By our Correspondents |
As banditry appears to be tilting towards destabilising the country, some retired military generals and police officers have advised the new service chiefs to immediately jettison the tactics adopted by their predecessors if they are serious about winning the ongoing war against bandits, terrorists and other criminals.
The retired security experts with wealth of experience in diverse security fields said instead of being reactive to the attacks by the insurgents and bandits operating mostly in the North West and North East zones of the country, the military top brass should be proactive, synergise and dwell more on intelligence gathering.
The former security chiefs who proffered solutions to the lingering insecurity in the country include former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Al-amin Daggash (rtd), a former provost marshal of the Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen Idada Ikponmwen (rtd), then Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig Gen John Agim (rtd), Brig-Gen Sani Usman (rtd), former intelligence and community policing officer, Metropolitan Police, United Kingdom (UK), Alhaji Hanbali AbdulRaheem and an Ilorin-based security expert, Dr Jimoh Ahmed.
In separate interviews with LEADERSHIP Friday, they maintained that nothing would change if the new service chiefs continue to use the same obsolete strategies in the fight against bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and armed robbers.
Gen Ikponmwen told our correspondent in Benin, the Edo State capital, that for the new service chiefs to succeed they must avoid the pitfalls of the past which have fuelled insecurity in the country.
He said the rise in the spate of insecurity shortly after the appointment of the new service chiefs may not be unconnected with activities of some persons who were benefitting from the old order.
Ikponmwen said although the responsibility of fighting criminal activities squarely rests on the shoulder of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the word, “criminality, has assumed a wider dimension to include operations against insurgency.”
The retired General however called for a new strategy, defined mission and proper supervision under the chief of defence staff in tackling the ongoing war against Boko Haram insurgency, herders’ attack and banditry in the country.
He said: “Strictly speaking, the responsibility for tackling criminal activities falls squarely on the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) but in recent times due to the prevalence of killer herdsmen activities vis-a-vis the retaliatory response from farmers, the worrisome and alarming rate of kidnapping associated with Boko Haram, bandits and herder-farmers’ clashes the word criminality has assumed a wider dimension to include operations against insurgency.
“So there is no doubt to say therefore that Nigeria is in a state of war even though such has not been formally declared.
“To this extent, therefore, this term of criminal activities must be of concern to the new service chiefs because the activities of the aforementioned people are shaking our country to its very foundation.
‘’It is in view of this that the clamour for the removal of the erstwhile service chiefs became very loud following their inability to deal effectively with this situation of breakdown of security.
“The new service chiefs must therefore re-strategise in several ways, they must work in synergy with one another under the effective supervision of the Chief of Defence Staff. Each service must have a clearly defined mission and work out its objectives from this defined mission.
“Besides, the service chiefs, as professionals, should be able to advise their political superiors professionally. They must live above board so as to have the unalloyed confidence and loyalty of their subordinates. The service chiefs must realise the need for the co-operation of the civil populace which is paramount to the achievement of their tasks,” he said.
On the likely role of fifth columnists to rubbish the appointment of the new service chiefs through the renewed attacks and abduction of school children, Ikponmwen said, “We cannot rule out the fact that there are people who as beneficiaries of the old order would want to rubbish the appointment of the new service chiefs. There are also fanatics and religious bigots who clandestinely support the evil-doers; these are another group of people who would like to see the new service chiefs fail.
“It is also noteworthy that the utterances of those who just left office that the prevailing insecurity will persist for a long time spoke in apparently bad faith. One cannot but wonder therefore if those making such utterances will want to see the new service chief succeed where they failed,” he said.
Present Dislodgement Of Command And Control Must Be Addressed – Air Marshal Daggash
Commenting on the challenges of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria, Air Marshal Al-amin Daggash said the service chiefs cannot do anything in the face of total dislodgement of command.
He said, “So whether you bring the devil or the best element, if the man that is supposed to do the command and control is not doing his job it is all rubbish. It will go the same way. That is where the problem is, people need to direct but that is lacking. This thing that is up there is going to roll over here.
“I came back from Maiduguri after a week. Maiduguri has been in darkness for over a month. There is this power line between Maiduguri and Damaturu. The substation was blown up by terrorists then they summoned some people to fix it and gave them a few soldiers but then these people came back and shot them. Then they blew the second substation and then the third one they went and put explosives.
“They buried landmines and when these soldiers came back they blew all of them up. This is a distance of 120-130 km. This is the same distance that Boko Haram terrorists have been waylaying people for the last five years.
“Till today, they line up commuters when they come until they get a certain number then they put soldiers in front and back to escort. How long can this kind of a thing continue in this country? How long can we not secure a place that has been blown up? This is power. Power is necessary for anything whether it is food, hospital, schools etc.
“There is a complete degradation of governance from top to bottom. If you know that these people have been shooting people when they come to do repairs, should you send 11-30 soldiers?
This is a place they came to shoot soldiers. Now you sent four civilians to repair and fix this thing. Do you now send the same eight, nine or 10 soldiers? For three times now, then the petrol thing came in. No fuel. The masses are suffering”.
Also, former Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig Gen John Agim (rtd) said the current military knows what to do since they were in service when the security issues started way back and have also seen the lapses in what their predecessors did.
He noted that they know where to make corrections and get it right, pointing out that one thing they are doing right now is the fact that the military always has air cover whenever they are on operations or whenever they are attacking the insurgents.
Agim said, “They all know what to do and are doing it. They were there when these issues started and have seen lapses of their predecessors. They should know what they should do and I think they are doing it now.
“One of the things they are doing now which was not done before is that whenever the army is on operation or attacking insurgents, they now have air cover at every point. The Air Force is now working with them at every point. They have a combined effort that is very effective now.”
