KWENU: Our Culture, Our Future

National security and intelligence in Nigeria under democracy: The way forward

Max Gbanite
 New Jersey, U.S.A.

Tuesday, January 8, 2001



The current breakdown of internal security and other circumstances facing our country compelled me to delve into this very sensitive issue. As ugly, beautiful, interesting, or uninteresting the topic may appear, I hope it does arouse some interest in the right quarters and, hopefully, those involved in doing such dirty or clean jobs for the country will begin to buckle up and get the job done professionally.

Before continuing, let me digress momentarily by rendering some of the key definitions of the word SECURITY and INTELLIGENCE as presented in the American Heritage dictionary of the English language (Dell Publishing Company, Inc.): "Security; safety, confidence, anything that gives or assures safety-secure, free from danger, free from fear or doubt, not likely to fail or give way, stable, assured, and certain." The word "intelligence" is described as "the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, the faculty of thought and reason-information; news, a secret information, especially about an enemy, and an agency engaged in seeking such information." Having stated these definitions as acclaimed by the book of definitions, it becomes imperative to understand how we as bona-fide citizens of this country ought to feel regarding our safety. If security is intertwined with intelligence, then Nigeria's security and intelligence agencies need to pull their bootstraps and get to work immediately before our democracy disunites us.

A nation's national security in concert with intelligence policies quite often becomes the lynchpin of the success or failure of the administration operating under such policies. For instance, the United States of America and Britain have always maintained continuity on matters dealing with their national security, regardless of which political party is in power. Mr. Bill Clinton, a democrat, maintained the United States policies on Iraq and the Middle East countries, which was pursued aggressively under Mr. George Bush Sr., and the same policies will ultimately be sustained under the new president, Mr. Bush, Jr.

To establish sound intelligence and national security policies, one must look thoroughly and eliminate all nuances that are considered inimical to the country. In my opinion, the advent of carrying out such policies must be done in the following sequence, namely: MICRO SECURITY, MACRO SECURITY, AND STRATEGIC SECURITY.



Micro Security deals with the internal security of which our country is currently mired in a state of obfuscation. Security appointees have failed the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, if we are to judge by the current state of affairs in the country. Let's face it: the country is in a state of anarchy and lawlessness. It's a shame when the Attorney General of the Federation and Federal Minister of Justice gets killed so easily. The aggressive posturing of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), armed robbery, paid assassins, fuel distribution and oil pipeline sabotage, kidnapping of foreigners, drug trafficking, advance fee fraud (419), unemployment, high price of commodities, and the threat of a military recidivism into politics are all realities being faced in the country that requires urgent remediation.

President Obasanjo led us to believe that his introduction, and subsequent passing of, the anti corruption bill will solve many of the antecedent orgies prevalent in our society today. Unfortunately, he forgot to establish and to empower a task force, whose job it would be to collaborate with the Police and other interrelated security agencies to conduct sting operations that will, at least, reduce corruption to a minimum. Instead, Mr. President is crying wolf over his own inability to checkmate his appointed ministers' greed and corrupt practices. To curb or control these internal security problems, our country requires commitment from security personnel and financial mobilization to strengthen all the security agencies. The National Security Agency (NSA) must have clear and achievable objectives on how to keep this country safe. The objectives as envisaged by NSA, must be articulated to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), State Security Service (SSS), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), and Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). The defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) should coordinate the efforts of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Directorate of Naval Intelligence Agency (DNIA), and the Directorate of Airforce Intelligence (DAI). Any and all information gathered that may be considered a threat to the stability of our country, be it from afar or within, must be shared with NSA for passage to the proper agency authorized to checkmate such insurgency.

Micro Security starts with the stabilization of internal security. When our citizens' rights to safety from all kinds of manmade threats are reduced considerably, the government will inherit an increase in foreign investments. After all, most countries would like a likely trading partner to secure the lives and properties of their citizens first, before they themselves allow theirs to move into such territories. The United States of America still dissuades her citizens from traveling to Nigeria because of the high crime rate and perceived threats to their persons. To stem this negative but realistic propaganda, the Police Force must be provided with the funds to invest in their personnel. This enables the force to provide the needed communications equipment such as dispatch radio for every police station, handheld radio for every patrol team, patrol vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles fitted with radios. Each officer on crime or combat patrol must be kited with a bulletproof vest, combat boots, rain gears (when it rains), sweaters/light windbreaker jackets (when it's cold), and above all a life insurance of at least N250,000.00 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) to be given to his/her family incase the officer loses his o her life while on duty or while a policeman.

