Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Worsening Insecurity, Recurring Jailbreaks in Nigeria: Symptoms of A Fragile/Failed State?

A Recap of The Security Dynamics in Nigeria: The 2021 Fragile States Index (FSI) ranks Nigeria as the 12th 'most fragile state in the world' out of the 179 countries appraised. Recall that Nigeria occupied the 14th position in 2020. Put this statistically, in 2020, the fragile states index (FSI) for Nigeria was 97.27. It increased from 94.4 index in 2006 to 97.27 index in 2020, growing at an average annual rate of 0.23%. According to the Fragile States Index powered by the United states-based Fund For peace, State fragility manifests itself in various ways such as: ‘’The loss of physical control of its territory or a monopoly on the legitimate use of force; The erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions; An inability to provide reasonable public services; The inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community’’. The Borno State governor, Professor Babagana Zulum reportedly asserted recently that Nigeria is ranked 146 out of 166 crisis-stricken nations’ ranking on kidnapping, banditry, and forms of criminalities.

On the flip side, a 'failed state' is a country whose government has become incapable of providing the basic functions and responsibilities of a sovereign nation, such as military defense, law enforcement, justice, education, or economic stability. Common characteristics of failed states include ongoing civil violence, corruption, crime, poverty, illiteracy, and crumbling infrastructure. Even if a state is functioning properly, it can fail if it loses credibility and the trust of the people. If we agree with the trite saying that the primary responsibility of any government is to guarantee the security and lives of its citizens and to protect them from the worst vicissitudes of life, do we need further evidence that Nigeria does not have monopoly on the use of force or bereft of physical control of its territory?  A mid-year report by Washington DC-based human rights organization, Global Rights which tracks daily incidents of violent crimes, revealed that no fewer than 3,868 persons were killed in Nigeria between January and June 2021. The Global Rights group also inferred that 3,016 persons were abducted within the timeframe, a 79.6 percent increase compared to 615 incidents recorded within the same period in 2020.

On The Permeating Security Challenges in Nigeria

In August 2021, armed men reportedly attacked the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) in Kaduna State, killing two officers and abducting a third. The Nigerian Defence Academy is the citadel of learning where military officers, including those from neighbouring African countries are trained. Premium Times Newspaper headline of November 14, 2021 reads, ''two generals, 70 others killed in Nigeria last week as insecurity worsens''. According to the online newspaper, ‘’as the security challenges in Nigeria persist, at least 72 persons were killed last week (November 7-13) by non-state actors across the country. The figure consists of at least 12 security personnel including a serving brigadier general  Dzarma Zirkusu, and three soldiers who were killed in a fierce encounter with ISWAP terrorists at Askira Uba LGA of Borno State’’. Similarly, a retired Airforce officer, Air Vice Marshal Muhammed Maisaka, was reportedly murdered in Kaduna.

Boko Haram's faction reportedly collected taxes, mounted roadblocks, carried out search operations and provided certain incentives and financial and material support in Northeast Nigeria. Similarly, bandits imposed taxes on farmers in Niger, Katsina, Zamfara states and other parts of the country. The former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, and a former Director with Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Prof. Robert Rotberg, are of the opinion that it is high time the United States to acknowledged Nigeria as a failed state in light of the many security threats plaguing the country. Despite evidence to the contrary, spin doctors and apologists, mostly in the corridors of power, claim otherwise. Nigeria's Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says Nigeria cannot be described as a failed state, insisting that the country is only witnessing insecurity in some parts. Nigeria's Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, is another idealist. He recently opined that not only was the security situation in Nigeria getting better, but that the existing cases of insecurity were “isolated cases of crime and threats to public safety, peace and security in some parts of the country.” His statement came the same week that at least 40 people including three police officers were killed by armed non-state actors.

