Open letter to Mallam Nuhu Ribadu: National Security and Institutionalization of Crime Profiling and Documentation

First and foremost, I congratulate our nation, not your goodself, on your appointment as the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President. It’s no doubt that your antecedent as the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) and your very rich background as a Police Officer with high integrity must be major determinants of this appointment. Apart from these factors, the President’s determination to tackle our internal security issues headon and make life safer for Nigerians must have played a pivotal and propelling role in your choice for the national assessment.

Please, permit me to recall here that I wrote my first open letter to you on December 12, 2009. The letter, titled: ‘Open Letter to Mallam Ribadu,” was published in many national and international online journals including,, and, among others. You did not just reply the letter online, I got a hard copy of the reply delivered to me right in my house in Miami, USA. At that time and up till now, replying letters was not common among most of our political office holders. Therefore, getting a response from you has strengthened my belief in your commitment to duty and public life.

In my open letter under reference, I recommended that you should not just fight corruption in Nigeria but you should strive to institutionalize the fight so it could be enduring even after you must have left the office. The EFCC you headed as pioneer Chairman is now an institution feared and respected by Nigerians, well over sixteen years after you left the office.

As the NSA, your scope is far wider than that of EFCC. Although you are not the pioneer NSA, your job may require total reformation, restrategisation and repositioning of the office to deal with all forms of insecurity challenges facing the nation. These include kidnapping, banditry, religious violence, ethnic violence, food insecurity, environmental insecurity, the “unknown gunmen” saga, terrorism, armed robbery, economic sabotage in form of oil pilferage/pipeline vandalism, ritual killings and several others. Some of these acts of insecurities were not part of our national life until lately.

Secondly, your antecedent as a no-nonsense former EFCC boss is already sending jitters down the spines of criminals. Thus, having you as the NSA is one of the best things that can happen to this country at this crucial time. This is partly because the biggest problem confronting the nation now is insecurity. It’s more worrisome than corruption, economic disequilibrium, inflation and exchange rate. The hope of most Nigerian citizens has been raised that an experienced, well-trained and very dedicated former police officer like you should be more appropriate for the job than a military general who is mainly trained in forcefully combating external aggression. As a matter of fact, the military personnel are more needed in combating external aggression and forceful attacks than in countering domestic insurrections and uprisings.

As you are quite aware, modern day policing, crime fighting and intelligence gathering have advanced beyond the traditional way of law enforcement. Crime mitigation and prevention is far better than crime fighting, arrest and prosecution. Crime mitigation and prevention is even far cheaper than arrest and prosecution. Digital identification of citizens and criminals is one of the best tools that can be used in crime mitigation and prevention.

In light of the foregoing, Nigeria’s law enforcement agents, most especially the Police, DSS, EFCC, ICPC, NSCDC, and NIA, should advance up to digital profiling of criminals, digital documentation of crime reports and online gathering of intelligence. The advantages of these procedures of modern day crime fighting cannot be over emphasized. Unfortunately, Nigeria is abysmally far away from the application of these modern tools in our security apparatus. With your new position as the main man in charge of our national security, I will like to advise you to introduce the tools in your effort to rejig our security apparatus and in fact institutionalize it early in the tenure of this administration.

Without biometric and digital profiling of voters, our electoral process in Nigeria would have remained as horrible as it used to be and there couldn’t have been any way for any progressive party to win elections in the country.

Similarly, without digital identification of Nigerians with the National Identification Number (NIN) and Bank Verification Number (BVN), financial crimes couldn’t have been controlled to this level.

Now that Nigerians have these digital identities, these tools should be utilized in identifying criminals amongst online reporters as well as criminals in police and armed forces uniforms in Nigeria. By inference, the police crime documentation system should be computerized for efficiency and effectiveness. These tools should also be used in our courts.

In most police stations in Nigeria today, crime reports are still taken and written on loose papers which may be reported lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed when most needed. In most instances, citizens reporting crimes are made to pay for those loose sheets of paper to be used in crime reporting by the police personnel on duty. Quite often, police officers persuade, advise or even conscript reporters or criminals to change reports already made in order to suit the interest of the police in charge as a result of the latter having been compromised. All these can be changed with computerization and digitalization of the criminal justice system.

In order to put this system in place, the office of NSA can set up a highly computerized National Criminal Justice Information System (NCJIS) which will be a data bank for crimes reported in the country. Such reports will include names of the reporters, names of suspects, victims, witnesses, location, time and other facts of the case from the beginning to the date of the disposition of the matter by the police or court. Such information will be accessible subsequently for future references by law enforcement officers and the courts. It must be emphatically ensured that only highly profiled and relevant investigators, court workers, justices and law enforcement officers have user identification and password to access this information. This will help law enforcement officers in profiling criminals and gathering intelligence long before crime is committed. It will also prevent wrongful accusation and sanctioning of innocent victims who never have criminal records.

A small example of how to use this is that a kidnapper calling for payment of ransom can be easily known with the use of Digital Voice Identifier (DVI) if he had a digital profile with the justice system.

I wish you success in your determination to rid our country of crimes and criminals and also secure her against all forms of development that are presently threatening her peace.

Thank you.

Akinyemi Akinlabi writes from Igboora, Oyo State and can be reached on: [email protected]