Lack of sanctions for security lapses - By: Gambo Dori | Dailytrust

Lack of sanctions for security lapses

The Kaduna train terrorist attack would probably have ranked very high on the agenda when the President met with the security chiefs on Thursday, during the National Security meeting held in the State House, Abuja. That’s judging by the rapid announcements that immediately followed.

We watched on prime television as the National Security Adviser (NSA) along with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) admitted with surprising candor, that the security agencies had just been admonished by the President for ‘not doing enough despite what has been provided’. In the press conference after the meeting, the NSA was quoted as saying that the President was particularly saddened by last month’s attack on a Kaduna-bound train by terrorists who killed eight passengers, injured many, and kidnapped scores. And that now getting all those abducted freed without harm was the President’s number one directive to the security chiefs.

Alas, this failed to elicit any excitement from the traumatised public, probably. because it has been heard before, time without number, as the security situation continued to degenerate in many parts of the country. Needless to say, the directive sounded hollow to many ears because for all practical purposes there had been no real progress on the fate of those that were abducted during the Kaduna train attack. For the past many weeks those abducted remained incarcerated by the terrorists living in abject conditions. Their unfortunate circumstances would worsen now that the rains have started as the merciless terrorist will just leave them to the elements. One shudders to contemplate the fate of the old and the sick including the expecting mothers in those damp and foul conditions.

To further complicate matters we have not been told of any sanction against erring officials involved in this foul saga. There has been no inclination to punish anyone who could have been vicariously culpable despite obvious lapses leading to the incident. Governor El Rufai of Kaduna State, the scene of the ugly incident, confessed that they had information that the terrorists were going to strike. This information had been processed to the right quarters, yet no action was taken to prevent it. He was quoted as saying that “We have enough intelligence for us to act. The air force undertakes enough Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), and the DSS has informants all over the place. We know what they are planning. We get the reports. The problem is for the agencies to act”. 

Similarly, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi in what in my view amounts to a confession of lapses leading to the debacle, said this calamity could have been avoided if his ministry had been allowed to purchase the equipment meant to avert it. He claimed that the Ministry of Transport needed to set up integrated surveillance and monitoring devices with drones and cameras to work on the rail line. The railway corporation needed helicopters also to complement the drones. Amaechi claimed to have applied for these life-saving devices but was frustrated by the entrenched bureaucracy in the procurement process. 

Amaechi said, “The process is tedious… You know if these items were here – – drones would have told you that there were people walking around here. There are drones that pick censors – – Unfortunately, the process has not been able to get us the approval that we need to acquire these items – – What you need is a camera that tells you look o, ten to twenty meters away from the train or hundred kilometers from the train, there is human activity, they are unknown persons carrying guns, then you can take precautions – – ”.

Unfortunately for Amaechi, records leaked from the FEC meeting of September 2021, as published in many media outlets, revealed that his request was thrown out due to a tardy presentation. The FEC collectively reasoned that the company Amaechi wanted to grant the supply and installation is ill-equipped to handle it. Sources from the FEC say, “We had doubts about the capability of a company, which was formed less than two years prior and had no track record of handling a contract of N3.7bn or a contract on surveillance systems.”

Since then, there has not been any indication that someone would own up to the responsibility to resign. And we have not heard that anybody has been sanctioned for the gross loss of lives and the infliction of such suffering on hapless citizens. This is contrary to what follows this kind of incidence elsewhere. I happened to be in Egypt for the past few weeks and I learnt that when they had a train accident in 2019, the consequences were swift. A speeding locomotive passing through the Ramses railway station in Cairo hit the buffer stop at a high speed, generating a large fire that led to the death of 25 people and injuring 40. The Minister of Transport, Hisham Arafat, resigned immediately while several members of staff working on the train were held to be prosecuted.

That’s how a decent public service works. In our case, some owning up to culpability is the least we expect from our own public officers in the Ministry of Transport as well those who could be blamed in the security services. The president should demand it and if it is not forthcoming, cracking the whip and using the big stick would rightly be in order.

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