While President Goodluck Jonathan was calling for a stronger global consensus and determination to end the scourge of terrorism in faraway New York an unfortunate event had just occurred in Apo area of Abuja, over an alleged exchange of gun shots between security officers and Boko Haram members.
In his meeting with President Barrack Obama of the United States of America, President Jonathan said Nigeria is doing its best to contain the insurgency and therefore added that unless the international community unites and deploys its enormous resources to eradicate terrorism, it will continue to be embarrassed by terrorist outrages such as the heinous attack on defenceless shoppers in Nairobi which both leaders strongly condemned.
While Jonathan urges more supports and encouragement from international community over the fight against domestic terrorism, the home-front was in a state of flux over the labelling of alleged miscreants as Boko Haram suspects.
The Department of State Services (DSS) reported that it had arrested 12 members of the Boko Haram while various other reports indicated that at least 7 persons were also killed when security operatives stormed an uncompleted building near Apo Legislative area in the early hours of the day.
Circumstances of the deaths remained hazy. While security agencies alleged those killed were Boko Haram members, survivors of the incident insist they were homeless artisans squatting in the building. Human rights activists and politicians are demanding a thorough investigation into the killing just as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has commenced an investigation into the killing of the squatters in the uncompleted building.
Although the debate and arguments continue, what could be glimpsed from the controversy is the seeming lack of coordination and of collaboration of response agencies during that sensitive operation.
As the spokesperson of the Directorate of State Security insists the victims are Boko Haram suspects, other security agencies have distanced themselves from the incident. The Nigerian public too are becoming suspicious of the whole situation.
Before this unfortunate development there have been noticeable improvement in the war against insurgency in various states, Abuja inclusive where there had not been any serious attacks from the terrorists since last year. Most of their attacks have been confined to very few states in North-Eastern Nigeria. The success of some of the operations even in Borno and Yobe State are due to colloboration with civilian populace which the establishment of volunteer group known as Civilian JTF.
The obvious missing link in the Abuja operation, which is causing unnecessesary panics in the mind of an average Nigerian is the fear that some of the security agencies are not relating or cooperating among themselves.
It is therefore not surprising the recent observation of top security officers at an inter-agency peace-building conference organised by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Abuja that lack of collaboration amongst the country’s security agencies was one of the factors responsible for the growth of Boko Haram.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd), who also addressed the session pointed out that unless security agencies co-operated and collaborated, they would not succeed in fighting insecurity.
The NSA, who was represented by Major General Sarki Y. Bello said: “It is pertinent to note that this lack of collaboration among our security agencies was one of the factors that permitted the growth and, until recently, the success of Boko Haram terrorist attacks.”
While declaring the programme open, the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, commended the Nigerian Army for the successes recorded in battling terrorism so far, adding that it would be a total turnaround if other security agencies could come together regardless of their uniforms as a team to combat the security challenges facing the nation.
He said: “The achievements of Nigeria military today are concomitant of the unity of training, orientation and accommodation that exist in Nigerian military formation. In the same manner, we want all agencies, in addition to securing their mandate, work and relate well with others, bearing in mind the security of the country rather than shameless street fights.”
The Commandant-General of the NSCDC, Dr. Ade Abolurin, described the programme as an “interactive one” based on a field of experiences where they expect the security officers to establish and sustain their mutual relationship. He deplored the situation where security agencies engaged themselves in unnecessary quarrels over superiority contention.
As an observer, the in-fighting and lack of collaboration among security agencies can only create room for criminal activities and terrorism to foster. The live of an average Nigerian as it is now, depends on the almighty God and on the security officers. The inter-agency rivalry and mutual mistrust should give way for better understanding and respect for one another.
The authorities should respond with appropriate measures to reduce inter-agency rivalry and conflicts, thereby facilitating cooperation and collaboration. It is gratifying to note that that the Office of the NSA has provided the platform to catalyse collaboration among security agencies with the establishment of the Counterterrorism Department to ensure that this synergy is achieved.
It is therefore necessary that more joint trainings, retreats and conferences should be organised for the participation of response agencies to appreciate their delicate assignment and acknowledge ways of seamlessly relating with one another towards the common goals of protecting Nigeria and its image. He maintained that it is only when security agencies begin to cooperate that the environment will be appropriate for peace building activities.