By; RAYMOND TEDUNJAYE, Lagos
As the country is yet to totally get out of the COVID-19 Induced Security Challenges, a former Assistant Director, Department of State Services (DSS) Mr Dennis Amachree has warned that food scarcity looms if the continuos attack of Boko Haram members on Nigerian citizens is left unchecked.
Amachree said this at the 29th edition of the Crime Reporters Association of Nigeria (CRAN) Lecture and Annual Awards themed, “Managing COVID-19 RELATED SECURITY CHALLENGES” in Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos State.
He said that the advent of COVID-19 had heightened insecurity across the land with an escalation in kidnapping, terrorism, highway robbery, banditry, militancy and piracy which had become common place in the country.
“The Zabamari massacre in Borno State underlines the state of insecurity in the country which has further disillusioned the citizenry about the safety of their lives and property.
“This particular massacre has the implications of an impending scarcity of food in the country. This is the plot of the terrorists and it is coming into fruition,” he said.
The director said that Boko Haram sent out a propaganda, informing villagers that the lockdown was a ploy by government to stop them from following their faith.
“This narrative gave Boko Haram leverage to recruit more adherents from the poor and unemployed lot, that are readily available.
“Nigeria has been classified as the third most terrorised country in the world, according to the World Terrorism Index, which is not good as the most populous black nation in the world.
“This shows that our security and law enforcement agencies are overstretched in their bid to provide security to the citizenry,” he said.
Amachree said that the protracted conflict in the north-eastern part of the country continues to devastate the lives of civilians, resulting in a humanitarian crises affecting 7.7 million women, men and children.
He also noted that the separatist movement agitation against the Cameroonian government had also driven more than 300,000 refugees into Nigeria.
“The pandemic has exposed a range of new security challenges in the country. The notable aspect is the level of preparedness that government has made to square off the pandemic.
“The individual and family unit has been worst hit in trying to understand what COVID-19 is and how to handle it,” the director said.
Amachree said that the resultant effect of the lockdown caused by the pandemic traumatised citizens which made it easy for them to come to a break point.
“Especially when the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unleashed mayhem on the youth population in the country which led to the EndSars movement.
“Bottled up anger and frustrations generated from the lockdown started the spontaneous protest across parts of the country.
“The government also quickly reacted by acceding to the foremost demands , by scarpping the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS),” he said.
The director, however said that the lessons to note by the government was the need to change the parameters of profiling for criminals and the need for a people oriented policing.
“The need for a better trained anti-terrorist police unit like the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams can not be overemphasized,” he said.
Amachree advised Nigerians to avoid travelling for the festive periods especially with the prevailing increase of insecurity in the country.
“2020 is a unique year and if I have to give any security advise, I will recommend that you stay where you are this festive season.
“The roads are not safe, air fares has skyrocketed and the pandemic is entering a second wave globally.
“Prevention is better than cure,” the former DSS boss said.
Also, Assistant Inspector General Zone 2 Command, Onikan Lagos,AIG Ahmed Ilyasu, commended CRAN for hosting such an event that brought together security agencies across cadre to brainstorm on solving security issues posed by the pandemic.
“This is a very serious and challenging issue because it is not only affecting Nigeria but it is affecting the whole world.
“This is the first type of gathering and it is unprecedented bringing together various security agencies to proceed solutions to tackling insecurity resulting from the pandemic.
“It has caused a lot of global economic problem with resulting negative fallouts across the globe such as recession, poverty among others,” he said.
Ilyasu, however assured citizens of the country that the police is well committed to ensure protection of lives and properties during the Yuletide in spite of the challenges bedeviling the country.
“Our officers and commissioners of police has been directed through Operation Special Order which each and every Area commander and Division Police Officers are mandated to perform specific duties.
“In view of this, we will continue to collaborate with CRAN in the spirit of community policing in finding solutions to problem,” he said.Ilyasu urged everyone to play their role as a component of the security architecture of the country in ensuring that the security of lives and property is brought to the closest person in the community.
Meanwhile, Mr Sunday Odita, President, CRAN said that Amachree was an icon in the security corridor whose pedigree as a former top brass in the nation’s secret service is second to none.
“There is no doubt he has done justice to the topic.
“We hope the communique released at the end of our delibration will certainly assist securities agencies in their roles as we continue to expect an end to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Odita said.