Litany, timeline of Prisons breaks in Nigeria

Out of the 50,992 inmates in Nigeria, representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in Nigeria’s custodial centres, are awaiting-trial inmates while only 17,755 inmates, which is mere 26 per cent, are actual convicts. The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, said that 4,369 inmates escaped from custodial centres since 2020. He said while 984 were recaptured, 3,906 inmates were still missing. Nigeria has witnessed no fewer than 14 successful or attempted jailbreaks in the past ten years. Noteworthy incidents include:

§  28 November 2021, Jos prison attack. Bandits at about 17H20, invaded the Jos Correctional Centre, a prison yard situated in the heart of Jos City, not far from the police headquarters, Plateau State. This is the latest attack on a prison facility but will not be the last. Just like how kidnapping metamorphosed in Nigeria, the seed of jailbreaks has been sowed and criminals are taking notes. The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) confirmed that 10 persons were killed, and 252 inmates escaped during the attack by gunmen on Sunday on the Jos Medium Security Custodial Centre. Prior to the attack, the Jos Medium Security Custodial Centre had 1,060 inmates constituting 560 pre-trial detainees and 500 convicts. 

§  22 October 2021, Oyo prison break. Gunmen invaded the Abolongo Correctional Centre in Oyo Town at about 21H30 after using dynamite to blast the wall. Curiously, the invaders did not attack convicted inmates in the prison, 64 in total. This gives a huge clue: the attackers had a target to set free some of their confederates, who had been arrested for crimes and kept in the Abolongo custodial centre. Aftermath of this jailbreak. 

§  September 12, 2021, Kogi prison break. At least 240 inmates escaped the Medium Security Custodial Centre (MSCC) in Kabba/Bunu LGA of Kogi State, following an attack by yet to be identified gunmen. The gunmen used explosives to destroy three sides of the perimeter fence, killed a soldier and a policeman during the attack and thereafter set the prisoners free. This is the second attack on the Kogi prison facility. 

§  April 5 April 2021, Owerri prisons break. Gunmen attacked Owerri Prisons in Owerri, Imo State. They reportedly  hit  the facility with  rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices.  No fewer than  1,844 inmates escaped. 267 of the escapees were kidnappers awaiting trial.

§  October 22, 2020, attempted jailbreak at Ikoyi prison. No fewer than 10 lives were reportedly lost, while more than 30 sustained gunshot injuries when inmates at the Ikoyi Custodial Centre in Lagos attempted to take advantage of the #EndSARS protests and the curfew in Lagos to escape. However, military men, who were mobilized to the scene, foiled the attempt. 

§  October 19, 2020, Edo prisons break. A group of people under the guise of ENDSARs protesters, attacked the prisons in Benin City and Oko in Edo State freeing about 1,993 inmates. 

§  June 24, 2016, Kuje prisons break. There was a jailbreak at the Kuje Medium Security Prisons  in the Federal Capital Territory. Two high profile inmates – Solomon Amodu and Maxwell Ajukwu reportedly escaped   through the fence. On 29 August 2016, there was another  attempted jailbreak at the same facility.

 

§  December 6, 2014,  Minna prisons break. The  Minna Medium Prisons was attacked by three  gunmen suspected to be armed robbers. About   270 prisoners  escaped. One security officer was  injured. 

§  November 2014, Kogi prisons break. There was a breach at the  Federal Medium Security Prisons in Koto-Karffi,  Kogi State. The attackers were believed to be Boko Haram members.  About 144 inmates escaped while one was  killed.  

§  November 30, 2014, Ekiti prisons break. There was an attack on the  Federal Prisons at Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State. The incident led to the escape of 341 inmates and death of  one prison official. 

§  October 10, 2014, Lagos prisons break. There was  an unsuccessful   break at the Kirikiri Medium Prisons in Lagos State. The  incident left 20 inmates dead; 80 others injured while twelve escaped. 

§  June 30, 2013, Ondo prisons break. The Olokuta Medium Security Prisons in Akure,  Ondo State was   attacked by 50 gunmen. No fewer than 175 inmates escaped. Two  were killed  and one  was injured. 

§  January 4, 2013, Ogun prisons break. The Sagamu Minimum Prisons, Ogun State was attacked. Twenty inmates  reportedly escaped, and many  prisons officials were injured.

