Kuje Prison Attack: All Eyes on “Security” and/or “National Security”? –  Prof. Adoyi Onoja

12 min read

The Kuje Prison Attack confirmed that Nigeria is in the Middle Ages of its creation courtesy of its elites of politics and the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE). It was in the Middle Ages Europe that the foundation of security or secure begun. Thus it takes the creation of this scenario in Nigeria, owing to the professional inclination and understanding of this history, for the tenets of Section 14 subsection 2B to prevail thus justifying “security” and/or “national security” as first item of governance before any other issue.

The Middle Ages was the age prior to the emergence of the model of state system occasioned by the Westphalia Treaty of 1648. The Peace of Westphalia created the framework for modern international relations. The framework included such concepts state sovereignty, mediation between countries and diplomacy.

Europe was in the condition of lawlessness over 500 years ago where chiefdoms, kingdoms and empires were perennially at war, life was nasty, brutish and short and only the strong ventured outside beyond few metres of their castle town protection. The creation of the state system courtesy of the Westphalia Treaty inaugurated the processes of remedying the state of anarchy within and outside countries.

However, the state system did not and cannot remedy the internecine quarrels and potential conflict between countries in search of their national interest, beyond their borders, on the international arena. Thus was born security or secure as the dual face representation of first economic and strategic resources and second the logistics i.e. the military, intelligence and law enforcement arm, used to advance, procure and protect economic and strategic resources, anywhere and everywhere in the world.

The condition of conflict – endless crisis and conflict – is the desire of the MILE when it drew up Decree 24 that metamorphosed into the 1999 Constitution. They pointedly inserted Section 14 subsection 2B. According to this Section, “security”… shall be the primary purpose of government. The “welfare” part will come after there is “security”. The MILE is the “security” and/or “national security” – the logistics to procure, advance and protect the conflict ridden terrain they helped orchestrated into existence to enable the delivery of the “welfare” part of Section 14 subsection 2B. Every other issue takes secondary place for “security” – for the MILE. They saw this coming. This is because they sowed this seed.

The seed is the 1999 Constitution – their constitution for the Nigeria they envisaged for the rest of Nigerians. Its provisions prioritised their corporate interest first and then they subsequently included those of the governing elite and at the same time guarantee this with their kind of “security”. The MILE succeeded in metamorphosing into exercising enormous power without responsibility as the political elite and not the MILE is called to account for their misdemeanours.

In order to give life to the 1999 Constitution’s inadequacies, there are the political elite and their unwillingness, as government, to govern or effectively and efficiently utilise human and material resources in order to deliver opportunities for most Nigerians – the true security or secure that most Nigerians voted them into office to enable. Thus was born Nigeria’s middle Ages of conflict incorporated.

As crisis and conflict unfolds daily with government and governance helpless and the governing elite, supposedly confused and convinced selves that there must be security for governance to take place, handed the mantle to the MILE as “security” and/or “national security”. Governance took the backseat as the MILE took the front seat in delivering “security” first to enable governments to function.

Since the Kuje Prison Attack, the talks, by Nigeria’s pundits, experts, analysts and ex-military, intelligence and law enforcement officials is on “security” and/or “national security” and the breach the attack represented for the country.

Plenty questions were asked and will be asked in the days to come from those that are not directly involved hence the ex this or that in the military, intelligence and law enforcement or “security” having field day pontificating on the issue. The officials of the MILE directly involved in the incident will not be asked these questions. In fact they will not make themselves available!

Even in the questions that will be asked those once involved but no longer involved, there will be self censorship by those asking and answering the questions. Of this, there will be plenty unasked and unanswered questions. The truth, as always, will be matters of conjectures for anyone and everybody interested in the matter.

Plenty questions will not be asked because no one dare ask those questions from the MILE officials directly involved. Indeed they met behind close doors with their commander-in-chief and in the language of “security” and/or “national security” ala Nigeria; their discussion will remain “classified”, “restricted”, “on-need-to-know-basis” and/or “top secret”.

