Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Discourse 310 Nigeria Cannot Trust Jonathan
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
Nigeria Cannot Trust Jonathan
Last week, Saharareporters published on its website an article titled Secret Army Report Implicates NSA Azazi, Ibori, Alamieyeseigha, Henry and Sunny Okah In Sale Of Military Weapons To Niger Delta Militants. Also, courtesy of Saharareporters, the full report Niegrian Army Intelligence Corp (NAIC) can be obtained at http://www.saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/uploads/Azazi.pdf. The title of the NAIC report which was addressed to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was Investigation Report into the Theft and Sale of Arms to Niger Delta Gunrunner by an Officer and Some Soldiers of the 1 Base Ordinance Depot Kaduna.
For me the full report is a turning point. After reading it thrice, I am left with no choice but to ask this embarrassing question: Can we, Nigerians, afford to trust Jonathan with the presidency in 2011 in the light of his association with the people involved in the arms theft, with those who covered them up and, of course, his commitment to the militant cause of Niger Delta which is increasingly becoming apparent in his decisions and utterances since he became President? The question is embarrassing because Jonathan is already our President. And there could not be a situation more embarrassing than citizens seeing their President as a security risk.
Briefly, the NAIC report contains details of how close to 7000 assorted weapons were stolen between 2000 and 2007 from the ordinance depots in Kaduna and Jaji. The theft was masterminded by one Maj SA Akubo, who sold them to Niger Delta militants through Sunday Okar, the junior brother of Henry Okar, the MEND leader. It started with the discovery of the Jaji incident in February 2007, which renewed another inquiry into the theft that has been taking place in Kaduna when Gen Azazi (rtd) was the GOC of 1 DIV. Investigations revealed that the two incidents were related. Maj Akubo, Sgt Mathias, LCpl Alexander, LCpl Moses and LCpl Nnamdi were the principal culprits in the incidents. The Kaduna theft was investigated and suppressed by SSS when Lt. LKK Are was its DG in collaboration with Azazi and one Maj Gen Adekhegba, then Director of Military Intelligence (DMI). Azazi continued to cover up the case, first in his capacity as GOC 1DIV, then later as COAS. It took the discovery of the Jaji theft in 2007 and the tenure of another DG of SSS to mount a conclusive investigation. None of the recommendations of the NAIC report were taken seriously except the court-martialling and jailing of Maj Akubo and the soldiers involved. Sunday Okar was freed and presently aiding Jonathan in the case of the October 1 Abuja Bombings against his brother Henry.
Two former governors, James Ibori of Delta State and Dipriye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa, purchased the weapons for the militants when they were serving governors. They were never questioned or sanctioned and no further investigation into the culpability of other politicians was conducted as recommended by the NAIC report in order to nib in the bud the possibility of someone among such politicians becoming a President of Nigeria one day. NAIC also recommended, among other things, that investigations be carried out to ascertain the conspiracy theory that the thefts were part of the Niger Delta plan to secede from Nigeria.
To my knowledge, the Nigerian Army has not come out yet to refute the authenticity of the report. As a citizen of a democratic society, I think I am free to express my opinion about it.
This is a report that Nigerians must not let go. With Jonathan on the wheels of the nation, it is my opinion that its contents has great significance to our national security. This is also the opinion of NAIC: “It has been suggested that this issue should be handled in a secretive manner in order to avoid bad publicity to the NA and the government due to the embarrassment of the extent of the theft. It is our opinion however that this is a wrong advice. In as much as this issue deserves to be carefully handled, we do not have the luxury to keep it under cover.” Leaking the report could be in reaction to the appointment of General Azazi as the National Security Adviser (NSA) with the intention of alerting the nation to its dangerous implication.
The most relevant part of the NAIC report to this discussion is this: “One wonders what would happen if Nigeria ends up with a president who does not believe in the entity of the Nigerian nation, and has a record of involvement in cases like this.”
We now have a president - Jonathan - who was the deputy to one of the culprits, Alamieyeseigha. One cannot imagine that Jonathan as the deputy governor could not know anything about the arms deals which his boss was financing. Emancipation of the Niger Delta is a regional cause and there could be no way that a deputy governor then would not know how it was financed or how its weapons were procured. Impossible.
Not only that, Jonathan became the governor when the flow of weapons from Kaduna and Jaji into the hands of Niger Delta militants was still taking place. His name could not have been mentioned in the report because it was compiled in September 2007 when he was already the Vice President! It was not surprising that investigation into the “many more” politicians involved in the case was not attempted at all.
More importantly, however, is the association of Jonathan with the people implicated in the report after he became President. Jonathan cannot claim ignorance of the report. Yet, as Saharareporters noted, “Alamieyeseigha…is championing the President Goodluck Janathan’s presidential election bid… Sunny Okah has since been recruited by the Jonathan administration and is being used to press the case against his brothers.” The most revealing, however, is the appointment of General Azazi (rtd) by Jonathan as the new NSA despite his multiple roles in the case that are explicitly mentioned in the report. For this, we need to indulge ourselves in some details about his role.
