NSA: Envisioning Better National Security, By Emmanuel Onwubiko

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Emmanuel Onwubiko

Last Friday, I went to the first Republic political capital of Igbo states which is Enugu.

The stories of organized crimes I heard people tell me about gravitate from very tormenting  cocktails of forced kidnappings of passengers along the highways for ransom payment before they are released to intolerable rates of coordinated mass murders, violent attacks of villagers by armed Fulani terrorists, and these criminal activities of these British and undesirable elements were such that I almost suffered sudden boat of depression.

The worst part of the tales of terror from the South East of Nigeria is the total incapacity of the state administrations to stop the illegal enforcement of some irrational orders for Sit-at -home handed down to them by a certain Finland based self confessed disciple of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Nnamdi Kanu through his official spokesperson has distanced himself from the activities of this Ebonyi State born but Finland passport holder.

These Monday’s Sit-at-home order ought to be a kind of pressure to compel the Nigerian President to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.

Ironically, IPOB has officially disowned the illegal Sit-at-home order every Monday, and has asked people not to comply.

However, there is a total disconnect between the security forces working in the South East and the different communities of the South East. It is so disheartening that the security forces are even suspected to be part of these security nightmares in the South East due to an alleged plot to undermine economic stability, harmonious co-existence of residents of the South East and to cripple trades and commerce for which the Igbo people are known.

The allegations of compromise by all the security forces working in the  South East are strong because most of those working as heads of security institutions in the South East, are not indigenous to those Igbo states and so there is nothing at stake for them.

What is however shocking is that even the governors of the South East, have failed to gain control over the security of their states even when they are empowered with lavish security votes running into billions of Naira yearly which each of them ends up looting because there is no evidence that the governments are battling the heightened state of insecurity.

Besides, the situation of insecurity assumed a very disturbing National dimension right from when the immediate past President came to office after scoring a political Pyrrhic victory in 2015 to bring to office the All Progressives Congress as ruling party. It would seem that the infamous former President Muhammadu Buhari democratised insecurity all around the Country and for 8byears worked with a bunch of highly incompetent and grossly compromised security chiefs including the non performing National Security Adviser.  Statistical evidence abound to show how so incompetent these security chiefs under Buhari were for 8 years and how they collectively bungled national security.

According to data obtained from the Nigeria Security Tracker, NST, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Africa programme, the deaths arose from terrorism, banditry, Herders/farmers clashes, communal crises, cult clashes, and extra-judicial killings among others.

The NST documents and maps violence in Nigeria that is motivated by political, economic or social grievances. “Different groups in Nigeria resort to violence. The militant Islamist movement Boko Haram is active in northern Nigeria. Violence among ethnic groups, farmers, and herdsmen sometimes acquires religious overtones. A new generation of Niger Delta militants threatens war against the state. Government soldiers kill civilians indiscriminately. Police are notorious for extra-judicial murder,” it said.

The 63,111 death toll is conservative because only reported cases from multiple sources were included. And many cases are under-reported or not reported at all.

Thus, the NST statistics should be viewed as indicative rather than definitive.

Since the NST started the data on May 29, 2011, when former President Goodluck Jonathan was inaugurated, no fewer than 98,083 Nigerians had been killed.

When President Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015, the cumulative number of people killed in Nigeria, according to the NST was 34,972. Since then, the death figure has risen to 98,083 as of May 16, 2023.
Since 2015, Nigeria recorded the least killings in 2017 when 4618 persons died and the worst in 2021 when 10575 lives were wasted (see table).

However, the death tolls have been going down since 2022 when 9079 deaths were recorded.

How 63,111 Nigerians were
killed in
8 years under
Buhari

Year Deaths

2015 5556
2016 5763
2017 4618
2018 6565
2019 8340
2020 9694
2021 10575
2022 9079
2023 2921
Total 63,111

