Why Security Agencies are mostly losing in d Public Perception Arena & Possible Solutions (PART 2)
In Part 1, I explained the context of the Pathology that informs the response of the Nigerian security agencies to adopt a policy of blanket denial of everything every time they are accused of any wrong. In this second part, I will like to focus on the Sowore saga and some solutions for the SSS.
ON SOWORE RE-ARREST SAGA
The belatedly issued press statement by the SSS on this matter confirms my thesis of the badly constructed response mechanism and posture adopted by our security agencies. Their “we are 100% innocent“ message was ill-informed.
Yes, the Sowore camp could have exaggerated what happened; but for the SSS not to accept any responsibility (no matter how little) is not credible and merely show them as out of touch with reality.
The SOWORE Saga has caused a major damage to the reputation of the SSS in my view
A mere rant by Sowore has now been elevated to an undeserved level of profundity due to the miscalculation of the SSS. Three elements are needed when investigating suspects in a crime. MEANS, MOTIVE & OPPORTUNITY. If your 6yr old daughter tells you as you are leaving…
…home that you will not eat dinner at home tonight because she is upset with you; you will laugh knowing she has no MEANS of carrying out that threat. But if your wife says the same; you will take it more seriously.
Sowore did not have the MEANS to carry out any Revolution (peaceful or otherwise). He was simply making noise & exercising his right to free speech. It will be disingenuous to say otherwise. Yes, he may have the MOTIVE; but he clearly did not possess the reasonable OPPORTUNITY that carry it out. Something that would have fizzled out in a few days last August, have now been unduly elevated by the SSS leadership trying to impress the Boss and justify their huge secret budgetary allocations and existence.
At the worst, I would have expected the SSS to handover any intelligence to the Police and allow the NPF to lead on this. It is out of step with Best practice for a Secret Service organization to lead in the prosecution of citizens.
Such orgs globally prefer to stay in the shadows so as to protect their sources and mode of operations. The SSS is self-sabotaging itself in the way it is handling the Sowore matter. When a secret service is no longer that secret; it losses significant leverage and public support
We already have a Police Force, we don’t need two agencies doing exactly the same thing.
In matters of National Security as with other court cases; Charges are allowed to be amended if justified. So, additional charges can be added even after the initial ones have been filed; just as charges can also be reduced. Hence, SSS do not need to re-arrest Sowore to extend the charges in court if necessary to reflect additional counts.
I can safely predict that Sowore will either be found Not Guilty of these serious charges filed against him or he is given the AL Capone treatment. Al Capone as the mob boss could not be found guilty of any of the many killings he was charged with. So, the US government decided to charge him with basic Tax Evasion. He was found guilty and given the maximum sentence and taken out of circulation all d same. From all my security sources; National Security is merely a pretext to keep Sowore out of circulation. And he will either be let go by the courts or a financial or other bog-standard conviction secured against him; not the serious national security claims being made by the SSS. Rather than pursue an Intelligence-Led Prosecution, the SSS seems to be doing Prosecution-led Intelligence. This is symptomatic of lazy policing and overwhelming lack of creativity and imagination.
The response of SSS more than 24hrs after a global media embarrassment is shameful and a disservice to the many excellent men and women working in that service. I have been contacted by many SSS operatives who are unhappy with the response of the SSS management.
Simply denying everything without any admission of mistakes is unhelpful and further decimates their public image and perception. The explanation given by the SSS in their media statement was so out of touch with reality; it was unbelievable.
Yes, the other side may have exaggerated some things; but SSS was also culpable of mismanagement of the situation. This was a missed opportunity to rescue some national goodwill from a bad situation.
VALUE OF THE SSS
Despite their excesses, the SSS are needed and the rank and file are doing an excellent work securing Nigeria. They are better trained than the police and they are more motivated and enthusiastic to work for Nigeria. But their leadership is where the problem is.
This problem is not unconnected to the political nature of being the boss of SSS. As an agency that reports directly to the CiC’s office; the SSS head’s job is at the pleasure of the president. This makes pleasing the President (whoever that is) his paramount goal.
Consequent to this can be taking steps at his own initiative that he thinks will please the President. This is where the Body Language of the President to the SSS Boss would be a guide on what the SSS Head feels he can do in the name of the President.
