Tuesday 8 April 2014

Adopting Grassroots Intelligence System to Combat Terrorism and Other Crimes


One of the factors militating against Nigeria’s war against terrorism and other violent crimes is poor intelligence. Intelligence is an important factor in successful security operations management. Attempting to check insecurity without availability of real-time intelligence is like trying to cross a busy road blindfolded. It is suicidal as we are experiencing in the war against Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and oil theft and vandalization of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta region. Intelligence information is the raw material with which security decisions are made and operations executed.   The case of the attempted jail break which led to the dead of no fewer than 21 Boko Haram detainees at the Department of State Security (DSS) Headquarters in Asokoro, a district of Abuja is a good example of failed intelligence. The increasing oil theft and vandalization of oil and gas facilities in the Niger Delta is a proof of poor intelligence on the part of our security agents. The situation is deteriorating daily that those of us who are stakeholders in Nigeria’s security are beginning to wonder whether our advice and suggestions to improve the system is ever taken seriously.

The line separating national and corporate security management is so thin that it puts less pressure on efforts to adopt one to the other. In analyzing the ingredients of grassroots intelligence system (GIS) at the corporate level, it is the conviction of Osaro Ollorwi that managers of security at both national and corporate levels will benefit thereof. He pointed out that ignoring grassroots components of the social system exerts significant influence on strategic security management initiatives, resulting in escalating insecurity in all parts of the country. He stressed that there is urgent need for corporate bodies operating in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria to establish, enlarge, train, equip and mobilize members of their Intelligence Units attached to Security Department or Division to penetrate hostile communities, identify key sources of information, and harness the appropriate intelligence information for effective security management and administration.  

We are aware that increasing awareness and agitation for better oil company and host community relations have made the task of security management in the oil and gas sector of the Nigerian economy more complex in recent times. Any approach short of a comprehensive Grassroots Intelligence-based strategy will settle for sub-optimum results. Playing the Ostrich will only worsen the already bad security situation in the country. Let us go back to the grassroots. It is simple, it is real, it generates the best of intelligence information.

Industrial security generally refers to measures designed to protect a company’s assets (tangible and intangible) and ensuring the protection of staff and customers interacting within the organization and its environment. Unlike in government, it is difficult to evaluate the environment of a particular company to determine if relative security has been achieved. Security is thus intended to reduce the possibility of detrimental incidents, and not necessarily to eliminate risks. Security then, is not static but dynamic as it depicts a state or condition that fluctuates in a continuum. As environment and human conditions change, so also does the logistics of protection. It is this phenomenal nature that makes security, within the context of productive business, highly complex. The sophistication is even more when the company is operating in a volatile multi-cultural environment like the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

It is in this light that companies operating in the Niger Delta region need to urgently reexamine their industrial security policy and strategy in relation to their main stream business operations. With respect to oil exploration and exploitation, most security agencies merely boast of peripheral security frameworks that do not adequately cover the entire business operations security-wise. The perennial crisis, intermittent fragile peace (uneasy calm) characteristic of the environment of most oil companies in the Niger Delta necessitate the urgent need for the establishment, enlargement, training, equipping and motivation of members of the Intelligence Units attached to Security Departments or Divisions to penetrate hostile communities, identify key sources of information, harness the appropriate intelligence information for effective security management and administration.

The gathering of these elements at the grassroots level and building a system of extracting relevant information that has intelligence values from them is the thrust of what is aptly described as Grassroots Intelligence System (GIS). These elements represent those vital intelligence sources that really do exist but are often ignored because of their apparent “commonness”.  Their nature portrays them as insignificant and therefore, of little or no value to strategic intelligence services’ administration. The status quo in question underscores the efforts to evolve a system that will cater for both the proactive and reactive security management system. This process is known as known as Grassroots Intelligence System builds from downwards to upwards. It is directed at forestalling the usual fire brigade approach to handling matters of strategic security and intelligence, particularly in the corporate environments.

Grassroots Intelligence is about the collection of information on a whole gamut of diverse issues. This collection must be selective if the efforts would serve any meaningful purpose. For an effective and result-oriented grassroots intelligence system which the corporate intelligence security can put in place to achieve meaningful results in host communities and other purpose, there must be a comprehensive systematic data collection scheme which should indicate the types and location of sources, informants, agents, and agencies to be used. With this plan, the priorities are defined according to the relative importance of the problems and threats faced by an organization.

Consequently, grassroots intelligence sources and agencies are employed with a view to:

1.       Detecting signs of the existence of clandestine activities in an area, which are inimical to growth of the company’s operations.

2.       Identifying persons of security interests and keep track on their activities.

3.       Penetrating and controlling suspects, their organizations and aims.

4.       Recognizing adversaries’ decision process, their targeting and attacking techniques.

5.       Making enquiries for the purpose of gathering information in aid of development of new sources.

6.       Assessing activities and progress of informants in order to determine or identify double agents who exploit corporate organization vulnerabilities.

7.       Assisting in information gathering for operatives as well as intelligence research concerns.

Technically, a Grassroots Intelligence System build-up is expected to make specifications of the following community perspectives:

·         Geographical and historical dimensions,

·         Population and active persons,

·         Administration including services and institutes,

·         Charity organizations and philanthropic individuals,

·         National and political organizations,

·         Past subversive, sabotage and criminal activities in the vicinities,

·         Critical predictions.

Let us deal with these specifications briefly, beginning with the geographical perspective.

The geographical specification usually addresses such crucial issues as:

1.       Particular location of host community.

2.       Main boundaries, with respect to rivers, mountains, hills, valleys fence, and open land.

3.       Topographic terrain of the area, relative to high, low, forest deserts, rivers, etc.

4.       Partitioning with respect to districts, villages, streets, and commercial/residential layout.

5.       Types of buildings found such as huts, tents, mansions, and others.

The historical specification addresses history of the area under scrutiny, which is of paramount importance in the build-up of the Grassroots Intelligence System. Under this section, the essential information has to do with the origin of the oil, gas or other natural resources settlement. Town or Local Government Area, occupants of the area, - place where the occupants migrated from; biological connections with other settlements outside the area, the extent of these connections (closeness or otherwise), and government recognition of the residents as real owners of the land or as mere settlers.

In terms of population and active persons, it is important to know the number of inhabitants of the area in order to help the company determine the type of developmental projects or infrastructure to be sited.

However, the actual in diligence need is not essentially a bout ascertaining this index. To cover an area effectively, it is strongly advised that the area be divided into several interest groups or sub-sections such as:

·         Ethnic groupings

·         Religious groupings

·         Age groupings

·         Political groupings

·         Economic groupings

·         Cultural groupings

·         Environmental groupings, amongst others.

Security intelligence will become more effective with the knowledge of the population of these sub-groups in relation to others and to the total population of the area.

In addition to the population, the following should also be identified within each sub-group or section:

a.       Leaders of each sub-section.

b.      Most important/influential personalities in each sub-section and the reasons why they are adjudged important.

c.       Relationship between sub-section, whether there are previous/existing wars, land disputes/tensions, or harmony/cordiality amongst them. Identify all the elements of hate and love and those possibly spearheading each.

Other vital characteristics of this sub-section include lifestyles, major occupants, dominant religious inclinations, marriage system, and commercial relationships.

Apart from leaders of the various sub-sections, every other person who in one way or another is capable of influencing any part or whole of the sub-sections need to be identified and placed under surveillance. In certain areas, these last, (but not the least) categories comprise the following:

·         Heads of Schools

·         Religious leaders

·         Business leaders

·         Community leaders

·         Youth leaders

·         Women leaders

·         Traditional leaders

·         Political leaders

·         Pressure group leaders

·         Labour leaders

·         Opinion leaders

Efforts must be made to specifically oversee their activities within the sub-section.

The administrative specification comprises services and institutes that make up the social system. The major components of this bit touch on education, health, religion, transport, water, electricity, charity, communication, commerce, centres of attractions, unions, associations, and so on.

The perspectives of educational system to be considered are:

a.        Total number/names of educational institutions in the area, especially Secondary Schools, Universities, Polytechnics and other Tertiary Institutions.

b.      Comprehensive list and total population of all students in these institutions, which should be updated annually.

c.       List of teachers, noting their levels of influence on the students.

d.      List of students’ associations in each of the institutions.

e.      List of academic and non-academic staff associations and their executives in the institutions

If there are students from the area studying elsewhere, their personal data should equally be on record. This would provide an opportunity to keep track on them in case they return to make trouble or try to provoke sympathy actions and reactions wherever they may be. Their places of study should also be noted, as well as those engaged in part-time programmes.

The health system has to do with hospitals and medical centres both private and public, existing doctors and nurses, and other paramedical personnel in the area; influential traditional medicine practitioners, and health insurance schemes, if any.

There is also the religious system which focuses on prevalent religions, principal officers of each religion, outreach associations including those set up on charity grounds, major sects having extremists, government-sectarian relations (noting especially the anti-government types), inter-sectarian relations, number of clashes in the past and the immediate and remote causes.

The means of transportation within an area as well as other parts of the region are of vital considerations. It is also important to consider the sources of water supply in the community, the providers of the amenities (is it the Federal, State, or Local Governments?). In some instances, the inhabitants’ sources of water are private ownership of bore-holes or possibly fetching drinking water from untreated and unsafe sources such as unclean streams or ponds must be examined vis-à-vis the internal anger it generates within the society, especially amongst women and children, and how this translate into violence in the area and disrupts economic operations.

As it is the case with potable water, data on electricity is of utmost relevance in Grassroots Intelligence System analysis. The critical questions include:

1.       Is the community linked to the national grid?

2.       Is the operating company or any other agency supplying the community electricity?

3.       Is electricity supply selective or comprehensive, covering the entire community?

In identifying available philanthropic organizations in the area, it is necessary to recognize their sponsors, which in most cases include governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, and private individual. The charity presentations may include money, projects, training, food, medicaments, scholarships, and others. The motive behind the charity, its donations, the movements of these funds, its custody and end use constitute security interest. Evidence abounds that some charities and zakats are used to fund terrorism and drugs trafficking, strengthen loyalty to the patron, and to back the patron’s radical ideology.  

Concerning communication, data could be generated by addressing crucial questions like:

·         Are there telephone facilities linking the community with outside communities?

·         Are there radio communication systems?

·         Are there other intercom media amongst community leaders? The impacts of GSM in information acquisition and dissemination within the area are also of security significance and must be incorporated into the grassroots intelligence system.

The centres of attraction also to be considered comprise public libraries, parks, gardens, cinema, sport/social clubs, and hotels (with accommodation facilities and those for catering only, alongside the rates chargeable). There may be some hotels patronized by prostitutes, which could serve as haven for criminals that should also be well noted. Some hotels may also be very popular for their conference halls facilities. The relationship between the owner of such private facilities and law enforcement agents is equally of security relevance.

For the unions and associations in the community, focus should be on pressure groups operating in the area, Community Development Committees, Community Based Organizations, Youths/Women Organizations, Clandestine Groups (Secret Cults, Area Boys, etc.), Social Clubs, Progressive Unions, and allied fraternities. Branches of unions and associations whose parents body exist outside the area which are either within or outside the country, leaders and prominent members of these unions and associations and their activities as well as places of gathering and meetings, and whether any of the unions and associations is operating illegally, should be identified and placed under surveillance and other security monitoring.

The economic perspectives in its own respect focuses on the main occupation of the people, their profession and places of engagement, existing stores and supermarkets and their owners (specifying their types and items dealt with), activities of employment agencies in creating jobs and expanding existing ones, labour union and their leaders, availability of markets and motor parks, and banks/insurance companies, as well as effectiveness of poverty alleviation programmes.

A community may also be playing host to some international, national and political organizations. Identities of their leaders should be known (whether they are charity or profit-oriented), and their movements and activities monitored for security reasons including acting as agents of terrorism funding.

Other concerns in this direction are number of registered political parties in active in the area and their leaders; the party in power in the local Government Area where the community is located, names of political office holders from the are at all levels of government, popularity of the party in the area and its followership, influential political party elders, and existence of notorious political party thugs in the community.

Alongside these are considerations of various forms of security threats and breaches, whose data have to do with:

1.       Nature of subversion in the past.

2.       Nature of on-going subversion, espionage activities, terrorism, etc.

3.       Prevalent criminal activities and pattern of violent crimes.

4.       Identified culprits, known ex-convicts, and juvenile delinquents.

5.       Rehabilitation programmes available in liaison with police and prison authorities and other voluntary agencies.

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