Buhari-security chiefs
Buhari in a Session with Service Chiefs

Tackling Insecurity Through Collaboration Among Security Agencies

By Mukhtar Ya’u Madobi

The primary objective of every government is to ensure adequate security of its citizens. This includes but not limited to safeguarding their lives including their properties against any internal or external threat that may be posed by the non-state actors.

To this effect, the government must therefore set appropriate security apparatus in place which consist of various security agencies including the military, paramilitary and intelligence-based institutions for the purpose of discharging this mandate.

Every security agency has a clearly defined role on how to contribute to the maintenance of national security. For instance, the collective Armed Forces of Nigeria are known to protect the country from external threats that might emanate from across the border and the Department of State Service (DSS) deals with the maintenance of internal security, counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, and surveillance through intelligence and information gatherings.

In the same vein, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is concerned with providing intelligence to Nigeria’s Military and the Defence Ministry, while the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is enshrined with overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations.

However, it is pertinent to note that establishment of these kinds of security architectures by government is a requisite step toward enhancing security of the country. Nevertheless, the success of their operations is solemnly defined on how well they relate with each other and their associated stakeholders. Therefore, the agencies must ensure synergy, sustain mutual trust and cooperation towards discharging their responsibilities.

Recently, the Director-General, State Security Services, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, advocated robust synergy among the security actors and other stakeholders in the country in tackling myriads of insecurity in the country.

The DG spoke at a 3-Day Defence Headquarters Inter-Agency Cooperation Workshop with the theme: “Strengthening Inter-Agency Cooperation for Sustainable National Security”, on Thursday February 24, 2022 in Abuja.

Bichi, represented by the Director of Operation, Mr Joseph Dashwep, noted that positive and productive outcomes from the operations could only be guaranteed if the various agencies worked together, adding that the complexity and transnational nature of crimes had made inter-agency cooperation necessary.

Though, he regrettably showed concerns on how issues on boundaries of responsibilities, mutual distrust, suspicion, unhealthy competition and lack of cooperation, have continued to deal a heavy blow on the cohesion of the nation’s security architecture.

He said; “This will continue to have dire consequences on national security, except we become intentional and determined to deal with the problem. In practical terms, inter-agency cooperation is simply the working together of the various components of a sub-structure toward a common vision and resolution of problems.

“It requires, therefore, that the partners involved will cooperate in the exchange of relevant information and resources in support of each other’s goals. I must state unambiguously that; IAC is a vital necessity of this time.

“This is because it is a bedrock on which our National Security Architecture can prevent, mitigate and contain the myriad of threats facing the nation.”

Thus, in order to effectively achieve the goals of maintaining security, Bichi recommended that there must be positive perception of the complementary agencies, cooperation and mutual trust, consistency as well as feedback system and constructive criticism. In addition, inclusion of inter-agency cooperation in the basic curriculum at all levels of training by security agencies and reorientation amongst security personnel on its importance is also necessary.

While contributing to the session, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, stated that the prevailing security challenges confronting the nation required all of the government and all of society to approach it.

Subject to that, it can be remembered that the Nigerian Army had trained about 103 youth on armed combat and intelligence gathering. The training is part of efforts of the military aimed at tackling insecurity in southern parts of Kaduna state.

At the end of the workshop, it was stated in the communiqué that Defence Headquarter should promote a culture of good civil-military relations, intelligence and information sharing between security agencies and civilians through seminars in national and geo-political zones of Nigeria.

On the other hand, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was also enjoined to organise regular capacity building workshops for members of the security agencies to strengthen knowledge and the practice of effective interagency cooperation and create national facilities for joint training of security agencies.

Meanwhile, it is imperative to note that for the DSS to come out boldly and seek for synergy among the nation’s security actors for the fight against insecurity, then they must have surely realized the impact that the development will bring in surmounting the persistent security challenges.

It can be recalled that during a Conference of Defence Advisers/Attaches Conference, organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), stakeholders made a call for sustained synergies among security services.

The conference with the theme: “Advancing Counterterrorism Efforts through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach,” the participants believed that cooperation and mutual trust among security agencies can never be ignored in the present situation.

The recent incident of a cocaine deal involving the suspended police officer, DSP Abba Kyari in which both the Nigerian Police Force and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) engaged in a game of blame, is quite unfortunate.

Supposing there is an enhanced cordial and mutual cooperation between the two agencies, then the issue would have been managed internally without necessarily trading words and pointing fingers at each other publicly.

The uproar has clearly sent a wrong signal to the public, indicating a lack of synergy between these agencies. This may lead to criminal elements to take advantage and unleash another form of violence having some untold consequences on the wellbeing of the nation.

Therefore, concerted efforts among security actors and stakeholders is a key mechanism needed in tackling insecurity. Thus, the agencies should collaborate with each other in areas related to capacity building and personnel training, intelligence and information sharing among others.

I must also call for the revival of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) towards promoting harmony among the services.

Through these mechanisms, it is apt to say that Nigeria would surely continue to navigate in a clear course toward overcoming the lingering security challenges.

Mukhtar is a Staff Writer with Emergency Digest

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