A former Assistant Director with the Department of State Services, Mr. Dennis Amachree, says the compound where Islamic cleric, Sheikh Gumi, met bandits in Niger State to discuss the release of the abducted students and teachers of Government Science College, Kangara, is very close to a military post.
Amachree, however, said the security officials were asked to drop their weapons at a nearby military outpost before they were allowed to gain entry into the compound where about 700 bandits were camped.
The former DSS official said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Monday.
When asked why Gumi was able to easily access bandits while security agents were finding it hard to do so, Amachree responded, “The security agencies are very much aware because if you remember, when Gumi went to see these bandits, remember there was a military post there and they asked everybody to drop their guns and even if they are policemen they should stay at the military post before they come to the camp where they are.
“That means the military themselves know that there are some people out there, 700 strong or 600 strong in there. So, it is not a matter of they don’t know. I think they know but you know, you just don’t jump into 700 fully armed people because the tactics have to be planned properly to handle things like that.”
When asked to explain why the security agents didn’t engage the bandits in a gun battle and rescue hostages, Amachree said it was possible that they were trying to avoid collateral damage.
The former DSS official said the bandits could easily use the captives as a human shield.
He added, “When you see bandits like that if their number is large, you will decide whether you want to get reinforcement to move in there. Then secondly, sometimes they have hostages with them and the hostages then become human shields for them.
“So, if you go in there, there will be a lot of collateral damage. So, these are the considerations. I am not currently in the theatre of what is happening there. So, I don’t know what the commanders of that area are doing but I can tell you they are not just sitting down.”
He said it was possible that the Nigerian Air Force aircraft that crashed on Sunday, killing seven officers and airmen, was on a mission to pinpoint the exact location of the hostages.
Amachree, however, faulted governors for negotiating with bandits.
The former DSS official said rather than pay ransom to bandits, governors should use the money to fund security agencies so that they would be equipped to prevent crime and confront criminals.