A former Assistant Director at the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Dennis Amachree, has warned that food scarcity may be inevitable if the activities of insurgents continue to thrive.
Amachree, a private security expert gave the warning as the guest speaker at the 29th edition of the award cum lecture series organised by Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN) at Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja in Lagos, recently.
Speaking on the topic: ’Managing COVID-19 Induced Security Challenges’, Amachree noted that insecurity in the country had further made citizens lose faith in the safety of lives and property.
He noted that the advent of Covid-19 had also heightened security challenges, as the escalated number of kidnap cases, terrorism, highway robbery, banditry, militancy and piracy had become commonplace in the country.
Referring to the Zabamari massacre in Borno State, the security expert said: “The Zabamari massacre in Borno State underlines the state of insecurity in the country which has further disillusioned the citizenry about the safety of their lives and property.
“This particular massacre has the implications of an impending scarcity of food in the country. This is the plot of the terrorists and it is coming into fruition.”
Disclosing that Boko Haram insurgents capitalised on the lockdown, occasioned by Covid-19 to misinform villagers that the lockdown was a ploy by the government to stop them from following their faith, Amachree added: “This narrative gave Boko Haram leverage to recruit more adherents from the poor and unemployed lot, that are readily available.
“Nigeria has been classified as the third most terrorised country in the world, according to the World Terrorism Index, which is not good as the most populous black nation in the world. This shows that our security and law enforcement agencies are overstretched in their bid to provide security to the citizenry.
Addressing government’s lapses especially during the Covid-19 lockdown and #EndSARS protest, he said bottled up anger triggered the protest.
Amachree said: “The pandemic has exposed a range of new security challenges in the country. The notable aspect is the level of preparedness that government has made to square off the pandemic. The individual and family unit has been worst hit in trying to understand what COVID-19 is and how to handle it. The lockdown caused by the pandemic traumatised citizens.
“Especially when the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unleashed mayhem on the youth population in the country which led to the EndSARS movement. Bottled up anger and frustrations generated from the lockdown started the spontaneous protest across parts of the country.
“The government also quickly reacted by acceding to the foremost demands by scrapping the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS). The government needs to change the parameters of profiling for criminals and the need for a people-oriented policing.”
Declaring his support for the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, that replaced the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), he said: “The need for a better trained anti-terrorist police unit like the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams cannot be overemphasized.”
Commenting on the humanitarian crisis in the country, the security expert stated that the protracted conflict in North-east Nigeria, had continued to devastate the lives of many, as 7.7 million women, men and children were affected.
He also noted that the separatist movement agitation against the Cameroonian government had also driven more than 300,000 refugees into Nigeria.
Giving an expert opinion on how to navigate the Yuletide, Amachree advised Nigerians to avoid travelling, especially with the increased security challenges.
“The Year 2020 is a unique year and if I have to give any security advice, I will recommend that you stay where you are this festive season. The roads are not safe, airfares have skyrocketed and the pandemic is entering a second wave globally. Prevention is better than cure,” he advised.
The Assistant Inspector – General (AIG) of Police in charge of the Zone 2 Police Command, Onikan, Ahmed Ilyasu, was also at the event.
He commended the body of journalists, for hosting the event that brought together security agencies across cadre to brainstorm on solving security issues posed by the pandemic.
Iliyasu said: “Covid-19 is a very serious and challenging issue because it is not only affecting Nigeria but the whole world. This is the first type of gathering and it is unprecedented bringing together various security agencies to proffer solutions to tackling insecurity resulting from the pandemic. It has caused a lot of global economic problems with resultant negative fallouts across the globe such as recession, poverty among others.”
Speaking on the preparedness of the police during the Yuletide, the AIG assured citizens that the police were well committed to ensuring the protection of lives and property during the period despite the challenges bedevilling the country.
“Our officers and commissioners of police have been directed through Operation Special Order, as every area commander and division police officers are mandated to perform specific duties. Given this, we will continue to collaborate with CRAN in the spirit of community policing in finding solutions to problems,” he said.
Ilyasu, who described security as a community responsibility, urged everyone to play their role as a component of the security architecture of the country in ensuring the protection of lives and property.
Also in his address, the president of CRAN, Sunday Odita, stated that the outcome of deliberations at the lecture would assist securities agencies in their roles. He expressed hope for a quick end to insecurity and Coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country.