Service Chiefs and Nigeria’s security headache

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TWENTY graduating students of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUTECH), Okitipupa, Ondo …

For some Nigerians, especially security experts, the issue of state police has become an absolute necessity, and that sacking the Security Chiefs should be left to the president to decide, but warned that the touted improvements in the Ease of Doing Business cannot fly with the current worsening security situation in Nigeria

By Goddy Ikeh

A former National Security Adviser, NSA, during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, General Andrew Azazi, had in 2012 said that the military would continue to take part in “policing the country until the police are properly trained”.  Aziza, who spoke on Security and Investment in the South-South geo-political zone during the 2nd South-South Economic Summit hosted by Delta State in Asaba, lamented that Nigeria was second only to Somalia on the issue of insecurity on the waterways and that the pirates were on the prowl and endangering maritime businesses in the two countries.

Aziza, who inherited a range of challenges from extremists, including the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, in the Niger Delta, and the rise of the new violent Islamist group, Boko Haram, which first emerged in 2009, however, warned that terrorism in Nigeria would remain with us for some time before proper solution can be found. He, however, urged politicians not to engage in politicizing security issues, stressing that getting to the root of the problem “takes time and takes even longer time to fix”.  He noted that Boko Haram and other security challenges “would take a long while to be sorted out”.

Unfortunately, eight years after this candid advice by Andrew Aziza, who died on December 15, 2012 in a naval helicopter crash in Okoroba Village of Bayelsa State, Nigerians are still trading the same path he warned against in tackling the security challenges in the country.

Indeed, what has changed is the curtailment of the activities of the pirates in Nigerian waters and the bombings and attacks by Boko Haram insurgents outside the Northeast of the country. But despite the claim by the government and the military that Boko Haram has been decimated, the group has been emboldened to attack military formations and intensified their raids on soft targets, destroying churches and mosques, killing people, engaging in suicide bombings in mostly Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.

Apart from the activities of the Boko Haram group in the Northeast, the other parts of the country are saddled with kidnappings by bandits, upsurge in herders and farmers clashes and extra-judicial killings among other crimes.

Piqued by these security challenges, some Nigerians, including the legislators have called on the president to change his Service Chiefs since their strategies at curbing the challenges appear not to be yielding the desired results.  There was also the call for the president to resign since he has failed to fulfil one of the basic roles of his office, which is protecting lives and property of Nigerians.

Some of the agitations came from Senator Enyinanya Abaribe, who called for the resignation of the president on the floor of the Senate for his failure to secure the nation, while a human rights lawyer.

Femi Falana said that President Muhammadu Buhari was running foul of the law in his decision not to terminate the current crop of security Service Chiefs. He said that the president or any official of government had the right to extend the length of service of any officer, who has attained the mandatory retirement age, according to the law.

On the seeming brake down of law in the country, Falana said: “No one in the country has a right to take laws into his hands by the way of self-help or revenge. Local communities that catch bandits should hand over the suspects to law enforcement authorities instead of meting out capital punishment, leading to a cycle of revenge and counter revenge.”

But reactions to these calls and agitations were quick to come from the government as BOSS Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation, SGF, on Tuesday, February 18, frowned at the calls for the sack of services chiefs, insisting that President Muhammadu Buhari would not remove them now.

Mustapha explained that there are processes that must be followed to sack them, adding: “We are in a very difficult time now. We need everybody to be on board. We need synergy within the intelligence community, within the military formations that will help fight this war.”

“We are in a very difficult situation and when we begin to create cracks and divisions, who will be the beneficiaries? “The adversaries are the ones that are going to exploit those deficiencies and further the cause of destabilising the nation,” local media reports quoted Mustapha as saying.

According to Mustapha, what the government needs at this moment is for everybody to be on the same page, fight the battle to secure the nation, protect lives and property and ensure that every Nigerian has the opportunity to live a prosperous life. I think that should be our main focus”.

In his reaction, the information and culture minister Lai Mohammed said that President Muhammadu Buhari would not resign because of insecurity in the country and that he would serve his legitimate mandate until the end of his tenure in 2023.

But the man at the centre of the controversy, President Buhari, who has kept mute on these agitations, believes that Nigeria has witnessed a decline in banditry because of the control of weapons smuggling since the partial closure of the country’s land borders.

Receiving President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso, who chaired the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, committee mandated to resolve the issue of border closure at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday, February 21, Buhari called for more patience from neighbouring countries over the partial closure of Nigeria’s land border issue.

According to Buhari, the matter will be determined by the report of a tripartite committee made up of Nigeria, Benin and Niger Republic, restating that the decision to partially close the border was purely to safeguard national security. “Our major problem is security – the inflow of weapons, ammunition and drugs. We have witnessed a decline in banditry using such weapons since the partial closure of the border,” he added.

And in his usual approach, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, assured that Nigerian troops will soon end the menace of Boko Haram Terrorists, BHT, and Islamic State West Africa Province, ISWAP.

“I am more confident now than ever before with your current robust posture that you will end the BHT/ISWAP menace in no distant time,” Buratai said in a letter to troops deployed in Operation Lafiya Dole Theatre Command and addressed to the Theatre Commander, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi.

According to a statement on Friday by the acting Director of Army Public Relations, Colonel Sagir Musa, Buratai urged the troops never to allow the terrorists any breathing space or freedom of action anywhere as they continue to discharge their legitimate duties.

Buratai congratulated the theatre commander, sector commanders, super camps commanders, commanding officers, as well as the officers and soldiers serving in Operation Lafiya Dole for their gallantry. He noted that this led to the decimation of the leadership and ranks of the criminal Boko Haram terrorists and their affiliate ISWAP in various parts of the theatre.

The army chief, therefore, urged them to continue to dominate the theatre and maintain a high standard of professionalism and assured the troops of his continued support and that the government would continue to provide the needed support for them to enable them do more.

However, one Nigerian security expert, Onyekachi Adekoya and the Special Assistant to the governor of Borno State, Isa Gusau, applauded the ongoing security outfits being established by many state governments to complement the efforts of the Nigeria police.

Speaking on the Saturday Morning Show of Channels Television, they canvassed for more funding for security as well as the recruitment of more soldiers and policemen in order to tackle the security challenges in the country. They also believe that the issue of state police has become an absolute necessity in the country.

On the issue of changing the Service Chiefs, Adekoya noted that that the issue lies with the president and not the Service Chiefs.

Speaking on the rehabilitation of the repentant terrorists, Adekoya believed that it could be another approach in tackling the problem by providing another option for the repentant terrorists. But Gusau frowned at the programme, saying that “the timing is wrong”.

In all, they believe that the state police will improve the security situation in the country and that the issue of funding can be tackled by allocating more funds to the states and cutting down on some of the wasteful ventures of government as well as trimming down the number of ministries, agencies and departments of government.

– Feb. 24, 2020 @ 15:55 GMT |

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