By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
To say that the minister of interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau is faced with various challenges in addressing insecurity in the country is to say the least. That he does not have the control over the police, which is the major agency in maintaining internal security is to put it mildly. That the same person is always expected to act and address various issues concerning insecurity is something disturbing.
Currently, issues of insecurity have beclouded the country. Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Niger Delta Avengers have suspended hostilities for now; thanks to the fury unleashed by the Nigerian Army. But Boko Haram and farmers/herdsmen clashes is daily sending many to their early graves.
Recently, a former Military Head of State, Abdulsalami Abubakar said Nigeria loses 13.7 billion dollars annually as a result of farmers-herdsmen conflicts in Benue, Kaduna, Nassarawa and Plateau states.
Abubakar made the disclosure at a forum organised by Search for Common Ground, Nigeria, in collaboration with Abdulsalami Abubakar Institute for Peace and Sustainable Development. The forum, with the theme, Amplifying the Expertise of African Peace-building Practitioners and Scholars, was organised for farmers and herdsmen at Maizube Farm in Bosso Local Government Area of Niger in October. It aimed to increase knowledge sharing on farmers-herdsmen conflicts by peace-building scholars and practitioners and policy makers in Nigeria and globally.
According to him, 62,000 people were displaced in Kaduna, Benue and Plateau states between January, 2015, and February, 2017 in farmers-herdsmen conflicts. He said 2,500 people died nationwide in farmers and herdsmen conflicts.
Nigeria Police Force
Meanwhile, in saner climes and contemporary societies of Europe and America, these are the sole responsibilities of the police, which is under the ministry of Internal Affairs.
But in Nigeria today, the Minister of interior also called Internal Affairs does not have the full control of the police Force. In fact, he is not in charge- yet, the police are under his ministry.
A highly placed source who does not want his name in print told our reporter that the minister is just a member of the police committee.
“He does not have the final say. He only contributes to issues that are being discussed but he is not a special member of that committee. The police are under the presidency and that is where their orders come from. When we tried to complain we were told that nothing could be done.
“This leaves him handicap in tackling internal security. How can the minister address issues of farmers and herdsmen clashes if he cannot have total control of the police. These are common practice in other countries but it is strange that the situation remains like this here.
“What is also worrisome is the fact that the minister is being blamed for not doing anything when there is attack on people. The police will not listen to him even if he talks because their order comes from the president.”
Nigerian Immigration Service
Another major source of worry is the porous nature of the country’s borders and the inability of the Federal government to curb illegal migration into the country. Already, immigration sources claimed the country’s border is barricaded with woods and tyres.
The sources told Peoples Daily that no fewer than 1, 497 illegal routes and 84 legal routes had so far been identified by the Nigeria Immigration Service,NIS.
“The condition of our borders is alarming. It is unfortunate that the illegal routes are barricaded by tyres and woods, which create an easy route for terrorists into the country. They have devised methods to beat security at the borders, through the footpaths. These methods include the use of camels, donkeys and cows to traffic arms, ammunition and drugs such as cocaine into Nigeria”, the sources said.
No wonder, enemies of Nigeria have been invading the country through her loose borders. While smugglers of all manner carry on with their illicit business almost unrestrained, suspected terrorists have continued to move in and out of the country, freely.
A security expert, Shemulak Dakyen said the activities of these unscrupulous elements have been promoting the proliferation of small arms and light weapons that is increasingly becoming a transnational organised crime in Nigeria. This has left the country with various uncontrolled criminals activities; ranging from suicide bombers, arms dealers, drugs pushers as well as human traffickers.
Presently, he said there is hardly any criminal act or violence in Nigeria that could not be traced to the ease with which armed gangs enter and exit through many of the nations’ unsecured borders. Smuggling of contraband goods, arms and human trafficking, mercenary activities directly linked to religious violence, are some of the vices attributable to these porous borders.
“The federal government need to empower the minister of interior with all the machineries needed to ensure proper security of the country. There should be border police to arrest the influx of religious extremists from the Maghreb into northern part of the country. He needs to be fully in charge of the police. As it stands he is helpless, being called to account for what you are not in control of.”
Nigerian Prison Service (NPS)
There is no doubt about the fact that the Nigeria Prison institutions have over the years suffered abject neglect by the successive governments. This, many at the court of public opinion believe is traceable to erroneous public perception of the institution as a place where criminals are dumped. Perhaps, this is why ex-convicts from poor background suffer stigmatization. Those who have completed their jail terms are rejected in the society and denied employment opportunities. This has been a major challenge to Prison administration as these ex-convicts soon found their way back into the prison shortly after they have been discharged.
It is no news to say that Nigerian prison formations across the country are congested. Available records show that over 65 percent of Prison inmates in the country are on awaiting trial list.
Again, incessant attacks on prison formations has also been a headache urgently begging for solution from the government. Most of these issues are not only for the minister but for the three tiers of government to work in union to ensure that the prison resembles those in saner climes where it is seen as a correctional facility.
The Federal Fire Service
There is popular saying that “firefighters are heroes but not in Nigeria”. It is so because the Nigeria successive governments have abandoned the importance placed on this agency by other nations of the world.
For now, apart from lack of modern equipment to fight fir effectively, this agency of over a century ago when it was started could only boast of only staff strength of over 1,580 personnel spread across almost all the six geopolitical zones in the country, with only five functional firefighting trucks at its headquarters in Area 10, Abuja.
The only five functional firefighting trucks in the arsenal of the service is considered by knowledgeable experts as grossly inadequate for its operational needs.
Investigations also revealed that that due to paucity of funds, the Federal Fire Service has not bought any new firefighting trucks for over 30 years now, even as the old ones are rapidly ageing.
Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps
Though the corps has received accolades on protection of critical infrastructures of the government under the former Commandant General, Dr. Ade Abolurin, but the crops of officers being paraded by the corps and the high level of indiscipline that has beclouded the corps shortly after the retirement of the former Commandant is the consequences of poor leadership heading the agency which might also be a serious headache for the Minister who is a retired General who is working assiduously to reposition the services under him.
Based on these, many at the court of public opinion believe that the government should empower the minister and give him full control of the police to enable him shoot effectively and put an end to the internal security that has held this country to ransom for so long.