Nigeria’s Intelligence Agencies (Spy Network)

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

There was a time when national security, for the most part, meant military projections. And so it was that within the tenets of the traditional paradigm of security, the purpose of national security was to safeguard national values which centered on survival, self preservation and self-perpetuation and the pursuit of objectives that contributed to the growth and preeminence of the nation.

During the Cold War, the national security goal of both spheres was to expel external aggression and contain internal upheavals. Today, there is more to it and with several components, i.e. economic and ecological concerns, terrorism and weapons proliferation, international health concerns, migration, shifting demographics, and more. While most of the world has come to grips with these concerns, Nigeria continues to stick to an archaic model of national security.

To be specific, national security is undergoing a metamorphosis. The world now speaks of human security — a more encompassing and human-centered paradigm — as opposed to national security which is state-centered and revolves around military projection. Even so, one area of our national security we seldom discuss is the intelligence agencies. For most of us, the intelligence community is a shadowy no-go area, a forbidden topic. For most people, spies are like mystical and mythical creatures.

But when we think or talk about it, it is generally in the context of a spy agency — an agency that operates in foreign land. The truth is that members of this community operate both inside and outside of Nigeria. The Nigerian government website did not list its intelligence agencies; however, the Federation of American Scientist has a listing of Nigeria‘s intelligence agencies that was current as of 1998.

Most Nigerians are familiar with the Defense Intelligence Agency State Security Service and the National Security Organization, but are not conversant with the fact that the Navy, Air force, Police, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the Army all have intelligence wings.

In addition, the Nigerian Diplomatic service also has its intelligence service – as does all the diplomatic services of all the nations of the world. The British, French, Chinese, the American, German, and the Italian embassies for instance abound with intelligence officers with or without diplomatic covers. Some pose as entrepreneurs while others pose as expatriates working for foreign companies, or as researchers and university professors.

It should be noted that just as these countries play the spy game, so does Nigeria against these countries and against other African countries. South Africa, China, France, and Japan for instance, are masters at economic espionage — an area Nigeria has not particularly wise up to. Intelligence, in its proper form, is still in its infancy in Nigeria.

No matter the nature and structure of the intelligence community, its primary purpose is to assist governments in the policy and decision making process. In other words: the intelligence agencies exist to do one thing and one thing only: assist the government in the furtherance of its domestic and foreign policy objectives — whatever those objectives might be whether or not they fall within the bounds of law and human decency.

During the Apartheid era in South Africa, the intelligence community focused more on covert political and paramilitary operations, and in the process used intelligence as an instrument of intimidation and extra-judicial operations, i.e. the assassination of Blacks and other minority segments of the population who opposed the Apartheid regime.

However, since the collapse of the apartheid regime (and the introduction of popular sovereignty), reforms have been introduced by way of legislations and judicial mandate in order to restructure and reorient the intelligence and other security services. The expectation is that these reforms will have a positive impact on how the intelligence agencies conduct their operations.

The guiding principle of the South African intelligence community is/was well known; however, one wonders what the guiding principles of the Nigerian intelligence agencies are. I especially wonder why the Nigerian intelligence community has had so many monumental failures. Why for instance, have these agencies not been able to embed some of their members into the inner circles of those responsible for fanning religious and ethnic conflicts?

The weakness and or the failure of the Nigerian Intelligence Community is glaring. For instance, why is it that year after year, politicians and government officials are able to siphon public funds without the intelligence agencies being abreast and ahead of the culprits? Also, they seem not to know who is involved in money laundering, oil bunkering, arms dealings, and other manifestation of low intensity conflict.

Thousands of Nigerians and foreigners are engaged in illegal oil deals and in other crimes– including white-collar crimes; yet, the government have no way of stopping these activities before they happen. What then are the duties and responsibilities of the police and these agencies? What are the duties of these agencies vis-à-vis transnational terrorism, transnational armed robbery, transnational prostitution and cross-border child-trafficking?

