Former Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav has decried the insecurity situation in the country. In this interview, he talks about the recent killing of three police officers by men of the Nigerian army, inter agency rivalry among the security agencies and other national issues.
Recently, some police officers attached to the Inspector General of Police Response Task Force (IRT) were killed by some soldiers who reportedly mistook them for kidnappers and then went ahead to release the suspected kidnap kingpin they arrested. How do you see this seeming lack of synergy among the security forces?
I’m very saddened by this because many years ago, there was strong synergy and cooperation among the security agencies and they were working together toward one goal which is the security of the citizens and the country. Today, there seems to be some rivalry in the sense that every security agency wants the Federal Government to see it as the best result-oriented security agency. Every security agency wants to be independent. Therefore, every agency wants to delve into the duties of the police. The army feels it is superior to the police and instead of working towards one goal, they seem to work at loggerheads. Ordinarily, the police had no reason to inform the army of their operations. Where their operation will conflict with the work of another agency, they are supposed to inform that agency of their operations. When they arrived Taraba, they informed the Police headquarters there of their operation. We are told that when they got to the military check-point, they introduced themselves and exchanged peasantries with the soldiers. We are told that one officer gave the instruction for the soldiers to attack the police officers; it is too bad, and unless the Federal Government does something urgently to reunite the security agencies, things may get worse.
What can the Federal Government do?
They should reunite the security agencies. There should be a law that will make them work towards the same goal, otherwise it will be too bad.
Don’t you think the 1999 Constitution which charged the Police with internal security operations and the military with repelling external aggression from land, air or sea is already adequate law?
Since the advent of military rule in this country, the military has made themselves superior to the police and has also usurped the powers of the police. In certain places, you will see the military referring to the police as feminine and inferior. This, all because the army has usurped the powers of the police, that is why we have all these crises. In the past, the police had the power to arrest a military personnel. With the advent of military rule, the military has made themselves appear superior and they have been going about with that sense of superiority. Unless the government passes a law to bind all the security agencies together and prescribes a punishment for any agency that does not cooperate with the other, things may get worse. These police officers went to Taraba to perform their duties and soldiers just came and killed them? It is not acceptable. But we are waiting to see what President Muhammadu Buhari will do with the outcome of the investigation panel into the matter.
Reports have it that the army Capitan that reportedly gave the order to shoot the police officer has been in communication with the suspected kidnap kingpin as his telephone call logs show. What do you make of that?
I’m sorry but killing of the three police officers shows the kind of army we have today. In the past, an army officer is seen as a gentleman who does not associate with criminals. Once you are an officer, you are meant to be of impeccable character, but the whole thing has been thrown to the dogs. Now, we have all calibre of people in the military who associate, collaborate with, and protect criminals.
The Federal Government is tinkering with the idea of closing the land borders to check insecurity in the country. What are the implications?
We have not built walls to protect our borders, so withdrawing security from the borders will make the border more porous and worsen the insecurity situation. Even now, corruption has made it such that there are people who can come into the country easily. Regardless of what you are carrying, if you give the security agents at the boarder money, they will let you through. The best the government should do is to invest heavily on security. It is impossible to build walls to demarcate Nigeria from the neighbouring countries, so the government should reinforce the borders with aerial and vehicular patrols.
If you close the border, the implication is that you will withdraw the security there or block the approved entry points but because the Nigerian border is not walled, closing it will worsen the security situation.
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) is threatening to suspend beef production following the suspension of Ruga. What is your take?
I don’t think the cattle breeders should take it that far because what the people are saying is that they don’t like the way the herdsmen allow cattle to destroy their farms and that the cattle herders are brutal and hostile. The government tried to bring cattle colonies and Ruga and the people again are saying no, in order words, they are saying we don’t want cattle herders in this country. In return, Miyetti Allah is saying we will not sell our beef to you again. If the situation is allowed to continue like this it will affect the whole country; so I think they should find how to reach a compromise.
How can the country be saved from disintegration due to the suspicion between and among the diverse ethnic nationalities?
The way out is that we must begin to show more allegiance to the nation, rather than to our ethnic or religious groupings. If we begin to show more allegiance to Nigeria, these suspicions will reduce. The problem in Nigeria is informed by greed. In the early years of independence, we had the Northern Region, Western Region, Eastern Region and Mid Western Region but as soon as the army came into politics, they started creating more states and those behind the creation of more states were doing so for selfish reasons. Nigeria is not producing anything; we are only consuming, so if we love this country, we must rally round it and show allegiance to the country first.
Do you think reverting to the 1963 regional structure will solve the problems?
That will be a very difficult thing to do; we have gone beyond that, the way out is that we must begin to show more allegiance to the nation. All the sub divisions, and turning to the ethnic and religious groups will not help us. Countries like China with few Churches are doing well but despite all the Churches and Mosques in Nigeria, corruption is still very high and we are not developing , and so of what good is this religiosity to us as a people?
The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (NIM), Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky was recently released to go on treatment in India, but he came back without treatment; what do you think happened?
Anybody who could read between the lines will see that El Zakzaky was only looking for a way to escape to Iran. He went to India and saw that the security there was tight. When he saw he could not get away from the security, he decided to come back to Nigeria. While in Nigeria, El Zakzaky was wearing a nose mask and sitting in a wheelchair but as soon as he got to India he removed his mask and started walking around. He was not sincere, he was only looking for a way to escape. A man who says he is religious should not involve in this kind of antics and deceit. He has been training young men and women in the use of arms so that when they grow very strong, they can overrun the country. Unfortunately, our brothers in the South are not seeing this. He does not have the love of this country and if he succeeds, nobody knows who will be victim.
President Buhari will swear-in his ministers today, Wednesday, August 21 what advice do you have for them?
The ministers should try and cooperate with the president to move Nigeria forward. President Buhari wants this country to be progressive; he is out to fight corruption but one man alone cannot fight corruption. The ministers should see their appointment as a call to serve the country and not to make money.