Ineptitude of Nigerian Security Agents Dizzying

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RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 08054699539 (text only)

Ring true By Yemi Adebowale

Phone 08054699539

Email: yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com

The leader of the terrorists that abducted 23 students of Greenfield University in Kaduna on April 18 is Sani Jalingo. Everybody knows this. Our security agencies are aware. After killing five of the students, Jalingo repeatedly calls the parents of the remaining students still in captivity, threatening to kill the abductees if the demand for N100 million ransom is not met. This terrorist uses GSM phone to communicate with the distraught parents. Jalingo is using one of the GSM lines our rash Communications Minister, Isa Pantami, told us if registered and linked to NIN, would be easily traced when used for criminal activities. Pantami’s codswallop NIN has failed to yield any result. Jalingo even called and granted an interview to the Voice of America (VOA), Hausa service, to press for his demand for ransom and 10 new Honda motorcycles.

On the VOA conversation, Jalingo boldly declared that five of the abducted students were killed to prove that the state and the federal governments had failed. It is disheartening to note that Jalingo and his boys, in the last two weeks, came out – not once, not twice – to collect N55 million ransom from parents of the abducted students at an agreed location, yet, our lethargic security agents could not track them. Just on Monday, a family also took N20 million to Jalingo and his gang to secure the release of Aaron Attahiru, one of the abductees. 21 days after, 17 hapless Greenfield University students (15 girls and two boys) are still with the cruel Jalingo and his boys in the forest. How can this persist in a country with a legitimate government?

These unending security sloppiness often leave me shedding tears; tears for a beleaguered country with the most inept intelligence agencies in the world. Are men of the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the Department of State Security sleeping on duty? The intelligence departments in the various police commands are practically dead. It is obvious that intelligence gathering has also collapsed in all security agencies. I am still struggling to face the fact that gunmen successfully attacked the Imo State Police Command Headquarters. Gunmen entered a place that should have the highest level of security alertness with ease and burnt the place unhindered. Weeks after it happened, it is still sounding like one of those James Bond tales.

In Kaduna State, the terrorists move freely, from house to house, abducting people. This state has the highest concentration of military formations in Nigeria. It is also home to a large number of police formations. Yet, terrorists move around with so much courage. The so-called Special Forces in Kaduna State have gone AWOL. It is shocking that the Afaka students were kept in Kaduna forest for almost two months undetected. Governor Nasir El-rufai has not helped matters with his loquaciousness. All words, no action. This man enjoys showboating with human lives. His state is now a big killing field.

As for Boko Haram terrorists, they are moving with ease, deeper into other parts of the North-east and beyond, because of these same collapse of intelligence gathering and inept processes. The terrorists entered Geidam, Yobe State, three weeks ago and are still there, thumping the indigenes. Boko Haram overran the military base in Geidam with so much frightening ease. What happened to the military post in the town? In Mafa Local Government Area of Borno State, the terrorists are still inflicting pain, killing soldiers and civilians. The military post in this town has also been dislodged.

Boko Haram terrorists have advanced further into Niger State, hundreds of miles away from the North-east. What happened to the barriers against such advancement? Are there no barriers in the real sense? Intelligence and technology are critical for success in modern warfare. In this war against terrorists, this country is doing badly on these flanks.

The unending killings by Fulani militias in Benue State are likewise dizzying. Notwithstanding the special military task force in the state, the militias enter towns and villages in Benue State and kill people. This week, 17 villagers were killed by the militias in Gwer West Local Government Area of Benue State. The terrorists are controlling several wards in Gwer West. Five other Benue State local government areas – Gwer, Guma, Markurdi, Logo, Ukum and Katsina Ala – are brashly attacked by the militias. You wonder where men of the Benue Operation Whirl Stroke are operating from.

All we hear of are security meetings, meetings and endless meetings. President Buhari presided over two of such security meetings in the last four days. It has been all conferences without result. In practical terms, these gatherings have been unproductive. The killings across our country have continued unabated. So sad. Mr. President, Nigerians are no longer interested in these series of security meetings. They want result. They want to see kidnapping gangs busted and abductees freed. They want to see Boko Haram’s expansion march halted and the criminals routed. They want to see bandits and Fulani militias tamed. They want to see foreign military contractors coming in, to help our soldiers.

Taming terrorists is not rocket science. It is evident that our gallant soldiers lack the capacity to end this war against Boko Haram and other terrorists. Nigeria must seek assistance for technology-driven intelligence and modern fighting equipment. I doubt if the military has armoured attack helicopter in its arsenal. I can’t remember seeing any in action. By now, we should be fighting the terrorists with drones. But nothing is happening in this direction. Fighting with drones is just one of the edges foreign military contractors will give our soldiers. The Nigerian government knows what to do to swiftly end the madness of terrorists on our soil within weeks; we have the money to execute it and we know where to get it. So, why is the Buhari government not doing the needful? Why is this government hesitant about getting the best brains from across the world to help us tame terrorism?

