Abubakar Tsav, retired commissioner of Police, Lagos State, speaks to Olu Ojewale, general editor, on the current spate of Boko Haram insurgents accusing some security agents on feeding fat on the situation while the State Security Service knows and hides suicide bombers. Excerpts:
Realnews: There is a sudden insurgence of Boko Haram in the country; would you like to hazard a guess why this has become so?
Tsav: I think government is not taking things serious. You will recall that sometimes ago, some of these suicide bombers were arrested by the SSS and the SSS promised to carry out deep investigations to know who was hiring them to do all these things. We have not been hearing anything about their investigations and whether they have found their sponsors. I think involvement of the SSS in the investigation of such cases should be discouraged. The police should have to investigate and keep updating members of the public. Rightly, there are people involved in this thing who are known by the SSS and they refuse to say it. They are hiding them. I just read in the newspapers that some promotions that were made in the SSS have been reverted and officer in charge of the SSS has been retired. So, it is likely these people who supposed to do the right thing are not doing the right. When I was in police in Lagos as commissioner of police; there were these bomb blasts everywhere in Lagos and security agencies started saying it was NADECO that was doing it. In the end, we found out that it was security agents that were throwing bomb and they would go and tell (late General Sani) Abacha that it was NADECO that was doing it. And Abacha would just give them money. That is how some of them became very rich. The same thing is happening right now in this country. May be that is why President (Muhammadu) Buhari said he did not want them to guard him and brought in the soldiers; maybe he has information about all these things.
The best thing is to raise a team that comprises of police and other security agencies to deal with the Boko Haram thing and anyone found to be involved they should mention his name. In the beginning they said (former Governor Mahmud) Sheriff was involved; nothing happened to Sheriff, instead he was going about with (former President Goodluck) Jonathan. Nobody said anything about it again. People who are given the responsibility are hiding facts. Now their design is that they just want to ridicule the government of Buhari that is why these bombings are still going on because people who are involved are not exposed. So, that Buhari himself cannot do anything.
Realnews: But some people are insinuating that the upsurge is as a result of government’s dismantling of military checkpoints?
Tsav: Let me ask you one thing since they were mounting roadblocks have you ever heard that they arrested some people with guns; arrested any kidnappers or recover any stolen vehicles? No! They have not been arrested. There was a state of emergency in the North East when they came and kidnapped the Chibok girls. There military roadblocks but none of them saw these thing or able to stop the kidnappers. There were so many roadblocks in Yobe when they (Boko Haram insurgents) came and killed so many of the students in their hostels. So, the issue of roadblock should not be brought in on this. Security agencies and government officials are profiting too much from this insecurity. Since they have been mounting roadblocks, have they ever arrested anyone with gun? No. Supposing they arrested someone with gun, they have not; unless they arrested and hide. But if they arrested a person with gun, he should be able to tell them where he got the gun from. I think they just want to rubbish this government. Remember when Jonathan was in power remember, some former of the Niger Delta militants were all around him threatening that they were going to do this, do that and Jonathan did nothing to them, including Tompolo who has massive contracts with NIMASA. They made a lot of money, brought in lots of arms and nobody could do anything about them. So, it is a terrible situation. The best thing is to do to reorganise the armed forces and security agencies.
Realnews: What about the police?
Tsav: Yes. The police should be reorganised as well because they are the people teaching the armed forces how to take bribe. It is true. I travel a lot on the road and see what is happening. Sometimes when you get to the police checkpoint, they take bribe and give change as if they are selling something. I see these things happening; not that somebody told me. And if you tell their officers, the officers would not do anything. In the Police force, an officer who is not corrupt is bold and can say anything against any of his men. But if they are sharing from the conduit, he would not take part.
Realnews: There is something in the news that Boko Haram insurgents are ready to exchange the Chibok girls for some of their leaders being held by the government. What is your thought?
Tsav: No! The government should not allow itself to be blackmailed. There is no sincerity in any of this. I don’t think it is the right thing to do. Let those who know something about where these girls are kept come out let us and stop deceiving us. Blackmail will not work.
Realnews: What is the way forward now?
Tsav: The way forward is for every one of us to repent and do away with corruption and think about this country more than any other thing. We should all join hands together, say no to corruption and fight the insurgency. One person cannot do it; we should all do it collectively. The issue of investigating insurgency should be left in the hands of the police. If there is need to bring in the immigration; to bring in soldiers, to form a unit with the police, it is welcome — because by law, the SSS are not supposed to pursue any case in court. They are supposed to be men behind the mask; they are supposed to get information and give the information to the police. That is what we were doing during our own time. But now they arrest people, keep them incommunicado; keep them for a long time and will not tell us about anything until one Marylyn Ogar; a woman who talked in favour of politicians, the PDP, to be more specific. Let us be more professional in our national issues.
— Jul 27, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT