The observation of Nancy has been verified in several instances, but particularly in the recent and ongoing uproar concerning the United States’ covert operation of monitoring communications not only of individuals but even of organisations and governments. The stealthy operation reminds us and now makes it so vivid that the passwords to your several digital services are useful only to some extent. Worrying-some as it might sound, the truth remains those passwords, even with the best cryptography algorithm, can always be broken when necessary. The entire ethics underlying this operation might not be totally justifiable, but the amount of terrorist attacks allegedly averted and the number of lives saved would also make one think twice before labeling such operation with a total condemnation.
Whatever be the case, the killing of more than 50 students in Nigeria last Sunday by the vagabond group, Boko Haram, underscores yet and for the umpteenth time the need to improve the methods of Intelligence in the nation if such horrible acts and such outlawed groups are to be effectively contained. Terrorism is not a typical warfare, it is a challenge that needs very special and dedicated response. In this age in which cyber prints and communication snippets are always discoverable, the Nigerian government can not afford to be fighting the terrorism war only with the AK4 series or with the kalashinovs. If this war is to be won, Intelligence must wade-in into communication technologies. The animals who opened fire on sleeping students (and not for the first time) did communicate, and with modern information technologies too. There must be some study therefore into how such communications can be compromised.
Now one’s initial reaction would be the preoccupation for personal information and privacy. Yes, that is a worthy thought. But the suggestion here is not necessarily to tap into all communication wires of citizens and strip people of their privacy. It is more of intelligence, a whole world of study of its own kind. I mean, given the sort of pains these people inflict on the innocent daily, no single suspicion, in the author’s opinion, should ever be treated with a kid’s glove. Which is where the government is therefore still sloppy, if not complicit.
A single example suffices. Kabiru Sokoto, the alleged master-minder of the December 2011 bombing which claimed over over 40 lives was caught in a Borno state government lodge in the Federal Capital. Now, that is a red flag! No government would let that single fact go easily. Whether the Borno state stalwarts are complicit or not is not the issue. The fact that such a prime suspect is found in a government house, peacefully lodging, is enough to throw out a dragnet of investigations. In such a case, one would expect that all communications of NOT ONLY the arrested suspects are rigorously subject to scrutiny in the past and the future. But more importantly, that of all connected to the management and use of the particular government lodge, no matter how powerful they are. It is our ardent belief that if such had been done, much more information would have come to light. And several hundreds who have lost their lives after the sad incident would still be breathing and well today. Alas, as someone rightly pointed out, the political will to go that length is still years away in our country. Perhaps we should say the capacity to curb such dastardly act is, by simple consequence, still years away.
The point remains that the challenge of terrorism in Nigeria today needs greater efforts more than the rampaging soldiers, sporadic gun response or the rounding up of all villagers in a particular terrorism event. It would need a dedicated, updated and through deployment of Intelligence. A neglect of a single iota of information linking terrorists either to an influential person or to one who is not, would always have great consequences in terms of reduced capacity to contain the activities of these criminals.
As it has always been reteirated, Boko Haram has its sponsors. The path to controlling its menace to the society therefore lies in the ability of intelligence to clip the wings of such sponsors and nail them. The communication world offers Intelligence in Nigeria and everywhere a lee way to do that.