When the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, was appointed as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, NSA, by President Bola Tínubu a few months ago, many doubted his capability and capacity to tackle the myriad of security problems facing the country.
Those who were against his appointment argued that Ribadu did not have the requisite military experience to man the all-important office of the NSA. Recall that the former EFCC boss is the first without a military background since the return to democratic governance in 1999.
Ribadu, a retired Assistant Inspector General, AIG, of Police, took over the role of NSA at a time when the country was beset by troubling security challenges.
First, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) ranks Nigeria among the ten most terrorized countries in the world. The non-profit think tank, Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) publishes the GTI and the most recent report indicates Nigeria, Syria, and Somalia, saw marginal improvement, they remained among the most terrorized.
Also, bands of herdsmen routinely ransack farming communities, marauding bandits waylay towns, a low-grade pogrom is being ignored in the Middle Belt while highways across the nation have morphed into hunting grounds for kidnappers.
Among military officers, morale is low while corruption is rife. A series of operations sanctioned by the military brass have failed to curb oil theft, banditry, and wanton killings across the country.
In addition, police officers are often difficult to tell apart from armed robbers and VIP escort is the most preferred posting for the country’s elite police force.
However, Ribadu has proven to be a round peg in a round hole by carrying out the president’s charge to him to work with security agencies to restore security and order in the country. Security reports from different parts of the country have shown that the spate of insecurity has drastically reduced since he took over office.
The NSA had on assumption, promised to live up to the expectations of Nigerians and secure the country from all forms of insecurity such as terrorism, banditry, and kidnapping, amongst others.
“We will stabilise this country, we will secure our country and we will make Nigeria peaceful because we believe the time has come for this country to enjoy peace, restore order and rule of law just like any other country in the world.
“Securing the nation is a continuous process. We will look at what has been done and build on it. We will count on your support in the course of discharging our responsibilities.
“Mr. President has a huge commitment to securing every inch of our country. We will work with all stakeholders to deliver on this vision”, Ribadu assured.
With the enormous task before the NSA, the first 100 days in office of Tinubu’s administration have shown that the President didn’t make a mistake in appointing the former police officer as his security adviser.
The administration has recorded success in the fight against insurgency in the last three months. The military has neutralised 817 terrorists, apprehended 1,326 criminals and rescued 721 hostages in different operations across the country. Those apprehended include 42 kidnappers, 231 terrorists’ collaborators, 33 armed robbers, 80 cattle rustlers, 325 militias, 27 rail vandals, 73 gunrunners and 191 suspected oil thieves.
A total of 4,560 terrorists and their families surrendered to troops in the North-East during the period. The troops also recovered 501 weapons, 3,577 livestock, 3,269 assorted kinds of ammunition, and 674 other equipment within the period under review. In the North East, the troops of Operation HADIN KAI neutralised 240 terrorists, arrested 276 terrorists and collaborators, and rescued 147 kidnapped hostages, as well as surrendered 4,560 combatant fighters with their families to troops.
They also recovered 169 assorted weapons, 1,195 assorted ammunition and 199 other equipment, comprising 57 AK47 rifles, one GPMG, 2 HK21 rifles, one FN rifle, one G3 rifle, one pistol, 22 dane guns, one double barrel, 73 AK47 magazines and three hand grenades.
Also recovered were two LMG magazines, one RPG tube, two tear gas launchers, 674 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 500 rounds of 7.62mm x 54mm, 20 PKM rounds, one cartridge, two vehicles, 29 motorcycles, 47 bicycles, 18 mobile phones, 13 steering rod and pumps, five gear boxes and 158 livestock.
In the North Central, troops of Operation Safe Haven neutralised 94 terrorists, arrested 477 suspects and rescued 76 kidnapped hostages, as well as recovered 82 assorted weapons and 760 assorted ammunition.
The breakdown includes 20 AK47 rifles, five revolvers, 27 fabricated rifles, six fabricated pistols, 13 dane guns, five pistols, two pump actions, six AK47 magazines, 523 rounds of 7.62mm special ammo, 190 rounds of 5.5mm ammo, 31 rounds 9mm ammo, 18 cartridges and 1,722 livestock.
