Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has told the country’s security agencies that they were not doing enough to end insecurity despite enormous logistics provided by his government.
Buhari who spoke on Thursday when he met security chiefs in Abuja, frowned on the fact that his previous directives to the military to end insecurity in the country had not yielded much results.
He therefore, directed all the operational and intelligence agencies to rescue unhurt, all persons kidnapped by terrorists, including those in the recent Kaduna-bound train.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), expressed the president’s reservation while speaking with newsmen yesterday after a three-and-a-half hour meeting of the National Security Council at the State House, Abuja, presided by Buhari.
Monguno said there was no way the president would be happy, when people were being killed on a daily basis.
He noted that the last straw was the recent attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train, which led to the death of some passengers, with scores kidnapped.
The NSA added that the president was of the belief that enough was not being done by the security agencies, despite the logistics being provided.
“We’ve just concluded a sitting of the National Security Council, a three-and-a-half hour meeting, which was presided over by the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This meeting is the first for 2022 and the meeting deliberated on several issues, at the strategic and operational levels, as well as other issues that are broader,” Monguno said.
“In his opening remarks, he (Buhari) spoke about his sadness in respect of the recent developments in the country, the recent security challenges we’ve had, in particular, the incident in which several Nigerians lost their lives and many more have been taken into captivity by criminals and bandits.
“If ten times something happens, ten times (we) will be unhappy and as the leader of this country, the father of the nation, he has to express his displeasure. You know, he is just at the managerial level, he gives us instructions.
“And his displeasure is probably, because he feels enough is not being done. So, we can’t put this thing on his shoulders completely. He’s at the strategic level, he takes the decisions. But when these things become endless, he has to express concern. And that’s just what he did.
“Mr. President has directed all the operational and intelligence elements to rescue these innocent people immediately and unhurt. This is the basis, which other issues were discussed. Obviously, the Chief of Defense Staff, and the service chiefs, as well as the Inspector-General of Police, all briefed the President on the occurrences in their respective organisations.”
The NSA noted that the president alone could not be blamed for the insecurity in the country, saying his part is to make strategic decisions, which the NSA said he has been doing even though he said that the military has secured the nation’s maritime domain.
He said, “I submitted a memo to council and my recommendations are being looked into by the president. My recommendations are wide ranging and they touch on all aspects of security, starting with the level of security of our land borders, as well as within the country itself.
“In terms of securing the nation, we’ve recorded a lot of successes in the maritime domain and obviously, the problem now has shifted to our borders from outside. As a result of that, there’s a need for us to configure how we’re going to make our borders more secure because of the threats coming from outside the borders.”
Monguno said the surrendering of Boko Haram elements, especially in the North-east, had not engendered the desired result in stemming insurgency in the country, as the threat had shifted to the Northwest and North Central.
According to him, “Now, the issue in the North-east, there’s been a lot of improvement and that has been attested to by the governor of Borno State during our last National Council of State meeting. But, nevertheless, the fact that the North-east is becoming much more stable, more and more people from the terrorists have started surrendering to government, has not really brought to an end the way we would want the situation in the country, because the threat is now shifted from the North-east, to the North-west and to the North-central, and this threat has to be contained.
“It has to be contained collectively by both the armed forces as well as the constabulary forces: the Nigeria Police, Civil Defense, but the intelligence agencies also have been directed to enhance the acquisition of intelligence.”
The NSA stressed the imperative of intelligence from ordinary citizens as he noted that unless the wider society was willing to provide the necessary intelligence, the problem of insecurity would linger beyond the time frame intended to end menace.
He said, “The present situation in the country calls for collective effort by all, not just those that have been charged with the responsibility of physically securing the country, the most important thing for now is acquisition of intelligence and the type of intelligence that is needed is human intelligence and I need to make it very clear.
“I have to be very honest; unless the wider society, right down to the local governments, are willing to give the type of information that is needed to block the activities of these criminals, this situation will continue to linger beyond whatever timeframe we’re looking at, towards ending this great problem.
