When the first unfortunate news about the invasion and subsequent killing in some villagers in Plateau State broke out during the President Goodluck Jonathan administration, many looked the way of security agencies, especially the police, Department of State Security (DSS) and the Civil Defence Corps, for solutions.
The focus on the security trio was informed by the logic that they were constitutionally concerned with the internal security of Nigeria and the protection of lives and property of the people. The DSS, which often claims that it is on top of the situation, is, according to law, expected to rake up information from every part of the country and pass such to relevant institutions for appropriate action. Such information should not be seen to be doctored as this could mislead agencies or government.
Between 2011 and 2012, Plateau State witnessed sporadic attacks by men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen during which Yelwa, Shendam, Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Jos South and Dogo na Hawa in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area withnessed such killings. The then newly-promoted Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr. John Haruna, visited the scene and held a meeting with the stakeholders in a bid to work out operational modalities with various security agencies. Unfortunately, he did not return to his base in Abuja alive, as his chopper crashed and he was lost. Till date, the police have been quiet on the outcome of their investigation.
Again, the raiders turned up and killed the paramount chief of Boko Local Government Area, in addition to the district head of Manguna, yet there was no report from any of the security agencies neither was any intelligence report made. While the people of Plateau State were still in pains, the invaders stepped up their bloodletting operations and moved into Benue State, where the mostly Christian people of Agatu Local Government Council were killed and their town leveled like a war zone. The marauders did not stop there, they moved into villages like Okpokwu, Mbachougul (a boundary settlement between Tarka and Buruku), Okokolo, Aila and Buruku.
The native people screamed to high heavens as every living thing they had became a target. Yet there were supposed to be intelligence personnel operating in Benue State. This carnage continued until the police woke up from slumber and sent a kind of ‘messiah’ in the person of Commissioner of Police Bashir Makama, whose strategic ideas in tackling the problem have provided some succour to the state. Painfully, there was no time when any of the intelligence personnel who did not perform up to expectation were reprimanded for sleeping on duty while the people they should protect with information to save their lives and property were being butchered. Even while this was happening, the Federal Government was not perturbed neither was there any time that a visit was scheduled to the areas. As if this was not enough, the intelligence community in Nigeria kept sealed lips, so did the Federal Government. All these further emboldened the armed vandals as they moved into other states in the East and west such as Enugu and Abia states. The Federal Government’s almost total nonchalant attitudeabout the situation has continued to fuel suspicion that the killer bandits could not have accessed firearms if there were no financiers and backers in high places. It is very surprising that no one has been indicted by our intelligence agencies as being responsible for these crimes, not even those behind the Boko Haram reign of terror that has bugged Nigeria for over seven years. Even the former President Goodluck Jonathan once said, “We know those behind the Boko Haram.” Yet, till date, nothing has been done to even arrest one of them. Also surprising is this trend of not charging Boko Haram suspects already in the custody of the DSS to court. One is quick to ask, “ What exactly is happening to our intelligence community?”
In other countries, the Intelligence arms of the security agencies are not only pro-active, they are also very efficient. The Boston bombing in the United States and many others are still fresh in our mind. Success in tracking the suspects was the outcome of efficient intelligence reports. How then do we explain the massacre in the southern part of Kaduna, where hundreds of innocent Nigerians were murdered for no known reason and there have been no intelligence reports leading to the perpetrators. Many have alledged that it was a religious cleansing while others describe them as political killings. No matter the reason, the plot must have been hatched somewhere, the arms and weapons must have been purchased from somewhere and paid for by someone. As it is being questioned in security circles: how come not even one intelligence personnel from the DSS or the police got wind or hint of the plot? Many years back, as a junior crime reporter with the National Concord Newspaper, l learnt that most of the taxi drivers were security agents who collated information and passed them back to their offices after the day’s job.
Also, in universities, there were students, male and female, who never graduated. These were intelligence agents whose major assignment was to monitor the activities of radical students and cult members on the campus in the country. This set of intelligence agents were everywhere in the society, at religious venues and marketplaces and even among journalists. These agents attended controversial press conferences and would introduce themselves as reporters of non-existent newpapers or magazines. They were many intelligence agents disguising as journalist in many newspapers. l remember when, as the chief security officer of Household of God Church, the pastor of the church, Reverend Chris Okotie, would jokingly ask the congregation if there were inteligence agents in the church. That showed how far the intelligence personnel went to do their job. But today, our intelligence agents have been politicised and the zeal has waned. They have suddenly been overshadowed by inter-agency rivalry that ought not to be. One hopes that the new policy of rigorous re-training and re-orientation presently going on in the security service would restore inteligence back to its former glory.
Had such been in place before now, the first meeting of the Niger Delta Avengers, for example, would have been pro-actively nipped in the bud.
SECURITY FILE wishes to congratulate friends of the column recently promoted in rank and office. Among them are Acting Commissioner of Police, the agile and industrious Garba Umar, who is in charge of the IGP Monitoring Unit; Dan Awuna, the Force PRO is also Acting Commissioner of Police; while Chief Superintendent of Police, Jimoh Moshood was elevated from being the FCT Police Command’s spokesman to Deputy Force PRO.