Derisively, some have jokingly said that “with little determination, Togo or Chad could catch Nigeria napping,” if those countries were bent on invading and annexing Nigeria. What we have in Nigeria is a near monumental failure in intelligence gathering. True, no intelligence agency any where in the world is one hundred effective and competent. As good as the MOSSAD is they have had to struggle with several failures and challenges.

And in spite of the billions and billions of dollars and superior human intelligence and electronic gadgets in the arsenal of the CIA, the FBI and other American agencies, they too have had to suffer some grave failures. The unfortunate events of 9/11 are examples of such failures. In the end though, the US, Israel, France, Germany and others can justify the resources at the disposal of their intelligence agencies because their failures are rare.

Does the Nigerian intelligence community have the ability to stop foreign intelligence from gathering sensitive information from our policy and decision-makers? In other words: are we capable of preventing opposing security organizations from eavesdropping on our ministers, governors and on Aso Rock — considering the fact that we have foreign agents posing as business men and women crawling all over hotels in Abuja and Lagos and all over government ministries in Kaduna, Port Harcourt and elsewhere?

Who, for instance, is keeping an eye on the German Bundesnachrichtendienst, the British M15 and M16, Israel’s HaMossad leModi’in v’leTafkidim Meyuhadima, and the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation? Nigeria has the National Intelligence Agency. Past Director Generals have included Albert Horsfall, Haliru Akilu, Zakari Y. Ibrahim, Godfrey B. Preware, Uche O. Okeke, and Emmanuel E. Imohe.

Some of our public servants — greedily in search of dollars and pounds and travel visa for their relatives and self — easily sell or exchange state secrets. When the President and other government officials buy planes, telephones and fax machines, vehicles, computers and other equipments from abroad — how certain are we that they are not secretly fitted with audio and video devices?

It is impossible to put a stop to hostile intelligence activities. Friends spy on friends. Political allies spy on each others. That is a given — but worst still are enemies who have grand evil intentions. The Nigerian intelligence agencies must resolve to do a better job of protecting our vital interests. As things are, our boundaries, airports, seaports and waterways are not well-manned and so are not secured.

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Sani Suleiman March 7, 2017 - 3:26 am

To the best of my knowledge, I can says that our intelligence agencies are doing very good job of protecting and saving our father land. Surely they are Bette FBI and CIA. May God help them.

Deen Rahman December 7, 2012 - 3:02 am

Intelligence agencies in Nigeria face different bottle necks not resulting from their inability to perform,believe me they do perform!! Actionalble intelligence needs executive approval or directives,besides that, protection and safety of operators in these covert operations are parmount. Operational security,information classification and management are lacking in the upper chain of political command….these are factors that make it look like they aren’t working or can’t prevent or act on information given to them. understand what they do and how they do it,why they do it….Achievements are not celebrated but Failures are known publicly…Do the Maths..!!!

Obinna emeka June 6, 2011 - 9:18 am

I really think nigerian intelligencies will do greater than other countries. I will b happy if i get a chance to work with the DIA so i can go on spy missions for them, they are really doing good i love them and i will be very happy to work for my country to progress… Plz u can reach me if there’s any vacancy 4 me 2 work as a spy.. 08135326722. .. Id is (secrete unfolder).. I hav God gifted talents just try me and u won’t regrete it. thanks

PAKAM PHILIP April 21, 2011 - 3:09 pm

the best security in the security network system that protect nigerian intergrity.i will like to join the orgarnization

Nosa March 8, 2010 - 11:18 pm

I think the Nigerian Intelligence apparatus are all weak, due to the lack of good leadership, high level of political,military,cooporate,law enforcement agencies, corruption in the system.

However ,Nigeria can work on how it can improve it’s intelligence apparatus both from within and from outside.

Some of my few recommendations for now, would be .

