By Gboyega Akinsanmi
A human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana yesterday disclosed that the renewed crisis in the Niger Delta was the height of intelligence failure, insisting that the security agencies should be blamed.
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the failure of the security agencies to keep proper records was the reason for conflict eruption and escalation in the different parts of the country.
He made the remark yesterday at a public forum organised by the Lagos State Records and Archives Bureau (LASRAB) at the Memorable Gathering Event Centre, Alausa to mark the 2016 International Archives Day.
The forum also featured the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Nation Newspapers, Mr. Sam Omatseye, Commissioner for Police in the state, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, a renowned archivist from the University of Ibadan, Dr. Abiola Abioye and LASRAD Director-General, Mr. Biodun Onayele among others.
Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Information & Strategy, Mr. Steve Ayorinde, emphasised the strategic importance of keeping records in fighting and tracking crime and insecurity.
He said the illicit trade in historical artifacts “has gained prominence globally. Even though international convention has made this practice cumbersome, we have recorded some success in this regard. Some artifacts stolen from various communities in Nigeria are been gradually returned.”
The governor, therefore, explained that since the creation of LASRAB, efforts had been made “to gain access to valuable records that have been magnanimous handed over to the state government for safe keeping and conservation for all.”
Relating the importance of records to fighting crime and insecurity, Falana blamed the growing cases of social unrest in the Niger Delta to the failure of the security agencies to keep records.
He said: “We are people without a record. There is no country that can fight corruption and insecurity without adequate information. What is going in the Niger Delta now is the height of intelligence failure.
“After the crisis in the region and the emergence of the militants and the crisis that led to the amnesty programme, we would have expected the country to keep records, as was the case in those days.
“For instance in those days, when a prisoner is released, where he goes to, he will be monitored. But when unleash warlords, who have been asked to drop their guns and weapons to the society.
“But no one monitored them. At the time they were holding meetings to launch a more ferocious attack on the nation, no one was worried about them”.
The security operatives were concerned about other minor issues.
“It is pathetic that our security officials are more interested in reckless abuse of human rights rather than gathering information and intelligence that can fight and track crimes in the country.”
In Nigeria, the human rights lawyer explained that it was not always easy “to get copy of any judgment. There is no court in Nigeria that can give you a copy of judgment of 15 years ago; even if you give the country one billion naira.”
He cited the case Lagos High Court, which according to him, had an archive, though getting a document from the archive “will require one paying specially. They will tell you that you should give them three months.
“After time elapse, they will tell you that they cannot find the document. With this act, vital records are lost. The only apparatus that had standout in the last couple of years was the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). They have helped in fighting corruption in the country.
The senior advocate explained why the EFCC succeeded as an anti-graft commission, noting that the commission “has a National Financial Intelligence Unit. They monitor the movement of money across Nigeria. The EFCC did this through the effort of technology. That is record keeping.
“But the police arrest first and from the statement they get from him, is what they use in their investigation. All the state ministries of justice have not done what EFCC had done in the last six months. The EFCC has been able to secure 140 convictions,” he explained.