Thousands dead; many dying every day; millions displaced and the haunting fear of the living hoping to survive each day, alive; the need to address the insecurity killing Nigeria becomes imperative.
It is in the light of this that the Lighthouse Pathfinders Group organized a ZOOM webinar titled “CURBING SECURITY THREAT MIGRATION IN NIGERIA: MITIGATION STRATEGY”
Held on October 1, 2022, it was designed to mark the independence Day anniversary of Nigeria. It was the second in its discourse series. The NGO, which began as a Whatsapp group, had organized its maiden Virtual seminar less than three months ago.
Anchored by a former Channel’s Television Daily Sunrise Presenter, Sulaiman Aledeh, the program was well attended by Li-PAC members and invited Guests from across the country and in the diaspora. In his introductory remark, Aledeh, who is currently a Program Presenter on Classic FM, affirmed that the issue of insecurity has been over beaten.
According to him, what is needed urgently, today, are solutions; and not mere talks and postulations.
In his welcome remark, President of the Group, Tunde Madehin, spoke of how insecurity has taken up most of the daily discussions on its Whatsapp platform as a sign of the unpleasant times that have befallen the country.
According to him, it became necessary for the group to take up the matter, first as a discourse; before moving it to a higher level of action.
Giving a historical perspective to the evolution of insecurity in Nigeria, as created by the non-state actors who are succeeding in driving fear into the hearts of the citizenry; the Chairman of the program, Brig. Gen. Muraina Lola (rtd) said the history of insurgency in Nigeria can be traced to the immediate post-Ghadaffi Libya. According to him, after the overthrow of Ghaddaffi, most of the armed groups that participated in that historic revolution began disposing of their weapons; and that was one of the situations that fuelled armed trafficking; that eventually blossomed into the insurgency and consequently the insecurity calamity that is currently consuming the country.
From the types of Security Threat Migration, Security Threat Distribution in Nigeria, Precursors to Security Threat Migration to Mitigation, the Guest Speaker and Security Expert, Victor Okpiri, (CPP) placed the discourse in a perspective that opened up the ramifications of the problem to the virtual audience.
Titled Curbing Security Threat Migration: Mitigation Strategy, Okpiri defined Security Threats as anything with potential of causing danger or harm. “Security is the state of being free from danger, otherwise the absence of threat. A security threat is anything with the potential of violating or endangering security or hindering freedom from danger. This could emanate from natural or manmade sources. While natural refers to acts of nature; safety issues and unintentional acts, man-made are malicious and intentional, aimed at particular targets. We will in this discourse be limited to discoursing threats resulting from malicious activities. Examples of security threats include; kidnapping, insurgency, terrorism, militancy, etc.” he said.
Explaining further, the Guest Speaker said Security Threat Migration is the movement of one form of security threat from one geographical location to another or the transformation of one form of security threat to another form in a particular locale.
Enlightening his audience, the Security Expert informed of the prevailing security threats in the country. Nigeria is a nation of many peoples and cultures with over 500 languages. Culture has an influence on crime and the security system. E.G; a culture that celebrates prosperity is likely to be a fertile ground for financial crimes and threats with economic motivations. A culture with strong religious sentiments is likely to be fertile for religious extremism and religious violence. Cultural background accounts to a great extent the form of threat prevalent in parts of the country.
“Available economic and natural resources also account for the type of security threat dominant in an area. For political convenience, Nigeria has been divided into six (6) geopolitical groups – South-South, South-East, South-West, North-East, North-West, North-Central, lumping people of similar culture and historical backgrounds together. In the South-South, there was (and still is) the Niger Delta militancy occasioned by deprivation of livelihood as a result of activities of oil multinationals. The mode of operation was kidnap of expatriates for ransom and sabotage – blowing up of oil installations. This form of insecurity grew from cultism, communal violence and outlawed vigilantes. From attacks targeted at multinationals, it metamorphosed into a thriving business of K4R and territorial contest amongst cult groups. Today, there are reported incidents of K4R with ransom demand as low as N30,000.” Said Okpiri.
Concerning the precursors of security threat migration, he said Security threats do not move from one location to another or transform without a prompting. These prompting or indicators, according to him, are what security practitioners and authorities should look out for to proactively plan and prevent manifestation in other forms or locations.
He explained that threat actors are likely to move from areas of intensive engagement with government security agencies (GSA) to areas with less presence of GSA. “When this happens, there is the likelihood that these agents will regroup/recruit new members to continue the activities or join the existing form of criminal trade in the new location. The level of sophistication of the operations of bandits in recent times for instance is an indication of the infiltration by Boko haram, ISWAP and IS actors. It could be recalled that on April, 9, 2022, a director of Air Intelligence raised the alarm of this possible infiltration of bandits by BH and ISWAP. When neighbours record success in military engagements, it is time to strengthen security at our end, especially at borders. In 2020, the UNDSS warned of possible infiltration of the South-Western states by jihadists. Thanks to the governors of the region for proactively setting up the AMOTEKUN Corp, a regional security outfit in January, 2020.” He informed.
Bringing to the fore, the territorial war component of the the threat, Okpiri said perpetrators of organized crimes are often involved in clashes with groups they perceive to be competitors.
“When this happens, the vanquished is likely to surrender the territory to superior power and migrate to dominate a new territory. The current rivalry between insurgent groups in the Northern Nigeria has helped to deplete numerical strength of groups and at this same time disperse these criminal elements to other territories. Some are now operating as bandits in the North-Central zone of the country.” He concluded.
After an incisive presentation, the floor was opened for comments and questions from the audience.
Chris Otaigbe spoke on the need to use the church’s structure, logistics and finance to protect their neighborhoods of worship.
As has been the case in most of terrorist attacks, where Whistle Blowers become a major target for the Bandits, a Li-PAC member, Shina Ishola said Nigerians do not trust Police any longer to volunteer intelligence.
A Pharmacist, Keneth Star explained that the unceasing poverty crisis in the country coupled with the deepening gulf between the poor and the rich make the incidents of insecurity virtually intractable. Since most of the cries are committed in the neighorhoods, Star recommends a know your neighbor policy by the people in their various neighorhoods or residence.
For Salvador Ifedolapo Taoheed, one of the solutions to the problem is the divisive nature of the country which is further deepened by the agents of disunity in the country. According to him, a major road to curbing threats of insecurity in the country is for the citizens to unite in the fight against non-state actors destabilizing the nation.
Gafar Lanre Madehin said the relationship between substance abuse, illicit drug use and crime gets stronger by the day and consequently lubricating the wheel of insecurity across the federation.
One of the frontline members of the group, Alhaja Tawakalitu Kofoworola, believes that insecurity and its threats will be rid off if only the old politicians are thrown out in the coming elections.
Chris Paul Otaigbe writes from Lagos