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Plateau Killings: How failure of intelligence fueled carnage



Despite having about half a dozen intelligence outfits with humongous budgetary allocations, intelligence failure has continued to compound insecurity in Nigeria, as security experts maintain that the recent carnage in Jos, Plateau State, where over 200 lives were lost could have been averted if the country’s intelligence architecture was alive to its responsibilities.

The experts lampooned the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Department of State Services (DSS), Police Special Intelligence Bureau (SIB), Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) and other intelligence units in the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the military for failing in their duties, the result of which is the continued loss of lives and property across the country.

Although the military said they responded to 36 distress calls from different locations as the crisis in Plateau State lingered, their efforts failed to stop the killers from accomplishing their bloodthirsty mission.

Plateau State authorities said the gunmen overran more than 17 villages across Bokkos and two other districts, killing people and burning down houses. A local district head in Bokkos had said that search teams were still combing nearby bushes for missing people, adding that thousands had been displaced from their homes.

No terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but locals blame herders. Reacting to the incident, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola (rtd), said the recurring bloodbath on the Plateau could be largely blamed on intelligence failure.

He said: “Prior to an attack in any area, the killers move in large numbers to concentrate forces at the intended locations, massing arms and ammunition.

“How come all the security and intelligence agencies rarely notice this movement? The DSS have reps in all the 774 council areas, yet no adequate and timely intelligence to prevent these killings.

“DSS has left its core function of providing actionable intelligence to enable proactive actions by all security agencies. Instead, they are busy competing with Police, Civil Defence and other agencies to serve as personal body guards to government officials, wealthy Nigerians, shady characters and celebrities, while shamelessly displaying their DSS logo.

“The arms used by the attackers are shipped in through our porous borders while Customs and Immigration officials look the other way. Yet, our external intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that billions are budgeted for yearly is largely unaware of the movement of these arms into Nigeria. Such a big shame.

Former Director of the DSS, Mr. Dennis Amachree, also said: “The issue is basically that of grabbing fertile land and the scarce resource of water.

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“The problem used to be between the natives and itinerant herdsman. But all has changed as bandits and terrorists are playing major role in these attacks.

“Intelligence agencies have seen this and always reported. In fact, these killing are expected every Christmas period. But as Gov. Muftwang puts it, the government lacks the political will to take this threat head-on.

“The Federal Government is not helpless. Taking the stern decision to address the root cause will make the problem disappear. The Federal Government should round up these foreign bandits and either send them out of the country or jail them.”

According to a security expert, Dr. Wilson Esangbedo, a problem that started like an ethnic war has been made worse by politics.His words: “It started as an ethnic war and politics set in and it made it worse. It’s the fight for the soul of the state. Fight for supremacy amongst the various contending groups.

“To stop the killings, first, the root cause of the conflict must be identified and the various groups that cannot live together should be separated. This may be the time to create an additional state. Intelligence agencies may have seen it coming, but not the magnitude this has unfolded.

“No government is helpless in attending to internal crisis. I am sure they want to study the situation and come up with proactive measures.”

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also stated that the massacre on the Plateau was an intolerable crime.
The National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, called for the immediate overhauling of the security institutions, alleging that the present heads of the security agencies were not committed to safeguard lives and property of the citizens of the country.

The group wondered how the President and the service chiefs were busy feasting in their different homes under the guise of celebrating the Christmas holiday whereas citizens were exposed to dangerous attacks by armed terrorists wielding deadly military grade weapons.

It noted that this government lacks the needed political will to conquer terrorists, saying the government has failed to name and shame identified sponsors of terrorists as it promised.

“What is the primary duty of government constitutionally? The primary legal obligations of government in accordance with the Grund Norm of Nigeria is the preservation of the sanctity of lives of Nigerians, prevent killings of citizens and the destructions of their property and assets by armed non state actors. Why then is the President Tinubu unwilling to dismiss his non-performing security service chiefs and the DG of DSS who has overstayed his retirement time?

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“It is the most shameful show of incompetence on the part of the Commander-in-Chief and his bunch of appointees holding command and ministerial positions linked to the protection of national security, to stand by even as many as 113 persons have been confirmed killed,” HURIWA said.

HURIWA described the continuous killings by the so-called unknown gunmen in the Southeast, and the persistent pogroms in Benue, Taraba and Plateau states “carefully choreographed by Fulani irredentists and terrorists,” as unforgivable crimes against humanity.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must arrest the killers and make them to face stiff and swift justice or the President should get ready to be dragged to the International criminal court in the Hague, Netherlands, for permitting heinous crimes against humanity under his government,” the group said.

HURIWA, which stated that killings were also the manifestations of the lack of any kind of coordinated approach by the armed forces of Nigeria, the police and the DSS to viciously confront the terrorists unleashing mass killings across Nigeria, asked the President “to sack all the service chiefs and the IGP to make way for fresh minds and fresh hands with the requisite competences and patriotism to finish off these terrorists.”

The rights group also said: “It is so glaring that law and order has collapsed in substantial parts of Nigeria and given way to the regime of terrorists.”

It condemned the fact that no fewer than three worshippers were reportedly killed by unknown gunmen who invaded Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Nkweagu, in Abakaliki Local Council of Ebonyi State.

“HURIWA is calling on the President, who is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, to take responsibility for this massive scale of failures by the armed forces and then take concrete steps to re-jig the architectural formation of Nigeria’s security services by picking new sets of competent heads to coordinate the attacks against terrorists.

President Tinubu shouldn’t wait for the country to collapse totally before he takea “action now to stop Nigeria from the progressive drift to the abyss and precipice of total lawlessness, anarchy and doom,” the group added.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, has condemned the killing, pledging to ensure discrete investigation.

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A statement by police spokesman, ACP Muyiwa Adejobi, said: “In the wake of the appalling attacks on numerous villages in Plateau State, resulting in the tragic loss of lives in Bokkos and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, vehemently condemns these heinous acts as not only barbaric but also reprehensible and inhumane.”

“In response to this grave situation, the IGP has taken decisive action by ordering the immediate deployment of additional manpower and resources to Plateau State. This strategic move aims to assist the local police authority and other security apparatus in effectively managing the crisis and ensuring the safety of the residents in the affected LGAs and the entire State.

“Furthermore, recognising the need for a thorough investigation, the IGP has directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) and his counterpart in the Department of Force Intelligence to constitute a high-powered investigative team. This team is tasked with unraveling the circumstances surrounding the incident and bringing those responsible to justice.

“The Police and other security agencies are deploying both kinetic and non-kinetic approaches to tackle the lingering crisis, which look recurrent in the state. The IGP further admonishes warring groups, residents and the entire state to embrace peace, shun violence and unwarranted killings of innocent souls.

“The IGP extends heartfelt condolences to the grieving families and loved ones of the deceased, who fell victim to these regrettable and preventable incidents, and to the Government and good people of Plateau State. He assured the public that perpetrators of these heinous acts would face the full force of the law.

“The Nigeria Police Force remains resolute in its commitment to safeguarding the lives and property of the citizens and every effort will be made to restore peaceand security in the affected areas.”

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