…True Federalism will resolve some of these challenges – Attah

ISIS, Alqaeda infiltration: Nigeria's intelligence services had prior info before US

By Omeiza Ajayi

ABUJA: A retired director in the Department of State Services DSS, Barr. Mike Ejiofor has downplayed last Tuesday’s report by the United States of America to the effect that some terrorist groups were trying to make an inroad into Southern Nigeria.

This was as the elder statesman and former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah again demanded a return to true federalism, saying the current unitary system is partly responsible for the wave of insecurity currently ravaging the country.

Dagvin Anderson, commander of U.S Special Operations Command in Africa, had during a digital press conference on Tuesday said: “the Islamic State in the Sahel ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further to south into the littoral areas”.

However, Ejiofor told Vanguard that Nigeria’s intelligence services had since been in receipt of the intelligence reports and had been working with sister-agencies to avert such trend.

He said it would be counter-productive for the DSS to have released such information as it would only have caused panic among the populace.

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According to him, the US could afford to do that so as to alert her citizens in the country and other partners in the global war against terrorism.

He said; “They have been in Nigeria for quite some time and you would recall that our security forces have been arresting some foreigners following the situation in Libya, Syria, Lebanon and others. They mostly moved into the Sahel. Our security forces, especially the intelligence services like the Department of State Services DSS are aware of this information and are collaborating with the US and other nations.

“It would not be right for instance, for the DSS to alert Nigerians to their efforts behind the scenes because if people knew what our intelligence services are doing behind the scene, it might create panic. So, I believe that America just issued that alert for others to know because if you recall, the American General who spoke also said that they are collaborating with Nigeria. So, it is possible to alert their nationals and not necessarily Nigerians. That has always been their attitude, to alert their nationals in such countries. Nigeria on its part is taking care of its own challenges in collaboration with the US because this is a global war and once such intels are obtained, some people can decide to alert other nations.

“However, going to the South, you know the terrain is different from what they have in the North which is contiguous to the Sahel. They might not truly operate in the South but nobody is ruling out the possibility of them trying to make some infiltrations. Do not also forget that there have been kidnappings in the South involving some Fulani herdsmen and who also intermingle with them. So, why not ruling out the possibility, I think the security forces especially the intelligence services must be on top of the situation”, Ejiofor added.

True Federalism

Speaking with Vanguard in his Abuja home, Attah urged the federal government to scale up efforts at tackling the menace of insecurity.

He said; “If there is any black mark that this government will have, it won’t be in the area of the economy but security. If the economy is bad, you will recover from it. The educational standard will be good. They have actually handled this Covid-19 issue very well. Let nobody deny that one. Health facilities would improve.

Another Administration can also come and improve on them but when it comes to this type of prolonged killings, it can be difficult to tackle. What was the Mafia thing in Italy all about? Families retaliating for killings of their members many years ago. When it comes to killings especially by an unidentifiable group, it is very serious.

“And all of these things, if we can just allow this country to go back to how we were before, some of these issues would be tackled. Why didn’t we have these killings before? You have the Fulani colony in Jos. Why were they not fighting before? It is all because of this unitary system. But I thank God, Gowon has said it, Babangida has said it, Obasanjo who almost ‘killed’ me for holding this view has now joined them so say that the one thing or problem that the military created for this country was to have given it a unitary system. Let me not blaspheme, but even if you bring an angel to preside over this system, he would fail because it is not really about the individuals. I gave an example before when there is a coup everybody jubilates and they believe that the new government would be their saviour. Then when that government is sent out and another one comes, people jubilate again, thinking the new government would be better than the former. So, you can see it is the system and not the people”.

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