Security agencies in Nigeria must change approach – Gen. Umahi

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Obi Umahi
Obi Umahi

By Anayo Ezugwu

GENERAL Obi Umahi, rtd, has urged security agencies in the country to change their approach in the fight against Boko Haram and general insecurity in the country. The former general officer commanding, GOC, 81 Division Nigerian Army, said the military should adopt civil-military relations to combat insecurity in the country.

Speaking with Realnews in an interview, Umahi said the military should see civilians as their masters. “Once you see the civilians as masters and you as the servants, the way you treat civilians and relate with them will make them to develop a lot of confidence in you.

“So anything that happens anywhere and they have access to such information, they are already looking for how to pass it on. In that way that is what is called force multiplier. Intelligence is force multiplier when you can gather information through civilians, it means that you are deployed everywhere and all of them working for you at no cost,” he said.

According to Umahi, fighting terrorism everywhere in the world is grinding, involving and time consuming. He said from the beginning, Nigerian Armed Forces were not trained for unconventional warfare. He noted that even the formal training that is still going on in the military is still on conventional warfare.

“Unconventional warfare training is just giving a little bite, but the bulk of the training is on conventional warfare where your enemy is limited to a particular area and you are in a particular area. So you plan operations and choose the best options to meet him, to attack him, to dislodge him or how you will respond to him if he is coming, but terrorism is a different ball game. So fighting terrorism involves a lot of intelligence and we do not have facilities, human and material intelligent gathering facilities we do not have.

“Even the security agencies that are fighting terrorism and insecurity in Nigeria, they do not have good relationship with the general public because the general public is supposed to be a real source of intelligence for the security agencies. But in Nigeria the security agencies do not have such chummy relationship with the general public.

“Sometimes, the general public even sees them as enemies. So instead of acting in their favour, they act against them. We must address the issue of intelligence gathering. Security agencies should go back and build a relationship. For instance, if you talk about positive identification operation, what you are saying is that everybody in uniform has open license to stop any person on the street, which means you can molest him or her saying you are in for positive identification. You can do anything to anybody. That is not in any way correct.

“That kind of operation is something that is done in an environment of police state where there is gross infiltration of enemies into a system or gross infiltration of immigrants, who do not have valid papers. In a democratic environment like Nigeria, you can’t do such a thing. The security agencies should redefine themselves, redefine relationships with the people. There is what is called civil relations, is a very important issue in the military.

“They should put emphasis on it knowing that the civilians are matters to the security agencies. Anywhere they have operations; the first thing should be how do we have a cordial relationship with the people. So once they have good relationships with the people, they buy the hearts and minds and it will be easy for them to relate with them and get information. In the Ireland operations, it was a major issue, so the military resorted to civil relations and it resolved a lot of issues.”

– Nov. 8, 2019 @ 16:47 GMT |

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