Sigismund Akinbulumo is a professor of Criminology and Crime control/security studies at the Department of Criminology and Security Studies, AdekunleAjasin University, Akungba-Akoko (AAUA). He speaks with IMOLEAYO OYEDEYI on the security challenges confronting the country and factors militating against the efforts of the Nigerian security personnel in curbing them.
In the last seven years, the Buhari administration has expended over N4.3 trillion on security, excluding the recently released N900 billion, yet the spate of criminality, banditry and terrorists’ attacks has worsened every day. What do you think is the problem?
The problem has to do with not putting the round peg in a round hole. And it has been chiefly because the Nigerian military and security architecture has been regionalised and ethnicised as it is being controlled by men of just a segment of the country. They are virtually all Muslims and Fulanis. In the right sense of things, in the military arm of every country, you expect to see competence and professionalism in intelligence gathering and operations. But what we have seen in the Nigerian military is that of nepotism, sectionalism and clannism, which has given rise to huge corruption.
When one looks at the composition of Nigeria’s security architecture including the service chiefs and minister of defence, they all seem to belong to one kind of cabal, yet they are the ones in charge of our defence. In criminology, there is a term we do use which is: who guides the guards? In the case of our country, it is these cabals; we know them and they also know themselves. It is just that it has been hard for some people to agree that Nigeria is already a failed state, but in reality it is, because security is the number one responsibility of every responsible government to the citizenry. But when it is in utter comatose, it amounts to failure on the part of the government.
Meanwhile, a false sense of security breeds insecurity. But unfortunately, Nigeria has sunk into the mud since nepotism and favoritism took the centre stage of our security and economic powerhouse. There is no more competence and professionalism in the way we conduct our security and defence operations. And this, as I said earlier, has made corruption very endemic in our country. Take for instance, the huge billions of naira reported to have beenallegedly caught with the Accountant General of the Federation. Another example is found in the tussle between the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the Federal government. Some time ago, the government came up with the IPPIS and it gave rise to so many irregularities in salary payments of lecturers. We don’t need anybody to tell us that the country is in a terrible situation as the entire national security and economic architecture has collapsed. So who is going to bell the cat?
Again, look at the issue of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko [Mohammed] that had to step aside due to sickness. Why did he have to wait that long before stepping aside, which was until about 12 justices of the Supreme Court complained openly about how he has handed the funds of the judiciary? It is part of the sheer favoritism we are talking about. And it is also part of the reasons that have strongly emboldened the terrorists. Or how can you describe the effrontery displayed by the terrorists when the attacked the National DefenceAcademy in Kaduna, which is Nigeria’s home of armoury and recently declared that they would attack both the Head of State and governor of Kaduna State?
If only Nigerians will remember, it was this same President Muhammadu Buhari that said in 2015 that they would make the country ungovernable for former President Goodluck Jonathan. So they went and recruited Fulani mercenaries from the neighbouring countries against the Jonathan government. But when he got to power, he could not meet the agreements reached with the people they allegedly imported into Nigerian then and that is why those ones are fighting back now.
You will remember that immediately after the Kaduna-Abuja train attack, the terrorists released a video where they said the Buhari government should speak out and keep to its promise to them. That was in the recent past. Now the terrorists have set their eyes on Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory. There have been the talks of the [The Nigerian] Law School being attacked and the impeachment threats being issued to the president by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the National Assembly. And I think the senators are crying now, because the heat of the terror attacks has hit them. Before, when the attacks were happening in places like Owo, none of them talked of impeaching the president. But above all, in going back to your question, I will say we haven’t seen any tangible results, because all the money that has been released and budgeted over the years has been misappropriated and diverted and the tribalistic composition of the security system has made it hard to track the funds.
In some recent interviews, some top government officials have claimed that the available human capacity of the Nigerian security architecture is not enough to combat the rising insecurity. Can this be the cause of the widening scope of banditry and terror attacks in the country?
That is just like merely scratching the problem in the face. As far as I am concerned, Nigeria has a good number of fighters and security personnel to curb the surging security issue. The truth is that you cannot have all the number of persons you want to employ in the security force. It’s the same all over the world. But you can conduct and use the ones you have in a professional manner with the requisite weaponry to get results. It has been observed that Boko Haram and ISWAP have more sophisticated armoury than the Nigerian military. That draws you to the question of where all the billions of naira expended over the years has gone to. There have been many reports of the terrorists being able to bomb planes and fighter jets on air, but can’t the Nigerian military use sophisticated drones for their airstrikes. It will shock you that the drones will easily locate the terrorists in their camps and bomb them.
Take for instance, a few days back, the terrorists wrote The Nigerian Law School that they are coming to attack them. Imagine the effrontery. And the law school informed the Nigerian Army. The military deployed soldiers and weapons, but later found out that very close to the law school is VeritasUniversity. With the belief that the school may be the real target of the terrorists since they have been attacking schools over time, the military thought of covering the school as well. But in the night, before the day that the terrorists were to strike, the military saw a big light in the forest and went close on surveillance and discovered that the terrorists had come in their large numbers, so the army decided to go back and reinforced. But by the time the military would return, the terrorists had laid an ambush for them. And that was why they easily attacked them. But had the military included air bombardment with drones in their plan like the US did to Osama Bin Laden, they would have used it against the terrorists when they started attacking them from the ambush they had laid.
All over the world, responsible security forces use both the ground and air strikes to get results. I keep saying that if the military has been very serious with airstrikes with the use of modern drones, they would have completely sacked the terrorists from even the Sambisa forests and other hideouts. But they couldn’t do this, partly because some members of the cabal who are in charge of the military often divulge strong security information to the terrorists as they work hand in hand. And this I believe is part of the factors frustrating the fight against banditry and terrorism in Nigeria.
Are you categorically saying that there are some moles in the Nigerian security architecture divulging security plans and details to the terrorists?
That is capital yes. And the government itself knows this. It will be recalled that some time ago, Saudi Arabia identified and listed names of some sponsors of Boko Haram. They gave the names to the federal government, but that piece of information has, since then, been swept under the carpet, because some of the identified sponsors were the mighty and the high in Nigeria. Take another instance, since the controversy over Muslim-Muslim ticket began, there have been allegations talks about Shettima. But everyone has been silent about it.
Again, remember in 2015 that the same Boko Haram publicly nominated Buhari to represent them in the dialogue with Jonathan’s government. And this is because they (Buhari and his kinsmen) were the ones that brought them in. And that also explains why Kaduna has been the epicentre of terrorists’ activities in Nigeria, despite being the country’s base of all security formations. The fact of the whole matter is that there are some powerful people deliberately sponsoring terrorism in Nigeria for some personal reasons and those in the military know them.
But what do you think could be the demands of the terrorists to the extent that they are now threatening to attack the president and the Kaduna State governor?
These are security issues and they are very critical, but I honestly suspect that there was an agreement between the current people in government and the terrorists to bring them into government. Don’t forget that the Fulanis have tried this in Central Africa Republics and they failed woefully, because as you know, they are nomadic; they move about and don’t have a particular home, so they want a place they can conquer and rule. How many of them are even in the country? They are not even up to 10 million out of a population of over 200 million, yet they want Nigeria to be a home of the Fulanis in West Africa. They have tried it also in East Africa and also failed. And I am also very sure they will fail here as well. So, this is the issue. But we thank God that the Buhari’s government is almost going out.
But sir, for the terrorists to have successfully carried out an attack on the Kuje prison and in some other parts of Abuja, don’t you think that they have the strength to strike the seat of power as they have threatened?
From the examples of their operations we have seen in recent times, it is very possible. And this is strongly because they have moles inside the government, even in the presidency, that gives information to the terrorists and notify them of every move of the government, even those not publicised. Take for instance, how did the terrorists know that there was already a change of guards at the Kuje prison before they struck. In fact, it was not up to 24 hours after the old guards at the Kuje prison handed over to the new ones that the terrorists struck.
The old ones have been there and there was no attack, but in less than 24 hours that they left, the terrorists attacked the whole place. It just shows you that the terrorists have strong informants in the prison that feed them with security intelligence and information. Another instance was what happened during the last Muslim festival (Eid-el Kabir) when the president’s security convoy was attacked. The question is how did the terrorists know that the president’s advance security convoy would be visiting Katsina that day and would arrive the venue of the attack at the time they struck. So there are moles within the presidency and the military. Another question is how did the terrorists identify the captain that led the first air raid on Sambisa forest before they went into the NDA and killed the man. In fact, he was the only person they killed before leaving the defence academy.
Days back, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ahmed IdrisWase, said that the Department of State Security submitted 44 reports to the presidency before the Kuje prison attack, yet there was no response from the government on this, making some people to conclude that the FG is handling the terrorists and bandits with kid gloves. Can this be true?
That is what I am saying, that the people in government know themselves. They know the agreements that they are working towards. Let’s take for instance in the civilian world, a few weeks ago in Zamfara State, a wanted kidnapper and bandit was turbaned. So, these people know themselves and Saudi Arabia has called the attention of the government to the men behind the terror attacks in the past, but the government has beensilentabout it. And that has given rise to the current mess we are in now. Though the terrorists have threatened to kidnap the president and the Kaduna governor, but I don’t see this happening, because it has leaked out. And then, the security around the two persons will be more tightened now unlike before. And they too will be more careful now.
But amidst all this, what would you advise the government to do, considering the pains of families of those kidnapped by the terrorists? Do you think government should accede to the requests of the terrorists?
The government should be truthful and come out openly on what they have with the terrorists. And then, the Nigerian military should be more professional and secretive in their intelligence gathering. They obviously know where the terrorists are camped, so they should send drones there and disorganisedthem in a bid to rescue some of the abducted Nigerians.
Culled from tribuneonlineng.com