*Killings between June and December 2015

**As of May 16, 2023

Timeline of killings in May 2023

*May 1: Bandits killed two and abducted four in Zaria, Kaduna.
*May 1: Kidnappers abducted three and killed one in Akwanga, Nassarawa.
*May 2: Kidnappers abducted twelve in Owan East, Edo.
*May 2: Gunmen killed one police officer in Aba, Abia.
*May 2: Herders killed three in Boripe, Osun.
*May 3: Gunmen killed a youth leader in Ahoada East, Rivers.
*May 4: Gunmen killed three police officers in Orumba South, Anambra.
*May 4: Soldiers killed 23 bandits while one soldier was killed during a clash in Shiroro, Niger State.
*May 6: Troops killed two Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) commanders and “several” other ISWA militants (est. at twelve total) in Konduga, Borno.
*May 7: Gunmen killed one police officer and kidnapped the Taraba local government chairman in Takum, Taraba.
*May 7: Bandits abducted forty from a church in Chikun, Kaduna.
*May 7: Bandits abducted thirteen and killed one in Kagarko, Kaduna.
*May 7: Security operatives killed four kidnappers in Idemili North, Anambra.
*May 7: Communal violence led to one death in Mokwa, Niger.
*May 8: Herders killed three in Guma, Benue.
*May 8: Cult clashes resulted in 16 deaths in Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
*May 9: A cult clash resulted in three deaths in Owo, Ondo.
*May 9: Herders killed six in Guma, Benue.
*May 10: Security forces killed seven gunmen in Nnewi South, Anambra.
*May 10: Gunmen killed two in Mangu, Plateau.
*May 10: ISWA killed three Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Damboa, Borno.
*May 11: Troops killed 11 ISWAP militants in Abadam, Borno.
*May 11: Kidnappers abducted an All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain in Ehime-Mbano, Imo.
*May 12: Bandits abducted fifty in Rijau, Niger State.
*May 12: Communal violence led to 13 deaths in Karim-Lamido, Taraba.
*May 12: A pastor, Daniel Danbeki and 37 others were killed by suspected herdsmen in attacks on Takalafia and Kwaja in Karu LGA of Nasarawa State

*May 12: Communal crisis between Amazaba community of East Obolo and ikot Akpab Udo village in Ikot Abasi LGA of Akwa Ibom State claimed four lives

*May 14: A man shot his elder brother and cut off his head and private parts at Ekori in Yakkur LGA of Cross River State.
*May 15: Gunmen killed 29 person’s at Kubwat and Fungzai villages in Mangu LGA of Plateau State.

*May 15: Three soldiers were killed and 10 were injured while repelling an ambush on their convoy by Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, terrorists in Abadam, Borno State.

  • May 15: A man killed his stepmother with a pestle in Ihima Obeobe Ebozohu community, Okehi LGA of Kogi State
    *May 16: Gunmen killed four US Embassy officials in Ogbaru LGA, Anambra State.

*May 16: 10 persons including a couple and their only child were killed in attacks on Akpanta, Ochumeko and Ijaha communities in Apa LGA of Benue State by suspected herdsmen

*May 16: An EFCC official was killed by two of his colleagues in Sokoto following a disagreement on custody of items belonging to a suspect.

*May 16: Kidnappers killed one person and kidnapped three including Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, immediate younger brother of the Akogun Oyedepo, Chairman, Governing Council of Federal Polytechnic, Ado-Ekiti along Ijara-Isin/Isanlu Isin Road in Kwara State.

On June 27, 2023, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, retired Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and Nigeria’s new National Security Adviser (NSA), on Monday, left Nigerians with a solemn vow – we know what is at stake, we will keep you secure – as he took over the prime position in the nation’s security architecture.

Bola Tinubu as President had made a couple of top security appointments including a choice of a retired police officer and politician Nuhu Ribadu as his national security Adviser. He has already assumed office.

At a brief event in Abuja, while taking over the mantle of office from his predecessor, Ribadu, promised to live up to the expectations of Nigerians and secure the country from all forms of insecurity such as terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, amongst others.

“As I assume office today, I reminisce on the burden we carry in the pursuit of public service. To underscore the weight of the moment I decided to wear priceless gifts from those who’ve shaped my life,” the former police boss, who was the nation’s first Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He added: “We will stabilise this country, we will secure our country and we will make Nigeria peaceful because we believe time has come for this country to enjoy peace, restore order and rule of law just like any other country in the world,” Ribadu said as he assumed office.

“Securing the nation is a continuous process. We will look at what has been done and build on it. We will count on your support in the course of discharging our responsibilities.

“Mr. President has a huge commitment to securing every inch of our country. We will work with all stakeholders to deliver on this vision.

“This enormous task of securing our country is that of all Nigerians, and all friends of Nigeria,” he stated, according to a statement by the NSA Office.

Nuhu Ribadu (R) took over from Babagana Monguno (L) as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA) in Abuja on Monday, June 26, 2023.

Ribadu, a pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was previously appointed Special Adviser on Security to President Bola Tinubu on June 15, 2023.

However, four days after, in an unprecedented shake-up in the country’s security architecture, the President retired Monguno as NSA and elevated Ribadu as replacement.

In the last one week, there has been a change of baton in all the security agencies affected with the assumption of the newly appointed heads.

Those affected in the unprecedented shakeup include Alkali Usman who was removed as the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Lucky Irabor, sacked as the Chief of Defence Staff; Faruk Yahaya, retired as the Chief of Army Staff; Awwal Gambo, removed as the Chief of Naval Staff; and Isiaka Amao, retired as Chief of Air Staff.

