20 July 2006

Nigeria: The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) At Twenty - A Tribute

Abuja — This month of June 2006 marks exactly twenty years ago when the government of former President Ibrahim B. Babangida, gave birth to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). In doing this, General Babangida also created two other bodies vide Degree 19 of 1986 which apart from the NIA also gave the nod to the creation of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the State Security Service (SSS) and the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

With the advent of democratic rule and the adoption of the 1999 Constitution, Decree 19 of 5th June 1986 has now become known as Cap. 278 of the Laws of the Federation. As we roll out drums to celebrate the coming of age of the NIA, it behoves us to dwell a little into the functions and responsibilities of this body in the sustenance of the security and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians in the project of nation building. The NIA as a body has often been confused either with the NIIA, i.e. the Nigerian Institute of International Affa irs or the NIA, the Nigerian Institute of Architects.

One should not blame those who have committed these blunders, after all, by its very nature and mode of operations, the NIA is expected by law to operate as a secret and faceless organization. Some analysts have even pointed that the NIA as a body is supposed to have only a voice but not a face, hence, it is only when things go wrong that majority of the citizenry set to know of its existence whereas with things being correct on a daily basis, the NIA does not get to be mentioned at all.

This is as it should be. Unlike the State Security Service whose activities and reach reveal the following: Activities of the N.I.A The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is the principal government organ that is statutorily charged with collection of external intelligence and the protection of national security interests abroad. Nigeria as a country exists within a wider global environment. The NIA is thus expressly positioned to enhance Nigeria's strategic outreach capacity. The NIA was created through the instrumentality of the National Security Agencies Decree 19 of June 1986.

This same decree also established the office of the National Security Adviser, the State Security Service, and the Defence Intelligence Agency. Specifically, the instrument which founded the Agency charge it with "the protection, promotion and enhancement of Nigeria's security, national interest, economy and government policy objectives outside Nigeria." Apart from operating the above statutorily-defined mandate, the other function of the NIA is to carry out periodic requirement orders that are determined by the government of the day.

Detection, Monitoring, and Evaluation of Threats and Opportunities The agency has the obligation to monitor, interpret, analyse, assess, and report on developments abroad. The principal objective of intelligence reportage is to evaluate immediate and remote threats to Nigeria's interest. Concurrently, the reportage also seeks to identify exploitable opportunities available for the furtherance of Nigeria's interest abroad. In the determination of external threats, special attention is devoted to our immediate geo-strategic neighbourhood, especially, to the threats to national security emanating from our sub-region.

At NIA headquarters, intelligence reports received from the field, are evaluated daily, based on the subject, which may be political, economic, strategic, military, scientific, or criminal in nature. These are processed after the requisite analysis and assessment, taking cognizance of their reliability, relevance, and timeless. Depending on the nature of the subject, the recipients of NIA's reports usually are the office of the President, Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, special services office, the DIA, the Inspector General of Police, D-G SSS, EFCC, and the NDLEA. On occasional basis, some reports are forwarded straight to the end users, for the purposes of time and utility.

The above list of recipient of NIA reports is not exhaustive. For instance, reports on deportations, movement of watch-listed of persons, and other people of security interest are also sent to the immigration service. Besides the preparation and issuance of daily situation reports (SITREP), which focuses on topical developments around the world, the NIA also prepares Briefs for the Joint Intelligence Board (JIB), and also for the meeting of the Intelligence Coordinating Committee (ICC). It is also NIA's responsibility to prepare security Briefs for the President's official engagements abroad. Other functions include the issuance of country-based Security Updates, Confidential Memos and Security Aide Memoires to the president, as may be required.

Annual Intelligence Estimates At the end of every year, an Annual Intelligence Estimate is prepared for the coming year. The estimates, which are done on regional and country by country basis, usually highlight major political, economic, strategic developments that have taken place in the countries of concern in the past twelve months, and prognosis are offered on what those developments portend for the coming year.

The estimate also indicates the state of relations between the countries and Nigeria, and the status of the Nigerian community resident in those countries. Multi-lateral Security Cooperation Intelligence collection in the 21st century has become significantly altered by the still evolving dynamics of globalization. The internet, e-commerce, advanced satellite communication systems and other upshots of globalization have led to ever expanding vistas and shrinking frontiers.

For Intelligence Agencies, however, globlis-ation has not only spawned new security challenges, it has accorded renewed potency to old threats. Trans-border crimes are now committed with greater anonymity and push-button efficiency. New-age science has endowed individuals and terrorists with new strategic relevance. Today's threats recognize no national boundaries, and must be addressed at the global, regional, and national levels. No state, no matter how powerful, can claim to have the capacity to confront these threats alone. It was the recognition of the emerging 21st century realities that prompted the NIA to work assiduously for the creation of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA).

The idea of CISSA emerged as a result of the need to have a cooperative mechanism for information sharing, and also to proffer early-warning and pre-emptive solutions to the myriad of security challenges, such as terrorism, trans-border crimes, and mercenarism that are presently confronting the continent.

The NIA not only hosted the inaugural meeting of CISSA, from 25th-26th August 2004, it equally provided the first chairman of the body, in the person of the DGNIA, Ambassador Uche O. Okeke. Meanwhile, t he Agency is a pivotal member of the NEPAD Intelligence and Security Committee (NISCO), the West African Intelligence and Security Committee (WAIS-EC), as well as a member of the security component of the Shelo-Saharan (CEN-SAD) States. Inter-Service Liaison Bilaterally, the NIA maintains Inter-Service Liaison cooperation with friendly services of several countries around the world.

Inter-Service Liaison is needed to pool resources and expertise in areas of mutual interest; to access specific intelligence where another service may have operational advantage; to fill the gap in intelligence gathering; and, as a channel for verifying already acquired intelligence. In addition to the foregoing, the NIA continues to render valuable and professional service to the nation in other fields, whenever called upon to do so.

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