“A lot of lives are being lost, the president is not happy about this situation, he’s made it very clear. The first assignment he’s given to the security agencies, especially, the armed forces and the police is to rescue those that are in captivity, not just those that were captured during the last train incident, but those that have been in captivity in other parts of the country. That is the first thing that has to be done.
“On the other hand, my memo dwells on the prevailing situation within the security outfits; their needs, their challenges and the President has decided to look into these things and might as well call for another meeting in the near future.”
On why the country had not deplored technology to tackle the menace of terrorism and banditry, Monguno said effort was being made to deploy technology to tackle insecurity but submitted that the required technology was expensive and would take time to acquire.
According to him, “The first question has to do with, why is it so difficult to deploy technology. One, technology is expensive. Technology takes time to acquire these things, since inherently we do not produce these very, very delicate equipment.
“It’s not as if the government is not making any effort to acquire but we need to know who to acquire this technology from, where, when and there are certain processes. For now, I know we have, but the plight is that they are inadequate, so, to the government, it’s a continuous process. That’s what I can say about the issue of deploying technology.”
On alleged sabotage within the military in the fight against terrorism, Monguno said the possibility of having rogue elements could not be ruled out.
Asked whether he would draw a correlation between the threats from the border and the level of insecurity in the country and whether there was any suggestion that foreigners might have been responsible for the insecurity in the country, he said, “Obviously, we have very extensive borders, and I’m not going to deceive anyone.
“All of us know that we have problems of infiltration by virtue of the fact that we have a very large economy. It attracts a lot of people from outside and they come in illegally, not just through the land borders, but also through the maritime waters.
“Of course, in the case of the maritime borders, most of things have been done in the last one year, to secure the maritime domain up to the point that the International Maritime Bureau has acknowledged the fact that in 27 years, our maritime borders have not been as secure and peaceful as they were in the last one year.
“That is a fact; it’s not a conjecture. I didn’t cook up this thing. So, we want to see how we can replicate that type of efforts to put in the maritime domain on our land borders. That is something that counsel is looking into.”
Meanwhile, in a statement after the meeting, the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, promised to deploy heavy security presence in the Southeast, as according to him, the police would no longer tolerate attacks on their men.
Baba said, “I think the question is about deployment. Deployment is being determined by a lot of issues or yardsticks.
“Just like two states may have different number of local governments, so also there can be different number of formations in that state or in that formation. We have formations, we have commands, we have zonal commands and so forth. So, deployment should not be based on either size or number of persons or threat assessment tool in that place.
“It is all about how you police a particular place based on the number of people you have, based also on your ability to gather that manpower. If your command, for instance, Kaduna command has, let’s say 3000 personnel. For now, I know already that 3,000 personnel cannot take care of Kaduna.
“What we normally do is to deploy from other states to come and complement the efforts of Kaduna by what we are calling, let’s say, special duty. We can take from states, where we feel the threat is not as eminent or as bad as what they have in Kaduna, so that you can complement Kaduna. So, also you can complement Imo, Anambra. It’s based on your threat analysis.”
To that extent, has warned that the police high command would no longer tolerate incessant killing of police officers in the country especially, the South-east.
He condemned the recent spate of attacks on police officers, facilities and other police operational assets across the country.
In the statement by Force Headquarters, he consequently, ordered the immediate deployment of additional operational assets to complement officers and men attached to Operation Restore Peace in the South-east and other operations launched with the aim of flushing out criminal elements, who hide under the guise of aggrieved citizens to perpetrate criminal acts.
“The IG warned that attacks on police officers in the line of duty would no longer be tolerated under whatever guise as the force holds the lives of its personnel sacrosanct and such unwarranted attacks would be strictly treated in accordance with extant laws,” the statement said.
The statement also said the IG reiterated the commitment of the force to protection of lives and property, while stressing that it was vital to respect the lives and fundamental rights of police officers and other security operatives, in order to enable them advance their sacred mandate of serving and protecting the citizens better.