Maj. Gen. C.G Musa is now the Chief of Defence Staff, Maj. Gen T. A Lagbaja is now the Chief of Army Staff, Rear Admiral E. A Ogalla now the Chief of Naval Staff, AVM H.B Abubakar now the Chief of Air Staff, IGP Kayode Egbetokun now the Acting Inspector-General of Police and Maj. Gen. EPA Undiandeye is now the Chief of Defense Intelligence.

Born on November 21, 1960, in Adamawa State, Ribadu was EFCC boss from 2003 to 2007.

Ribadu studied law at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, Kaduna State, from 1980 to 1983, receiving a Bachelor of Laws Degree. Following a year at the Nigerian Law School, he was called to the bar in 1984. He also earned a Master of Laws Degree from the same university.

As EFCC chief, Ribadu prosecuted his boss, the then Inspector-General of Police, Tafa Balogun, who was convicted, jailed and made to return about £150 million under a plea bargain arrangement.

In his remarks, the former NSA said “Ribadu is well equipped, well qualified, well educated and has a very deep understanding of the complexity of the security challenges confronting the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

He added that the new NSA has the capacity to tackle whatever challenge that he might encounter having served in various related positions.

Monguno said he had submitted a comprehensive handover note to his successor and briefed him extensively.

“For me, I want to give gratitude to the Almighty God for giving me the grace to serve for such a long time.

“And also allowing me to depart in good health and enjoy the rest of my life in an atmosphere that is bereft of the type of pressure that is associated with this all important office.

“I am also wishing in the same vein, that Mallam Nuhu Rubadu will have a very successful tenure and depart in good health when the time comes for him to depart.”

Monguno said the ever changing 21st security environment demands a complex approach.

“Today we are dealing with a situation in which we have terrorists and insurrectionists.

“The way and manner you will deal with the situation is such that you will have to rely on a collection of competent staff,” he added.

He urged the staff to support and cooperate with the new NSA to achieve the desired national security objectives.

Ribadu has a small book he wrote on his vision and mission in public office and this book will come in handy in reading his mind.

In one of the chapters of the small book penned by Nuhu Ribadu, he made mention of his models and affirmed that he will always give his best in any public assignment given to him such as this unprecedented office of the National Security Adviser in which he is the first police officer to oversee that high profile security office hitherto commandeered by retired Army Generals. However, Nigerian public office appointees are known for loud talks at the beginning of their tour of duty and are often notorious in disappointing Nigerians by their blind pursuit of ego, money and fame.  We will look closely at Ribadu to see if he will match his words with actions or he will simply play political gimmicks with such a highly sensitive office.

So let’s read from that book by Nuhu Ribadu.

Hear him: “While I always saw my father as my number one inspiration; his life and work in the Nigerian public service, as administrator and politician lighted my path for me. I grew up wanting to follow his example. But there had been other influences. I liked the advocacy, the struggle of people like Gani Fawehinmi a lot. It influenced me a lot to stand by justice and fight for it, and courageously confront whatever I define as true and just. I admire people like him immensely.

The types of the late Bala Usman also occupies a special place in my thoughts, but so also is Ibrahim Commassie, and Ehindero. Ehindero was my teacher in the police. He was the one in charge of my training when I joined as a cadet.

After that he became my boss in the Legal Department. But I came to love and honour Commassie’s principles, ideas and approach to duty, his discipline, and his integrity, He is an extremely honest person. He is one policeman I can tell you is very honest.

One man that has always fascinated me in the complex mix of his gifts and talents is the former Chief of Staff to President Olusegun Obasanjo, General Abdullahi Mohammed. He was a rare combination of multiple callings, and when you dealt with him you would be sure of an enriched perspective because he would roll in the security, general administration, protocol and other diverse angles that helped build a big picture. But above all what pleases you in his company was his constant sense of calm and quiet judgment. It was no wonder that he ultimately became the clearinghouse for most of the processes during the Obasanjo presidency. For me at a personal level, he became the famous peacemaker that always stepped in to manage one crisis after another between the EFCC and many who sought to bring the institution down”. (My story; my vision by Nuhu Ribadu)”.

So what story will Nuhu Ribadu tell us after his tour of duty as the first ever police officer to head the prestigious office of the National Security Adviser? Will he be a northern bigot and allow terrorists and bandits from the North West to continue to torment Nigerians? Will Nuhu Ribadu coordinate the operations of the various aspects of the entire armed forces of Nigeria and bridge the internal and inter agency rivalries and compel the armed forces to work together to promote national security for the best of the public good of the largest population of Nigerians? Time will tell!

EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA. 

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