1, Curb political corruption by strenghtning the law enforcement agencies and the overhauling of the judicial mechanism, improving prison system for convicted offenders.

2,Work on new legislations that would help to enhance the living standard of Nigerians, (tough economy reform)which would eventually make them less vulnerable to certain economic,social hardship, which foreign governments could capitalise on .

Nigeria must start to develope it’s own capacity without having to import foreign expertriates to run our economy, especially in the oil and gas sector, construction industry,Banking sector, etc,.. this would limit their access to certain degree in the nation economy and strategic apparatus.

I know some so called,foreign expertriates in Nigeria are foreign spies.

3,The current situation in the Niger delta and the religious crisis in the North must be addressed properly in order to deter foreign interferance in our local affairs.

4, Electoral reforme must quickly be carried out , which would stand as our fundamental plateform to stabilising our political ,economic,social and cultural landscape. which would eventually stand as a pillar to our future development and growth.

5, There ought to be introduction of computer base system in the nation ,from the federal to the local government level.

6,Improvment of our moral standard, and value.

7,Issuance of visa to foreign visitors at our various diplomatic mission must go through a very scrutinize process before deciding on the faith of every visa applicants.

8,Improvement of our borders(Airport,land,Sea), by introduction of computer based system,improving the training of our border officials,pay raise, to curb corruption.

9,Passing piece of legislations that would limit foreigners from accessing some certain strategic areas in the country.

10, Making every Nigerian citizen to carry their ID with them within Nigeria.(Isuance of ID must be free and full establishment of every Nigerian born citzen with the isuance of Birth certificate immediately after birth ,this would serve as some of the requiremnt for issuing of ID,PASSPORT,DRIVER’S LICENCE or any other document of DOCUMENT)

11,Every foreign national must carry their passport with them while travelling within Nigeria.

12,There should be a clearance from the Ministry of interior before any Nigerian national can take any job positions at any foreign diplomatic post in Nigeria.

13,Huge investment in educational,scientific,technological research.

14,Improving military training without having to depend on foreign government asistance in building up of our military capability.

15,Introducing tough legislation like the “capital punsihment” for any one convicted of espionage “foreigners or Nigerians alike” within Nigeria.

I hope all these would help for now.

May God bless Nigeria

chuchu November 15, 2009 - 2:56 pm

please house were is NIA office located at abuja want to join them

Alex October 29, 2009 - 6:29 pm

The Nigerian intelligence network comprising of the NIA,SSS and DIA(DMI,DNI and DIA) is one of the best when it comes to HUMINT in the world its because the Government and people have not started believing in them thats why it seems as if they are really not working, to confirm please ask MOSSAD, FSB and the CIA.

Chinedu (Salamanda) October 6, 2009 - 12:25 pm

Nigerian intelligence networks (SSS, NIA, DMI, CID etc) are just mere offices in the country but not withstanding there are still room for change with our collective efforts (we i mean Nigerians). Odinary citizens of America dont sit and watch any unusual thing without reporting to the required authority, so i think we all need attitudinal reorientation. Believe Nigerian intelligence can be greater than the MOSSAD

sei macdonald May 8, 2009 - 11:53 am

i believe the fault is from the agents working within this agencies they lack the spirit to serve their country…u should do ur best regardless of ur life for this is the only way to secure intelligence .i know i can serve my nation well if giving a place at the agencyand if all can be more motivated our intelligence community will improve and be recorgnised all over africa and the world.

oladele olakunle April 15, 2009 - 2:41 am

The Jos crisis is just one of the usual religious crisis that occurs in nigeria due to the level of illetracy in the country. Is not a sign of break up.

UNE-ABASI ESUBOK December 4, 2008 - 3:06 pm

A case at hand is the ever re occurring jos crises,jos has evolved to become the epicenter of religiously motivated crises in nigeria,this signal of a potential breakup as predicted by the american cia is showing up to many times for the blind to see.of what use is intelligence if it cant serve mankind.


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