National Security

Insurgency: Military writers society hits customs, calls for greater security collaboration, information-sharing

By Akanimo Sampson

The Military Writers Society of Nigeria (MWSN) has warned security agencies against stoking unnecessary tension in a country that is already experiencing unease over the hike in electricity tariff, and the pump price in fuel.

The Society is calling for increased collaboration and sharing of information among intelligence agencies on insurgency, banditry, and counter-insurgency activities.

President of the military writers, Akanimo Sampson, in a statement on Monday says shortfalls in information sharing and cooperation among security agencies in Nigeria has again manifested in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) security alert to its personnel.

Customs put its officers and men on red alert as intelligence reports allegedly indicate that Boko Haram terrorists have flooded the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and are planning to carry out coordinated attacks on identified locations.

Though the security alert was contained in an internal memo titled: Re: Intelligence on national security dated August 20, 2020 and signed by the Comptroller, Enforcement of Customs headquarters, H.A Sabo, its aim is to ensure that Customs personnel are not caught off guard.

Sabo says, “Information reaching the Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC) reveals the existence of Boko Haram Terrorist Camps in and around the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Further reports have it that they are planning to attack some selected targets within the territory. They are reported to have set up their camps in the following identified enclaves:

“Kunyam Bush along airport road off DIA Staff Quarters-Abuja; Robochi/Gwagwalada Forest; Kwaku forest, Kuje, Abuja; Unaisha forest in Toto Local Government of Nasarawa State and Gegu forest, close to Idu town in Kogi State.

“Consequently, you are to be at alert and security conscious of your environment at all times. Ensure wide circulation please.”

The military writers however, observed that the Customs did not keep the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the Police, and the Department of State Services posted on such a serious issue.

It only copied the Zonal coordinators; Office of the Customs Area Controllers; Office of all CC Marine commands; office of CC FOU, A, B, C, and D; office of Coordinators operation Ex-Swift Response; Office of Coordinators CGC Strike Force; and office of the CC, Customs police.

‘’It appears information sharing and cooperation are becoming increasingly difficult among security agencies in the country are they are locked in outshining one another’’, the military writers said, and accordingly called for increased collaboration and sharing of information among intelligence agencies on insurgency, banditry, and counter-insurgency activities.

According to the Society, ‘’Customs are tasked with a critical role in relation with collecting revenues, protecting citizens, enhancing national security and competitiveness and facilitating trade’’, pointing out that Customs administrations play an essential role in facilitating global trade while reinforcing integrity in cross-border exchanges of goods and services and the collection of public revenue.

‘’However, empirical evidence tends to show that addressing lack of integrity in customs can create significant benefits for the public and private sectors, as well as society as a whole. It can contribute to address the loss of revenue caused by customs-related corruption.

‘’The Boko Haram insurgency, banditry, and herders killing are strategic events that are calling for a change among the security agencies. The inability of our intelligence community to connect the dots due to their inefficient information-sharing mechanisms, and the gap in domestic intelligence triggered the agitation for improving the country’s intelligence apparatus.’’ 3 

Meanwhile, the Society has commended the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) for rising swiftly to douse the tension sparked by the Customs security alert by explaining that the armed forces and other security agencies will ensure effective surveillance of Abuja and other states of the federation.

Defence Media Operations Coordinator, Maj. Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Sunday, assures the citizenry that preventive and pre-emptive intelligence was ongoing to thwart the plot.

“The Armed Forces of Nigeria working together with other security and response agencies particularly the core intelligence agencies hereby assure the general public that preventive and pre-emptive intelligence is ongoing. The general public is thus advised to go about their lawful businesses undeterred”, the statement says.

It further said that the offensives against the common enemies of the nation would not cease until normalcy is restored in all parts of the country.