Yusuf Anas, a retired Air Commodore and former Director of Public Relations and Information (DOPRI), Nigerian Air Force, is the Executive Secretary of the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC). The Centre is a brain child of the Forum of Spokespersons for Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA). He said in this interview with ISIOMA MADIKE that the security agents have to change tactics to achieve results on Kaduna-Abuja Road.
Kaduna-Abuja highway is giving many sleepless nights. What could be the attraction on that road?
The simple reason for attraction is the fact that people are silently agreeing to pay ransom. It has become a money-making venture for the kidnappers. The relations of those kidnapped do this without recourse to the security agents. But the fact remains that the security operatives need to really intensify their efforts to arrest the situation because it’s giving a very bad image not to Kaduna State alone but to the country in general. It sends a wrong and bad signal to the world that there are security issues in Nigeria. And I believe that it is not an impossible task for our security agents to nip the menace in the bud, especially in this digital age. I want to also believe that our security operatives are capable of arresting the perpetrators of these heinous crimes. There should be collaborations between the security agents and the telecom operators if progress must be made on this matter. But it’s not enough that these people are arrested, I think example must be made, people arrested must be quickly charged to courts with appropriate sanctions applied. If this is done, one, two, three times, I think it will go a long way in reducing the spate of killings and kidnappings on that road.
The IGP raised a special squad to tackle this danger. Is it that the problem is beyond them?
Well, the security operatives are not magicians. They will always rely on people, the communities and the villages around, who should avail them with necessary information and they should use such to information to quickly address these challenges. So, it’s very important that the security agents, the police and DSS in particular, should continue to employ all the necessary apparatus they have to be able to get information and also be able to use the information positively. Occasionally people have mentioned and said that they have provided information to the police but that prompt action is usually not taken. Yes, they may be some challenges here and there, but if they apply more efforts, I think they should be able to address the situation. Information is key; the public should always have the desire to come to the aid of the police in this sort of instance. Such will go a long way in facilitating the arrest of these criminals on that road.
The many road blocks mounted by the police on that road seem not to be working. Should the police change strategy?
Well, policing is dynamic; they should apply this dynamism to their own advantage. The criminals also kept changing their mode of operation, always trying to beat the security operatives to it. So, I want to believe that our security agents should apply this dynamism to stay ahead of the criminals. Those road blocks can be a temporal solutions but constant patrolling on the road should be better if they must keep up with the pace of the criminals. But importantly they should use the network providers constantly to be able to track down these kidnappers and robbers.
Do you think there is sabotage on the part of the communities within that axis?
Sabotage can’t be ruled out; it is an integral part of any community, society or organisation. We have heard of communities giving out vital information about the security to the criminals. So, the Kaduna-Abuja road communities cannot be isolated on this. Sometimes, they tend to trust the criminals more because of the fear that the police would betray such privileged information. In such instances they tend to withhold information that would have been useful to the security agents and that way it makes it impossible for the criminals to be fished out of their hideouts and be prosecuted. Conversely we have received information whereby security operatives also provide some sort of cover to some of these criminals because of what they stand to benefit in some of these criminal activities. It is one issue the security agents, particularly the police should purge themselves of these allegations. So, it’s a double edge challenges that needs to be addressed.
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