A Failure Of Intelligence By Sesugh Akume
Part of the reason we’ve been unable to end this war with the terrorists is due to a failure of intelligence. We are not able to adequately predict, preempt and therefore prevent their attacks, especially the suicide bombings, and raids.
After the attacks, we don’t gather forensic intelligence with which to analyse the pattern to forestall further attacks and/or apprehend those behind them. We can even hardly identify the dead. This we must all agree on.
Following the massacre in Zaria penultimate weekend, after which there have been differing opinions as to whether those killed by the military for their lawlessness and impunity in blocking the road and preventing the chief of army staff (COAS) got what they deserved or not; and in fact the all-night murder in Gyellasu that Saturday till the dusk of Sunday, as a reprisal attack by the military for what had happened earlier is well-deserved, or not; we have to look at the failure of army’s intelligence that led to that incidence in the first place, a thing that could easily have been prevented.
The background to the altercation is, the Shi’ites had had a skirmish with other Muslim brothers concerning a sense of control, ownership, and inclusion at a mosque, which led to a few fatalities on Thursday and Friday. That Saturday was meant for the internment of their members who had passed on, therefore there certainly was going to be a crowd on a procession that Saturday. Especially when one considers that members of the sect historically see themselves as martyrs. These people are known to be lawless and act the part of a mob. It isn’t they alone, we tend to be that way in Nigeria. Many of us live in residential areas where churches use loudspeakers but never consider that others in the neighbourhood need their peace. Don’t imagine that they’d lower the volume when having their all-night vigils at the weekends. Likewise, we know which routes to or not pass on Sundays mornings and afternoons, and Friday afternoons. We know why. The religionists block the roads without minding about other road users. Let’s not pretend we don’t know these things. Neither let’s pretend that these acts of callousness and primitiveness can be addressed just by clearing the road for some ‘big man’ to pass. To prevent this hassle, we simply avoid such routes, at such times. That is intelligence, the most elementary form of which our military obviously lacks.
Assuming that was the only route in Zaria to use and the COAS couldn’t fly by helicopter to his destination, the army should’ve been preemptive. They should’ve prevented the procession and asked the mourners to give the COAS time to pass and then could proceed, or in the alternative, they should’ve gotten the police to assist in guiding the procession such that it wouldn’t be a nuisance to the public and other road users, but most importantly create room for the COAS to pass to enable him to perform his official duties. This we must admit they failed to do.
According to their narrative and the edited video they released, the army says the COAS himself disembarked from his vehicle to plead with what can be described as a mob to allow him passage. I’ve never heard anything more asinine than that in recent times. Did he consider that amongst the crowd he was closely interacting with could be a suicide bomber? What if it was a trap, and s/he had detonated at that time?
The concluding part of their story is that someone fired a projectile, which could’ve been a stone on a catapult at the COAS as he turned back to leave. This is what the army refers to as ‘an obvious assassination attempt on the COAS’. If there was ‘an obvious assassination attempt’ shouldn’t it have happened as soon as his motorcade stopped, and preferably when the army chief himself disembarked from his vehicle (which I hope is armour-protected)? If a mob, let’s call it a mob, in their thousands, armed with various kinds of weaponry meant to assassinate the COAS and less the than 200 troops in his company, would they have lived to tell the story?
It’s after this, that the army mobilised to kill residents of Gyellasu, Zaria in their thousands as reprisal for what had happened. The narration is deliberately leaving this out and making it appear like the fatalities are in their tens, from what happened on the highway. That isn’t the complete story.
A failure of intelligence is what is killing us in our counterinsurgency effort. We don’t think, and we don’t learn from the past. When the military was deployed to Borno, they usually randomly opened fire on residents of communities they went to, killing thousands of innocent citizens, and gave lots of reasons why. The then presidential aspirant General Muhammadu Buhari termed this ‘an act of genocide’ in a Liberty Radio Kaduna interview. Leaders of thought from the areas threatened to sue the army and its then chief, General Azubuike Ihejirika and the President Jonathan government at the Hague. These acts by the army alienated them from the locals residents, which made the counterinsurgency even more difficult. In fact, some say they lost more family members from killings by the army than from the terrorists! How isn’t the army’s murdering women, children, infants, and just about anybody in Gyellasu a repetition of this utter fiasco? How is using disproportionate force on civilians a smart thing to do?
After all this the army labelled the Shi’ites ‘terrorists’ without proof. They have failed to show any wounded, much less, deceased soldier in all the attacks. No recovered weapons from the buildings they demolished. This doesn’t make their story seem consistent to me.
With 31 December as the deadline to completely annihilate the terrorists and rescue the 219 missing Chibok girls as a symbol of having achieved their mission, I can only hope that their intelligence mechanism is revamped and reworked overnight, and in order to achieve this feat for the good of us all.
@sesugh_akume on Twitter