Indeed the officials will not be seen in the public spheres as far as the Kuje Prison Attack is concerned. The fact is that there are so many grey areas and loose ends that it will be better to stay under the radar in order not to get axed. While we are at the phase of scratching the surface asking the simple questions, time will intervene, memories will begin to recede and life will return to the new normal.

I heard that President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR was disappointed following the attacks. In whom, in particular, the President was disappointed he did not reveal. The President made this comment at the Kuje Prison. It was a chanced visit to the Kuje Prison for Mr President. Mr President saw what happened and as usual directed that the “security” agencies do their work. End of the matter!

Yet no heads rolled and no questions asked in a scheme called “security” that is skimming Nigeria’s resources to no end with ever disappointing result. As is the usual complaint when incident of this kind occurred, there will be renewed calls for more funds to shore up “security” and/or “national security”. It is ONLY in Nigeria that “Security” has an insatiable appetite for fund even when it successfully failed, is failing and continues to fail.

The genre called “national security” which incorporates two very powerful but undefined currents in Nigeria – national and security – steps up the ante in fund seeking and gulping and essentially seeks to enlist securitisation instruments to existentialise the urgency for more fund. This is the experience in the last twenty-three years of democracy. And yet no questions asked and answered provided in this Einstein Insanity called “security” and/or “national security”.

Let’s even acknowledge, for the sake of this inquest that “security” and/or “national security” was involved, in the Kuje Prison Attack. The kind of “security” the military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE) would call “national security” which is the type they have relentless foisted on Nigerians since the beginning of democracy in 1999. The fund so committed to this “national security” can only be described as existential and dwarfing other sectors.

This “national security” of the MILE type successfully failed to secure not most Nigerians, mind you, but Nigeria and those at the helm of affairs, since the “national security” of the MILE type is concerned about first territorial integrity and second political sovereignty of the state and government in charge of the state. The state in Nigeria is transient. This is because what exist as state did not derive from the will of all or most of its nationalities. This “security” and/or “national security” has its enabling environment completely eroded in 1999. This “security” and “national security” needed reconstruction under the new democracy enabling environment. Instead the MILE engineered its reinvention alongside the political class with no mind of its own.

Just for the sake of the inquest, whose responsibility is the Kuje Prison Break, if “security” and/or “national security” is first territorial integrity and second political sovereignty? The military, intelligence and law enforcement (MILE) do not conceived of “security” and/or “national security” beyond their defence, intelligence and law enforcement mandates and responsibility in the constitution and other enabling laws.

By the way, we should congratulate Mr President, for the historic visit, to the incident site. It is historic because this has never happened since he began the first of the three agenda mission of “securing Nigeria” in 2015. Perhaps, the visit happened because Kuje, where the incident site is housed, was on his path to the airport en-route his trip outside the country. Regardless, it is either a first of its kind and/or another first of its kind after a long time and thus deserves a well done commendation to Mr President for being presidential for once.

In “security” and/or “national security” term, questions needed to be asked of the agencies saddled with this outdated and off-the-mark-of-Nigeria’s reality conceptions. Territorial Integrity! The attackers, from clips making the round on social media platforms, spoke language not resident in Nigeria’s territory and sounded non Nigerians.

This is the stuff of territoriality and thus the forte of the MILE. Of the MILE, which should take the first shot? The intelligence community (used cautiously as it hardly compared to the United States where the term originated but especially considering their whopping disappointment in the lack of intelligence and/or community in their work) comprising the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of State Services (DSS) in this order.

The first agency to ask is the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). The agency sits on one of the budgets that the legislature, in their appropriation and oversight task, do not question. The NIA has operatives in Nigeria’s embassies abroad. Are they in the know of the attack? Shouldn’t they know about the attack? What do they know about the identities of the attackers? Do they know about the attack in their intelligence gathering, assessment and evaluation? They owe Nigerians answers to these questions and others because it is their schedule for which Nigeria’s tax payers generously pay for. They should demonstrate their contribution to the country’s gross domestic product in their work.

