Lack of Intelligence Report Keeps Nigeria in a Security Mess – Mr. Emmanuel Okpe

-Says operations of the private security agencies will be more effective if …

Mr. Emmanuel Okpe, the Southwest Regional Manager of Threat Mit Security who also doubles as the State Secretary of the Private Guards Association in Ondo State has clearly highlighted different issues militating against the security of lives and properties of the Nigerian citizens. In his interview with the Chronicle Magazine crew, the Security expert shares his thought on the mode of operations and the benefits of Threat Mit Security Agency and other private Security Agencies in the country.

Can you please tell us more about Threat Mit and how it started?
Threat Mit simply means Threat Mitigation. It is a security company registered in Nigeria by the Cooperate Affairs Commission, and licensed by Nigeria Civil Defence Corp in 2010 with our headquarters in Port Harcourt, River State. The Managing Director of the company is Dr Moses Adi, resident in Port Harcourt. The company operates in four regions, The Northern, Southern, Western, and Eastern regions. Each headed by a Regional Manager. The office we are in Akure here is the regional office in the southwest. Here, we oversee all the Southwest States. The company by the grace of God has come a long way; we have our presence in almost all the States of the Federation.
Coming down to our region here, the southwest, we have our presence in the States like Ekiti, Ondo, Lagos, and Oyo. We are currently working on our presence in Osun and Ogun States.

What are your limitations and your restrictions, Where are the areas you cannot operate as a Security Agency?

Our restrictions are quite many. Firstly, the act of the parliament that established private security does not allow us to bear Ammunitions. And this inhibits and limits our performance. If as a private security operator, my men and I are in a particular area, and robbers invade the place, the only thing that we can do, is to give information. So, if we are not able to reach any security personnel, the hoodlums will have a free day, do whatever they want to do, and go freely. Because how are we supposed to confront hoodlums that are armed when we don’t have any ammunition on us? It’s a very big problem. In countries like South Africa and Zimbabwe, private securities have been incorporated into the security architecture of the nation in such a way that they bear ammunition. In that clan, they can help to mitigate whatever security challenge that comes her way.

Secondly, the private security sector is only recognized on paper and not recognized in practice by other security agencies even though we are being trained by Police, Army, and even DSS. The third challenge is the multiplicity of private security companies. A whole lot of people operate without license.

As a security outfit, what are your challenges?
The challenges of all private security agencies are the same. Our greatest problem is inter – agency cooperation. There are other security agencies which includes; the Army, Police, DSS, etc. The problem that we have is that there is no internal collaboration between all these security companies and all other government agencies. And that is a major problem because the private security works very close to the people at the grass root. If there is inter – agency cooperation and collaboration, information gathering, intelligence gathering and processing will be easier. In other civilized clan, most of the things that happen in the country are anchored by the private securities. Those at the local level will gather information, pass it to the DSS, and then the DSS process it and then pass it to the Police or Army.

Having enumerated some of your limitations, how effective is private security guard?

I can tell you that private security guard is very effective to the limit that we can. Nigeria is in a very terrible security mess today as we speak because there is a failure of intelligence. The intelligent community has failed this nation. How come that, the Boko Haram knows that they are going to be attacked tomorrow? And today, they would have disembarked. How did they know? This means that some people within the security subsector have told them. How come the Boko Haram will know that Nigerian Army will pass through a particular area? Then, they’ll lay ambush for the Army and they will be successful.

So, what the Nigerian security architecture is not doing, Boko Haram and other terrorist organization are using it. That is why it appears that they are stronger than the Nigerian security agencies. So, I can say that the private security sector is very effective in information gathering. We gather the information but there is a disconnection between information gathered and the arms that are going to process the information.

How do you get your personnel, what are the criteria you need to be a personnel?

Thank you. We enlist from secondary school level; so far you can read and write. But we don’t stop at being able to read and write alone. We take them through security rudiments. We train them on information gathering, stamina and strength. We also train them in parade in such a way that they can understand commands and controls. Thereafter, we also enlist ND, HND and BSC. We even have Masters Degrees holders working with us. Depending on where their services will be needed and the caliber of people they will be dealing with. We have people who work everywhere even on the street of banks, we call them surveillance. Some of them act like vendors selling newspapers, but they are our personnel. They do that to gather information, tell us about people that come to do a check on the bank. All these help in our information gathering to actually help in what we are supposed to do.