There must be an effective intelligence-gathering unit. Criminal records such as fingerprints and photographs of arrested persons must be centralized by computerization, and all police stations fitted with computers. This enables the arresting officer to conduct a national check on any newly arrested persons, to determine if they have committed previous offenses or wanted in any other state of the federation. Neighborhood policing (patrol by foot, bicycles, motorcycles, and vehicles) must be activated to create the impression of police presence at all times. The police public-relations department must start working with their communities as copartners in crime fighting. This act alone will reduce the suspicious attitude the communities have of the police.

To control crime and reduce rates effectively to a minimal level, corruption, ethnic fighting, pipeline vandalism, and the sabotage of petrol distribution, financial fraud (419), drug trafficking, armed robberies, and the threat of a military coup, the government must empower the National Security Agency (NSA) and all other security agencies with the authority and funding to be proactive in the fight against all types of insurgency capable of destabilizing the country.

Each agency must be allowed to be creative in establishing a task force with powers to conduct undercover sting operations to rout out the evils of corruption. In the United States, for instance, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) in 1978 created a task force to ascertain the level of corruption amongst high-ranking government officials such as senators, congressmen, and judges. The undercover operation was designed to induce these officials to engage in various acts of corruption. Needless to mention the names of those who fell into the trap; many did and were rewarded with prison sentences and were disgraced out of office. Although some sharp lawyers and civil rights activists claimed entrapment, the government countered that the officials should have resisted such offers, not allow their personal weakness to be so trampled and, above all, the law is the law. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) succeeded due to the empowerment from the executive arm of government, and adequate funding for manpower and equipment. President Obasanjo must employ a similar posturing in testing the loyalty of his Cabinet members, the Senate, the House, and other high-ranking officials as regards their commitment to seeing his anti corruption bill succeed.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) must be encouraged to create their own anti-coup task force that will entice some of their officers to participate in coup plotting. Those who accept the invitation, and actually attend the follow-up meetings, must be arrested immediately, tried, and sentenced to long prison terms or outright execution. Some of those arrested might play the ethnic cards or claim entrapment as we have recently seen in Justice Oputa Panel (the case of weeping Generals). The import is that their loyalty to the people of Nigeria and to their civilian commander-in-chief must be tested. In 1997, General Buhari (rtd.) in his presentation to the War College referenced many points on Huttington's advice to democratizers. He postulated that the "loyalty of Senior and Junior officers must be constantly tested, and those found to be wanting, and whose act my destabilize democracy of the country must be dealt with." I unequivocally agree with him.

To understand the extent of fraudulence prevalent within the petroleum industry, the President must empower the State Security Service (SSS) and the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB) to start their own undercover operations. The activities of the NNPC, PPMC, and Petroleum Marketers must be monitored. Those found to be guilty of an activity that impugns the growth of our economy must be dealt with decisively. The same operational technique should be applied to other areas that constitute problems to our economy such as National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). The persons that vandalize NEPA equipment know the agency very well. In my estimation, such persons are either current or past employees of the agency engaged in the business of contracting or reselling the stolen wares back to NEPA or to the market outlets.

Therefore, the security agency mandated to flush out these culprits must, through undercover operations, entice the buyers and sellers of stolen goods to participate in their nefarious acts. If they accept the offer, they must be arrested, tried, and sentenced to long-term imprisonments as a deterrent. If there is no buyer or user of stolen goods, there will consequently not be a thief of such items. Without government impacting reasonable fear, and get people to respect the laws and authorities of the country, Micro Security (Internal Security) cannot be attained.

The dastardliest act, and a serious impeachment of security in our country, is the inability of the security agencies to penetrate and assess the cultist movements in the Universities. Their inability to predict the movements of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Ijaw Youths, Egbesu Youths, and other ethnic armies that threaten the stability of Nigeria is inexcusable. And the worst must be the nonchalant approach with which the security agencies failed to predict, analyze, and arrest the Aguleri-Umuleri, Shagamu, Lagos, Ife-Modakeke, and Kaduna and other communal crisis before innocent lives and billions of naira were lost. In a progressive society, the heads of the various security agencies charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens and maintenance of peace and order would have resigned their positions for failing the President and, most importantly, their citizens. However, since we are entering a new phase called democracy, they should improve on their mistakes.

During the Presidency of General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha (May he find peace with God), the National Security was at a different level. The operatives knew and understood their objectives, and operated with candor. They were able to penetrate and compromise any ethnic group, trade unions, and even the Nigeria Bar Association and the Academic Unions to the point that all the movements of these groups were checkmated before they embarked on activity that might destabilize the government. It was an effective intelligence work and collaboration of all the security agencies. I give kudos to those responsible for NSA, NIA, and SSS Operations department.

