Animosity between Nigeria’s security agencies and their unwillingness to share intelligence are hampering efforts at effectively combating Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North-east, United States government has stated.
It stated this in the Country Report on Terrorism 2016 published by the US Department of State’s Bureau for Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism.
For instance, the report said the failure of State Security Services, SSS, which is primarily saddled with investigating cases of terrorism, to share information with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, makes it hard to investigate terrorist financing.
“While Nigerian military had primary responsibility for combating terrorism in the northeast, several government agencies performed counterterrorism functions, including the Department of State Security (DSS), Nigerian Police Force (NPF), and Ministry of Justice.
“Counterterrorism activities of these agencies and ministry were ostensibly coordinated by Office of National Security Advisor (ONSA). The level of interagency cooperation and information sharing was limited and at times hindered overall effectiveness.”
The report also took a swipe at EFCC and the Ministry of Justice for their apathy in prosecuting financiers of terrorists, observing that while it is political will to confiscate properties of known terrorists or their financiers, bureaucratic processes cause delay.
However, it noted that the Nigerian government routinely shares the names of known terrorists and terrorist organisations to banks and other financial institutions.
The report also stated that the military’s gain against Boko Haram appeared to have slowed down recently and the military has been incapable of exacting its control over recaptured territories.
“Despite gains made by MNJTF, much of its reported progress was merely duplication of failed efforts carried over from the end of the last dry/fighting season. Nigerian military was unable to hold and re-build civilian structures and institutions in those areas it had cleared,” it stated.
The report also found that internally displaced persons (IDPs) were being returned to their homes without “proper security and appropriate conditions” being put in place for safe and voluntary returns.
“There was no evidence in 2016 of the implementation of a coordinated plan to restore civilian security in recaptured territories,” the report noted.
Over two million people have been displaced in the North-east of Nigeria since 2009 when the insurgency started.
The report lauds Nigeria’s collaborations with the US and other countries in fighting terrorism.
It highlighted Nigeria’s participation in the Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program, which includes the training of police officers in “explosive ordnance disposal, explosive incident countermeasures, and preventing attacks on soft targets.”
“NPF also stood up the Special Program for Embassy Augmentation and Response, which is a specialized selection and training program for local police dedicated to the security of the U.S. Embassy and other diplomatic missions throughout Abuja.
“Nigerian government worked with FBI to investigate specific terrorism matters, predominantly through DSS, and provided improvised explosive device components to FBI for analysis at the Terrorist Device Analysis Center. ONSA, DSS, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, and NPF explosive ordnance and post blast personnel worked with FBI special agents and special agent bomb-technicians in-country. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and NPF also received crime scene training relevant to counterterrorism investigations.
“Nigerian government actively cooperated with the United States and other international partners to prevent further acts of terrorism in Nigeria against U.S. citizens, citizens of third countries, and Nigerian citizens. Nigerian law enforcement agencies cooperated with the U.S. FBI to assist with counterterrorism investigations, including disruptions, information sharing, and interviews.”