AT a colloquium, some eminent Nigerians have asserted that security agents and the military are yet to understand the structure and operations of the Boko Haram group.
They said that the state institutions do not understand what is happening inside the armed group.
The forum facilitated in Abuja at the weekend by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), became a “freedom square” of some sort.
One of the key speakers, Dr. Usman Bugaje, said: “I don’t think we know what is happening… Boko Haram is a franchise; all sorts of things are happening inside the sect. About five elements are in the mix – some political and what have you, others religious and others socio-economic… but there is no thorough intelligence and dossier on them…we need to understand their mindset. What is their motivation? When some people decide to kill themselves in a struggle, engage in suicide bombing, what is motivating them? Intelligence agencies need to get that. Our security agencies can’t see anything? They can’t see examples from the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Taliban.”
Bugaje added that security and intelligence agencies “need training and re-orientation. Even the Chief of Army Staff who keeps talking all over the place declaring war on the sect needs to send his people for training. You don’t declare war like that. When you do that you send signals to the enemy camp and they will reinforce… they need new strategies…”
Two other discussants, Ayo Obe, a lawyer and human rights activist, drew extensively the Northern Ireland’s IRA’s struggle against Britain while Prof. Ayo Atsenuwa of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, said the first trouble with the management of security challenge is the way security agencies’ chiefs and public information managers constantly declare war on the sect.
“We are in a state of war with Boko Haram. If we declare a war like that, the enemy will prepare. That is not a strategic plan.”
Bugage, a former senior presidential assistant and former member of the House of Representatives, hinged his presentation on three main planks: incompetence of the state, capacity challenge of security and intelligence institutions, huge trust deficit, collapse of institutions and poverty of politics in Nigeria.
But Obe, former president, Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), likened Boko Haram to IRA, whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom (UK) and establish a socialist republic within a United Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion.
She noted, however, that the Boko Haram insurgency mission is still not clear to the citizens of Nigeria yet as they are on the scene now “without rhyme or reason” and that is why most people interpret their acts within the context of “criminality or terror” against the state and the people.
She said there were similarities with the British government’s high-handed handling of IRA with what the Federal Government is doing with Boko Haram without success “even as they assure people everyday that they are on top of the situation.”
She lamented that in handling the security challenge, the police and other security operatives abuse human rights by resorting to political correctness most times.