When the unfortunate news about the invasion and subsequent killing of some villagers in Platueu 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. Many years have passed and we have President Muhammadu Buhari and his Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, and it seems they are reluctant to do the needful by ensuring that the Plateau killings stop. Unfortunately, another replay of the past has hit Plateau State again. Well-meaning Nigerians are lamenting today on the merciless and vicious killings of over 100 innocent persons in Razat, Ruku, Nyarr, Kura and Gana-Ropp villages of Gashish District in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State. With the killings, like when Jonathan was around, nothing seems to have been restructured security-wise. No lessons learnt and the killings continued unabated.
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 life 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 the relevant agencies or government.
Between 2011 and 2012, Platueu State witnessed attacks by men suspected to be Fulani herdsmen during which Yelwa, Shendam, Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Jos South and Dogo na Hawa in Barkin Ladi witnessed major killings. The then Deputy Inspector-General of Police, John Haruna, visited the scene and held meetings 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 has kept quiet on the outcome of their investigation.
Again, the killers turned up and killed the paramount chief of Boko Local Government Area, in addition to the district head of Manguna, yet no report from any of the security agencies. Neither was any intelligence report made. While the people of Platueu State were still in pains, the invaders stepped up their blood-letting and moved into Benue State, where mostly Christian people of Agatu Local Government were killed and their town levelled 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 victims screamed to high heavens as every living thing there 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 ‘messiah” in the person of Commissioner Bashir Makama, whose strategic ideas in tackling the problem provided some succour to the state. Painfully, though, there was no time any of the intelligence personnel who did not perform up to expectation was reprimanded for sleeping on duty while the people they should protect with the information to save their lives and property were being butchered. Even while this was on going, the Federal Government was not perturbed, neither was there any time that a visit was scheduled to these areas. As if this was not enough, the intelligence community in Nigeria kept sealed lips, so did the Federal Government. All these further fuelled the impetus of the armed vandals as they moved into other states in the East and West, such as Ebonyi and Abia states. The Federal Government’s almost total nonchalance about the situation has continued to fuel suspicion that these bandits can access firearms because they have financiers and backers in high places. It is very surprising that no one has been fingered by our intelligence personnel as being responsible for these crimes, not even those behind the Boko Haram. Even the former President of the country once said “we know those behind the Boko Haram.” Yet till date nothing has been done to expose even one of them. Also surprising is this aspect of not charging the Boko Haram suspects already in the cells of the DSS. One is quick to ask: What exactly is happening to our intelligence community?
In other countries, the intelligence arms of security agencies are not only proactive, they are very efficient. The Bostom bombing in the United States and many others are still fresh in our mind. Sucess in tracking the suspects was the outcome of efficient intelligence. How then do we explain the massacre in Southern Kaduna, where hundreds of innocent Nigerians were murdered for no known reason and there is still no intelligence report leading to the perpetrators? Many have alledged that it was a religious cleansing while others claim it to be political killing. No matter the tag, the plot must have been hatched somewhere, the arms used must have been purchased from somewhere and paid for by someone. How come not one intelligence personnel from the DSS or the police got wind or hint of the plots? 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 campus. These sets of intelligence agents were everywhere in society, at religious venues and marketplaces and even among journalists. These agents attended controversial press conferences and would introduce themselves as reporters of nonexistent newpapers or magazines. There were many intelligence agents disguising as journalist in many newspapers. I remembered when, as the chief head 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. Today, our intelligence agents have been politicised and the zeal has waned. They have suddenly been overshadowed by inter-agency rivalry, which ought not to be. One hopes that the new policy of rigorous re-training and re-orientation presently going on in the 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.
However, for the mere fact that, since his appointment, the country has experienced the same line of killings without any solution, with over 1,000 dead, and this particular security sore thumb has refused to be healed, means that the President, who is the commander-in-chief, and also his internal security chiefs, especially the IGP, Ibrahim Idris, whose constitutional mandate is specifically to provide a safe haven for Nigerian citizens, unfortunately, leaves much to be desired. In other climes, a security leader like him would have thrown in the towel long before now for absolute gross incompetence. Or how else can one describe this absurd display of mediocrity?