The second agency to answer for the Kuje Prison Break is the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). The law saddled the agency with the task of collecting information of defence and military nature and processing this into actionable intelligence for operation, policy and/or both. Their agents are in different parts of Nigeria and in the Nigerian embassies abroad and like the NIA, they enjoy first line charge in terms of fund allocation without legislative oversight of their allocation. What do they know about the attackers of Kuje Prison? Do they know? Do they not know? What did they do to prevent the attacks as one agency specifically charged with collecting intelligence of the defence type? What explanation do they have to offer Nigerians for this incident? Are they justifying the expenditure of taxpayers’ money for their work?

The third agency, within the defence/military genre of defence intelligence, is the different intelligence wings of the army, navy and air force as the lead agencies in defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity on land, sea and air spaces. What does the army intelligence corps know about the Kuje Prison Break? Do they know anything about the attack and attackers? Do they interface with the DIA which is arguably an interagency body that should share information on matters of this nature? Did they share information? Did army intelligence know about the attacks? Was the army’s numerous outposts, on the roads, from the land borders into the heartland of the capital, ever tipped off on the movement of these people? The army, navy and airforce regiments are practically in charge of the roads all over Nigeria in the name of aiding civil authority. Where were they when these people entered Nigeria and created cells all over the place?

And talking about cells, the fourth agency saddled with tackling issue of counterintelligence is the Department of State Services (DSS). Once the NIA and the DIA failed in forstaling harms from entering the country, it is the duty of the DSS to get hold of the situation using its operatives. Ideally, there should be interagency cooperation and collaboration. Was there cooperation and collaboration between and amongst the NIA, DIA and the DSS? If there was, what do they know about the attackers of the Kuje Prison? If there was not, did the DSS operatives, working on their own, uncover the presence of these elements in the country? There have been claims of the presence of cells of the groups in different parts of the country. Did they verify the claims? What do they know about their cells? Is it possible for these attackers that rode on motorcycles and vehicles to evade the DSS operatives? What does the DSS know about this development?

The fifth set of agencies to ask fall within the law enforcement fraternity to include the police, civil defence, immigration and customs. Where were these agencies particularly the immigration at our borders? Did they know about the movement of these people? Should they not know about the movement of these people? Where were the customs at the borders? How did these people smuggle their weapons into the country and evaded the numerous law enforcement agencies on road blocks? Did the immigration and customs report entry of people of suspicious characters to the police and/or civil defence? Did the police, civil defence and because of the orchestrated emergency of our time and thus the combined military/police/civil defence/immigration/customs road blocks and patrols not notice anything unusual in the persons passing its checkpoints?

The last of the agency within the law enforcement fraternity include the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU). They have responsibilities for tracking movement of funds everywhere inside and outside Nigeria. Since the emergency that intensified beginning in 2015, large sums of monies were committed to “security” and/or “national security” in different forms involving the agencies of “security” and/or “national security”. Large sums of money were paid as ransom by individuals and organisations in the face of the inability of government to protect its people. These monies were withdrawn in cash; these monies were paid in cash and; these monies found their way back into the grid as laundered monies. Where are these agencies in tracking and tracing these monies? Didn’t they follow the trend in both official and unofficial transactions? Didn’t they see the monies? Were they complicit – transactional and/or ideological or both?

Finally, didn’t these attackers live and are living in communities in different parts of the country? Didn’t these attackers pass through roads from wherever they originated from and were seen by Nigerians as the first sources of information for the agencies? Did these attackers buy off the persons they met? Did they succeed in buying off everyone? Does everyone have a price amongst all the persons that saw them? Has the level of patriotism deemed so low as to compromise all Nigerians that knew about these people? Is patriotism dead in Nigeria?