§  September 7, 2010, Bauchi prison break. More than 50 gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram. attacked the Bauchi Prisons. About  721 inmates reportedly escaped while  five were killed  and six injured.

Solutions To prison breaks in Nigeria:

1.        Nigerian security and intelligence agencies must be proactive and not reactive. Prison breaks don't happen overnight. Prior to the attack, masterminds strategize, communicate, amass logistics/weapons, engage in physical surveillance, reconnaissance before they launch the attack. Actionable intelligence, inter-agency synergy and information sharing can thwart such attacks. Whither the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps - NAIC, Naval Intelligence, Directorate of Air Intelligence, Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID), the NSCDC Directorate of Intelligence and Investigation), Customs Intelligent Unit or CIU), the National Intelligence Agency, NIAs of this world? This should be there forte, not hounding antagonists of the ruling government.

2.      There’s need for a biometric database of convicted criminals searchable in real-time. It is cheering news that the Nigerian Correctional Services is pursuing this line of action.

3.      Urgent need for random vulnerability and risk assessment of all correctional facilities in nigeria.

4.      Installation of state-of-the-art security gadgets such as solar powered (in the absence of regular electricity) CCTV cameras at prison facilities.

5.      Overhauling the Nigerian judicial system that will lead to the speedy trials and delivery of judgments in all cases. It is unfortunate that majority of prison inmates in Nigeria are awaiting trial.

6.      Reformation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of prisoners before they are freed will reduce the tendency for recidivism. Going to prison is not a death sentence.  Nigeria should take a cue from the Norwegian Prison System which is structured to ensure rehabilitation and reformation of offenders.

Conclusion:

If the frequency and trend in prison breaks in nigeria is not a threat to national security in Nigeria, one wonders what is. The idea that nearly 4,000 prisoners, some of them convicted murderers, are silhouetted amongst Nigerians, is effing mindboggling and scary. Though there’s paucity of reliable data on criminal recidivism in Nigeria, Soyombo (2009) reported that the rate of occurrence of criminal recidivism in Nigeria in 2005 was 37.3%. Similarly, Abrifor et al. (2010) estimated the prevalence of recidivism in Nigerian prisons at 52.4% in 2010. A report on trend and pattern of recidivism shows that 81% of male criminal inmate offenders and 45% of female criminal inmate offenders were re-arrested within 36 months of discharge/release from the prison custody (Wilson, 2009 and Abrifor et al., 2010). Given the high rate of criminal recidivism in Nigeria, the lack of ‘safety net’ and high rate of unemployment, Nigeria’s stick-in-the-mud justice system, prison congestion and jailbreaks will not peter out anytime soon in Nigeria. While we don’t wish it to happen, if the security trend in Nigeria is anything to go by, it is only a matter of time before another prison break or an embarrassing assault on Nigeria’s national security infrastructure is re-enacted. As is always the case prior to elections, the political entropy and the security situation in Nigeria will likely nosedive as the 2023 general elections approaches. Whether you agree or disagree with the notion that Nigeria is oscillating between a fragile, failing or a failed state, the home truth and takeaway is that inter-alia, the Nigerian security, and intelligence agencies are overwhelmed and the current security situation in Nigeria is unprecedented, unpredictable, and may not improve anytime soon. This was re-echoed by the Taraba state governor, Darius Ishaku, who admitted while appearing as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today, that the 36 governors in Nigeria are helpless when it comes to tackling insecurity. If the Chief Security Officers of the 36 states in Nigeria are lost, imagine the fate of the common man.

Let's continue to be vigilant and situationally aware!

 

Written by:

©Don Okereke, 

A security analyst/consultant, researcher, writer, military veteran.

November 30, 2021

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Important Security And Safety Tips When Lodging in A Hotel

Preamble: Some of us may have come across the reported ritual killing of a postgraduate student, one Timothy Adegoke Oladare at Hilton And Resort Hotel in Ife. He was based in Abuja but reportedly traveled to Ile Ife in Osun state to write his master’s degree exam but was allegedly murdered in his hotel room where he lodged. Similarly, it was reported that closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras allegedly hidden in Air Conditioners were discovered in rooms at the Pavillion Hotel, Ayepe, in the Odogbolu area of Ogun state.

