• Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Katsina killings question military intelligence, tactics against insurgency

…Governors suspect hanky-panky behaviour

…‘Security challenges rooted in broader governance failures’

…Military must constantly review its strategy

The recent massacre of over 25 individuals in Katsina State has intensified scrutiny of the Nigerian military’s strategies in combating insurgency.

Katsina, the home state of former President Muhammadu Buhari, has seen a surge in violence, raising doubts about the effectiveness of ongoing military operations.

Despite former President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion in 2015 that Boko Haram had been “technically defeated,” the militant group and its factions remain active.

While the military has reclaimed some territories, a recent escalation in violence, particularly in the northeast where Boko Haram began its insurgency in 2009, underscored the persistent threat.

Too many killings…long list of casualties

While the military insisted that the ongoing operations across the country are in support of national security interests and are yielding results, many are baffled that the rate of insecurity is still growing and the list of victims growing.
So far this year, nearly 50 attacks have been reported, affecting various areas including Kurechin Giye village in Dutsinma Local Government Area and Kasai village in Batsari Local Government Area in Katsina State.

In March 2024 alone, media reports indicate that at least 1,087 Nigerians, including children, were kidnapped, a figure likely underreported.

Last Monday, over 50 people (though police report said 25) were killed by bandits across Katsina State, the home state of Buhari, while silent genocide has been on in Plateau State, unabated.
Benue State has consistently been a killing field for murderous herdsmen who attack the communities without provocation. Their activities have chased away farmers from their farms and have also caused food inflation across the country.

Governors suspect hanky-panky behaviour

Last Tuesday, Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal openly criticised the military for its lack of political will to address banditry and kidnapping.

Governor Lawal, during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, asserted that banditry could be eradicated within two weeks if the government showed true commitment.
“If we are committed, if we are serious, we can take care of this situation within two weeks maximum. But the political will is not there,” Lawal said.
The governor further said: “There are lots of political undertones in the security issues. Some of you find it difficult to come and say this but I know what we are going through. But like I said, sometimes you are helpless. When you need them, they are not there or even when they are there, they are given certain instructions on what to do and not to do. That is the true situation.”
On April 5, 2024, Dikko Radda, governor of Katsina State, granted an interview on Channels Television programme ‘Politics Today’ where he alleged that the military was aiding and profiting from terrorism activities in his state.

‘Something must be fishy’

Bem Hembafan, a retired security officer, aligned with Dauda Lawal, governor of Zamfara State, in his opinion that there is no political will on the part of the military to fight terrorists.

Hembafan, who runs private security for estates in Abuja and Nasarawa State, argued that the governors, who are the chief security officers of their respective states, may have a point as insecurity keeps growing despite efforts by the federal and state governments, including huge funds expended so far and still going to be spent.
“A situation where there are negotiations with bandits without the knowledge of a sitting governor is suspicious like in the case of Zamfara. The Katsina governor is alleging that the military is aiding and profiting from terrorism activities in his state because of these negotiations without results. So, do you blame them?

“I also wonder how many these bandits are because despite the many killed by our soldiers almost every day, they keep attacking in good numbers,” Hembafan said.

Military urges impartial analysis of its efforts

In response to the allegation by Governor Radda, Edward Buba, director, Defence Media Operation, had countered and advised the aggrieved governor to approach the military high command to substantiate his allegations.

He emphasised the importance of impartial analysis of the allegations against military and security forces.

Speaking to BusinessDay Sunday, he said that winning the war against insurgency is impossible without the support of local communities.

Buba pointed out a significant gap in Zamfara security infrastructure, noting the absence of an internal security operation to coordinate efforts among various security agencies.

“Despite this, the military will continue to work tirelessly to restore safety and security across our nation,” Buba stated.

He also stressed that the public must understand the ongoing war against terrorism and the necessity of stopping terrorists to ensure national safety.

Buba reiterated that public cooperation is crucial in achieving victory over insurgents.

‘Security challenges rooted in broader governance failures’

Kabiru Adamu, chief executive officer (CEO) of Beacon Consulting, highlighted the complexity of the situation in Katsina State and the entire Northwest.
In an exclusive interview with BusinessDay, he noted that these security challenges are rooted in broader governance failures.

He emphasised that the military alone cannot address these issues, which include climate change, proliferation of small arms, a collapse of the value system, an inefficient justice system, drug addiction, socio-economic crises, and the economic challenges caused by current government policies.

“Both the federal and state governments need to come together to accept these root causes of insecurity and address them collectively,” Adamu argued.

He noted that the lack of coordination and differing strategies between federal and state governments have allowed criminals to exploit the situation.

