CORONAVIRUS: ASO Rock Villa And The Failure Of Nigeria’s Intelligence Community by Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije

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The recent media reports that the Chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, was tested and so is confirmed to be positive for coronavirus, after two weeks of his return to Nigeria, is not just one of the early unpleasant highlights of this trending global pandemic in the country, but also, and more importantly, it evidently portrays a whole lot about the porosity and the grave indictment of the entire Nigerian intelligence community. Apparently, Mallam Abba Kyari has thus become the source through whom the deadly disease has sneaked into the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Nigeria’s seat of power, which portends the chances that the President himself might not be spared yet by this scourge, despite his purported negative status in the interim.

Understandably, many people are most probably inclined to contend that the Nigerian Intelligence establishment ought not to be either mentioned or blamed over the prevailing health situation in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, as such is not the case elsewhere or, to be precise, in countries where the pandemic has equally visited and had a field day infecting and afflicting men and women of power. But however this point of view is belabored, the obvious is that it is by no means an overstatement of the truth to accuse the personnel and the relevant agencies charged with the task of protecting the person of the President of Nigeria, and also entrusted with his routine security checks, of huge negligence and dereliction of duty arising from the importation of the covid-19 pandemic into the President’s comfort zone by Mallam Abba Kyari. Here, for clarity, taking the lagest portions of this censure are the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the State Security Service.
It is though understandable that the coronavirus pandemic is far from being a conventional war that typically would demand the deployment of the physical confrontation by the Nigerian Security Operatives, and neither is it such a tangible or physical threat to the country’s territorial integrity which naturally would beckon upon the body of Nigerian Security men and women to deploy with dispatch their weaponry in an apparent show of force. Yet, unarguably, it is either a fool or, perhaps, the uninformed that will dispute the fact that part of the most vital tasks involved in Securing lives and properties of the citizen and, especially, the life of the president of the country, requires more of intelligence gathering than actual wielding of guns and other instruments terror or indulging in a show of overzealousness.
Here in our present circumstance as a nation, the easy, uninterrupted and smooth penetration of coronavirus pandemic into the Presidential villa, our so-called seat of power, is undoubtedly a manifestation of sheer failure of the “mystified” power and strength of men and women of our so-called intelligence establishment. Essentially, by statutory provisions, it is the fundamental responsibility of the National Intelligence Agency ( NIA) to oversee foreign intelligence gathering and counterintelligence operations and also to report same to the home government in Nigeria for onward consideration, analysis and necessary action. The same thing is no less applicable to the State Security Service which though is specifically saddled with the responsibility of overseeing internal or domestic intelligence gathering geared mainly towards achieving effective pre-emptive measures in combating crimes and other nefarious and undesirable happenings in the country.
Bearing all of the forgoing in mind, therefore, it becomes quite difficult to fathom in the very first instance what other intelligence the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) could have been gathering when it woefully failed to perceive, detect, anticipate and report the obvious danger or threat which the junket embarked upon by President Buhari’s Chief Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, from Germany to Egypt, seriously posed to the life of the President himself and to the lives of other Nigerians living and working within the confines of the Presidential Villa.
What is more, even upon Malla Abba Kyari’s deadly” return to the Country, one would have thought that, that which the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) failed or was unable to professionally observe and carry out would have been swiftly spotted and accomplished by the personnel of the State Security Service; whose domestic intelligence gathering ability, expertise and competence were meant to have unraveled and as such helped to single out, isolate and quarantine the disease-bearing Mallam. Of course, this was meant to be the case considering that the mallam had visited and returned from Countries known to be afflicted with cases of Coronavirus pandemic and, moreover, bearing in mind that he had been around for no less than two weeks and thereby unconsciously spreading the virus. Like their NIA counterparts, the hierarchies of the State Security Service also woefully failed to do the needful and thereby creating allowing space for the scourge to prowl around their principal, the President and Commander-in-Chief of Nigerian Armed Forces. Unfortunately, some people are wont to argue, it does appear that it is only when it comes to intimidating and trailing the citizenry, Journalists, as well as members of the Indigenous People of Biafra that members of the Nigerian Intelligence Community usually would become proactive and good at intelligence gathering.
Unlike the American Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Nigeria’s National Intelligence Agency and State Security Service appear seldom to pay due attention to certain details pertaining to little things that matter most or that constitute or might constitute actual threat to the life of the President and the citizenry at large. Over there in the U.S.A, the CIA had reportedly detected long before now the global threat posed by Coronavirus pandemic and had thenceforth been on the guard by increasingly and consistently drawing the attention of the US President to it. But, conversely, here, in Nigeria, one could even swear an affidavit to aver that the reverse was hitherto the case. Otherwise, how else could it be rationalized that our so-called members of the intelligence Community in Nigeria were all merely watching Mallam Abba Kyari import into the Aso Rock Presidential Villa the trending global Covid-19 pandemic, which the President, though for now, is purported not to have contracted it.
Much as there are lessons to learn from the incidents arising from this ravaging scourge of Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria by all and sundry, It is particular essential for members of the lntelligence Community in Nigeria to really wake up from their deep slumber and learn better how to protect the citizenry and the person of the President in particular through their traditional intelligence gathering profession. A word is enough for the wise.

Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije, a Journalist, writes from Nsukka.
Tel: 08130822962. You can also follow him on Facebook via the name.

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