I have tried to acquaint myself as a security professional with the functions of the internal security agencies in Nigeria’s security system. Internal security system comprises Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and other Para-military security agencies, and they are saddled with the functions in the maintenance of internal security in Nigeria.
It was on this note that this article tried to look at the statutory roles of the police and the military, with the aim of distinguishing their distinct roles and mandates.
In recent times, there have been security meetings and protests in some parts of the nation, both at the states and geo-political zones level, which had in attendance leaders, concerned citizens and stakeholders in the security sector.
Some of such meetings includes; National Security Council meeting presided by President Muhammadu Buhari (Vanguard August 4, 2020). And also, a recent meeting with the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, when COAS went to brief President Buhari on the happenings and achievements recorded in the North-East and North-West region (Daily Trust July 21, 2020).
And also the Northern Coalition Groups met in Makurdi and said, they were working towards tackling insecurity in the 19 states of Northern Nigeria (Nation July 18, 2020). The South-East governors also held a joint meeting with Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and other political leaders of the zone (Vanguard May 24, 2020). And the protest in Katsina state (Vanguard June 11, 2020).
In all these meetings and protest, top on the agenda has been the worsening security situations in the country caused by bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers and terrorists, and the need to combat the challenges.
We have seen over times how security agencies are frequently scolded for their failures by Nigerians. For instance, the Nigerian Senate asking the Service Chiefs to quit (Daily Trust July 22, 2020). And critics alike bemoan the ‘complacent’ and ‘inefficiency’ of the Service Chiefs, to the extent that their effort makes no meaning to them any longer. But in these entire outcries, the Inspector General of Police that is the head of internal security was not mentioned.
Though, I am aware the Service Chiefs have stayed beyond their years of service, but there are some salient questions in this article that calls for urgent answers, because the road to recovery has to begin somewhere.
1. What are the challenges the current Service Chiefs are facing to combat insecurity?
2. Will asking the Service Chiefs’ to quit curb these incessant insecurity challenges?
3. Will the sack deal with the direct, indirect or root causes of the current challenges?
Emphasis should be concentrated in finding the answers to the aforementioned questions. This is to ensure that we are not treating the symptoms while allowing the disease to fester by asking the Service Chiefs to quit. But in the event, that the continuous stay of the Service Chiefs is the ‘root’ cause of our current predicament as a nation, which is the most important cause that must be treated, then, there is absolute need for them to quit the stage.
But from the look of things, asking the Service Chiefs to go seems we are only dealing with either the ‘direct’ or ‘indirect’ cause and forgetting the ‘root’ causes, which are inadequate funding, out-dated weapons and ammunitions, weak hazard and motivation remunerations, inadequate manpower and lack of sophisticated technology etc.
According to Lt. Gen Buratai, poor funding of Army worsens insecurity (Daily Trust April 4, 2019). And all these has led to loss of interest, low morale, AWOL, mutiny on the part of the personnel. The implication here is that, even if new Service Chiefs are appointed today, we will continue to experience same insecurity situations, because the root cause of how to tackle these menaces has not been treated.
It is imperative to remind Nigerians that the duties of the police as provided in Section 4 of the Police Act states; “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of property and enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be requested of them by or under the authority of this or under any Act”.
Therefore, the Nigeria Police Force is principally responsible for combating internal security challenges, and maintaining law and order. And not the involvement of the Armed Forces in enforcing law and order in the society as against its constitutional role of defending Nigeria from external aggression, maintaining its territorial integrity, suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities when called upon Section 217 sub section 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The military are to aid the police when they are overwhelmed with internal security challenges, and which they are doing, so they shouldn’t take the blame for the inadequacies of the police.
Though the Nigeria Police are making effort, but it is clearly obvious that they are overwhelmed with the current internal security challenges. To further buttress the point, the Inspector General of Police IGP Mohammed Adamu cried out to the Senate that the police are helpless, as a result of shortage of funds, inadequate equipment and few personnel (Vanguard May 8, 2019).
I have looked at the involvement of the military in tackling internal security challenges in the country and summarized that without their participation in civil security, Nigeria’s internal security situation would have been worse than what we are experiencing today. The military will of course have no business on the streets if the Nigeria Police was well equipped and alive to its responsibilities.
It is very imperative to talk about citizen’s cooperation and participation in the fight against insecurity, because as citizens we can do a lot by exposing persons with suspicious behaviours and criminal tendencies within our communities to security agencies, since security is everyone’s responsibility.
It is important to know that security personnel are not spirits, neither are the hoodlum’s ghosts, so security personnel need citizen’s cooperation and participation in the area of information, gathering and sharing of intelligence from their immediate community to function optimally and professionally.
Therefore, citizen’s participation is very vital in mitigating insecurity.
In the words of the Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, he said if Nigerians want the violent and criminal activities in Nigeria to end today, it will end, if everybody joins hands (The Guardian July 23, 2020).
Therefore, in order to further achieve citizens participation, the teaching of security and peace studies in the early educational formative years will give the citizens the right perspective on why they are expected to live in peace, participate and cooperate with security agencies in order to secure lives and property, by imbibing the security culture of ‘see something’, ‘say something’.
In summary, security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose and responsibility of government Section 13 sub section (b) 1999 Constitution as amended. Though, President Muhammadu Buhari’s led government have been supporting security agencies, but there is need to do more.
With a rejig from government, collaboration between security agencies and cooperation of citizens will yield fantastic results, security agencies to a large extent will be able to effectively and efficiently fulfil Section 13(b) of the constitution as it concerns the people, to secure the lives and property of over 200 million Nigerians.
(Stephen Obochi Okwori, an Abuja based Security Strategist and Management Consultant, could be reached through www.sticmirac.com.ng ).