Hotel Security Tips

  1. Before choosing a hotel, do some research and due diligence, probably online. Find out what kind of crime is common in that area? Is there a terrorist or kidnapping threat?  You may wish to use the street view functionality of Google Maps — if available — to get a visual sense of the hotel location.
  2. Choosing hotel room/Floor. For a high rise building, choose a room between the second and fourth floors (never the top floor), furthest away from the side of the lobby. The ground floor is too easy to access. Most fire truck ladders can reach up to the second, third and even fourth floors.
  3. Don't be gender-specific when reserving a room. Provide only your first initial and last name.
  4. Ascertain if there's deployment of armed security operatives or other government security agents in the hotel especially at night.
  5. Do well to study the hotel's layout, find exits or escape routes, count doors to stairways, identify the nearest emergency exit and staircase upon arrival at a hotel.
  6. When you arrive at the hotel, call to inform a family member or friends or colleagues about the hotel you are lodging in. Give them the name and address of the hotel.
  7.  It is advisable to pay for hotel reservation with bank/online transfer and not cash. This serves as an evidence that you lodged or paid for the hotel accommodation. Avoid any hotel that insists on cash payments and would not accept direct bank-facilities transaction. Scan the payment receipt and send to a family member, friend, or colleague.
  8. Always carry a personal flashlight or touch light (your phone's light can be useful too) should you lose power in an unfamiliar.
  9. Desist from discussing your business or travel plans and movements during your stay in a hotel, especially in public areas where people may eavesdrop your conversation. Also, do not discuss your room number while standing in the lobby (or anywhere).
  10. If someone knocks on your door claiming to be hotel staff and you haven’t requested room service, contact (call) the front desk before opening the door to verify the person is indeed a hotel employee.
  11. Always make your hotel room appear to be occupied by leaving the television or radio on. You may also wish to put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
  12. While in the room, do a physical inspection, scan the room, the wardrobe, windows, mattress to be sure that nothing, including a secret CCTV camera is hidden inside a fake smoke detector, alarm clock, or picture frame, AC power adapter, Alarm sensor, Telephone Desk, standing lamp, Power outlet, Wall clock, Mirror, Alarm clock, Soap dish, Toothbrush holder, Tissue boxes, DVD player or other set-top boxes. Detecting a Hidden Camera Lens. All cameras have a lens, and all lenses reflect light to some degree. One of the easiest checks for a hidden camera is to close the curtains, turn the lights off, and use your phone’s flashlight to look for telltale reflections where they shouldn’t be. Since light needs to hit the lens at the right angle to be reflected back to you, you’ll need to scan the room slowly, and shine the light from different spots. Note that this approach won’t work for a camera that’s hidden inside a mirror, or anything else with a highly-reflective surface. Detecting Infrared Light from Hidden Cameras. It is possible to use your phone to detect a hidden camera via the infrared light it emits. Turn off the lights, put your phone into selfie mode. Now, point a normal TV remote at the front camera, and push any of the remote’s buttons. If a small, bright light appears on your phone screen when the button is pushed, you’re good to go. There are various smartphone apps that can help you detect hidden cameras such as Hidden Spy Camera Detector, Radarbot, Detectify, Glint Finder, Hidden Device Detector, Ghost Camera Finder, to scan for frequencies used by recording equipment.
  13. Keep the door locked as soon as you enter your hotel room. A no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. Always use the deadbolt and security chain regardless of how excessive it may seem.
  14. Don't open the door to strangers. It may be less obvious, however, if the stranger claims to be a hotel employee. If you're not expecting anyone, call the front desk to verify. When you do open the door, keep the security chain engaged until you're absolutely certain.
  15. During your stay in the hotel especially if you would be using the hotel’s Wi-Fi, use a VPN (VIRTUAL PRIVACY NETWORK). Otherwise just about anyone can access all the information on your device. Activating a VPN provides more security for your devices and the information stored there. Most computer security companies like Norton have VPN options.
  16. When leaving the hotel, inform a family member, a friend, or a colleague that you are about to check out. Walk with confidence and not like someone who doesn’t know his/her way around.
  17. Remain vigilant and situationally aware!