First, “the period of the arms theft that Maj Akubo masterminded at 1BODK fall within the period of Gen Azazi’s tour of duty as GOC 1 DIV”, said the NAIC report. This alone is bad enough. He instituted two shoddy investigations into the theft to cover up his failures.
Secondly, he was the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) when the DSS (or SSS as we popularly know it) investigated the 1BODK theft later. He directed, the Director of Military Intelligence (DMI), Major General Adekhegba to “facilitate the release of the officers to the DSS, find out why they were looking for them and also respond on his behalf.” Adekhegba who was ostensibly working under unwritten directives of Azazi “approved the release of Maj Akubo with an incomplete investigation of a case that has probable negative implications on military security without clearing from the COAS,” said the NAIC report.
Thirdly, according to the NAIC report, the DSS completed its investigations of the Kaduna thefts before the Jaji one was discovered without intimating the “NA or NAIC of their findings. Neither did the NA nor NAIC request for any feedback.” Also, “there is nothing on record to indicate that the DSS obliged or even responded to the requests” of NAIC to have “military intelligence officers be part of the investigations”. DSS kept mute on its findings. NAIC report posed some questions here: “Is there likelihood that this case was shabbily handled in order that General Azazi command failures may remain undiscovered? Did Azazi use course mate influence on the then DG of DSS Lt. Col. LKK Are (rtd) to ensure the case remain suppressed? Otherwise, why did it take until now, when Are is no more in office for the DSS to reopen the case and be willing to cooperate fully with the NA?”
Fourthly, still on Gen Azazi, the army intelligence report had this to say: “Gen Azazi obviously has more questions to answer regarding his roles in this case considering the key appointment he held during the period of the theft. Gen Azazi has already nominated Maj Gen RO Adekhegba for national merit award, probably as a reward for his role in ensuring that his complicity in this issue remains undiscovered.” It did not therefore come as a surprise that the NAIC report noted that “after becoming the CDS, it is reported that Gen Azazi’s nominee for the position of CDI is Maj Gen Adekhegba.”
What late President Yar’adua did as a result of this report was to fire Azazi in 2008 when he was the Chief of Defence Staff, a source told Saharareporters. I remember that was the time when there were widespread reports that Niger Delta militants have infiltrated the top hierarchy of the Nigerian military and the Federal Government was just threatening to intensify its assault on them.
The recent appointment of Azazi as the NSA by Jonathan justifiably raises doubts regarding the latter's commitment to the security of this country. Naturally, the appointment could only be possible if Jonathan was impressed with his record. And to be so impressed with what we have listed above requires a mind that shares the same cause with Azazi, not only in the past but also in the future. Here lies our concern as a nation. How could a President, who is promising Nigerians a new future if elected in 2011 appoint as head of the entire national security apparatus a person who was an accomplice in serious security breaches when he was a GOC, COAS and CDF? How can he return a person fired as CDF and forcefully retired from the army for reasons well known to the President? For a possible answer to these questions, the NAIC report gives us some important clues.
The report suggested a “conspiracy theory” which it recommended to be investigated. The report believes that "there is a link between the 1989 aborted Orkar coup; the 2001 Ikeja Cantonment arms depot explosions; the arms theft at 1BODK and the militancy in the Niger Delta. It is believed that there is an orchestrated plan by the Niger Deltans to secede from Nigeria which is being played out over the years with every opportunity they have. It is also believed that they took maximum advantage of the unique opportunity they had with successive appointments of Gens Ogomudia, Asemota and Azazi as GOCs I DIV.”
This secession theory is not the speculation of a columnist or Saharareporters. It is a theory coming from Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps and it must be given due recognition. If indeed they intend to secede as entailed by their threats, militancy and weapons accumulation, then they can do so easily in the near future, for their plan is rolling so nicely without any obstacle. They now have the Federal Government headed by a President of their own. He is doing everything to cover them up and strengthen them. He has now appointed another of their own, who collaborated with them so much before in stealing arms from Nigerian military depots, to head the institution that oversees the Army, Navy, Air Force, SSS, Police, etc. He now advises the President on anything regarding these bodies. And, of course, by his antecedents, he cannot advise him against the interest of his own people. He has also appointed another Niger Deltan, Ita Ekpeyong, as DG of SSS. And Nigerians are simply watching!
Equally alarming is the plan to recruit the militants as national coast guards. Few days ago, on 2 November, 2010, Daily Trust reported that the Vice President inaugurated a committee on the integration of the militants as guards in an inter-ministerial/interagency meeting on human capital development master plan for amnesty programme. “Incessant insecurity at our coasts”, the VP noted, “is as a result of inadequate coast guards who may give information and perfectly protect the coasts… Sustainable security in the Niger Delta can only be achieved if there is enough surveillance by the security agencies.” Are the criminals in the Niger Delta the most qualified to secure our coasts? Why won't the government also recruit Odua Peoples Congress in Lagos and Boko Haram in Borno to achieve "sustainable security" on our borders in the southwest and northeast respectively? In fact, aren't there enough law abiding, able-bodied and patriotic youths in the Niger Delta to employ as coast guards? Why resort to vandals, thieves, kidnappers, insurgents and terrorists?
