The former Minister of Transport, Hon Rotimi Amaechi and the governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai were both reported to have stated that, there were intelligence reports prior to the Train attack of 28th March, 2022.
The then Minister, even added that failure to act on the intelligence alert particularly the non-release of funds, to procure technical monitoring equipment led to the success of the attack. Equally, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives Ahmed Idris Wase very recently corroborated their position by saying that the DSS had presented 44 security reports before the Kuje prison attack.
The above and other public commentaries on the issues prompted the need to put into perspective the elementary concepts of intelligence production and utilization, as well as a look into the crux of the matter.
The Department of State Services (DSS) is the Intelligence Agency statutorily responsible for the provision of timely intelligence to action agencies and some select stakeholders to aid in policy formulation.
It reports also offer options for policy execution thereby enabling the government improve the wellbeing of the populace. These reports on various subjects are produced and passed on daily. Action agencies include the three arms of Government, relevant MDAs with need-to-know clearance and security agencies responsible for combating crimes and law enforcement in the country.
However, some action agencies also do generate, to corroborate or validate, compare and harmonise these intelligence with or from other sources.
For the DSS, intelligence production involves a rigorous process where information is most times sourced and processed and thereafter, forwarded to the relevant end-users or consumers.
To simplify the production process, an analogy of a refinery, where crude oil(information) is sourced, sent into the processing unit for its break down to useable products (intelligence), and later the products(intelligence) is sent to the depot(action agency) for distribution to the end users suffices.
It should be noted that, intelligence processing is a specialised assignment and ends at the point where the product (intelligence) had been disseminated or distributed to action agencies. The intelligence agencies’ duty statutorily ends after dissemination except otherwise directed by a superior authority. While production appears very critical, its utilisation is also important.
Utilisation involves putting obtained intelligence to effective use. It could range from fighting criminality, modifying some programmes or policies of government, to frustrating threats that had been envisaged.
In the instance of the train attack or the Kuje Prison attack, where intelligence was received in view of the threats to the safety of the facilities, the action agencies, here the Transport Ministry and the Correctional Facility respectively, should not have rested on their efforts in beefing up their areas of operations.
Where immediate actions by the agency responsible could not be taken for whatever reasons, effective liaison with the Police and/or the Army for round-the-clock security enforcement, would have sufficed.
Arising from the above, it could be safe to infer that intelligence was mostly available, confirmed to have been received and yet nothing much in most cases was done. It can also be deduced following comments by the former Minister and Deputy Speaker that, security lapses are mostly from inaction or under assessment of the intelligence provided. Action agencies must live up to their expectation.
The public is worried that action agencies may not have the capacity to confront threats when they arise. Challenges of lack of man power, capacity, liaisons and equipment to pre-empt threats by law enforcement and response agencies remains the bane of fighting insecurity in Nigeria. Intelligence production will continue to be a fruitless effort, if the action agents/agencies do not have the capacity and wherewithal to act appropriately and proactively. Sadly, this is the Crux of the matter.
Though intelligence in abundance, there is need to address growing citizens’ mistrust of government and security agents/agencies. This apathy cannot make for positive civic engagement or assistance in the fight against terrorism and other crimes in the country. The most important or the immediate is to therefore, do a holistic appraisal of our security strategies and develop an approach to win back the minds of the populace to foster participation in the fight against various crimes in the country.
Umana is the Managing Director of Abuja based M.U.U Security Ltd.