On the issue of fifth columnists, the former DDI argued there is no fifth columnist in any arm of the military, saying the problem they have is politicians.
He added that if a state of emergency is declared in those states with security challenges and military administrators are brought in, the security situation will become a thing of the past.
Agim said despite the security challenges, they have been conducting elections in those states with the challenges maintaining that politicians are the issues not security personnel.
“There is no fifth columnist in the military but among politicians, if there is a state of emergency in all these states that are having security challenges, everything will go off. If you take power from the politicians and bring in a military administrator to those places you will see that there will be no problem. Have they not been conducting elections in all those places where there are security challenges the problem is from the politicians,” he added.
On his part, another retired general, Brigadier General Sani Usman, said the security chiefs should consolidate on what has been done in the past, adding that they should build and improve on the gains of the onslaught so far.
He observed that regardless of what people are saying, a lot has been achieved urging them to continue with the onslaught and not be distracted.
“The bottom line is that they should consolidate on the success achieved so far. A lot has been done; they should build and improve on the gains, because there are high expectations and regardless of what people are saying, a lot has been achieved. Let them continue with the onslaught and not be distracted” he said .
In his contribution, AbdulRaheem told LEADERSHIP Friday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, that the new service chiefs cannot do much to stop the incessant kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria without credible intelligence gathering and information.
He said,” From my perspective and based on my international experience, the new service chiefs can’t do much to stop the incessant kidnapping and banditry in Nigeria. Rather, various intelligence units in the country must be up and doing through credible intelligence gathering and information.
“Without credible intelligence information as regards their (bandits) operations and mode of attack, we can’t achieve anything. There are various intelligence agencies and departments in this country but it seems they are not doing their best in that aspect.
“In addition, our security forces must be proactive rather than being reactive in nature as we are currently witnessing. How many times have we heard that our security personnel busted and raided the kidnappers’ hideouts? No; to the best of my knowledge. In most cases, we always react after the crime has been committed.
“These criminals are living within us and the onus equally lies with all of us especially, the traditional rulers to always report any suspicious behaviour with security threats to the law enforcement agencies in their domains.
“The government through states and federal legislatures should as a matter of urgency make laws criminalising the acts of kidnapping and banditry in the country. Anyone caught should face death penalty and all proceeds from such acts must be confiscated by the government.
“How many of those kidnappers and bandits have been charged to courts? How many have been convicted? To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t know of any. Even Evans’ case is still in court. Our criminal justice system is also faulty. I may want to propose the creation of a special court nationwide as against taking them to our regular courts. That may facilitate quick dispensation of justice and that we go a long way in reducing the spate of kidnappings and banditry.
“The issue of community policing must be resolved once and for all. There must be community and state policing but not the way and manner it’s being proposed in Nigeria. The UK model of community policing should be adopted.
“Payment of ransom to the kidnappers and bandits must be discouraged. It is encouraging them to keep committing such dastardly acts; we must find means to eliminate them once and for all.
“All the states in Nigeria receive monthly payments termed security votes. To the best of my knowledge, no governor in Nigeria receives less than N500 million. Some states receive billions of naira monthly on security. The question is: is this money being used for the purpose it is meant for?”
For Dr Ahmed the new service chiefs must reappraise the present tactics that have failed to stop kidnapping and banditry in the country.
“The service chiefs can update their tactics by collaborating with other friendly nations to update their knowledge and also towards the acquisitions of sophisticated weapons that can stand the test of time,” Ahmed said.
North East Governors To Set Up Security Outfit
Meanwhile, North East Governors Forum has said it will set up a regional security outfit to help intensify the onslaught on Boko Haram and other forms of insecurity affecting the region.
The forum, in a communiqué signed by Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Borno State governor, after its meeting in Bauchi on Wednesday said a sub-regional security outfit as well as community policing will complement the efforts of the military and other federal security agencies in addressing security challenges.
“The Forum appreciates the reinforced efforts in the fight against insurgency and other forms of criminalities in the sub-region, however, it strongly feels the need for community policing and
sub-regional security outfit to compliment the efforts of the Military and other Federal Security Agencies in addressing these challenges”, the communiqué reads in part.
Bandits Kidnap 70, Burn Houses In Zamfara
Suspected bandits have abducted over 70 persons at Ruwan Tofa village of Maru local government area in Zamfara State .
This is coming barely 48 hours after the release of over 200 Jangebe abducted girls through the intervention of the state government.
A source who spoke with journalists in Maru said half of the village was burnt down, including vehicles and shops.
In swift reaction, the Zamfara State Police Command said no one was killed in the attack.
Police spokesman in the state, Mohammed Shehu, refuted the eyewitness account, saying the number quoted was misleading.
He added that it was an attempt to create fear into the minds of the citizens.
Also, suspected bandits yesterday ambushed and killed a soldier while on routine patrol at Marina village in Safana local government of Katsina State.
An eye witness who is resident in the town told our correspondent that the bandits attacked the soldier at about 1:00pm when he was returning from military operation in a nearby forest.
In Sokoto State, bandits in the early hours of yesterday attacked Dingyadi, the village of Nigeria’s minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, killing one person and kidnapping two others.
The bandits, according to villagers, stormed the village in large numbers on motorcycles.
Giving an eyewitness account, one of the villagers who gave his name as Yunusa Dingyadi said the bandits surrounded the entire village, took their time to ransack their targets before leaving uninterrupted.
Confirming the incident, spokesman of Sokoto State Police Command spokesman, ASP Sanusi Abubakar said the attackers stormed the village at about 1:00am yesterday.