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Security agents and their troubles

The outbreak of religious crisis such as the recent Kala Kato clashes in Bauchi could have been turned away if there was proper criminal intelligence…

The outbreak of religious crisis such as the recent Kala Kato clashes in Bauchi could have been turned away if there was proper criminal intelligence sharing system between the security agencies including the police and the public. Acceptance and utilization of information on suspicious activity by groups or individual can help the police and security organisation in monitoring future criminals in the society.

The Inspector General of Police Ogbonna Onovo said recently that police have received intelligence on plans to subvert the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State by about three groups who are currently recruiting militias and stockpiling arms.  That indeed is very good development but shouldn’t stop there, other security agencies have to be informed so that the suspects can be further monitored.

The problem of acceptability of information emanating from the security and civil defence forces has hampered their collaboration over time. In the case of the Boko Haram crisis in Borno State in which hundreds of people were killed, some without even taking part in the clashes, the State Security Service (SSS) said they foresaw it and had forwarded intelligence to the government. Copies of the SSS report to the government are normally circulated among the police and other security outfits including the army, as such all security forces knew about the crisis. Yet, for lack of trust among the agencies, the crisis was not prevented.

Again the former Chairman the Board of Director of First Bank, Umar Mutallab, informed both the foreign and internal security agencies of sudden cut of communication between the family and his son, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallb but instead of making moves to trace AbdulMutallab’s whereabouts and his motives, the security agencies especially the SSS, Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) refused to take the matter very seriously. The 23 year AbdulMutallab passed through the Lagos Airport possibly with explosives concealed in his body without being detected on his way to Amsterdam where he boarded the plane to Detroit, which he allegedly intended to blow up.

In fact the government sometimes developed second thought in all information because of lack of credibility mostly as a result of inability to carry out proper investigation. This was one of the reasons why President Umaru Musa Yar’adua allegedly ordered the sack of the former Director General of NIA Mr Enaruna Emmanuel Imohe. He was said to have allowed top secrets on the issuance consular support to the former Minister of Federal Capital, Nasir el-Rufa’i and former Chairman of the Economic and Financials Crimes Commission Nuhu Ribadu to seep out as well as giving false information.   

Again favouritism, tribalism, unfair treatment, inability to conceal the identity of informants and other corrupt practices prevalent in the security forces has made their efforts unreliable even with unadulterated intentions. Intelligence emanating from the police, SSS and their counterpart tend to be unreliable not only by government but among the public. Security officials who were known to be hardworking and prominent are often not motivated but in most cases ill-treated which eventually discourage other from emulating exemplary leaders.

Many policemen are being prevented from passing negative comments on bigwigs and their accomplices and are being persecuted for political and selfish reason. This purely indicates that security agents who are supposed to be neutral are now politicised. EFCC Malam Nuhu Ribadu was maltreated by the police authorities out of envy and political motives. Officers who worked with him in the Commission were also maltreated with majority being transferred to places considered as threats to their lives. It was recently reported by the both Daily Trust and Compass Newspapers that an official of the SSS, who served with former Nigerian Vice President as Chief Security Officer has sued the authorities over a wrongful compulsory retirement. The leadership of SSS was said to have queried him sometime in July, 2009 for not attending a course that was to commence on August same year. These pre-determine maltreatment may not only undermine the credibility of the organisation but makes its inputs unreliable.  

Lack of tolerance and competence is another weakness in the management of intelligence which is compounded by lack of periodic attendance of trainings and seminars by the security agents. Extra-judicial killings and torture by the security agents and the police continue to manifest day by day in spite of campaign by human rights organisation. So many security agents including policemen and soldiers were caught conniving with criminals including armed robbers. A thief catcher, Ali Kwara recently arrested a soldier and a policeman escorting robbers. A soldier recently stabbed a man by name Musa in Zuba, Abuja to death after a brief disagreement.

However, security lapses whether it is due to systemic faults or human errors, the outcomes are the same and could have serious consequences. Systemic failures could be addressed once and for all.  But human errors are more challenging to avoid or prevent as it would involve recruiting good people, providing quality training and changing the mindsets of existing staff.  The government must seriously look into these aspects to further strengthen and instil greater discipline in our security forces.

John Garba, Michael Opara Street, Zone 5 Wuse, Abuja

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