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Intelligence Gathering, Key To Fighting Crime

News Introduction: 
Frank Ohwofa, security expert spoke with Assistant Editor Tunde Babalola, on the security challenges in the country

What is your take on the new method of operations of armed robbers?
Criminality for us is not limited to armed robbery. We believe that for good governance to reign, we need to take a critical look at the indices on how well Nigerians feel secured and how well the security agencies are dealing with the issues. Talking about armed robbery, Nigeria is not alone in the course of fighting criminality and armed robbery, but the problem is what approach the security agencies can adopt to curtail these activities. That is what really matters. Today, we can say most people live in fear of crime and criminality. The use of dynamite, the use of other dangerous weapons, explosive devices and so on are as a result of systematic decay of our morals. The society is also unable to provide for the common man. When people feel ostracised from societies, they believe they have nothing to lose because they are not in the mainstream of activities, and this has resulted in people taken up different criminal activity as a way of living. But for us, the armed robbery situation in Nigeria has been as old as our independence day. We use to hear of Anenih and Iyamu, but the recent use of dynamite and explosives by armed robbers means that we need to look at how freely they are available at the markets for criminals to lay hands on. By and large, I think our government needs to sit up.
Do you think the recent development across the country has anything to do with the emergence of militant groups in the country?
We all have our mind to think of who is associated and who is not, but not until we have clear fact, we cannot link one crime to the other. That is why proper intelligence and investigation is paramount, and this is something our security agencies must work on, because if we have to say there was a crime in Area 11 and we say it has relations with militants or with Boko Haram, I think we would not be doing our society any good. 
Would you say the efforts and resources spent on the installation of the CCTV in major cities in the country are paying off?
I think if we have to go on  talk about the CCTV cameras, that should be a whole interview of itself because for us, it is a failed project because globally we are very conversant with the network system being deployed. We have overtime condemned this CCTV solution that is being deployed. As a security consultant, I think it is a failed project. We have always advocated that continued training and capacity building is imperative. I would continue to say that intelligence gathering, processing and dissemination is key to crime prevention in Nigeria. If you look at incessant bombing, whether it is Boko Haram or armed robbery or other militancy activities, it is as a result of the inability of the security sector to properly manage their own  intelligence because if there was a good system of intelligence gathering mechanism in place, I think they should infiltrate these networks of organised crime.  For us to out-match the activities of organized crime, it requires continuous capacity building and continuous development within the security agency. I just found out some days ago that the Ministry of Police Affairs does not have a budget for training personnel. It is amazing, because without training, you cannot brace up to modern crime fighting. This thing is about tactics, it is about what you know. Another problem is that our intelligence is too human dependent. These days, security has gone scientific, because the criminals themselves have gone scientific. So, you need to actually deploy technology to meet up with the challenges. We have to start employing the modern techniques of combating crime in the 21st century, we cannot begin to complain that the police is not doing well, the civil defense is not doing well, I think there should also be good policy formulation in place because some of the policies in place are not helping the institution, so there must be a change of policy on the part of government to ensure that security agencies have the basic tools to work with. The cosmetic approach to policing is laughable, because in modern society, road blockage is mundane. It cannot curtail or combat crime in any way. If you go round, what you get from this is unbearable pains it causes to the public. Imagine that sometimes you spent 30 minutes or one hour in a road block; that is man-hour and economic loss to the country. We are totally against road blockage as a form of fighting crime, these are cosmetic approach and government must rise to the occasion by applying the right methods. If you travel, even in most African countries, stop-and-search is something you do randomly, not as a form of policy for combating crime. We are also advocating that the police should as a matter of fact have the basic infrastructure. And you may ask, what is the basic infrastructure? In a country where you cannot identify people and you are deploying CCTV cameras, even if you take my picture, what do you do with my picture, how do you really track down that suspect? There is no platform for that. Over eight years now, we have been agitating for government to stop wasting the tax payers’ money on deploying solutions that lacks the basics. You cannot deploy a city-wide surveillance without having a central data base that houses the identity of Nigerians for real time identification of suspects. So it is a waste of public money.
What is your disposition on the comment by the Police Affairs Minister that he does not like complaining of inadequate resources to fight crime?
 It is a sign that it would take a very long time to address the root cause of the problem. We must stop playing lip service to the problem at hand. If we are talking Nigeria, we must be truthful and honest to ourselves, so that we can deliver ourselves from the bondage of criminality we have found ourselves. The police lack the basic security network solution to combat modern day crime. The police cannot boast of any intelligence network that can effectively tackle crime and criminality, yes, you can boast of having guns, but guns are not used in modern day crime control and management, because if you are talking of modern day crime control and management, you must be civil, but in civility, you must have the basic network infrastructure that would enable you gather intelligence on every Nigerian and also process this intelligence you have gathered and disseminate this information to the necessary agencies and the field officers that need to make use of this information. Can you tell me today that the Nigerian Police have this capacity? for me I would tell you, No, they do not have it, they do not even have enough patrol teams that can effectively manage crime on the streets of Nigeria nationwide, because you would observe that after 12 midnight, you see police with rickety vehicles that cannot actually chase an armed robber. So you can understand the level of decay we are talking about. We are deceiving ourselves to assume that the police are capable. We need to audit what the police have at present and know how to tackle the problem. 
What is your suggestion or the solution to the current menace of Boko Haram and insecurity in the country?
If the politicians that run the affairs of the country believe in one Nigeria, there would be nothing like Boko Haram. It is simple for the security agencies to actually tame criminality, I do not want to reduce it to only Boko Haram, they can as well tame violent crime. After 9/11 terrorist attack of the United States of America, USA, America said no bomb would explode on our soil again and they have lived up to that, no bomb has exploded on the soil of the US and that is because the political will was pronounced and it seems to be active. So, Nigerian government must exercise political will and must also be seen to be active.

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