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By Lukeman Omosaka
A worrying trend that may have contributed to fostering the strained socio-political situation in the country is the prevalent activities of faceless persons whose intentions are clearly anything but altruistic. While some of them may masquerade as victims of the public service or as social crusaders, their real intentions are to drag institutions of state and their functionaries into disrepute.
In the pursuit of their selfish or narcissistic interests, these detractors deliberately damage the integrity of public officials whose only offence is that they occupy public positions of responsibility. More than that, these people erode the credibility of the State, sow the seeds of instability by their actions, and do great harm to the interests of the nation.
Nowhere has this dubious campaign become more obvious and with dire consequences, than when an institution like the National Intelligence Agency and its top officials are singled out for vilification, for reasons that are at best opaque, and at worst, completely false and totally unfounded.
This blackmail assumed a feverish dimension from 2018 when Mallam Ahmed Rufai Abubakar was named the Director General of the Agency. A deliberate campaign of calumny seemed to have been launched against the Agency by hideous persons who disregard decency, mangle the truth and peddle outright falsehood to deceive the unsuspecting public. Even when their blackmail tactics collapsed over and over again, they continued to fish for more falsehood to spread against the Agency whose counterparts in other parts of the world are treasured and helped to succeed.
In our increasingly toxic political season, those who somehow seem committed to destroying the reputation of the Agency and the integrity of Mallam Rufai are not letting up. Recently, an unknown body that is fancifully called the “NIA Veterans Association” claimed to have sent a petition to the National Security Adviser, which was promptly published in one online news site, (not beats-onit), wholly advertising false allegations. Their objective seemed to be to cast the Agency, a stable and crucial State institution, into a crisis of confidence. Fortunately, discerning members of the public and relevant State agencies are not deceived by such a ploy.
The latest farcical allegations could have been ignored or dismissed by enlightened experts who have been following the trend, as one more attempt by mischievous persons in the pursuit of their selfish interests, but for the fact that it is the latest calculated campaign to impugn the integrity of the Agency and call to question the important work it is doing. These persons seem to be fishing for anything that can be deemed a scandal in an Agency that has, since inception in June 1986, become a vital national asset, a pillar of the nation’s governance system, a defender of democratic ideals and a protector of the utmost interests of the nation.
Whether or not those engaged in this invidious campaign realise it, their action is tantamount to launching an assault on all of us Nigerians whose interests the NIA and its officers have sworn to protect. It is a reckless and irresponsible attempt to erode the credibility of, and therefore, damage a national institution in a bid to achieve a whimsical objective.
More importantly, it might also raise the question, as to whether these faceless persons, inadvertently or not, are acting as agents of foreign and other enemies of the nation, while shrouding their nefarious activities as personal matters. This is more so as the content of the latest allegations, as published by the online medium, delved into the operations of the Agency, including postings of its officers.
This is never done, and is, therefore, utterly dangerous. It puts in jeopardy, the interests of the country. It also puts in danger, the lives of serving officers in their duty posts abroad. Were this to happen in a place like the United States, it would have kicked up dust as to who was behind it and whose interest they were serving. Nowhere in the civilized world can such a story peddled by faceless persons with hidden intentions be countenanced. By publishing the report as detailed above, the online news outfit and other outlets that may have copied it, as well as their sponsors, should know that they are skirting on a serious national security terrain. They should be aware that there are provisions in the statute books prescribing punishment for such actions.
Those who have studied the way intelligence agencies function, know that no agent, serving or retired of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or Britain’s M16 or indeed the intelligence services of other countries, allow issues related to the internal operations of the services to be published in the news media. Which is why intelligence and public affairs analysts seem to conclude that what is at play is more than the pursuit of selfish interests; it is a hostile action, intended to damage the nation’s interests, and hobble the Agency from providing its essential service.
Those involved in this irresponsible and unpatriotic act should be aware that they are in breach of extant laws and are liable to prosecution. Considering the heightened level of this progressive campaigns, the Government is best advised to open discrete inquiry into this worrying trend, not just only to stop it forthwith, but with a view to unmasking the culprits and their real motives, as well as bringing them to book.
The perpetrators of this targeted campaign and similar ones in other official sectors, have got away with their bad conducts only because government seemed unwilling to unmask and make them face the full brunt of the law. This should no longer be the case.
Omosaka, a Public Affairs analyst and commentator, writes from Abuja.