EDITORIAL: Nigeria Needs To Concentrate On Intelligence If Boko Haram ‘War’ Is To Be Won

EDITORIAL: Nigeria Needs To Concentrate On Intelligence If Boko Haram ‘War’ Is To Be Won
May 16 05:05 2015 Print This Article

Nigerians are beginning to heave a sigh of relief over the recapturing of towns hitherto controlled in the Nigerian territory from Boko Haram terrorists before the ‘sweet’ victory become sour again on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 when the radical Islamic sect launched a comeback and attempted to take over Maiduguri in Borno State.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the news of the gallant and commendable efforts of our troops and that of our worthy neighours in recapturing the lost territories has brought relief to a battered populace before the table appeared to be turning.

The case appeared worse again on Friday when Marte, a town in the north of Borno State, again fell into the hands of the Boko Haram terrorists.

One of the sources, who spoke on Friday, explained that the terrorists, who fled from Sambisa Forest camps of the outlawed sect and their other strongholds across Borno State had regrouped in Marte, a town north of Maiduguri, the state capital.

The Deputy Governor of Borno State, Alhaji Zannah Mustapha, also confirmed the recapture of Marte by Boko Haram terrorists during a press conference in Maiduguri on Friday.

The recent development has also placed a responsibility on the authorities to have a re-think on their anti-terrorism strategy.

It is not enough to blow the trumpet and say NEVER AGAIN as the slogan of the Nigerian Military is since the recent successes over Boko Haram but the next phase of the war can only be won only by intelligence gathering than by military prowess.

FrontiersNews believes that the Nigerian Military should sit up and concentrate efforts on intelligence gathering to win the Boko Haram war rather than seemingly unnecessary blowing of trumpets and show of ‘ego’ in the slogan – NEVER AGAIN!
Our troops should remember that terrorism has taken a horrendous toll on Nigeria. Estimates of 15,000 to 20,000 persons killed since 2009 have been provided by various agencies. Some over 1.5 million persons have been displaced, according to Amnesty International, with only a trickle now returning to their devastated homes. Thousands are still languishing in the Internally Displaced Camps nationwide, hence the need not to allow the radical sect regroup and take over more towns.

In the last eight weeks, however, the Nigerian military, assisted by multinational forces from Chad, Niger Republic and Cameroon, have flushed the insurgents from the towns and villages they had occupied. Hundreds of women, teenage girls and children the crazed hordes had captured and enslaved are daily being freed, abandoned by the fleeing terrorists. Hopes are also high that their most famous captives, the 219 Chibok schoolgirls, will also soon be found and released from their year-old ordeal, if they would ever come back!

The plight of those young schoolgirls and the failure, after 12 months, to find and rescue them, expose the two fatal flaws in Nigeria’s counter-terrorism strategy.

The first is the obvious lack of will by the Goodluck Jonathan government to tackle the terrorism threat. This allowed a ragtag gang of misguided fanatics to grow, link up with global terrorism, recruit and arm itself to become an existential threat, only for the Jonathan government to wake up lately in order to score political point of winning the war by facing the battle squarely.

The second flaw has been the failure of, and inability of the intelligence services, to meet the terrorism challenge. The war against terrorism, according to the International Crisis Group, “is fought in the shadows.” It is a war led and sustained by spies and policemen, informants and military commandos.

A serious minded Army should know that terrorism war is not won on the media rather Nigerian army should have known that terrorists have ways of resorting to “conventional terrorism”, hence the need to take a closer look at our over-politicised intelligence services and for the army to regain their professionalism and protect Nigerians.

The incoming administration of Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari, should ensure that its party’s slogan – ‘Change’ must really have the necessary impact on the nation’s security apparatus and should realise that only effective intelligence machinery can combat the asymmetric war against terror and immediately reorganise and restructure the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Intelligence Agency, the inefficient domestic and external intelligence services that, under Jonathan, became openly politically partisan tools. The DSS, especially under Ita Ekpenyong, has become notorious as a political enforcer, and both could not locate and recover the Chibok girls, one year after.

The police special branch and its directorate of intelligence and investigation should also be reorganised and modernised while the military should do the same for their service intelligence units and the Defence Intelligence Agency.

One lesson learnt from others is to review and overhaul the intelligence services, especially in the area of coordination, intelligence-sharing, elimination of turf wars and cooperation with the intelligence services of other countries. Just as the US and the UK reorganised their intelligence services after 9/11 and 2005 respectively, Buhari has an urgent task to restructure Nigeria’s if we are to crush terrorism, We cannot afford to wait to experience the CHANGE!

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