How do you decide the salary structure of your personnel, do you pay them according to where they work?

Yes, we pay according to where they work. But we have a minimum standard for everybody. There is also a limit to how much we pay. However, we pay some people more than the others, depending on where they work and the task they are given to handle.

Can you tell us the minimum wage of your workers?

This is permitted and not permitted. It is permitted because our establishment is not a secret society. On the second level, we have what is called oath of secrecy, we are in a competitive market and our competitors can use it against us. Though we are aware of the minimum wage in Nigeria and we try our best not to go below it. But there are situations that the customers might not be able to go at that limit, but we try as much as we can not to go too low at the limit of the minimum wage.

Insecurity has become the order of the day, especially in this state. What are you and other security outfits ding to change the narratives?
Yes you are correct. Insecurity is rampant on the streets, particularly in Ondo State. The thing that we hear in the past two weeks or so is becoming worrisome. What have we done? What are we doing and what can we do? The first is to revive the intelligent community in the state and no single agency can do it. So, there should be inter – agency collaboration. Lets come together, what are the things that are responsible for the resurgence of crimes and criminality in the state as it were? But I will strongly suggest collaboration, intelligence gathering to curb the current insecurity. It should also be known that in the last one month, there was the ENDSARS protest, this protest has given room for what is happening currently. There are large number of arms and ammunitions in the hands of people who don’t have business with them that is what has given birth to what we are seeing in the last few weeks.

Having said this, what do you think can be done to get this arms and ammunitions back?

What we can do is; let there be a stakeholders forum, the community leaders, traditional leaders, the church leaders, then the security community; be you private security, the Police, the DSS, the Navy, the Army, the civil defense corps, let us brainstorm. People who have these arms and ammunitions live in a society and work in a society, we know ourselves. If that is done with a strong unity and bond between stakeholders, the arms will come out.

Prior to the ENDSARS protest, was there any intelligence gathering particularly in Ondo State?

There was, but the government (federal government) has not done what it is supposed to do. A situation where a Local Government Chairman cannot tell the DPO what to do, a situation whereby the Governor cannot tell the State Commissioner of Police what to do, there is a problem. Orders has to come from the Inspector General, who is just an individual, there are times he will want to work, but he will be overwhelmed by avalanche of complains and problems that he will not be able to handle alone.

So, what we are saying is this, until we decentralize the handling of the processing of information and intelligence, the problem is going to continue. Secondly, protest naturally is the constitutional right of all citizens, why the protest went out of hand was that the Police did not do what they were supposed to do, the Police were to protect the protesters which they never did. When the police later came out, they only came out to deter the people from a peaceful protest, so that turned sour, and when it happened, the Inspector general withdrew the Police from the streets and it gave room for hoodlums to infiltrate the ranks of the protesters.
As a Private Security Guard, what relationship do you have with the State Government?

We do have a relationship with the government. The first duty of government is the protection of lives and properties. So as much as we are also into the protection of lives and properties, it becomes very paramount to have a relationship with the government. So we do have a relationship with the State Government as far as it has to do with the protection of lives and properties. But the relationship can only get better for effectiveness; we can harmonize the resources of the private security better to feed the government on what is happening at the grassroots.

What advice can you give to Nigerians even as we approach the end of the year?

Things are not okay with Nigeria when we talk about security. I am aware that there is mobilization for another round of protest. My advice is this; if any protest comes up, we should learn from the past, we should be guided. The problem in Nigeria is that there is disconnect between the government and the people. If the government engages the people continually, there might be protest, but it won’t result to how the last one went. During the last protest, the government was not interacting with the people, if there was to be an interaction, the government will have a beep into what is in the mind of the people but instead, the government allowed the people to ventilate their anger before coming out to interact with them.

Now, I will advice the government to be sincere with the people and with their actions. The government should redeem their image and engage the people. When there was Lekki shooting, there was no single information from the government, then there was various conflicting information from the military and the government.

Where does your security agency hope to achieve in the next five years?
We hope by the grace of God to have conquered the Nigerian security market and expand to all other African countries particularly South Africa and Zimbabwe where the private security agencies have been completely inculcated into the security architecture of the nation.

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