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No zero tolerance in security — Col. Shobo (rtd)



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Col. Shobo Nojeem (rtd), CEO Seagul Security Company, lectures security management and strategies at the University of Lagos. In a chat with OKOSUN OKHUELEIGBE in Lagos, he talks about youth radicalisation in Nigeria and Middle East and the need to take it seriously. Excerpts:

INTELLIGENCE and security information seem not to have been well managed by security agencies in Nigeria. What is your take?
That is very true in any war. Generally, in every aspects of human endeavour, information is important. It is not only during war or insurgency cum terrorism that you need information. If you are looking at information generally, it needs to be protected and synergized. When you look at the protection of information, it stands on a tripod: on the bases on the need to know; the need to hold and the need to take. However, the collector of these information should synergize, harmonise and cooperate in their efforts; otherwise, such information will not be useful to anybody. Along the line, the armed forces, including Para-military organisations have their various intelligence units and when they collect information, rather than disseminate it to those who need to work on it; they use it for their own purpose of getting glory. However, that has changed now. Security agencies are now synergising to ensure that information being collected by those who are saddled with the responsibilities of doing so is disseminated to those who need them for the purpose carrying out efficient services on the field.
Don’t you think that despite these synergies, there are still lapses?
There is no perfect system. Even if we continue to synergise from now to the next century, some lapses will still exist because there is no zero tolerance in security. If you take a look at terrorism or insurgency, it is a global issue. It is not limited to Nigeria only. You are aware that the French government has decided to join the allies by striking the ISIS from the air and Saudi Arabian are doing the same thing while the United States and Nigeria are battling with the same thing. Now Cameroun, Niger and Chad have decided to team up with Nigeria to suppress insurgency in the sub-Sahara region. So it is a global issue.
The issue of logistics and other strategic deployment are often made known before actual deployment. Is this professional?
Probably, I may not be on the same line of thinking with you. I am not aware and have not read it anywhere that military deployment or operational strategy of the military are made known to the public before they are deployed. What you are thinking of or what probably happened was that terrorism swim in the oxygen of publicity.
The present Chief of Air Staff was in Lagos in July where he said the Air force was taking some aircraft from Lagos and a helicopter from Port Harcourt to Yola to join the fight against Boko Haram …?
Those are war propaganda. It is acceptable. That is at strategic level that the gentleman is talking about. It is better for the opposing side to know that there are weapons that can decimate them and stop their nonsense. One of the principles is that before your opponent agrees to go on to negotiation table, it must have seen that they have been suppressed and defeated.
What would happen when you make such revelation and the enemy is so much empowered and use superior weapon to counter you?
Before he said that, he was saying it from the standpoint of strength and he must have weighed the strength of the opposing side. So, there is nothing wrong in that; it is an aspect of strategy and a welcomed principle the military operation.
What should the government be doing to avert escalation of terrorism vis-a-vis limiting the rate at which the youths who are getting radicalized in the middle-east?
Deradicalisation is the current policy of United Kingdom. The Prime Minister of United Kingdom in June came up that he was coming up with a five-year programme for the de-radicalization of the British youths who are going to join the ISIS because they have been de-radicalized on the net. I think it is ideal for other countries, whether third-rld or developed countries to see what is going to be the impact of de-radicalization. I was in United Kingdom for a conference when the issue of de-radicalization of Islamic youths came up and it was focussed on the elders of the Moslem community to try as much as possible and see how far they can de-radicalize the youths. While I was still there, two women absconded with 10 children into Turkey en route from Syria to join the ISIS. Therefore, whichever way you are looking at it, it is to the benefit of the British government to de-radicalize. However, the Nigeria government started the issue of de-radicalization two months ago when they started monitoring people on the social media. The United States government equally has its own policy which is elimination on the point of impact they don’t want to make an arrest, detain or prosecute. Theirs is to eliminate terrorism at the point of impact. If you go to Israel, they have a policy of containment; they don’t want terrorists to enter their country and they started fighting this battle since 1948. The United Kingdom has a policy of de-radicalization and Nigeria government has in place 2011 Counter-Terrorism Act which is dovetailing more on the legal side of it.
Don’t you think the Republic of Niger experience that saw terrorists who were convicted executed last month is a strict policy? Are we not handling Boko Haram issue with kid gloves?
No! No!! No!!! We are not handling it with kid gloves. Niger, Cameroun are Francophone countries and the French government do not agree with the issue of negotiation with terrorists and they look at Boko Haram as enemy of the state. If you look at Boko Haram in Nigeria, most of the components of the Boko Haram that our troops are battling are indigenes.
Is it a wise security decision to give a timeline to end terrorism?
Great decision! I have the right to tell the commanders that the enemy is two kilometres away from here and this is 9 am and our launch is by 1pm; I want to take my launch in the enemy position by 1 pm. So, I wish you good luck! The way and manner you are going to do that job before 1 pm is your responsibility but by 1 pm I am taking my launch in the enemy’s location. I have told you but if you need anything to accomplish that, ask me. If not, whichever way you go about it, I want you to rout the enemy and dislodge them from there and I will take my launch in that place. It is a military strategy on how far they want you to move.
Do you think that is realisable?
We are realising it. Boko Haram has been dislodged from Sambisa forest and the fighter jets are hitting and picking the remnants. They are in their dying days. There is nothing wrong in given timeline. You are using different sticks to deal with the same offence.
With the recall of some soldiers, don’t you think the court martial that tried them must have got it wrong or were wrongly tried?
There is nothing wrong convicting them. There are two issues involved: convicting them through summary trial or court martial. The purpose of court martial is fair hearing because so many people are hearing your case but for summary trial, it is only you and the judge you are the judge and prosecutor.

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