Former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro
By Yemi Adebowalede
The recurring security breaches in the country, particularly the attacks on Command and Staff College, Jaji, in Kaduna State and the Abuja Special Anti-Robbery Squad headquarters last week are clear indications that terrorists are ahead of Nigerian security agencies in terms of sophistication, technology and equipment.
The former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro stated this in Lagos on Wednesday in an exclusive interview with THISDAY.
Okiro, who spoke extensively on why Nigerian security agencies are not doing too well in the war against terrorism said: "Our security agencies are not properly equipped to face the challenges of what we are having now.
"These criminals or terrorists or whatever you call them watch videos and visit the Internet to plan whatever they want to do. So, security agencies should be ahead of them, not behind.
"They (security agencies) must be ahead to succeed. Once this is not done, we will just be beating about the bush. For now, terrorists are ahead of security agencies. They lack the equipment and training to match these criminals.
"We have gone past the stage in our development where people use pen to do things. Whatever anyone wants to do in this world will now be assisted by computers and other high tech gadgets."
For the police and other organisations to effectively tackle terrorism and other crimes, Okiro recommended three essential things: "They must be properly trained. The welfare of the personnel must be paramount and they must be properly equipped. So, if any of these three is missing, the organisation will not be able to achieve it aims, objectives and mission."
He also said that the security breaches in Kaduna and Abuja must not be taken lightly by the federal government: "The attacks on these two high security areas are a sad note on the security situation in the country, taking into consideration that Jaji is a major military installation and the SARS is a highbrow security establishment."
The former IGP who is now a security consultant is also worried about the "flaws" in the anti-terrorism act signed into law last year by President Goodluck Jonathan: "The law did not make provision for centrality of authority. It did not clearly state areas the National Security Adviser should take action or areas the police and other security agencies should take action.
"There should be a hierarchy or an overall authority. A situation where different security agencies are doing different things and reporting to different authorities does not make room for efficiency and effective operations," he said.
Okiro also cited "the disconnect" among security agencies as another key factor responsible for their inability to tackle terrorism and other crimes in the country: "Yes, there is a disconnect among the security agencies. When I was IGP, I made presentations on this and I have continued to hammer on this, each time I make presentations. I have always been saying this - that there is no co-operation among security agencies in Nigeria.
"There is no information sharing among our security agencies. This is very bad. A situation where one security agency thinks that it is superior to other security agencies is bad. It hinders progress. The security agencies are working towards one goal – to provide security for all Nigerians. Despite the fact that they wear different uniforms, they went through the same basic training and diversified to other areas.
"For example, a situation where a State Security Service operative in a place like Gombe comes across a security information, he will pass it on to his Director General in Abuja who will pass it on to the National Security Adviser. The NSA passes it to the IGP who will then pass it on to the police commissioner in Gombe State.
"A week or two will be lost in this process. I would want to see a situation where the SSS in Gombe gets an information and quickly pass it on to the DPO, and swiftly work together to contain the situation. They should take action immediately and later inform the headquarters. But this is not so now. Criminals will not wait for you to come after them. A minute lost means a lot.
"There should be co-operation in all the states. You don’t have to wait until there is a meeting between the commissioner of police and the SSS chief, before taking action. That co-operation should start right from the grassroots. I want a situation whereby a DPO and the SSS officer at the local government level will work together.”