised that the whole segmentation should be reviewed to create real elite forces cropping together men and Officers with peak Iqs.

A Security expert advised that the Federal Government needs to convoke a conference of former Security top brass, the Military and other security Agencies to review the current situation with a view to creating a Security Network that operates on a symbiotic mentality with cooperation and collaboration as the central theme of their operations. He said that there is also a need to review the weaponry and equipments.

Ayo Onileere contended that there is a need to review the Acts that established the various security agencies with a view to removing the vexatious articles that pits the various Agencies against each other, especially the articles specifying their duties and responsibilities within the network. He said this has been responsible for the grandstanding, egocentrism and clashes experienced within the system.

He also called on the Government to review the recruitment processes with more emphasis on merit than other parochial sentiments. He slammed the current system that puts people seeking a way out of poverty in the security Agencies as against people who have natural love and desires to serve the Nation.

As part of the reforms, experts also want the Federal Government to compel the Security Agencies to establish a crime data bank, through which adequate virtual background can be conducted, while real time background checks through the educational institutions, family members and community leaders must be conducted to unveil the applicants into the various security agencies in the country. Recruiting criminals will not only expose the people to danger, it will also compromise the country as we have today.

In recent years, our research has shown that each time there is a major appointment in the Military or paramilitary organisations, the whole generation of Officers below or at par with the appointed Officer are summarily retired without taking into account the vast resources deployed to their training. Consequently such funds are laid to waste and the Officers proceed to farming and other sundry employments that does not have a direct effect on their calling or Nigeria as a country.

This has been attributed as one of the major reasons for the dearth of professionalism and experience in the various Agencies and the war against terror is a big pointer to the effect of this assertion. In a number of scenarios painted by the propagandists and alleged by men at the front, soldiers are said to have depicted beyond doubt their incompetence. Mr. Fadola, a retired police Officer said, “from the position of the videos of soldiers of the Operation Lafia Dole that I have seen, it is obvious that the men were caught pants down. I served as a member of the Police contingent to Liberia and saw and heard stories of the exploits of our soldiers. You certainly compare it with what you hear and see from the North East theatre of war.”

“I sometimes want to believe this is not the same Nigeria Army I saw and heard about in Liberia. This however is not exclusive to the Nigeria Army, I have seen other agencies on escort duties and watched videos of assaults on men of the other Agencies in dismay,” Fadola concluded.
Further in the interview, he said the current trend boils down to the dearth of experience at the various training institutes and the general attitude of the personnel and implored the Government to take these issues serious, while requesting to eschew nepotism in the recruitment, deployment and opportunities in the various Agencies.

About a year ago, the Chief of Naval Staff confessed that the last time the Nigeria Navy got any major equipment was during the second Republic. The same applies to the Nigeria Air Force, while the Nigeria Army only got new equipments at the height of the Boko Haram debacle. Of the equipment procured and refurbished for the Navy, Army and Air Force including the Aircrafts, Water crafts and heavy weapons, none of them have been described in glowing terms. In a secret interview granted to our media team by a Corporal returning from the front who does not want his name published, “our weaponry is so obsolete and inadequate- where you have the weapon, the ammunition is rationed to the minute of operation to the extent that you are counting the bullets as you engage the enemy. The issue of heavy weapons is not even up for discussions as sometimes a whole division does not even have a single artillery gun and where they are available they are not serviceable or have rationed munitions. Sometimes, I and my colleagues feel we are just been led to the slaughter.”

The government needs to do massive procurement of weapons and logistics like special multi-purpose vehicles, night vision goggles, heavy artillery and other incendiaries for the prosecution of the wars and future security issues. While it is also important to procure real modern Technologies like Multipurpose drones, surveillance equipments and CCTV Cameras at designated locations across the country. It is also suggested that there is a need for the Federal Government to legislate on the installation of the CCTV Cameras in and around all public and commercial private buildings.

Intelligence gathering and sharing

According to recurrent indices, Intelligence Gathering is still crude and very unprofessional in Nigeria, as more often than not the Security Agencies are deeply alienated from the populace and most of the Officers are not even familiar with the beats of operation. It is obvious that Intelligence gathering needs to take a different turn henceforth. There is a need for intelligence Officers to act more professionally, while the top echelon needs to send most of the Officers on refresher courses to the advanced Nations in order to raise their knowledge especially with the use of technology which for a long time had been relegated to the background until the recent formation of the Inspector General of Police Special Task force.

There is also a need for the various Agencies to establish a clearly defined mechanism for Intelligence gathering and sharing model beyond the use of walkie-Talkies and bugging devices must also play a leading role. The Nigerian Representative of Sky Track Security revealed that at the height of Boko Haram operations in Nigeria, the Company had approached the Government as the Agent of Homeland Security weapons producers to market top shelve military hardware including Bomb Jammers, Armoured vehicles and frequency Monitors to aid the work of the Military.

To our greatest surprise, the Government did not even respond to our series of proposals to help and a state in the South West zone attempted to boycott the Nigerian Agent with an intention to deal directly with the producers, but they were sent back to the Nigerian Agents.” He said.

Sometime in year 2013, Armed Robbers car jacked a business man in Lagos along the Ikorodu Road while his friend was buying newspapers by the Ojota pedestrian bridge. Having observed what happened, the friend hurriedly boarded a bike to beat the traffic to the next Police checkpoint on the Maryland Bridge, less than 1 kilometer ahead. At Maryland, he met the police team stationed on the bridge and reported the incident. To his consternation, the Policemen offered him their rifles asking why he can’t take their place.

Further investigations show that it takes between 5 and 10 years for the relatives of a slain Military or paramilitary personnel to receive his benefits. This no doubt discourages the men and Officers from performing selflessly as they have a fear of their dependants future in case they are cut down in the course of performing their statutory duties.
The issue of personnel welfare is one that will shock the labour Unions and kill a welfarist.

A visit to the Barracks paint a picture of a shanty town from an epic movie that is sometimes ingrained in the subconscious to the extent of wishing never to return to the ugly buildings that make up the barracks. Everywhere you turn to on the barracks, you are confronted with the symbols of dereliction and dilapidation. Independent investigations by exponent also shows that the salaries and benefits are paltry when compared to the attendant risk involved in their job. While in some cases the men and Officers have to wait for days before the benefits are paid.

Less than four years ago, members of a special Team were recommended for promotion in the Police, our investigation shows that the head of the said Team surreptitiously replaced the names of some members of the Team with non-members of the Team and they were promoted instead of the deserving men and officers.

A Police Officer who does not want his name in print for security reasons claim that some years ago some officers and men were exclusively promoted for no reasons. He claimed that the Officers and men promoted were from a section of the country and concluded that he doesn’t need to bother himself striving to do anything unusual to gain promotion. According to Lawrence Anisere, a Nigerian descent Security expert resident in Germany, “these are weighty allegations that could compromise the whole security architecture of a country. It means there is no love lost between the men and officers and they don’t consider each other as partners.”

Anisere said further, “the greatest ingredient in security is mutual trust and respect, if not love among its personnel and you can’t get the best out of men perpetually suspecting each other. If these allegations are true in the least, then the Government has to work arduously and quickly to correct the anomalies, else the country is on the precipice of a security collapse.”

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