The Security agencies responsible for all internal affairs matter must envisage the problems affecting the country and checkmate them before they actually happen. They must reactivate the use of operatives within all the existing organizations deemed hostile to themselves, their communities, the state, and above all threaten the stability of this country. They must harness their intelligence sources, and improve on their ability to manage crises through anticipatory situations. They should covertly monitor the various activities engaged by these ethnic armies and persons considered being a threat to the stability of democracy in this country. One might argue about the infringement of "freedom of speech, expression, and the right of association." That's all well and good as long as another person's freedom and life is not damaged while free speaking and expressing one's own views.

The United States of America maybe the bastion of freedom of speech, they are also very aggressive in repressing any act of disorderly conduct or insurgency that threatens peace and the stability of the country. All you need to do is examine their human rights record on Waco-Texas, Los Angeles riots, World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, Washington, and the Ohio State University killing during the anti-Vietnam War era. In essence all I advocate is that the security agencies charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability must be more creative in intelligence gathering, and they must also do their best to support President Obasanjo's policy of unity, but must not allow themselves to be used as the fifth column. They must not allow tribal sentiments to permeate their environment.



The next level of security as described earlier is the Macro Security. Macro is the complete understanding of the ECOWAS community. Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) recorded two great achievements during his tenure as the Head of State of Nigeria. The first was the way he handled the Civil War and kept this country together. The second is the creation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Without apologies to non-Nigerians, Nigeria must continue to play a dominant role in everything that's happening within the member nations. Our influence must stretch from Senegal to Cameroon, including Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. We must influence the leadership of these countries. They must be encouraged by persuasion to open up their markets for goods made in Nigeria. The leaders of these nations must be persuaded by any means necessary to follow our ideology of free trade, fairness, and, above all, peace and internal stability.

The creation of ECOWAS constituted the ECOMOG forces and, thanks to Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.), Nigeria became the core combatant and dominating force within. Then, during late Gen. Sani Abacha's tenure, our influence within the region escalated to that of accomplishment because there was a clear and articulated objective of the force command under Gen. Victor Malu (rtd). The Objective was to restore normalcy to Liberia and Sierra Leone. This could not have been possible without proper intelligence and effective collaboration of intelligence betweend Sierra Leone. This could not have been possible without proper intelligence and effective collaboration of intelligence between Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Intelligence Agency.

The most embarrassing moment for Nigeria on Macro Security issue was the lapse created in intelligence between the DIA, and NIA during the command of ECOMOG Forces by Major General Shelpidi, under Gen. A. Abubarkar's tenure. Between December and January 1999, rebels infiltrated our peace-enforcement forces, under ECOMOG, resulting in over 700 Nigerian soldiers dead and many more casualties. It clearly showed ineptitude and lackadaisical tendencies, if not total stupidity of intelligence works done by Nigerian operatives. It's not acceptable and must never happen again.

Unfortunately, it's happening again. We are being killed in Libya, and even Cote d'Ivoire is expelling and murdering innocent Nigerians, confiscating their hard-earned investments. Up till date, no high-ranking government official has released any statement of condemnation of such acts. If it were up to me, I would order a complete naval blockade of Cote d'Ivoire until they apologize to Nigeria and pay compensations to the families of the affected victims. I remember the days of the late Gen. Murtala Muhammad, when Equatorial Guinea started killing innocent Nigerian citizens. He ordered a naval armada to move towards their shores. Of course Malabo quickly apologized.

Under Gen. Abacha, our spheres of influence within the region was felt and reverberated to the point that Mr. Charles Taylor was made to understand that he was not an equal to our Head of State, and he was made to toe the line. Mr. Foday Sanko had a permanent residence in Nigeria without complaint. Our then foreign minister, Mr. Tom Ikimi, though abrasive, was effective in articulating our foreign policy. We must be tenacious in dealing with the regional leadership. We must influence the leadership like we did in Gambia, Benin, and Niger Republic without apologies. Our interest must come first after God's.

President Obasanjo must act decisively over Bakassi; either we orchestrate the exit of Mr. Paul Biya in Cameroon or we create internal strife for him to contend with. He must be stopped from encroaching on, if not total annexation of, our land. His claim that the territory was a gift from Gen. Gowon (rtd.) during Nigeria's civil war, for the support extended by Cameroon, is mere bovine scatology. Our Macro Security (concentric region) must be strengthened by empowering the National Intelligence (NIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and other interrelated agencies to continue with their monitoring of our borders. They must have the capacity to collect information and relevant data on the national policies of our neighbors. We must know what they think of our nation. Their national radio, television, and agricultural output programs must be monitored. When the opportunity presents itself our agents must cultivate native operatives willing to compromise their country for monetary or other reasons.