Did the agencies and agents of the MILE all succumb to the transactional tendencies that enveloped and permeated the system and subsystems particularly in the last seven years? Is it also the case that those that did not succumbed to these transactional tendencies hold sympathies for the cause(s) espoused by these groups and thus serves as accomplices in aiding and abetting their actions? Which of the two undermined the ability of the MILE, in spite of first line resource provisions, to fulfil its defence role it now championed as ‘security’ role of territorial integrity including Section 217 subsection 2C? Where is patriotism of the persons that took oath to lay their lives down for the people and country in the military, intelligence and law enforcement?

With the colossal failure of the MILE, does this mean that most, if not all, the members are paid agents and/or sympathisers of these attackers and their causes? Is it possible that members of the military – army, navy and airforce, members of the intelligence – NIA, DIA and DSS – and members of the law enforcement – police, civil defence, customs, immigration etc collectively called the MILE are all compromised either because they are paid agents and/or sympathisers of these groups? Is there a conspiracy of silence of members of the MILE, in the face of the all-out embarrassments they faced daily, in their inability to live up to expectations, in the discharge of their tasks? Are they all this shameless as they watch the people and country suffer endlessly and helplessly? Are they doing this for the money, for ideological reasons and/or both?

Should they all – the members of the MILE- allow few elements – inside the MILE and the political establishment – rubbish their hard works – particularly the first line role of meticulous and efficient intelligence gathering they are known for – in spite of the tolls most of them, on the frontline, have suffered and continue to suffer, in the unfolding and endlessly endless conflict?

Where is the national security adviser – the supposed head and driver of ‘security’ and/or “national security” in Nigeria? Where are the ministers of defence, interior and police affairs? Where is the heads of the NIA, DIA and DSS? Where are the chiefs of the army, navy, airforce, police, immigration, civil defense and customs? Why are they not saying something- anything – on the Kuje Prison Break and on others all over the country and their roles in curtailing this? Why is it business as usual for these people, with the colossal fund they received, in the name of “security” when pains and deaths are the lots of most Nigerians, in their works? Why do they persist, in what is arguably Einstein Insanity, when it comes to their claims for the viability of ‘security’ and/or “national security”? Must they continue on the path of transactionality, in the matter they called “security” and/or “national security” even when its successful failure threatens to kill the goose laying the golden eggs? What is their end-state in pursuing this path?

Where is Muhammadu Buhari GCFR that promised to secure Nigerians when he rode to power on the now orchestrated so-called state of siege of Nigeria, under his predecessor, which has since become de-facto reality under his watch? Why is Muhammadu Buhari GCFR not demanding explanations, sacking of non performing lieutenants and/or put them on trial? Is this not the height of aiding and abetting corruption by Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, one of the ills he promised to kill and bury? Are they all in this together? Hence the meetings behind close doors that seeks to aggregate interest?

Is Muhammadu Buhari GCFR truly the godfather of these groups he so stoutly defended when he was in the opposition and since coming to power did next to nothing to eliminate them?

Where is Muhammadu Buhari GCFR on the latest broad day light rape in the country’s capital?

Where are ‘security’ and/or ‘national security’ in this latest rape while they watch?


Our Take:

The recent Kuje prison break in the capital city of the country is just a glimpse of the level of failure that has eroded Nigeria’s system and how this has cost the country the sense of national security it seems to have been parading since the adoption of democracy in 1999. At the heart of these unending episodes of new security attacks and the funds expended in a reactive approach to salvage the state of security is the need to begin to ask questions about whose duty is it really to provide security for the people and why they have failed woefully.
We need to beging to hold to account the respective intellegence agencies who should ideally shoulder the responsibility of providing security to ensure that funds disbursed for security and or national security are commensurate with the quality of the service they provide and are rather used in a preventive approach.


About the Author(s): Prof. Adoyi Onoja teaches history courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of History and security courses at the graduate level in the Security Studies Unit of the Institute of Governance and Development Studies, Nasarawa State University, Keffi. He can be contacted through onojaa@yahoo.com and on www.adoyionoja.org.ng

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

*