SIMON EKPA AND LAMENTATIONS OF SERVICE CHIEFS
Recently, Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Christopher Gwabin Musa led other Service Chiefs to appear before the House of Representatives. Purpose: to brief the lawmakers on the security situation of the country.
The Defence Chief was joined by Maj. Gen. T. A. Lagbaja (Chief of Army Staff); Rear Admiral E. A. Ogalla (Chief of Naval Staff), and AVM H.B Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff). Also in attendance at the briefing include the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbotokun.
Gen. Christopher Musa, and other Service Chiefs together with the Police Chief minced no words in lamenting multifaceted security challenges in the country. According to them, the deteriorating insecurity is undermining their concerted efforts in the fight against terrorism, banditry, separatists’ agitations and other security challenges bedeviling the country.
They however said they have been doing their best in surmounting those challenges to ensure adequate security and protection of lives through their several counter-terrorism operations and exercises which they said have yielded significant results since assuming office.
While briefing the House on the security situation, CDS Gen Musa has specifically expressed worry on how Finland-based Biafran agitator, Simon Ekpa has been fuelling the flames of insecurity across the southeastern region.
Gen Musa reiterated that Simon Ekpa remained a key issue that must be looked into by the federal government, adding that he has become a menace to the country.
He said, “This individual has become a menace to this country. The country must act on it diplomatically. Finland is having a freeway encouraging him to be doing what he is doing.
“By his utterances and actions, he is affecting what is happening in Nigeria. We should never allow that. Our foreign service needs to step in to address the issue. It is either we invite the ambassador or somebody. They must explain why they are protecting him. And he is doing us more harm by his utterances. A lot of people are being killed. We cannot sit back and keep quiet.”
Ever since detention of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu, Ekpa seems to have replaced his position by issuing a series of sit-at-home orders and threatening law-abiding citizens including non-indigenes, politicians, business moguls and other influential persons in the region.
His unguarded actions have resulted in loss of several lives including security personnel, crippling socio-economic activities and destruction of private and public properties.
Although his actions have been condemned by the detained IPOB leader and the Igbo nation stakeholders, he however remained adamant in his quest to realize Biafran nation through an illegitimate approach.
It is against this background that the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization- Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide urged the Federal Government to take advantage of Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with Finland to get Ekpa arrested so that he can face justice for the crimes he has been orchestrating in the southeast region.
Speaking in an interview with The Punch, the Secretary General of Ohanaeze, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, said Ohanaeze welcomed Gen Musa’s proposition on federal government to engage the Finnish government and possibly invite its ambassador to Nigeria over the activities of the agitator who has been enjoying from their protection.
Emuchay said, “The Federal Government has a diplomatic relationship with Finland, they (Finland) have an embassy in Abuja, and that diplomatic channel is what Ohanaeze is asking to be activated. Ohanaeze is very pleased that the Chief of Defence Staff made a public pronouncement on the matter of Simon Ekpa and we are happy with it.”
However, the Ohanaeze leader added that the organisation was not relenting in the effort to secure the release of the incarcerated leader of the IPOB.
Furthermore, Gen Musa also revealed how their counter-insurgency efforts in northeast are being equally undermined by some officers/warders of Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) who connive with the criminal elements/inmates in terrorism financing.
“In the North East when we were debriefing some of the Boko Haram elements; some were telling us how from the prisons they could plan operations on the field. They passed funds across and we asked how. They use some of the warders.
“We are not saying all of them are bad, but they use some of the warders’ accounts to transfer money and the deal is anybody’s account it is transferred to, they share it 50-50,” he said.
This revelation by the Military Chief has since evoked response from the federal government through the Ministry of Interior of which the NCoS is domiciled. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior, has ordered an immediate investigation of intelligence reports on misconduct by some of the NCoS officials in order to fish out the culprits.
In the same vein, the Service Chiefs further identified the rising cost of aviation fuel, delays in release of funding for procurements of equipment; complexity in targeting terrorists within the populace; porous borders; inadequate personnel and sabotage as part of the challenges confronting the fight against insecurity.
However, while rolling out measures to be out in place in surmounting the challenges, Gen Musa pointed out the need to exploit the contemporary global shift in the utilisation of space technology and cyber warfare for national defence and security.
According to the CDS, the Armed Forces of Nigeria, AFN, have so far initiated the process of establishing a joint cyber warfare intelligence command where such emerging technologies will be exploited to enhance the capabilities of the armed forces of Nigeria.Nonetheless, there should equally be a greater, healthy and robust synergy between the security forces and the civil populace through intelligence sharing in as much as there is need to stem the rising tides of the ugly situation.