President Obasanjo must revisit our relationship with the Republic of Chad. Their internal problem is spilling onto our communities. Rebels have found ways to enter Nigeria illegally, mount road blocks on our highways, and rob our citizens. The highways of Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, Katsina, and Taraba have become impassable. In fact, they are laden with these Chadians. Under National Security Policy, the National Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency with assistance from the Immigration Services must be funded appropriately to find a lasting solution to this mess. Enough Nigerians have been killed and properties worth billions of naira lost. A state of uncertainty permeates the entire northeastern part of our country. Otherwise the government must deploy one or two divisions of the military to clear the Chad basin, organize elections, and install a President that we can work with. This also keeps the military busy and away from politics. Some people may consider this an act of aggression by Nigeria. Well, we have lost over a battalion if not a brigade of civilians to these ragtag Chadian rebels. How many more Nigerians must die before we act decisively?

Our actions must be guided and supported by good intelligence work. The rebels' strength must be assessed and not underestimated, and the topography is very realistic for successful military operations. We don't want to experience the same calamity that befell the Americans in Somalia. That failure can clearly be attributed to poor intelligence and assessment of the enemy. In 500 BC, Sun Tzu, a Chinese and arguably the best general and wartime strategist the world have ever seen or experienced, stated in his book, The Art Of War: "A battle must not commence until a commanding general has gathered enough information and intelligence on the enemy to be able to defeat the enemy and secure the lives of his soldiers." He further postulated that "it's imperative to continually gather information and intelligence on your perceived enemy in other to have a better assessment of the enemy and his environment, be it peaceful or hostile time."

STRATEGIC SECURITY The final aspect of National Security, which I termed strategic, extends beyond the ECOWAS nations. This extends throughout Africa and worldwide. Nigeria was at its best during the administration of the late Gen. Muritala Muhammad (may he rest in peace). He envisaged a strategic scope that broadened our National Security, and indisputably empowered our operational capabilities. The late General once articulated through his then foreign minister, the able and capable Major General Joseph N. Garba (rtd.) that "Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria's foreign policy." He further demonstrated Nigeria's resolve when, in his maiden speech at the Organization of African Unity summit (OAU) held in Cairo, he unequivocally stated Nigeria's support for the MPLA, South Africa, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Namibia and in their struggle for emancipation from white racist supremacists and total eradication of apartheid in African continent. Nigeria, he further proclaimed "would train and arm the freedom fighters until total independence from whites is achieved." Although he, Murtala Muhammad did not live to see his dream come true, however, his successor, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo carried out the program, and it continued with Alhaji Shehu Shagari. The congruity of this policy was extended through Gen. Buhari, Gen. Babangida, and Gen. Abacha. We must continue to sustain such policies that deal with strategic security.

Nigeria is arguably the Giant of Africa. However, in the interest of National and Strategic Security, we must collaborate with nations like Egypt, South Africa, Ghana, and even Libya in finding a lasting solution to all the internecine wars raging within Africa. These are important economic markets yearning for goods made in Nigeria. When we export more, we create export-oriented jobs. At the same time that we are seeking Strategic Security alliance with Egypt and Libya, we must through the strengthening of the National Intelligence Agency, and other interrelated agencies be very vigilant and watchful of Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Their interest in Nigeria's affairs must be monitored, especially, the financial influencing of total Islamization of the northern part of Nigeria, under the guise of sharia. Sharia as prescribed by our constitution must be allowed to prevail. Libyan government would do anything within their powers to control and influence whatever happens in Nigeria, West Africa, and Africa as a whole. We must never allow this to happen. As far as the western countries (G8), and the former East block nations are concerned, our Strategic Security lies on economic support and bilateral trade agreements that opens their market for products made in Nigeria. Our military and security agencies must be encouraged to have collaborative exercise that benefits all involved.



The attraction of foreign investments to Nigeria will make more business sense, when we as a people readjust the way we do business as usual. We must cleanse ourselves from creating wealth by acts of corruption and all other devious ways that is inimical to our country. Hopefully, with internal security stability, we can create an enabling environment for foreign investments to come into this country; hence we're transformed into a NATION. Mr. President should kindly release the required and appropriate funds to the security agencies to get the right equipment and gears to combat the crimes of today. To be a stable nation, Nigeria must start from within. National Security under democracy encompasses the stability and adequate internal security (Micro Security), then extended to Macro Security (Concentric regions), before finally embracing Strategic Security.

©Max, 2002

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