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There are concerns that the seeming reluctance of security agencies to share intelligence, may not have helped the security situation in the country, as the development has the tendency of making the agencies work at cross-purposes.
Considering the dynamic nature of crime, and the tendency of criminals to evolve new ideas and strategies, many are of the firm belief, that intelligence sharing as well as joint review of strategies, remain the best way to proceed amongst the security agencies in the country.
This has become more compelling, against the backdrop of the emerging challenges of kidnapping, armed banditry, and other violent crimes across the country.
There are, however, divergent views on the phenomenon of inter-agency rivalry in the country.
While some stakeholders believe the issue may be a thing of the past, others insist that more needs to be done, to address same.
For instance, Acting Director of Defence Information Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu, , argued that the era of the military and security agencies discordant tunes, was gone.
To buttress his position, Nwachukwu drew attention to the just-concluded international military sports council day, which he noted, drew participants from security and relevant para-military agencies.
According to him, the idea was to promote synergy, cooperation and comradeship among the agencies. The end result being an enhanced atmosphere for crime fighting and prevention.
“I don’t think there is any discordant tune coming from the Armed Forces and other security agencies. We just had international military sports council day run and all the personnel of the armed forces ,Nigerian police, road safety, immigration ,fire service were all involved .The idea was to promote synergy and friendliness amongst the services and other security agencies .
“A lot is been done in that regard so I don’t think there is any institutional rivalry. We are working very cooperatively
Talking about tackling insurgency, the chief of defence staff has held several meetings with the service chiefs, and the inspector general of police and other security stake holders at the defence headquarters in respect of the security situation in the country.
“They have all been having sleepless nights because of the security situation particularly in the north western region that is Zamfara state in particular. And they were able to identify the gaps in the ongoing operations and they resolved to harmonize their efforts. If there is any grievance between a soldier and a policeman, i think that is on a personal note”, Nwachukwu said.
Speaking in a similar vein a retired State Director of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mike Ejiofor, said there was now a robust synergy among primary agencies responsible for security and intelligence in the country,
Ejiofor maintained that inadequate funding, rather than inter-agency rivalry, was the actual problem that these agencies have to deal with.
According to him: “There is more synergy now especially the police and the SSS who are primary agencies charged with the responsibility of maintaining law and order. As you know, the military is in the forefront now especially with this insurgency.
“I don’t think that is the problem. The problem is that, the agencies are not properly funded and if you don’t have funds, you can’t do training and this fight against insurgency has gone beyond the issue of just using human beings.
“It should be technologically based by the use of drones and other advanced technology like other countries. If we continue to rely on the human angle, we might not make success and besides, we also need to work on the major causes of the problems like unemployment, economic hard times. It is the war of the mind it is not a physical war that will be fought through the guns alone.
I think there is more synergy now amongst the agencies but it can be better.”
On his part a security expert, Ben Okezie, said though there was rivalry, the situation was “slowing down” considerably.
He cited the example of the “present” security chiefs, whom he noted, recognise the place of synergy in the national security equation.
“There is rivalry but presently it is slowing down. Like the present security chiefs are well exposed .they are not naive .They know the importance of synergy amongst security outfits .There used be such infractions in the past where by inspector general’s of police, security chiefs see themselves as an island that doesn’t need help or assistance from any other person.
“They believe that they can do it all and that is why most times, when intelligence is gathered and they know that the information will be relevant to their sister agency, because of the publicity or recognition that they think such agency will get they will not want to pass such information .They will feel that they are the ones that will lay the egg and another will hatch it.
“It all boils down to the type of leadership that we have. If the president for instance puts his feet down from day one, calls all the security chiefs and gives them a standing order that henceforth everyone of you must share intelligence apart from the one they send to his table. You will see that many things will change.
“Many things will change in the sense that, when the DSS is doing their job and they come across a situation where they have information that some boys are planning to go and rob, they will just pass it to the police chief and then the police chief will send his boys to go and arrest them and then during his press conference, he will then give credit to the DSS because most times, they do not want to commend the other agency that assisted them in carrying out the operation, which is not the best”, Okezie said.
He added that: “Many incidences that took place in the country would have been nipped in the bud if information was shared. Like the Boko Haram issue when it was happening if all the security agencies had given information it would not have gotten to where it is today. The police wouldn’t have supervised the killing of Yusuf. Army did their best to have handed him over to the police but because the police did not handle it very well, the whole thing escalated and that is what we are suffering today.
“This inter rivalry is not just a Nigeria issue, it is global but the other countries are overcoming their own. Many countries are beginning to understand the importance of security agencies working together that is why you see for instance our police men going to other countries to train. Even internally, you see the civil defence going to military training camp to train. So you see all those kind of rapport there is no way that the civil defender will go to the military camp and not make friends with them and when they come out that friendship will continue”.
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Rafsanjani, begged to differ as he insisted that the rivalry was allegedly responsible for the delay in winning the counterterrorism and counter-insurgency war in the North East.
His words: “It is part of why we are not winning the war against insurgency criminality, armed banditry as well as kidnapping that has become rampant. The rivalry is not about patriotism or commitment to the nation it is rivalry about access to resources or trying to make sure that whatever happens its only one agency that will succeed so ,there is no effective intelligence sharing no cooperation, no exchange of ideas no opportunity to review success and strategies. This is why we are not able to succeed in dealing with insurgency .
“What we need is a total overhauling of the security sector .which includes recruitment, financing for the defence, accountability in the defence sector, enhancing professionalism and ethical conduct of security personnel. There is a whole lot of things to be done that will address the issues going on in the country.
“There is no way you can deal with the rivalry If you don’t reform the security sector which will ensure more professionalism ,proper funding, ethical conducts of the personnel, which will also eliminate corruption that is in the security procurement , proper remuneration for personnel including life insurance. Except we deal frankly with it, whatever we do is window dressing.”
Stella Enenche, Abuja