A security organization, Citizens’ Initiative for Security Awareness (CISA), has warned that the spate of involvement of military personnel in internal security operations is overwhelming the Nigeria Army.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Sunday, CISA, a non-governmental, non-political, non-religious and not-for-profit organisation, expressed concerns that the military personnel are deployed for operations in almost all the 36 states of the federation.
National Coordinator of CISA, Chidi Omeje, who blamed the trend on lack of capacity and equipment of the Nigerian Police, however advocated for scaling up the strength of Nigerian Police to a population of at least one million personnel.
The NGO also argued that lack of political will on both the Kaduna state and federal governments has contributed in the escalation of the insecurity in Southern Kaduna, celebrating the deployment of special forces to the area to forestall further deterioration of the situation.
According to him; “the military are overwhelmed because they are involved in Internal Security Operations (ISO). When they do ISO, it is because the Nigerian police are overwhelmed and cannot contain the volume of crisis we have in this country.
“For instance, the police cannot contain the bandits in the Northwest, they cannot stop what is happening in the North Central, Niger state for instance. I have always advocated that we need the police not only to be equipped but also to be strengthened.
“We currently have about 400,000 police force personnel in the country. I believe that a country of 200 million should have a police population of at least one million. There need to have aggressive recruitment of police personnel across the country.
“They are expected to hold ground of the military is involved in operation but they are not equipped and not capable. Most times you discover that it is the same military that will be deployed. The mobile police that are supposed to complement the military are busy carrying the bags of politicians meanwhile our military personnel are worn out. There is no part of the country that you don’t have crisis that requires the presence of the military. Clearly the involvement of military in internal security operations is overwhelming the Nigeria Army,” he insisted.
Also reading from a prepared speech titled, ‘Time to stand up for our national security’, Omeje, said: “CISA is of the firm belief that there is no time in the life of our nation that our national security interest should be neglected, denigrated, threatened or mortgaged.
“We also believe that our dear country Nigeria has remained a strong, progressive, one indivisible nation on account of the resilience, commitment, loyalty and sacrifice of our indefatigable security forces who are working day and night to defend and protect us from those who are intent on putting a wedge in our determined march to peace and progress as a people.
“Our military for instance, fought to keep us together and has always been there to defend our dear country from external aggression and internal insurrection. Our Armed Forces have promoted world peace and brought global respect and admiration to our country through its excellent participation in peace keeping operations in various nations of the world.
“Sadly, the heaviest price our gallant officers and men are made to bear of late is the sustained unconscionable media vilification orchestrated by unpatriotic politicians and mischievous interest groups. To this set of Nigerians, not even matters of national security or the corporate existence of the country, can be spared their negative politics or religious bigotry.
“This unacceptable trend has gone on for far too long to the embarrassment of ordinary Nigerian citizens who truly appreciate the huge sacrifices and fighting spirit of the Nigerian security forces.
“It does appear that the surest means of announcing one’s arrival in the political or social scene in Nigeria today is to take an undue shot at disparaging the same institutions and men who are daily taking bullets on our behalf. We have seen and heard certain politicians seeking to gain media mileage and cheap popularity by publicly berating and casting aspersion on the same security forces that are on the harm’s way to protect their people. This is never the way to go.
“We want to sound it very clear that the Nigerian Armed Forces and indeed the entire Nigeria security apparatus are not on trial and any attempt to ridicule and destroy the image, integrity and standing of our fighting forces must be condemned by every right thinking Nigerian. In our estimation, those on trial are the double-dealing political, religious and ethnic jingoists who are hell bent in destroying our national security fabric to advance their selfish interests,” CISA warned.