General Christopher Musa, the Chief of Defence Staff, has disclosed that certain terrorists from Boko Haram in the Northeast had plotted assaults from the prison with the help of prison guards.
This was revealed by Musa on Tuesday during his appearance before the House of Representatives with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the service chiefs.
Approximately 73 abandoned woodlands have been overrun by bandits, according to the CDS. The self-described head of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Simon Ekpa, should be extradited from his base of operations in Finland, according to his demands.
Musa claimed that certain prison guards in the Northeast were corrupt and that they helped terrorists from Boko Haram who had been arrested organise their attacks.
“The problem of correctional facilities,” he said. During our debriefing with some of the Boko Haram members who had been caught in the Northeast, they shared with us their methods for organising field operations from the prison. They exchange money.
“They use some of the warders there. We are not saying all of them are corrupt. They use their accounts, and the deal is that anyone whose account is used, they share it 50/50. Those are the challenges.”
Musa lamented that media reportage in the country often glorified bandits and terrorists but demoralised soldiers.
He said, “Most times we think security is only the responsibility of security forces. I say no, everybody has a responsibility to play.
“We can never be everywhere. So, we need educational sensitisation programmes for all Nigerians to understand that security is everybody’s responsibility. What you see, you talk about it. You don’t just keep quiet and say that this is for the police or the army. Everybody has a role.
“We need to have a system, where we can train from schools, from primary school, where Nigerians can be made to understand they need to take ownership of security. The awareness will be made easier.”
The head of defence added that they had come to the conclusion that effective governance was the key to combating insecurity, and that insecure situations tend to decrease when good governance is present.
He clarified that security encompassed not just military security but also security related to food, health, social, and educational aspects. He claimed that these aspects always play a part and that issues arise whenever there is a deficiency in good governance.
“We are able to achieve so much in the Northeast because we have an element of good governance,” said the CDS.
We have observed governors that are willing to go above and beyond to ensure the happiness of their constituents, which is why we are seeing the successes that we are.
“As I mentioned earlier, the issue of Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) has remained the most potent threat that we have. They put these IEDs on the ground and because there are no roads, a vehicle climbs it and everyone in that vehicle is either killed or dismembered.
“So, this becomes a problem. If people cannot eat, if people are hungry, no matter how you tell them to keep the peace, they will not and that breeds criminality. Those are the aspects we are looking at, particularly good governance.”
Musa also complained about the country’s porous borders, stressing that there are about a thousand border crossings, where people come in and out without check.
He stated, “That is where we have the movement of light weapons and small arms. Human trafficking is rampant. It is important that we must establish good border control, so that we can know the people coming in and going out.”
Musa added that Niger State alone had over 73 unmanned forests, saying these are places where non-state actors operate.
He alleged that the judiciary was frustrating the war against terrorism in the country.
According to him, “The issue of judiciary. I have been in the North-east. There were a lot of Boko Haram elements that have been captured. We have kept them for five/six years. We, the armed forces, can arrest but cannot prosecute.
“Some of them have been found wanting but no prosecution. We are keeping them for this lengthy period – everyone is accusing the armed forces in keeping them against their human rights but we cannot prosecute.
“Another aspect of the judiciary is that you use all your effort to make an arrest, you hand them over, and before you enter your vehicle, the man has been released on bail. Now, you have risked yourself in doing that, by the time he is released, he goes to tell the people the person that arrested him.
“Now your family members or you are at risk. It is getting to a state, where the security forces do not want to make any effort. We have the issue in the South-south. A lot of the ships – the last ship that was arrested, was arrested 10 years ago – the ship went and changed its name, changed its colour and came back again.
“Ten years they were arrested again. By the time you hand over the ship, before you know it, it is released. I think that is one area we must look into. We must have a special court to look into it. That is why we arrest and destroy them because the longer we keep them, it becomes a problem because we come under pressure to release them.”
Musa said, “Simon Ekpa has become a menace to this country. The country must act on it diplomatically. Finland is having a freeway, encouraging him to do what he is doing. His utterances and actions are affecting what is happening in Nigeria.
“We should never allow that. Our foreign service should step in. It is either we invite the ambassador to come and explain why they are protecting him. And he is doing us more harm because, by his utterances, a lot of people have been killed.”