AS insecurity in Nigeria continues to escalate, a security expert has warned the federal government to suspend the planned withdrawal of troops across the country. Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda, a security expert, said the government should design a 3-year time frame to equip the police before the withdrawal of the military.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Realnews on Thursday, January 16, Ekpe-Juda said the police needed massive recruitment and purchasing of arms and ammunition within these three years to withstand the internal security crisis facing the nation. “The way forward is to give a time frame and to say before this government leaves in the next three years, we will withdraw soldiers to their barracks for them to do their constitutional duties. Then the police and mobile police will take over.
“This means you have to recruit more personnel and buy more arms and ammunition for them between now and that time because the job of internal security is that of the police, not the military. It is because of inadequacy in the police that the military has to come in and do this work. Nigeria will be handicapped if the government withdraws the military because of the Borno State governor said three local governments in his state are under the control of Boko Haram, but the military denied the report, so who do we believe in this instance. The governor that is governing the place or the military that has been telling us that they have decimated the enemy and the enemy is still fighting.
“So the government is economical with the truth. My worry again is whether the police are well equipped to handle and hold on those places. They do even have the number because when you talk about withdrawal, you are not just withdrawing from the northeast. That means all the roads that soldiers have been mounting roadblocks because of criminal activities would have to take over by the police. Are there enough police personnel to do this job?” he said.
According to Ekpe-Juda, there is nothing wrong with the withdrawal of troops. “What should really happen is that when you send soldiers to a war zone and they have cleared the opponent, civil police should takeover. But my worry in Nigeria’s situation is that is the Nigeria police equipped enough for them to hold forth because we know what happened in this country. During the first regime, the government imported arms and ammunition for the police before those arms came-in there was a coup d’etat and they converted the arms for military use.
“From that time till now the police have been ill-equipped to deal with security issues in the country. So the question now, are they well equipped to hold forth? Do they even have the arms and numerical strength to deal with a terror group like Boko Haram? Because people have to be visible for the enemy to know that people are there and they have to be well-equipped for them to be able to ward off any attack.
“At least what is expected in a war zone is that if the police are waging attacks, they will then call on the military to come-in, but if the police are not well equipped to ward-off the initial attack, then they will overrun the police and military will now come and start all over again. The Nigerian military is supposed to do the sweeping job. When they have swept through to restore normalcy the police should takeover.
“But the thing with the military is that they have spent so much energy on the too many fronts that they are fighting, so it is good for them to go back to their formation and re-strategize while the police should hold-on. But as I said again, is the police well equipped to hold on because most of what is happening now are done by the Air Force and when you withdraw these people and they know that they are gone, what will the enemy of the nation do? Will they feel that the police can counter them and if they see that the police are not strong enough to counter them, they will overrun the place. So it is for the government to make sure that the police are well equipped in terms of men and ammunition in order to counter the enemy.”
On the issue of Chad withdrawing their troops from Nigeria, Ekpe-Juda said the country is using military withdrawal to blackmail Nigeria over the border closure. He urged the federal government to review its relationship with Chad. “The border issue is another thing entirely and we are not too sure of what our neighbours are doing.
“But beyond that people have alleged that the French government is equipping the insurgents and the Nigerian government has not made any statement to support or deny such allegations. If it is true that the French government is equipping the insurgents, we should be able to review our relationship with our neigbours that are French colonies. But one thing that I can tell you is that this government is not sincere about securing this country and there is enough evidence to prove it,” he said.