“The military is just an instrument in policy implementation. And where there are governance challenges it will almost be impossible for the military to address insecurity issues,” he said.

Military over-stretched

Chidi Omeje, an Abuja-based security expert, pointed out that insurgency is driven by numerous factors, including poverty and governance deficits.

He argued that while the military’s actions are crucial, they must be complemented by effective governance and support from other security agencies to address the root causes of insecurity.

He emphasised that the entire counter-insurgency project cannot be solely kinetic; it requires a combination of military action and good governance.

Omeje also highlighted the issue of military overstretch, noting that the military is currently deployed in all 36 states, which strains its resources.

“The military as it is right now is over-stretched. The only way to help them is to increase the capacity of other security agencies to be able to help. If you leave the job to them alone, they cannot cope. The military is deployed in all 36 states,” he noted.

According to him, “If the military conducts an operation and kills about 30 insurgents in a day, the next day another 60 will emerge because the root causes remain unaddressed. Factors like poverty drive people to crime, and there’s a clear link between economic hardship and increased criminality. To effectively manage the situation, we must tackle these underlying issues. While the military is doing well in their efforts, the counter-insurgency strategy cannot rely solely on military actions; it must also address these deeper societal problems.”

All hands must be on deck

Mike Ejiofor, former director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), stressed that the military cannot succeed without the support of the people.

He underscored the importance of public cooperation in the fight against insurgency.
Ejiofor highlighted that the community’s involvement in providing information and support to security forces is crucial for successful operations.

Edward Buba echoed this sentiment, noting that public cooperation is essential for achieving victory over insurgents.

He emphasised that the military’s actions have enabled socio-economic activities to continue in affected states, but public understanding, cooperation and involvement are necessary to sustain these efforts.

Buba also emphasised the importance of community support and accurate information in the fight against insurgency.

Negotiation with bandits without result

Bulus Inuwa, a serving senior security officer in Lagos, decried that there have been a series of negotiations with the bandits in the past and even at present that have not yielded expected results and the bandits seem emboldened every day.

He commended the men and officers of the Nigerian military for risking it all to secure the country, but insisted that the negotiation strategy has not worked because the government or the military has been negotiating at the point of weakness instead of strength.

“There have been many negotiations with little results and that is why our governors are worried and even have the audacity to allege that the insecurity issue has become a money venture kind of thing. We need to prove them wrong with sustained results,” he suggested.

In his views, Onyewuchi Akagbule, a university lecturer, argued that there was no need for the Katsina governor to approach the military high command to substantiate his allegations because of his revelation that the negotiations with the bandits have been going on behind his back.

“I think we need to face the fact that some people are profiting from the insecurity challenge, it might not be the military. It doesn’t matter whoever they are or how powerful they are, what matters now is how to stop them because the situation is out of hand already. If we don’t fight with sincerity, the bandits who are settled today, will come back tomorrow when they are hungry and who said others will not join the ugly, yet profitable terrorism venture,” he noted.

Military must constantly review its tactics

Although Mohammed Badaru, minister of Defence, attributed the feats by the military in the last one year to the synergy among the service chiefs, some concerned citizens query why such synergy is not sustained as terrorist attacks persist.

“The military has done well, but they need to do more. What we see is the military doing well today and tomorrow the terrorists will respond with attacks. Nigerians need the military to go for total onslaught to flush out these bad fellows from our farms, our forests, our towns and our country. We want a situation where the terrorists will be on the run for our good and keep running instead of the recurring attacks,” Yakubu Tongrit, a retiree, said.

Toeing the same lane, Akagbule noted that reports said that the recent Katsina killings were regarded as coordinated attacks by the bandits, and that Nigerians want better and more coordinated attacks on bandits by the military because they have upper hand- more personnel, more firearms, better funded and empowered by law and the constitution to do so.

He suggested that the military should always review its tactics to see their level of efficiency to enable them adopt the best tactic because many men and officers of the military are being killed in these anti-terrorist operations and they leave families behind that nobody cares for, apart from sending condolences.

“We have heard about moles in the military sabotaging anti-terrorist operations, ambushes that have claimed soldiers, issues of low morale to fight, among other challenges. I think these call for the urgent need for the military to change tactics, fish out the moles, review soldiers’ welfare to raise their morale to fight and a bit of sincerity in the whole thing to prove those who think the military lacks the willpower to fight terrorism wrong,” Akagbule said.

In spite of the poor public rating of the military, Inuwa pointed out that they are living up to expectations when one considers the mounting challenges they face in safeguarding the country.

 

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