Briefing You Publicly Jeopardises Security Operations, Defence Chief Tells House

Abayomi Olonisakin

Service chiefs give update of security situation

Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin has told the House of Representatives that the top hierarchy of the Nigerian security architecture is not favourably disposed to divulging military strategies so as not to compromise its operations and endanger the lives of troops on the battle field.

Also the Speaker of House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has told the Service Chiefs that the giant strides they had recorded in the war against insurgency seem to be retrogressing.

Olonisakin made the clarification yesterday when the Service Chiefs eventually honoured the invitation of the leadership of the House.

However, the service chiefs briefed the lawmakers on the efforts to tackle insecurity in the country.

The obviously miffed Gbajabiamila, had postponed a meeting with the Service Chiefs slated for last Friday following the non-appearance of the Security Chiefs.

In his speech at the meeting held in Room 301, House of Representatives wing of the National Assembly, Olonisakin noted that: “It is understandable that there must be some concerns about the security situation in the country. We are here to listen to those concerns that you have, that you need to express to us and address, of course with your support.

“However, I need to state that military and operational strategies are not usually discussed in open forums such as this, because we may inadvertently be giving valuable information to the adversary through such discussions. This could compromise our ongoing operations, put the lives of our troops at greater risk and jeopardise future plans.

“I will therefore crave the indulgence of the House leadership to allow us to listen to your concerns, observations and suggestions, and get back to you in a more appropriate forum. I thank you for your time and your support.”

“I need to add that as the Chief of Defence Staff, my inability to be here in person last week Friday was due to an equally urgent interaction at the Presidency, while the Chief of Army Staff was out of the country at that time. That notwithstanding, our various chiefs of operations were here to represent us. These are senior officers who coordinate all operational matters at the various service headquarters and are adequately qualified to respond to to your questions.

“I wish to put on record that contrary to insinuations, our inability to be here on Friday was not a deliberate act to disrespect the institutions of the National Assembly but due to the reasons I have earlier stated. We hold the National Assembly in the highest regard and wish to express our appreciation for your support and encouragement.

“With respect to the security situation in the North-East, especially Borno State, we are all aware that the Armed Forces in collaboration with other security and intelligence agencies have been contending with insurgency and terrorism for many years now. Indeed, the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-East predate the current administration of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari.

“Despite the challenges we are facing, we have made appreciable progress. The Armed Forces continue to re-strategise to address the changing operational situation and tactics of the insurgent terrorists. We have achieved better integration of our land and air power, as well as greater coordination with other security and intelligence agencies through regular, strategic meetings at the highest level of commands and
down to the chains of commands.”

On the controversy surrounding the super camp strategy, Olonisakin said: “The Super Camp concept was borne out of our need to re-strategise to meet changing operational conditions in the North-East. I want to assure the leadership of the House that we will continue to do all we can to ensure peace and security in our country, in line with our constitutional mandate despite the challenges.”

On his part, Gbajabimila, said the National Assembly and the security chiefs are “fully in tandem and we are on one page.”

“I myself, together with some members, I have been to Borno, I have been to Katsina, I have been to Zamfara, all in the last couple of months because of the level of concern of the House and, if we have gone that far, then I believe it is important to…I did go to Borno and other places, it is important that you have made giant strides over time and that is why we are concerned that these giant strides, all of a sudden seem to be retrogressing and that is why we called for this meeting.