By Paul Michael, Defence Editor, Abuja.
There is growing apprehension among Nigerians amid various reports on the increasing involvement of some security agents in humongous corruption.
Unspeakable corruption among many members of the military, paramilitary, police and other law enforcement personnel is now commonplace.
The alleged crimes include public funds theft, drug trade, robbery, ransom kidnappings and other unwholesome corrupt practices.
Apart from the debilitating effects of political and economic corruption on development and growth, the implications of some supposed defenders of the law in official graft is on its own a serious security concern.
The alleged involvement of embattled suspended Assistant Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari and some members of the Inspector General (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in a 25kg cocaine deal worth N175 million is no longer news.
Kyari and his cohorts were arrested by the police and handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for questioning and further investigation after the anti-narcotics outfit declared him wanted for failing to honour its invitation.
This came barely eight months after Kyari was suspended by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) following his indictment by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) which accused him of doing the criminal biddings of Ramon Abbas a.k.a. Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering.
A report by the investigative panel set up by the NPF on the accusations was rejected by the Police Service Commission (PSC) which sent it back to the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba, for further investigation.
A few days ago, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) secured a final forfeiture of no fewer than 24 properties worth over N10 billion belonging to an unidentified military officer.
Justice N.E. Maha of the Federal High Court on Monday February 14, ordered the final forfeiture of the properties held by fronts and proxies to a top military officer, to the Federal Government of Nigeria. It was pursuant to a forfeiture application by the EFCC, which had in May 2020 secured interim seizure of the properties.
Unofficial sources, however, alleged that the properties, which were adjudged as proceeds of crime, were recovered from a military officer, General Aminu Kano Maude, who hailed from Kano and served in the army finance corps. He died in November 2019.
While the above assertion remains unconfirmed, another military officer, Brigadier-General Jafaru Mohammed, Director of Finance and Administration in the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), has been standing trial for alleged conspiracy, stealing and money laundering by EFCC since June 18, 2020.
It was reported that EFCC obtained an interim forfeiture order from a Federal High Court in Abuja on March 11, 2021, and proceeded to mark eight properties belonging to General Mohammed. The army officerf has been, however, fighting back.
These cases are just few instances regarding the unabating involvement of many security officers in official corruption, conspiracy, smuggling, aiding and abating, diversion of public funds, sabotage, extortion, money laundering and other criminal activities.
In 2016, the Nigeria Army sent nearly 200 officers packing in a bid to rid the armed forces of corruption. The officers were accused of stealing billions of dollars meant for buying arms to fight the Boko Haram terrorists.
According to the then army spokesperson, Colonel Shani Kikesheka Usman, some of the officers that were fired held senior ranks.
A source told The Trumpet that “it is generally believed that the criminal elements, terrorists and insurgents have insiders and informants among the security agencies that feed them with highly classified security information, thereby jeopardising the security wellness of the entire country for personal gains.
“If that is not the case, Nigeria as a country with one of the best military in the world and different armed para-military agencies, would have achieved better successes in her fight against the spate of kidnapping, banditry, smugglers, militants and terrorists.”
He said no progress can be made when “crime fights crime” or when a “law breaker is mandated to protect or defend the law.” According to him, such a scenario can only worsen the security situation and this has been the problem of Nigeria.
He added: “In a nutshell, it is alarming that some officers charged with the responsibility to keep the country safe are indulging in one form of crime or the other. This does not just give a bad image to the security agencies, who ought to be honored and celebrated for their sacrifices for the nation, it places the entire country at the mercy of criminal elements.
“If the war against insecurity is to be won, the government must overhaul the security agencies, fish out the bad eggs and use them to set a lasting example while enhancing the welfare of personnel.”.