©Don Okereke is a security analyst, thought leader, writer, active citizen and ex-serviceman. He’s a passionate advocate for cyber/security awareness.

November 24, 2021

Monday, 14 June 2021

Monday, 12 April 2021

Gunmen Abduct Catholic Priest in Imo State

Gunmen reportedly abducted a Catholic Priest, Rev. Prof. Izu Marcell Onyeocha at Ihube Community in Okigwe Local Government Area of Imo State.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

Boko Haram Attacks Borno Community, Kill Four, Burn United Nations Facilities

No fewer than four people, including soldiers were reportedly killed on Saturday evening as suspected members of ISWAP, a faction of the Boko Haram, attacked Damasak, a border community in Borno State, security sources and witnesses said.

Monday, 5 April 2021

UPDATED: Security Trend Analysis: Is Insurgency 2.0 Fermenting In Nigeria?

Preamble: At the risk of painting a gloomy picture, I dare submit that the tempo of social tension, political entropy, armed conflict, wanton bloodletting, ungoverned spaces, and the centrifugal forces at play in Nigeria is to say the least, ramping up every day and very disturbing. Not to be outdone, Nigeria is increasingly ticking all the right boxes of a fragile state and upping the misery index. To be sure, Nigeria increased from 94.4 index in 2006 to 97.27 index in 2020. Lest I forget, it's not all gloomy, Nigeria constructed a $1.95 billion railway from Kano state into Maradi, Niger Republic. Nigeria's Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi confirmed that he personally begged the Republic of Niger to allow Nigeria to link them with the railway. Moving on…Aforesaid upshots in Nigeria are fueled by widening gap in social cohesion, entrenched marginalization, patent nepotism, corruption, inequality, injustice, uncurbed proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and attendant quest for the Balkanization of the country by sundry self-determination groups.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Jihadists Attack United Nations Base in Nigeria, Trapping 25 Aid Workers

Jihadists linked to the Islamic State reportedly attacked a UN base and overrun a humanitarian hub in northeastern Nigeria, trapping 25 aid workers, security and humanitarian sources said.

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

President Buhari Unveils Nigeria National Cybersecurity Policy And Strategy 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, observed that the growth and development of the internet have caused a rise in the threats posed by cybercriminals, online financial fraudsters and cyber terrorists who he said are causing apprehension in the country.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

1,570 Nigerians Kidnapped In 11 Months, N311 million Paid in Ransom

Investigation reveals that no fewer than 1,570 Nigerians were reportedly kidnapped between January and November 2020 in 366 reported cases.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

#EndSARS Campaign: A Metaphor For Better Policing System


The #EndSARS & #EndPoliceBrutality campaign has continued to dominate public space following atrocities committed by some bad eggs in the Nigeria Police Force. These atrocities, no doubt attained a high level of notoriety in recent times and equally generated a huge public outcry resulting in nationwide protests and condemnations being conferred on the NPF. 

Monday, 28 September 2020

As Nigeria Scrambles For K St in The United States

One of the most often used criticisms in American Politics over the most recent election cycles has been the perceived influence of the lobbyists on K St and their influence on Capitol Hill.  Most of the concern has focused on Domestic Legislation including what are known as pet projects or pork.

There is another facet of K. St that should be scrutinized. Various actors from overseas have sought a voice in Washington for decades.  This is true regardless whether or not it’s a Government dealing with an Insurgency or vice versa. Both sides have sought champions here in Washington, More often than not the focus has been on which Member of Congress they should reach out to.

One nation that falls under this criteria and seems to be lurching along from crisis to crisis is Nigeria.  Most analysts became aware of Nigerian efforts after the 2019 Presidential Polls in the country. The defeated candidate Atiku Abubakar reached a deal with the Firm Fein & DelVallle PLLC to assist him with challenging the results to claim that he was the authentic President of Nigeria. 

