New Telegraph

Insecurity: Not much will change until…

For months now, the clamour for a change in the security structure in the country has been growing especially following the rising cases of insecurity across the land. It is only natural that those directly saddled with the responsibility of protecting lives and properties of the citizens will be the ones whose heads will be on the chopping block of this clamour.

Both houses of the National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives) have even joined the call appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the following of their portfolios: the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu. While their alleged offence is their seeming inability to curtail the intractable cases of lawlessness across the land, however, I strongly feel that even if the President does finally decide to accede to this clamour; the move might not necessarily bring any massive improvement in the dire security situation in the country.

Please do not get me wrong, I am not making a case for or against their continued stay in office; but I will like to try to explain my take on the saga. Like I pointed out in my December 12 piece titled: “FG: Improve economy, reduce crime”, unless we tackle this I don’t see how a change of guard can make any appreciable difference because whomever takes over will still be grappling with more and more elements resorting to crime, simply because they have no other means of survival.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle put it succinctly this way: “Poverty is the parent of crime.” A more recent research conducted by Richard Rosenfeld, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and published on February 7, 2017, said: “Poverty and crime have a nuanced relationship. Having less wealth puts a strain on individuals and families, and the added stress of living in poverty can sometimes lead people to commit crimes to get cash.”

So it is crystal clear that unless government is able to tackle this problem then there will continue to be those forced to cross over from being law abiding citizens to law breakers. And like I pointed out in the same article, the fact that many of these (bad boys) are educated means that they are no longer the “smash and grab” bandits of yesteryears, but more suave criminals.

However, another major problem that I believe that has to be solved is in the area of intelligence gathering. In fact proper intelligence is the key to the success of any endeavour – be it in business, fighting crimes or persecuting a war. According to the US Journal of the NPS Centre for Homeland Defence and Security: “Basically, national intelligence focused on serious world-wide political and economic threats to the nation’s well-being; military intelligence focused specifically on military threats to the national security; the police focused their intelligence work on criminals who posed threats to individuals and local communities.”

In the case of Nigeria we also have a number of intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency (NIA), which is tasked with overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations, while each branch of the military – Army, Airforce and Navy – have their various intelligence units with the Nigeria Police Force having its Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

So, in theory, the nation has more than enough bodies linked to intelligence to be able to ensure that those that need it are not starved off intelligence materials – whether they are the right or wrong ones is another matter entirely! Of course, proper intelligence gathering and processing has often been a sticky issue with the more advanced nations as the US, the world’s strongest military state, found out 19 years ago.

In the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks it was found out that the US intelligence services had been on to something before the Al-Qaeda attack but in a classic case of the right hand not knowing what the left was doing, they did not share the information amongst themselves, which might have enabled them connect all the different dots together to get the proper picture and thwart the attack.

Because they did not, the terrorists were able to carry out the attack, which killed almost 3,000 people and which prompted soul searching to find out why Osama bin Laden was able to plan and successfully carry out such an audacious operation.

However, the dastardly act still brought out the best in America’s intelligence capabilities with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) within hours of the attacks able to release the names and in many cases, the personal details of the suspected pilots and hijackers.

This impressive ability was again brought to the fore recently, when just a few days after the Christmas Day bomb blast in Nashville, Tennessee, authorities were able to announce that Anthony Quinn Warner, 63, was the prime suspect, but had killed himself in the blast. Unfortunately Nigeria is replete with a large number of unsolved high profile murder cases which include Dele Giwa, former Editorin- Chief of Newswatch Magazine, who was killed by a letter bomb on October 19, 1986, on Friday, October 6, 1995, Chief Alfred Rewane, was murdered in his residence in Ikeja, Lagos State, by five yet-to-be-identified men and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Bola Ige, who was shot dead in his Bodija, Ibadan home on December 23, 2001.

Some others include the July 2006 assassination of Funsho Williams, a PDP governorship aspirant in Lagos State. He was found bound, strangled and stabbed at his home in Dolphin Estate, Ikoyi, Lagos, Godwin Agbroko, the Editorial Board Chairman of ThisDay, who was gruesomely murdered by unidentified bandits on Friday evening of December 22, 2006, on the popular Daleko Bridge in the Iyana-Isolo area of Lagos State and the December 18, 2018, assassination of the former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh (rtd), along the Abuja- Keffi Expressway.

Thus if the authorities cannot solve such high profile crimes how will they be able to solve the multitude of “low profile” criminalities being committed on a daily basis. Bandits and other criminals are aware of this and are thus having a free reign snug in the knowledge that the likelihood that they will ever be apprehended and made to pay for their crimes is virtually non-existent.

It is this knowledge more than anything else that is fuelling the lawlessness across the land. Consequently, it is very imperative that our intelligence capabilities are enhanced across board in order to ensure that this is no longer the case. This will make them think twice before deciding on whether they want to go down the infamy path or not – acutely aware that the likelihood of them getting away scotfree is very remote!

It is the knowledge that it is no longer business as usual (impunity wise), more than anything else, that will make them think twice consequently bringing down the crime rate as more people opt to remain law abiding citizens rather than renegades.

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