I have done a previous thread on how SSS can be reformed but in light of the Sowore saga; I will like to make additional recommendations on how SSS can be better managed to get the vital support they need from the public.
After all, in an analogue society, the best and most reliable source of intelligence is still HUMAN Intelligence.
SSS like other security agencies in are in the habit of using “National security” as the excuse to commit all manner of atrocities.
Most of this agency are doing a fantastic work to secure this nation. But it is not helpful to d SSS for supporters of any government to blindly defend d indefensible in d name of party support. We must be honest brokers & chastise when deserved & praise to d rafters when earned.
Govt come & govt go; Nigeria remains for all time. We must not be blinded by tribal or political leanings that we unreasonably take the side of a party/govt against the growth and health of our vital Institutions. The SSS need our support, even though they have not behaved in few cases as though they deserve it. They also need more public and democratic accountability.
SSS as a security institution must take as its “paramount concern” the security of our people, to protect their freedom, peace & safety. The “REGIME PRESERVATION” mindset must go.
Sowore should be released immediately. I will advise President Buhari to instruct the SSS to release him and allow the legal process to run its course. Also any future perceived breach by him should be taking on by the Police.
Sources in the NPF are telling me that the police management are watching with amusement the shenanigans of the SSS. The Police seems relieved that for once, they are not in the eye of the storm.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO AID PUBLIC PERCEPTION
RECOMMENDATION 1: COMMIT TO A DOCTRINE OF HONESTY.
To maintain credibility, encourage your superiors to understand that it is better not to say anything at all than to lie to the public. So, discourage yourself from holding press statement if your plan or instruction is to lie to the people. Your words need to be presumed honest unless proven otherwise. Make lying to the public a punishable offence.
RECOMMENDATION 2: SSS SHOULD GO BACK TO PURELY SECRET OPERATIONS.
From Electoral accusations to indiscriminate detention of citizens; the SSS is too much in the news and on the front pages. This is bad for a secret intelligence agency.
They need to be encouraged to go back to being in the shadows and do their work more discreetly and without the glare of media. This is what will make them more effective. They should leave the police to do the prosecuting with the support of intelligence they provide.
RECOMMENDATION 3: BE MORE WILLING TO APOLOGISE AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MISTAKES.
Nobody expect the security agencies to the perfect. None are anywhere in the world. Be willing to admit your mistakes. This will endear you to the public even more.
RECOMMENDATION 4: RECRUITMENT OF MORE FEMALE OFFICERS
Female officers are generally seen as less threatening by the public. So they can be great ambassadors for the security agency. The leadership should encourage d recruitment of more female officers even if a target has to be imposed for short time to drive up the numbers.
RECOMMENDATION 5: SPEEDY INVESTIGATION AND RESPONSE TO COMPLAINTS
Swiftly Investigate all public complaints and report them promptly to the people. Security agencies need to show the public they take seriously any loss of life or abuse of power. Lessons learnt should be publicized speedily.
RECOMMENDATION 6: PRESENTATION IS KING. OFFICERS MUST ENSURE THEY LOOK THEIR BEST AT ALL TIME.
Several researches have shown that people love and obey more officers who are smartly dressed and neat than scruffy dressing and dirty appearance. So as part of your duty to maintain a positive image of the police, individual officers need to dress presentably at all times on duty. Officers should limit use of masks to very secret and discreet security operations.
Use of mask should be banned in open spaces with media presence (if at all possible).
RECOMMENDATION 7: ACT AS THOUGH YOU ARE BEING RECORDED AT ALL TIMES.
Officers should always behave and respond to situations as though they are being recorded and will be put on social media.
What you will be ashamed for the world to see that you are doing, you must not do it. Always be conscious of your duty to help maintain a positive image of the Agency.
RECOMMENDATION 8: INSTRUMENT ONE OF 1999 SHOULD BE MADE PUBLIC & ALSO AMMENDED
Few days to handing over power in 1999, Gen Abubakar signed Instrument ONE as an internal document to guide the operations of the SSS. This document is outside the National Security Agencies Act which established the SSS. Although I have a copy, very few outside the SSS have seen this document. The idea that an agency can be operating based on a document that is outside of its establishing Act is wrong.
So, Instrument ONE should be published, amended & incorporated into the enabling ACT by the National Assembly.