The issue of elections in Nigeria is proving to be a potential source of income for lobbyists. The webpage for CLS Strategies that lists their International clients states that the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) is one of their international partners. This partnership should be closely monitored for a recent move by Facebook. A recent report found that this firm set up fake social media profiles in three Latin American Countries in an effort to disrupt the Venezuelan Elections.  If this action was discovered in this Hemisphere it shudders to think what operations that CLS Strategies will be willing to undertake in support of this client. 

Another firm that the PDP retained is the Washington office of Ballard Strategies. The deal with the Florida based firm came into being back in 2018 with the firm providing support for the PDP for the 2019 elections as well. .

It should be noticed that it is not just established political parties in Nigeria that have reached out to K St for representation but fringe elements and separatists as well. One such entity is IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) which is considered to be a terrorist group by the Nigerian Government. In an effort to improve its image the group has contacted Mercury Public Affairs to represent them here in Washington. 

The group is serious about how they want their image to be presented in Washington. On Social Media the group has been active in offering a safe haven for Nigeria’s suffering Christian Community on various social media platforms. When President Trump met with President Buhari in 2018 this topic was raised by the US President.  Promoting this subject is thought to be a way to ensure that their voice is heard here in Washington. It is way too early to determine whether or not this will bear fruit, but this cannot be ignored by Nigeria watchers. 

In another interesting twist Mercury has denied that it was lobbying for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her effort to be head of the WTO (World Trade Organization earlier this year. It should be noted that on June 5th of this year that Mercury Public Affairs registered with Congress to represent Ms. Okonjo-Iweala in both Houses of Congress.

Biafra is not the only flashpoint within Nigeria that has garnered attention on K St. The Governor of Kaduna State Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai had found a voice on K St back in 2007. He was represented by KRL International. Why is this important?  Over the last several months there has been violence in the southern part of the state. According to Human Rights Watch over 170 were killed in the first seven months of the year. The situation has led the local citizens to set up their own patrols. It is not clear what the current status of this relationship currently is but Kaduna is becoming an area of concern.

The situation in Nigeria remains fluid and at certain instances rapidly moving. It appears on the surface that the relationship with Washington is paramount and they desire to make sure that their voices are heard on the Potomac.  This is irregardless whether or not they want to gain political power or even to form their own state. The other side of this coin is the willingness by some groups on K St that have the motive of providing any service to any client to earn the dollar. This is a most interesting partnership.

 Written by: Scott Morgan

Gunmen Abduct Catholic Priest in Delta State, South South Nigeria For Second Time

Gunmen suspected to be herdsmen reportedly kidnapped Rev. Fr. Jude Onyebadi from his farm on the Isele-Uku/Issele-Mkpetime Road in the Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. 

The victim, a Catholic priest, was kidnapped on his farm about two years ago and released a few days after.

Fr. Onyebadi, who is the resident priest at the Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Issele-Azagba, a neighbouring village, was said to have been taken into the bush alongside three of his workers.

The four victims were reportedly kidnapped around 7pm on Saturday but the three workers were set free after five hours, while the priest was being held incommunicado.

Community sources told our correspondent that a search party organised by the family members, in conjunction with local vigilante groups, had not achieved the desired result.

He said, “The local government vigilante groups are still combing the bush as of Sunday afternoon to rescue the priest.

“Since Saturday night, the abductors have not established any contact with the family or the Catholic Diocese of Issele-Uku to state their demands.”

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Onome Onovwakpoyeya, confirmed the abduction of the priest on Sunday.

“The command has already activated its rescue operation with the intention of freeing the cleric unhurt and possibly apprehending the culprits,” Onovwakpoyeya said.

Culled from: Punch Newspaper


Monday, 7 September 2020

United States Support To Security Sector Reform in Fragile States

Introduction:

It is hard to imagine a comprehensive accounting of state fragility or conflict that does not focus on the role of security institutions and armed actors. The origins and nature of “fragility” in any society relate directly to how that society is organized to control and limit violence through formal and informal channels and institutions, including security institutions.1