So these militants will be officially recruited, trained and armed by the very government they have been fighting against for over fifteen years. And the President is doing so very fast such that the militants would be employed, trained and armed before he leaves office next April, just in case he fails in the next elections. Thus, the committee is just given ten days to submit its report on the modalities of the integration, implying that the matter is already fait accompli.
Imagine how much security damage Jonathan can inflict on this country if this trend continues until 2015. Niger Delta would have completed all arrangements for a secession: increased oil revenues that could be used to buy weapons; complete undermining of the military through posting agent officers as commanders especially along the coastal area and possible relocation of military hardware to the region; and well trained guards to oversee the illegal activities required to achieve this goal with the aid of Nigerian state machinery which they did not enjoy hitherto. Then, the conspiracy theory of the army intelligence corps would not need to be investigated into and ascertained. It would be a reality, just as would become of the prophesy of the disintegration of the nation by 2015 that is widespread in diplomatic circles.
We have finally stumbled on why Jonathan is desperate to continue beyond 2011. He has not convinced us on any manifesto. He has not achieved anything so far to impress us. His only argument is he is anti-zoning. To achieve his ambition, he has resorted to using primordial sentiments of religion, regionalism and whatever the PDP crooking machine has perfected. And the nation is buying it, hook, line and sinker. It is really a pity.
Nigerians cannot trust Jonathan. They can only do so at their own peril. I am not keen about the origins of a good President whom all of us can trust. But I am baffled at how the entire southern part of the country has shied away from fielding other aspirants in addition of Jonathan or in his stead. The South is undoubtedly blessed with hundreds of such competent people. Everything is left on the shoulders of the traditionally maligned North, a situation which Jonathan, his co-militants and their sponsors are cashing on to orchestrate a victory in 2011.
That is how calamity creeps into a nation, as it did in Germany. It is aided most by the conspiratorial silence of the majority who sees it as a distant speculation. That majority preoccupies itself with daily stereotyping of some groups. In Germany it was the Jews. It fails to listen to the voices of wisdom; in fact, it penalizes them. Until it is too late, at the cost of unimaginable number of lives and the suffering of millions, the nation fails to heed to the warnings coming from such discernible minds. We once had that fateful experience too. The Nigerian civil war: A million killed; three million deliberately starved; millions others injured; many more rendered homeless; and an entire region had to start life again from the scratch. The nation was watching sheepishly as the events were unfolding, starting with the belief in the propaganda that led to the January 1965 coup and subsequent events. Is not that enough a deterrent for Nigerians to stop the Niger Delta secession plan with the benefit of hindsight? How can we afford to be so blind?
For me, the beginning of wisdom is to start questioning every step of Jonathan. For example, why are the suspects of the Abuja Bombing tried secretly despite protests from the civil society? What are Jonathan and Azazi afraid of? Are they afraid that the suspects might tell the public all the dirty secrets of their past and present sponsors? There are also complaints from all regions about the lopsidedness of recent postings in the military. More such postings are coming within the next two weeks. Such things must be challenged nationwide, including the appointment of Azazi and many of his boys. Then the recruitment of terrorists as coast guards must be resisted. Their previous actions disqualify them ab initio from becoming employed in the defence establishment. Besides, MEND is still active. Even this morning, another bomb blast was reported.
Next is that instead of contemplating a post-2011 Jonathan, I would rather implore competent Nigerians from every corner of the nation and in any party they may be to please come forward and contest for the Presidency. Let us dump Jonathan because so far he has proved that there is enough in him to scare us. In my estimation, he has become a security risk.
The National Assembly and the National Council of State must come on board. Their members must open their eyes to this plan. They must stop being rubberstamps of the Presidency on issues regarding the Niger Delta. We wre not helping our brothers in that region by according them the luxury of preferential treatment. A spoilt child always courts disaster for its family.
However, my loudest call goes to the intellectuals and elders of Niger Delta. Politicians on many occasions are no better than thugs in their thought and could be more brutal in their conscience. For some time now politicians in the region have been under the mercy of its thugs. The nation has toed their line too by adopting appeasement as a solution to their criminal actions. But there does not seem to be an end to their demand until they engulf us in another tragedy. We need to hear voices of reason from that region while we do the little we can which is often received with hesitation. There could be consequences for going against the tide but their sour taste would pale before the avoidable sufferings of a nation.
Finally, as I depart for Hajj, I am closing this article with the now familiar warning in the NAIC report: “One wonders what would happen if Nigeria ends up with a president who does not believe in the entity of the Nigerian nation, and has a record of involvement in cases like this." If...if... That was a possibility. Now it is a warning.
Culled from http://fridaydiscourse.blogspot.com
Abuja, 4 November 2010