Those opposed to the use of foreign military contractors against mutating forms of crime and terror across our 36 states are people benefiting from the war. They don’t want this battle against terrorists to end because the longer it continues, the more money they will be making. These cruel people care less that daily, human lives are lost in hundreds across our country to terrorism. They care less about our gallant soldiers and officers being slaughtered daily. Just look at the funds allocated to security in the last six years, and you would understand what I am saying. A massive N10.02 trillion was allotted to the security sector between 2015 and 2021 by the Buhari government. In the 2021 budget alone, the entire allocation to security sector was N1.97 trillion, representing a 14 per cent increase from the N1.78 trillion allocated in 2020.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, last Tuesday revealed further that her ministry released a total of N1.008.47 trillion to the Nigerian Army between January 2019 and April 2021 alone. Ahmed, who spoke when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Army said the Army got more than the budgetary provision in the period under review. She read out the Capital Funding of the Nigerian Army from 2019 till April 2021. Unfortunately, the so-called military equipment said to have been acquired in the last six years are nowhere to be seen. Our gallant soldiers remain poorly-equipped and poorly-motivated. Few weeks back, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno raised the alarm about non-delivery of vital military equipment said to have been purchased, but recanted under pressure.

N10.02 trillion to security sector in six years! Huge resources, which ordinarily should go towards the development of our critical health, education and roads, are being allocated to the security sector. More money to security sector means less money to other critical sectors of the Nigerian economy.

As for our President’s failings, particularly on insecurity, I will like to leave with the words of the Senator representing Osun East, Francis Fadahunsi: “Every day, we (Senate) will continue to rise up for one minute. It is sad. I think if we continue to count what has happened, we will not leave this place today. Something drastic must be done when government cannot maintain security again. Economy problem is mounting; then something drastic must be done.

“The Senate must do its work. We have the power; we can install, we can remove. If it means we have to look at that clause, we have to sit down and talk in executive meeting and harmonise and do it the way we should do it. Something drastic must be done to make government sit down or government should quit so that at least, we will have a new lease of life. If the government has failed to protect us, then the Senate should be able to do the needful. What are we waiting for? Is it until when all of us die, then we will go and do it in heaven? I don’t want us to regret.”
A word is enough for all our senators.

Lagos Anti-Corruption Law is Invalid
I have repeatedly reviewed Section 4 (5) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), in order to properly dissect the anti-corruption law assented to recently by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The anti-graft commission created will investigate and prosecute government officials and registered contractors indicted for economic crimes and financial misappropriation in the state. The law empowers the commission to take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of Lagos State Government being investigated by any other agency. The commission, according to the signed law, also has the power, to the exclusion of any other agencies or bodies, to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption cases involving the finances and assets of the state.

I really can’t understand why this law, with several garbage sections, was initiated and signed because there is a clear constitutional encumbrance here. That Section 4 (5) of the 1999 Constitution clearly bars Houses of Assembly from duplicating legislations where there is already a federal legislation on the same issue. This Lagos anti-graft law is largely a duplication of the federal legislations establishing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC). There is unmistakably, a federal legislation on this issue.

Again, according to the Nigerian Constitution, “If any law enacted by the House of Assembly of a State is inconsistent with any law validly made by the National Assembly, the law made by the National Assembly shall prevail, and that other Law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” This Lagos anti-graft law is manifestly inconsistent with the law validly made by the National Assembly, establishing EFCC and the ICPC. So, according to the 1999 Constitution, this new Lagos law is void.

I also find the section of the Lagos anti-corruption law that excludes other anti-corruption agencies from investigating and prosecuting cases involving the finances and assets of the state government repulsive. The law also illegally empowers the Commission to take over all corruption cases against former and serving Lagos officials being investigated by any other agencies. It states: “The commission shall upon the commencement of this law take over the investigation of all anti-corruption and financial crime cases involving the finances and assets of Lagos State Government being investigated by any other agency. The commission shall have the power to the exclusion of any other agency or body to investigate and coordinate the investigation of corruption and financial crimes cases involving the finances and assets of the state government.” The Lagos government is plainly aiming to turn anti-corruption into paddy paddy arrangement.

Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State also signed an unconstitutional anti-graft law for the state last year. However, it is not attracting attention like that of Lagos State, because it did not exclude other anti-graft agencies from investigating cases involving the state’s finance. There is also no clause empowering it to take over ongoing cases involving Oyo State’s finances and assets.
I am an apostle of unabridged federalism. I would love to see states having their own anti-corruption agencies constitutionally. However, to do this, it means the Constitution must be amended. This is yet to be done. By our Constitution, enactments by National Assembly will always triumph over and above laws made by State Houses of Assembly. So, Lagos State Government should put pressure on their lawmakers at the National Assembly to push for the amendment of Section 4 (5) of the 1999 Constitution. But not to be used for selfish reasons as the Lagos Government is trying to do with this jaundiced anti-corruption law. The current government in Lagos State is just aiming to protect some corrupt ex-officials of the state.