Troops of Operation Whirl Stroke also neutralised 83 terrorists, arrested 104 suspects and rescued 18 kidnapped hostages and also recovered 37 weapons, 68 assorted ammunition and 127 items and recovered two AK47 rifles, one FN rifle, five locally fabricated pistols, two dane guns, one pistol, 15 AK47 magazines, two G3 magazines, two FN magazines, one GPMG barrel, one Ak47 barrels, three rifle butts and one locally fabricated bullet.
Furthermore, the troops recovered four woodland camouflage, 15 motorcycles, nine mobile phones, six vehicles, five cutlasses, two pairs of black boots, one fragmental jacket, one generator set, three knives, two machetes and one saw and metal. In the North-West, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji neutralised 248 terrorists, arrested 116 suspected terrorists and rescued 359 kidnapped hostages as well as recovered a total of 67 assorted weapons, 926 assorted ammunition and 160 other incriminating items. In the South-South, troops of Operation Delta Safe neutralised 69 combatants, arrested 191 oil theft collaborators and rescued 12 kidnapped hostages.
Security agents also intercepted 6.6 million litres of stolen crude oil, 3.5 million litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), 188,650 kerosine and 65,600 litres of petrol. The troops also discovered and destroyed 249 boats, 28 pumping machines, and three vessels, as well as recovered a total of 51 assorted weapons.
In the South East, the troops of Operation UDO KA neutralised 80 combatants, arrested 162 IPOB/ESN criminals and rescued 109 kidnapped hostages. The troops also recovered 63 assorted weapons, 320 assorted ammunitions and 166 other incriminating items within the period under review.
These achievements have been attributed to the efforts and leadership qualities of the NSA and his resolve to ensure that the mandate of President Tinubu is achieved. Despite these successes, Ribadu is aware that he has to work harder to meet the high expectations of Nigerians, who in the last decade have waited in vain for a solution to the high level of insecurity that has negatively impacted the country’s growth and development.
“Where we are today, you can see already, things are improving in our country. If you see the record of crimes and activities of criminals going down, it will continue to go down. So, we’ll secure the country. Nigerians have seen the quality of the people who are given the opportunity. They are probably some of the best we have and they are not going to fail you, they’ll certainly deliver,” the NSA stated.
Apart from Ribadu’s success with the military, he has promised to reposition the police. He said that the goal of his office is to ensure that the police take full control of internal security without any need to invite the military. Speaking at the recent annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, Ribadu said achieving the goal will help the army to focus better on external security and terrorism.
Ribadu added that there must be closer inter-agency collaboration as well as capacity building to ensure success in the fight against insecurity. According to him, national security is a collective effort where all ministries, departments, agencies, civil society groups and citizens have to work collaboratively to ensure a secure nation.
His words: “Community support is also critical for the success of curbing insecurity. The goal is to get the police to take full charge of internal security without having to invite the military to wade into the internal security of the country so that they can focus on external security.”
The NSA further said there is a need to strengthen the legislative framework and review strategies and policies on security. He noted that the government will spare nothing to ensure synergy among all security agencies. He added that it was important to work with the media to reach a wide audience to ensure that any information on security was accurate and not fake news.
Interestingly, the efforts of the NSA in tackling the security challenges have been applauded by Nigerians. There is a consensus among security experts that the key to containing Nigeria’s insecurity was to go beyond focusing on the deployment of troops to emphasizing intelligence gathering and the use of soft power.
A Certified Protection Professional and MD/CEO of Abokus Integrated Security Ltd, Sam Otoboeze, said: “Security is not about guarding the gate or carrying weapons but about solving a security problem without even a gun. That’s what modern security is all about – securing without weapons.
“There must be proper integration of the security systems we have. So, the proper integration will be technology integrating with the people and people integrating the law. The three arms must work together and it can only be done by those who have been taught how to deploy this integration.”
Experts noted that Ribadu has done well in effectively deploying both kinetic and non kinetic measures to solve security issues, stressing that kinetic alone can’t solve all the security challenges in the country.