19/11/2019 – For Africans to contain the increasing tension and insecurity plaguing the continent, member states must seriously consider a return to pre-colonial boundaries, togetherness and joint border security management.
Speakers at the 16th Africa Security Watch Awards and Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), which included military and police chiefs, renowned academia and political leaders from West, Central, South and East African regions agreed on the need to address issues such as religious extremism/ intolerance, bad governance, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty identified as root causes of insecurity in Africa just as participants agreed it was about time the continent developed homegrown lasting solutions to tackle its problems.
With the theme: “Global Security Outlook: Challenges, Impediments and Prospects for a Secured Africa,” the conference, which held at the Swissotel, Al-Ghurair Centre, featured lectures including historic perspective to leadership and security in Africa by Stellenbosch University’s Emeritus Professor of Political Science Wilhelmus Josephus Breytenbach. There were lectures such as combating terrorism and insurgency through non-kinetic approach, delivered by the Chief of Nigerian Army’s Civil-Military Affairs, Maj.Gen. Usman Mohammed and combating security at sea: The African experience by Prof. Henri Fouche.
Others include crime prevention, control and fighting in an emerging economy, delivered by Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano; the effects of irregular migrants on national security: The Gambian experience, by Buba Sagnia, a former Director-General, Gambian Immigration Services (GIS) and combating transnational crimes through counter extremism approach, which was presented by Dr. Barend Prinsloo, Senior Researcher, Security and Management Studies, North-West University, South Africa.
Aside the above, Nigerian Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.Gen. Tukur Buratai, delivered a keynote address at the award dinner held at Radisson Blu Deira Creek, where 68 deserving individuals from security and safety agencies, media outfits, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and academia across the continent were honoured for exceptional and exemplary performances in their various fields.
Participants at the two-day event agreed that concerted efforts must be made towards the actualisation of a borderless United States of Africa by 2063, with calls for the rejection of unilateral “intervention packages” by foreign countries that were not cleared by the United Nations (UN) because such donors were self-serving and indirectly aiding criminals.
Speaking on the “role of the Nigerian Army in combating internal insecurity and external aggression: Global lessons and way forward,” Buratai said fourth generation security threats transcended borders and must be tackled with multi-faceted approaches.
Represented by the Chief of Army Policy and Plans (CPPLANS) Lt.-Gen. Lami Adeosun, Buratai said there was a wider circle of convergence between internal security and external aggression as they now increasingly overlap.
“In reality, terrorism, insurgency, religious fundamentalism, militancy and other extreme criminalities have become a global phenomenon that transcends boundaries and are easily imported and exported by their perpetrators. Military solution is still very much part of the panacea, but is no longer the dominant solution to these myriad of challenges towards maintaining the territorial sovereignty of the state and the enforcement of law and order within the polity.
Using the country’s fight against Boko Haram Terrorism as an example, Buratai said estimates from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) indicated that the sect has “killed between 30,000 to 100,000 people, caused the internal displacement of over two million people being accommodated in about 35 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps and generated a refugee population of about 200,000 persons.”
Buratai said current statistics showed that while “tens of thousands of the terrorists were killed, 5,475 of them were arrested and 32 bomb-making facilities/ factories have been destroyed. In addition, the number of Boko Haram fighters has been reduced significantly to less than 5,000 from the initial estimate of over 35,000 persons.
“It is equally acknowledged that the Army has lost officers and soldiers in the course of containing this internal security threat to the state. Clearly, through the efforts of the Nigerian Army, we are winning the war against Boko Haram…
“There is therefore a need for the Army as well as the civil populace to realise the long-drawn nature of the engagement and the need to be persistent in the engagement of terrorists and insurgents. There must be a determined political will by the ruling elite to fight terrorism and insurgency, which is to be based on ‘all government approach’, involving the executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. This was demonstrated by the USA in her over a decade’s pursuit and eventual hunting down of Osama bin laden. It took determination and a clear focus on the goal.
“In Africa, we recall that Algeria and Kenya have been dealing with the menace of terrorists for quite some time. While the Algerians are just getting off the throes of terrorism, Kenyans are still contending with the deleterious threats of Al Shabaab. Nigerians must realise that the country is not alone in the fight against global terrorism. In contending with this challenge, she should seek international partners and cooperation with neighbouring states and those experienced in combating terrorism and insurgency. “The multinational approach is also necessary in the country’s bid to acquire arms and ammunitions from any part of the World. Efforts must be made to synergise with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) of the required military hardware, to smoothen relationship and invariably establish a win-win situation.
