The First point to note is that our security architecture was designed by the Military rulers to focus on regime-preservation rather than protection of the citizens. Sadly since our 1999 adventure into democratic rule; this posture has not changed in any way. So the mindset remains.
This is an important point. Our security outfits see preserving and obeying the govt as their only goal. The citizens are just there to be made compliant to preserve the interest of whoever is in power. I would have expected civilian governments to have changed this setup since 1999.
The Constitution states there can be only ONE police force in Nigeria. This provision forbids either the Fed govt or the states to establish a parallel police service in competition to the NPF. This has however not stopped the govt from establishing additional investigatory & enforcement institutions, even though they have not called any of them ‘police’. But successive governments have breached the spirit of the constitution if not the letter by creating several silos of agencies.
By not calling these parallel agencies “police” the govt seem to say they have stayed within the provisions of the law. But with these agencies having powers similar to that of the police, it can be argued that if it looks like a dog, barks like a dog, walks like a dog, then it is a dog.
These agencies perform policing duties hence it can be argued that they are police in practice if not in names. But nobody has yet litigated this fact by taking the government to court of competent jurisdiction over it. Examples of these additional agencies are:
•The Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC)
•The Economic & Financial Crime Commission (EFCC)
•The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC)
•The National Civil Defence Corps •State Security Service (SSS)
•National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) And several states like Lagos have plethora of agencies too.
This cannibalisation of the Police started after the civil war, when the military wanted to restrict the effectiveness of the police, so they will not be able to challenge soldiers and coups. So they were starved of funds, equipment & training. Additionally, they cannibalised it.
First, the Special Branch (Intelligence Unit) was removed from the police in the 70s and renamed National Security Organisation (NSO). NSO later became today’s SSS (or DSS as some call them). FRSC, EFCC, NDLEA were all duties of the Police before that was carved out.
With each new Silo agency went resources and personnel. The main police force was then left to do the heavy lifting tasks of crime prevention and investigation with even less resources to do the job. This is a matter for another thread in future.
So, the current landscape divides Our Security Arenas into THREE. INTERNAL Security (NPF, NSCDC, EFCC, NDLEA and SSS) EXTERNAL Security and (Military & NIA) The MILITARY (Military Intelligence Agency and the Armed forces) Security activities are divided into Two main Tasks.
1st is INTELLIGENCE OPERATIONS & then 2ndly ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS. The SSS are in charge of INTERNAL Intelligence Gathering & protection of High Profile govt officials like the President etc. The NIA is in charge of EXTERNAL Intelligence operations. MIA is Military Intelligence.
The NPF is the primary domestic enforcement agency. Best practice says SSS if needed should pass on intelligence to the NPF who will then do the enforcement activity. The SSS is supposed to be an Invisible but effective agencies.
In the UK, the office & Chief of the MI5 (Domestic Intelligence service) were not known to the public. They work behind the scene & use the police for any enforcement tasks needed. So the idea of masked SSS men running riot all over town is unprofessional & against best practice.
The problem in Nigeria is these agencies DO NOT trust each other. So they compete instead of collaborate. Left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing. Some even hate each other. No shared database. And they each hoard information rather than share. The who thing is a mess.
Joining up security services is the global direction of travel. Even in USA that has over 17K police depts (due to devolved policing laws), Homeland Security was created after 9/11 to bring all intelligence, police and security data under ONE ROOF. We do not have such in Nigeria.
I have of course summarised several complicated facts for ease of understanding & brevity, but I hope these tiny details give some clarity about the security landscape in Nigeria and why there have to be urgent changes to properly secure the nation.