Brigadier-General Idris Danbazau (retd), is emphatic that foreign powers are behind most of the security challenges facing Nigeria. Danbazau also warns against banditry in Katsina spilling over into Kano State following recent attacks in parts of Kano.
He provided a glimpse into the bureaucracy involved in deploying security forces promptly to crime scenes, saying the solution lies in giving state governors powers over security agencies.
Danbazau said during the inauguration of the governor after he won in 2019, he was the Chairman of the Security Committee and, in their report, they informed government about intelligence information which stated that some strange looking people numbering between 50 and 100 were seen coming into the state at night on motorcycles in several areas of the state. The same report was eventually forwarded to the Federal Government. But, according to him, it seemed nothing was done since then.
“Even during the early stages of the Boko Haram insurgency, the intelligence community detected and reported their activities to government at the time but government was nonchalant until it was too late.”
Don’t you think the intelligence report needs to be immediately worked upon before it escalates?
That is the essence of intelligence reports. In most cases, the intelligence community can detect and report possible threats early but sometimes such reports are swept under the carpet by the authorities until it is too late. And this is one of the factors that create security challenges. The professionalism and efficiency of the intelligence community had been deliberately downgraded during certain regimes. For instance, during one of the military regimes, the intelligence community was used to witch-hunt individuals, particularly military officers, because the priority of then Head of State was to stop anybody from overthrowing his government. Also, the Abacha regime used the intelligence community to victimise so many innocent people. The intelligence community was really weakened. Subsequently, it became very difficult for them to perform their professional duties efficiently. That is why they have been failing.
I recall that there was a report that was published widely some time ago whereby photographs were shown of French military aircraft offloading motorcycles in Niger Republic and Chad. It was then speculated that they were meant for some kind of military operations and it was ignored. But now most of these bandits and insurgents operate on motorcycle. Also, recently, many arms and ammunition were discovered hidden in containers conveying food aid to Borno Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, from France. I now believe that foreign powers are behind most of the security challenges we are facing.
Could you explain?
Of course, terrorists move around on motorcycle mostly at night with their foreign weapons, mostly AK-47 & Rocket Propelled Grenade, RPG. They operate these weapons very efficiently even better than some security personnel.
In emergencies that emanate from security challenges like the one we are facing now, massive recruitment is the priority. This will enable government to have sufficient number of security personnel to cover all conflict areas. What comes next should be the provision of equipment and prioritisation of the welfare of personnel. It is believed that so long as state governors do not have the power to order security agencies in their various states to respond to security challenges when they arise, insecurity will remain.
The happenings in Katsina are a handy example. Yes, this is one of the factors that cause delay in response to security challenges. Because constitutionally, security is the responsibility of the Federal Government and for any of the security forces to respond to any security challenge in any state, the governor has to make a request to the Presidency. After the necessary approvals are granted, they are sent to the heads of security services in Abuja and they now will transmit the approval to the state before the security services in the state will act. That is the constitutional provision. The governor cannot call a military commander or even his Police Commissioner and instruct him directly. Instead, he would call the Presidency. The Presidency would now call the Inspector General of Police, IGP, who calls the Deputy Inspector General of Police, DIG. The DIG would call the Assistant Inspector General of Police who now instructs Police Commissioners.
The same thing is applicable in other security services. For the military, they would tell the Presidency and, after approval, they would instruct the Minister of Defence who would call the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS. The CDS will now instruct the Chief of Army Staff who, in turn, will instruct his Principal Staff Officers who will instruct the General Officers Commanding, GOC. The GOC will instruct the Brigade Commander or Battalion Commander in the respective locations.
So all these have to take place before an action is taken?
Yes. If there is an attack now for instance and it is reported, you can imagine how long it is going to take for security agencies to respond.
Why do you think it is taking long to address such a cumbersome process?
That is why people are agitating for state police and state security agencies so that governors can have direct control. That is the reason for the creation of Amotekun. They will be able to respond immediately if there is any breach of security in their area. In the First Republic, we had the Dan Doka, Native Authority Police, in Northern Nigeria under traditional rulers. At the time, the Native Authority Police were very effective because these were people from the local community, who spoke the local language.
They were familiar with the traditions, culture and religion of the various communities. Therefore, they blended very well. But they were later scrapped and merged with the Nigeria Police Force. At that time, the traditional rulers had control over the police and courts but now the governor has to seek permission from Abuja and wait several hours for a response.
I feel the Constitution should be amended to allow state-owned security agencies. This will help largely in achieving my earlier recommendation of recruiting sufficient personnel. The security agencies in the states can now work in consonance with the national agencies to ensure the provision of adequate security all over the country.
Some time ago, I was privileged to accompany Governor Ganduje to Imo State. At the time Rochas Okorocha was the sitting governor. It was there we observed that Rochas had established a security agency for the state. It was well structured with various departments. The personnel, comprising youths, were very smartly dressed. In fact, when we arrived, they performed a quarter guard parade for Ganduje and they were as good as soldiers except that they were using wooden guns. Rochas informed us that the youths assist the police in patrolling the neighbourhoods in the state, thereby providing security in many areas. This is in addition to the advantage of employing hundreds of youths, which reduced youth restiveness.
Do you think dialogue with bandits is the way out of banditry?
In reality, dialogue is a very fundamental factor in conflict resolution. In fact, historically, lots of conflicts were resolved through dialogue. For instance, currently, in Afghanistan, Americans are trying to resolve the conflict with the Taliban through dialogue after years of fighting. In Britain, the century-old conflict with the IRA was resolved through dialogue.
The Libyan warring factions have recently embraced dialogue as the chosen path to peace. But dialogue is only possible with reasonable opponents most of whom fight for a cause. For instance, the IRA was fighting to be independent of Britain. Similarly, the Taliban were fighting to liberate their country from Americans as they did with Russians. But the case of the Nigerian insurgents and bandits, they are just criminals who pillage our rural communities, killing, maiming, kidnapping, carting away food items and livestock without any reason. They do not have any reason for criminal acts. How do you dialogue with such people?
Unfortunately, government has not been able to take the necessary steps to deny these criminals the availability of millions of unemployed youths who they easily recruit by promising them lots of money and drugs.