“Furthermore, we must recognise that there is now a very wide area of convergence between internal security and external aggression. Modern warfare engagements are not conventional in nature. The parties are also not necessarily state actors. A lot of dynamism accompanying these conflicts requiring flexibility and adaptability by conventional troops involved.
“The asymmetric nature of these engagements by non-state actors makes efforts at combating their menace very complex. In spite of these complexities, these terrorists and criminal elements have to be curtailed and their activities eliminated, by a wide range of activities with the citizenry or innocent civilians the focus of all considerations or simply people-centric operations.
“We must intensify inter-state and international cooperation in the fight against terrorism particularly in the Sahel Region of Africa. Apart from intelligence sharing on the movements and activities of insurgents and terrorists, there has to be an increase in the number of troops for joint deployments by the countries of the sub-region.
“Thus, there is an urgent need to increase the use of hi-tech in combating the challenges of insecurity. While appreciable effort is being made in this direction by Nigeria, her neighbours and international partners, more could still be done to achieve greater success.
In his presentation Obiano who was represented by his Special Adviser on Creative Security Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ben Chiobi (rtd.) said decisive strategies including deterrence and punishment of criminals were introduced under his watch unlike past administrations that were a little tentative in their approaches and left a lot of headroom for criminals to exploit.
Obiano said the establishment of Anambra Smart City Surveillance System which is warehoused in the Anambra Integrated Security System (ANISS) and powers powers the Joint Security Taskforce (JTF) Operation Kpochapu I and II had witnessed the arrest of many criminals while others have fled the state.
“We donated over 100 trucks that were command-and-control centres on their own to the team. We set up Security Tents in locations known as flashpoints of crime across the state and stationed heavily armed police officers in the tents. We obtained a legislative instrument that empowered us to confiscate any piece of property that was used by kidnappers as a holding cell for their victims.
“We donated a gunboat to the Navy to ensure effective patrol of our waterways. We engaged the services of the air surveillance unit of the Nigeria Police for occasional helicopter patrol of Anambra skies. With all these arrangements in place, we had achieved 360 degrees coverage of Anambra from the skies to the ground and finally the rivers…
“One of the highpoints of our crackdown on kidnappers was the historic arrest of a suspected kidnap kingpin known as Okechukwu Nnaegbo in an overseas bound aircraft in Lagos. Okechukwu was fleeing from the law. But the influence of Operation Kpochapu goes across boundaries. We have successfully pulled a dramatic rescue of kidnap victims from Imo, Enugu and Kogi States.
“The overall outcome of our campaign against insecurity is that Anambra State has been declared Nigeria’s safest state. The Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria, Adamu Mohammed, actually affirmed this, and I was honoured by the Nigeria Police Force with the award of the Best Governor in Nigeria in Supporting Security Architecture in a ceremony in Lagos.
“We have created a 24-hour economy and traditional marriages have since returned to the villages where our tradition is observed in full. Family reunions and other social activities are in full swing all-year-round. But the greatest achievement remains the inflow of investments into the state. One of the crown jewels of this effort is the recent commissioning of the multi-billion naira, fully automated Coscharis Rice Mill in Igbariam,” said the governor.
According to a communique signed by former Ghanaian Chief of Defence Staff, Brig.-Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (rtd) who’s Chairman Board of Trustees, Security Watch Africa Initiatives, the Initiatives’ President, Patrick Agbambu and Conference Rapporteur, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman (rtd.), non-kinetic efforts should be fully embraced in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, while each country must develop their border communities to eradicate the use of such isolated places as a hideout by criminals.
The Nation | Precious Igbonwelundu
Sahel-Elite | Photo: From left: Exectuive Dean, Faculty of Military Science, Stellenbosch University Prof. Samuel Tshehla, Nigerian Army Chief of Policy and Plans (CPPLANS) Lt.-Gen. Lami Adeosun, former Ghanaian Chief of Defence Staff Brig.-Gen. Joseph Nunoo-Mensah (rtd), the monarch of Okori Eleme in Rivers State Appolus Chu and President, Security Watch Africa Initiatives Patrick Agbambu at the award dinner in Radisson Blu Deira Creek.