THE CONSCIOUS INSENSITIVITY OF THE NIGERIAN STATE TO INSECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHT ABUSE

664 views | Samuel Okunade | March 11, 2021

In recent times, Nigeria continues to witness high level of insecurity which is not limited to a particular region or geo-political zone of the country but across the country. This did not just start suddenly but began from the North-Eastern region of Nigeria when the Boko Haram crisis started. Though, various local and international actors have made several attempts to intervene and assist Nigeria in the fight, however, such efforts have yielded little or no result. This is because the main actor which is the Nigeria government have being lackadaisical in her approach towards combating the menace of the insurgents within the North-Eastern Nigeria thus, making the insurgents grow such that they are equipped with the wherewithal to confront the Nigeria military and overpower them Okunade and Ogunnubi 2020). As of 2017 when I carried out a study in the North-Eastern Nigeria, I asked a few soldiers why they refused to speak up on their plight and their response was that it is against the ethic of the Nigeria Army. Howbeit, recentlydue to the continuous ill-treatment,many have gone AWOL, while some have been pushed to speak up. This is evident in short videos that these officers have put out via the social media platforms thus leading to the punishment, demotion, and dismissal of soldiers both at the lower and higher cadre.A General was demoted last year for speaking up through a leaked video from his phone. This measure put up by the leadership of the Army has not improved its capacity to combat the Boko Haram as soldiers and villagers are being killed whenever, there was an attack. This has pushed the villagers to pick up arms as a survival strategy against the Boko Haram after the government has failed in its responsibilities. Local hunters and vigilantes have formed forces to combat the Boko Haram. An example is a force led by Aisha Bakari Gombi, ‘queen hunter‘ in Borno. So far, with the little resources they have, they have apprehended some of the insurgents and countered some of the attacks by the Boko Haram and in the process freeing their captives who are mostly women and children.  It is worthy of note to state that, the Nigeria Military celebrated the take-over of Marte military base in Borno State which was attacked and controlled by the insurgents for some days before the take-over on Sunday 17th January 2021. According to this news outlet, though many insurgents were killed and 7 gun trucks destroyed, it was a victory with gains and losses for the Nigerian Military as they lost men and equipment as well.

Again, the lackadaisical attitude shown by the government further deepened this menace as it culminated in the springing up of banditry within the North West region. These bandits waylay travellers on the High-ways and as well in their houses with the aim of robbing and kidnapping people. In the process, many lives have been terminated either before or after ransom are paid. Many victims have averred that they were attacked and kidnapped by the Fulanis’.Recently, multiple kidnappings were carried out by the bandits such as the kidnapping of 42 people from a school in Niger state and shortly after their release, 317 girls were abducted from their school in Zamfara State.The question which then comes to mind is why these individuals are still being branded as bandits and not terrorists? This needs further research.

This occurrence soon spilled over into the southern part of Nigeria as the Fulani herders who are notorious for killing farmers and villages soon began kidnapping people on the Highways, villages, and in their houses for ransom. Many lives have equally been lost in the process. A case in point is the killing of a farm owner in Ibarapa, Dr. FataiAborodeby the Fulani herders for challenging them on allowing their cattle to graze on his maize farm thereby damaging the crops.This has put fear in the people to travel. Farmers in the villages are equally afraid to go to their farms for fear of being axed to death by the Fulani herders. This sad situation which has raised tension in the Southern region soon gained much attention in the South West with the creation of a regional security outfit called Amotekun which has since tried to address theinsecurity menace. Some of their officers have died in the process of carrying out their duties most especially, when busting the hideouts of Fulani herders. Further tension was raised and this drew the attention of a few individuals who took it upon themselves to combat the Fulani herders’ menace. A case in point was Chief Sunday Igboho, who took it upon himself to visit the Seriki Fulani’s palace in Igangan and gave they an ultimatum of seven days to leave the area. This being a gross action against the state, met an immediate reaction by the state government and the presidency as the Inspector-General of Police issued an arrest warrant on Chief Sunday Igboho. He damned both the state and federal governments as he travelled down to Igangan in Oyo State and Ogun State with his boys to effect the ultimatum issued. That same day the Fulanis were expelled from the town and the villagers were happy.

A shift to the youth in the South West.They protested against police brutality in October 2020 tagged End SARS Protest and because of poor handling by the government, property were damaged and lives lost including security operatives and protesters. This massive mobilization in major cities in the Southern region and in the FCT was as a result of accumulated frustration and continuous torture of not just the youth but both old and young, men and women by the officers of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) who are meant to ward off all forms of criminality. The protest gave confidence to a lot of victims who came out to share their pathetic stories via various social media platforms. The major protest site which was the Lekki Toll Gate had the presence of many angry and frustrated youths including celebrities who were protesting peacefully before they were attacked for violating the curfew declared by the government. It was alleged that some lives were lost after the military attacked the crowd at night. A panel of enquiry has since been set up in various states to hear the grievances of victims against SARS officers and to ascertain the casualty of the Lekki Toll Gate and the military’s culpability. While this panel is still in process, it took an insensitive decision for the Lekki Toll Gate to be re-opened. This move made the youth representative in the panel resign her position. This move which angered many youth led to another protest slated for February 13. This move met a stern warning by the government against such congregation. We could see the deployment of heavily armed policemen on the evening of the 12th to the Lekki Tol Gate and truly; they made arrest on the 13thFebruary of peaceful and harmless protesters before the press and cameras. Public opinion show that many Nigerians never believed that the Nigeria police had sophisticated kits and gadget to combat crime in the country given the images of police officers drafted to the scene that circulated on social media platforms. Protester were not only arrested but were also molested and tortured by the policemen. A celebrity Mr. Macaroni who was arrested revealed after his release that they were seriously tortured and threatened with death. He said they were told emphatically that they were lucky it happened in the day, otherwise, they would have been dead. This was a misplaced priority on the part of the government as they unleashed terror on armless citizens while at the same time, there was an ongoing ethnic clash claiming lives and property in Ibadan, Oyo state. This needed more urgent attention of the Nigerian police than the peaceful protesters clamouring for a positive change at the Lekki Toll Gate. Sadly, to note, is that fact that this gross violation of human rights was carried out in a state that is expected to be more civil and also being a state where the Vice President who is a Professor of Law was once an Attorney General for eight year.

Given the various scenarios presented above, it is worrisome that the government in its actions and inactions has pushed many already frustrated Nigerians to the wall thus making the individuals to pick up arms on the one hand and speaking up through protests both physically and on social media in defence and protection of themselves. These measures have met serious resistance by the current government ranging from forceful arrest and torture to formulating bills that would gag the people such as the Social Media Bill. A question worth asking would be to what end is the government doing this against its people/ citizens it sworn an oath to protect and defend? I would submit that theNigerian government has failed both in policy and practice. The Nigeria government has not been objective in terms of addressing the common problems and challenges that confront Nigeria and Nigerians. What they have done so far is chasing the shadows and ignoring the facts. And if this persists, Nigeria remains a ticking bomb waiting to explode. Unfortunately, by that time, quenching the fire may be too late.

 

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