Food crisis looms, as bandits scare farmers from farms – El-Rufai

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By AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna

As Directors of State Commands of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) from the seven North-West states converged on Kaduna to restrategize against banditry, Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said that there is a looming food crisis as farmers are unable to go to their farms due to banditry.

El-Rufai who emphasized the role of DSS in providing reliable information needed by the Police, Armed Forces and other security agencies for the total defeat of insurgents, said there is urgent need by security agencies to strengthen intelligence gathering, to establish not just the identities, plans and locations of the criminals, but to actively disrupt their capacity to organise and mount attacks on the citizens.

While lamenting lack of sustained cooperation among states in tackling the menace of insurgency, the Governor said, the criminal gangs terrorizing the North-West region become more daring and dangerous since recovering from their near defeat in 2015 after the joint operation of the states stopped.

According to El-Rufai; “As Directors of the State Commands of the DSS in the North-West, you are all aware of the immense security challenges across the States in our region. The consequences of these serious security deficits have devastated the rural economy, taken lives and property and made simple travel an ordeal across federal, state and local roads.

“Addressing this grave problem and restoring order require that security managers and intelligence agencies constantly share information and experiences. These criminals operate across state lines. Therefore, tackling them requires cooperation and collaboration by the various states. Any plan that seeks to address the problem only in one state will at best yield a temporary respite as the criminals retreat to safe havens in places where there are no active and continuous counter-insurgency operations.

“The governors of the North-West states and Niger State appreciated this salient fact as far back as 2015. We came together to fund simultaneous operations by the federal military and security agencies across the largely ungoverned Kamuku-Kuyambana forest swathes that straddle about seven of our states up to Dajin Rugu in Katsina State. These operations disrupted the cattle rustling gangs but were unfortunately not sustained as a continuous exercise to dominate these spaces and assert within them the authority of the Nigerian state.

“That the criminal gangs have become more daring and dangerous since recovering from their near defeat in 2015 is obvious across the country.

“As the lead agency for domestic intelligence and counter-intelligence, the Department of State Services has a vital role to play in providing the reliable information needed by the Police and Armed Forces and other security agencies for the total defeat of these dangerous insurgents.

“This is an urgent priority, in the face of the looming food crisis that we face if our farmers do not go to the farms. The rains are here, but farmers in various communities are unable to go to their farms, that is when they are lucky not to have fled their remote villages under pressure and attacks from the criminals. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“The security agencies need to strengthen intelligence gathering, to establish not just the identities, plans and locations of these criminals, but to actively disrupt their capacity to organise and mount attacks on our citizens. But it is also very important to ensure that prompt and coordinated action becomes the default response of the Armed Forces and the Police to the profusion of actionable intelligence that is already available from the DSS.

READ ALSO: Don’t pay ransom if I’m kidnapped, says El-Rufai’s wife

“I wish to commend the State Security Service for holding these meetings and developing a collective perspective, rather than operating in silos. This is what we have tried to encourage across our military and security agencies here in Kaduna State. It is one of the major mandates of our Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs. Your host director Alhaji Idris Koya has been a consistent advocate of interagency synergy and I wish to acknowledge his efforts and the hard work of the officers of the SSS here in Kaduna State,” El-Rufai said.

Earlier in his welcome address, Kaduna State Director of DSS, Idris Koya said the periodic meeting was originated by the Director-General, Alhaji Yusuf Magaji Bichi, to enable the State Directors regularly come together and brainstorm on the changing spate of insecurity bedeviling the Northwest to exchange ideas and proffer possible solutions that would aid in containing contemporary threats, effectively efficiently and with minimum cost.

“The region is currently confronted by security threats of kidnapping, armed banditry, insurgency, Farmers/herders conflicts, arms trafficking and several other contemporary security issues that require concerted effort to address, including the pivotal input of the respective State Governments.”

Koya said, the current efforts by the State Government to establish a drone centre for intelligence gathering and support of other security operations is highly commendable and expressed hope that, it will come into service soon as it will be a game changer in tackling security challenges not only in Kaduna State but the North-West and even North-Central Zones.

“The IMSI grabber currently in use is limited to 2G and sparingly 3G. However, service providers have since migrated to 3G and 4G, and are on the move to 5G hence there is need to upgrade it in order to keep abreast of the new reality.” He said.

In his own address, Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan said, developing a cohesive security management system rests largely on the effective collaboration between the individual elements.

“Considering the current profile of security challenges where banditry is now fused with terrorist threats, collaboration, especially between the various state commands of the DSS, is more pertinent than ever. The different constitutional mandates of security agencies and the immense strain on their numerical strength demand that they must be on the same page, especially in terms of intelligence gathering and sharing.

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“In this way, action agencies can be more than the sum of their individual parts. In our experience so far, several serious attacks could have been prevented if there was more robust collaboration within and amongst security agencies. There have been instances where available intelligence indicated a high likelihood of attacks by armed bandits, but due to lapses in collaboration, sadly the responses by security agencies fell through the gaps, leading to needless loss of lives and property,” Aruwan said.

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