…Olawunmi arrived DIA Hqtrs in company of Falana, Marshal, his lawyers

By Kingsley Omonobi

THE Defence Intelligence Agency, DIA, yesterday grilled Commodore Kunle Olawunmi (retd), over statement credited to him that Boko Haram terrorists were being sponsored by governors, senators and some officials in the Presidency.

He had earlier arrived DIA headquarters in company of his lawyers, Femi Falana, SAN, and Abubakar Marshal, at about 4:00pm.

Vanguard learned that the session between both parties lasted about three hours.

Contacted last night on the outcome of the meeting, Falana, said: “I confirm that it was a friendly chat between Commodore Kunle Olawunmi and his colleagues. The chat ended a few minutes ago.

“I was allowed to represent the retired military officer during the friendly chat in strict compliance with the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.”

Olawunmi had in a recent interview with Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, also said the present government had failed to show the political will to go after the sponsors of Boko Haram.

The retired Commodore, a professor of Global Security Studies, who said he was a member of the Intelligence Brief at Defence Headquarters during the leadership of the then Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin (retd), had said in the interview:  “I told General Olonisakin then that the centre of this problem cannot be solved the same way we solved the problem of Niger Delta.

‘’The Niger Delta problem was solved during (Ex-President Umaru) Yar’Adua basically by me and I told them that we can’t use that same template for Boko Haram.

“I told General Olonisakin to look at the centre of gravity of the problem. I was made a member of the committee in 2016-2017 including (Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ibrahim) Attahiru that died.

“I told them that the centre of gravity of Boko Haram in Nigeria is the sponsors of the programme. It was beyond us because the job we needed to do was kinetic but we cannot resolve issues of sponsors of Boko Haram that were in Buhari’s government that we know them.

‘’That was why we couldn’t pursue that aspect that could have resolved the issue because we need to arrest people

“Recently, 400 people were gathered as sponsors of Boko Haram, why is it that the Buhari government has refused to try them? Why can’t this government bring them to trial if not that they are partisan and part of the charade that is going on?

“You remember this Boko Haram issue started in 2012 and I was in the military intelligence at that time. We arrested those people. My organisation actually conducted interrogation and they (suspects) mentioned names.

“I can’t come on air and start mentioning names of people that are presently in government that I know that the boys that we arrested mentioned. Some of them are governors now, some of them are in the Senate, some of them are in Aso Rock.

“Why should a government decide to cause this kind of embarrassment and insecurity to the sense of what happened yesterday (Tuesday at the NDA)?” he queried, adding that terrorist financiers want to turn Nigeria to Taliban type of country.

It would be recalled that following media reports last weekend alleging that the retired intelligence officer had been declared wanted over his comments, Defence Headquarters reiterated that Commodore Kunle Olawunmi was never declared wanted.

DHQ in a statement had said Olawunmi was only invited to shed light on information he provided on Channel Television on tackling terrorism.

Director of Defence Information (DDI), Major General Benjamin Sawyer, had insisted in a statement that the informal invitation was harmless.

The statement had read:  “The attention of the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, has been drawn to an online news publication alleging that the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) ordered the arrest of retired Commodore Kunle Olawunmi for recently appearing on Channels Television programme (Sunrise Daily).”

“The Armed Forces may not want to join issues with the medium for the scandalous and malicious publication insinuating that its Agency has ordered the arrest of Commodore Olawunmi (rtd) for sharing his views on matters of defence and national security.

“It is gratifying to state that the retired military officer who is on the military reserve list was only invited via SMS and voice by DIA to further furnish the AFN with relevant and pressing security information which he may be opportune to have knowledge of as a Professor of Global Security Studies.”

“The said proposed meeting between DIA and the retired senior Navy officer was intended to get credible tips on boosting the fight against terrorism/insurgency, banditry and sundry crimes. He was not asked to come along with his international passport. This in no way constitutes any form of arrest speculated by the online media.”

“It is very sad that an online media would capitalize on a proposed meeting between an agency and its stakeholder to paint the story in a manner intended to portray the military as draconic government agency acting in a crude manner.

“The general public should please note that the AFN is a professional entity that will continue to be responsive to all credible information that will promote peace and unity of our dear country.”

“As you will recall, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor has just completed his tour of the six geopolitical zones where he interacted with retired military officers, with a view to rallying them to lend their support to the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

“In this regard, I wish to use this medium to encourage the retired senior officer to come forward to give valuable information to the military authorities as a patriotic citizen who has served meritoriously in Nigerian Navy in various capacities before retirement.”

Also recall that former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, and a former Director at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, Robert Rotberg, had in view of Boko Haram’s exploits in the country, especially the north east,  described Nigeria as a ‘failed state,’ even though the country still retains some attributes of viability, especially with respect to international affairs.

The duo had in an article, titled ‘’The Giant of Africa is Failing’’,  against the backdrop of the multiple overlapping security crises which had transformed Nigeria from a weak state into a failed one, noted that Buhari’s government had proved woefully unprepared to tackle these challenges.

“International partners, especially the United States, must acknowledge that Nigeria is now a failed state. In recognition of that fact, they should deepen their engagement with the country and seek to hold the current administration accountable for its failures while also working with it to provide security and right the economy.

“The Nigerian state has long failed to provide its citizens with social services, and Nigerian politics is largely an elite sport disassociated from governance. The government does not or cannot tax the real wealth of the country, remains too dependent on revenue from oil and gas, and lurches from one fiscal crisis to another,” part of the article said.

It, however, said Nigeria’s ‘collapse’ could be reversed and urged the United States to continue to publicly denounce the human rights abuses of President Buhari’s administration and cancel the visas of Nigerian officials and business people at the first whiff of criminality or human rights offenses.

“Washington should meet Nigeria’s requests for military assistance with caution and international financial institutions should support Nigeria’s liberalisation of its currency exchange rates and help strengthen the independence of its central bank.”

“Through exchanges, conferences, technical advice, and other tools of ‘soft diplomacy,’ the United States should aid civil society and Nigerian nongovernmental organisations in their efforts to strengthen the country’s democracy,” the article said further.

It also noted that Nigeria, with a population of about 214 million people, would not afford to fail as it could have profound consequences on the entire region and beyond.

Similarly, for Deputy Governor of Central bank of Nigeria, Obadiah Mailafia, in his article published in this paper on Monday, August 30, 2021, wrote in line with what Campbell and Rotberg stated:  ‘’Nigeria today fulfills many of the conditions would normally attribute to a failed state.

‘’Our government no longer possesses monopoly of violence; Boko Haram, ISWAP and genocidal militias not only outnumber the Nigerian military, they are more than a match for them in terms of the quality of their military arsenals.

‘’Government cannot fully police our country’s borders, leading to unaccountable uncontrolled immigration of well armed terrorists groups.  Nigeria is currently the kidnap capital of the world.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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