By Our Correspondents
Following the federal government’s revelation that some sponsors of terror have been arrested, Nigerians including retired military top brass, security experts and civil society organisations have called for public trial of the suspects.
They say open trial and public punishment of violent crimes offenders would not only show that justice is served, but also serve as deterrence and show government’s sincerity in the fight against terror.
Recently, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu revealed that several persons had been arrested for alleged links with terrorists and other organised armed groups threatening the peace and stability of Nigeria. He, however, did not reveal their identities, saying it was confidential.
However, a retired senior military officer and an elder statesman, who does not want to be quoted on the pages newspaper, said the lack of punishment for offences emboldened crimes and brought the nation to its present state.
“ If there is an investigation, there should be proper investigation, and if there are trials, they should be properly done. If there is judgement carried out, there should be proper announcement. These are normal procedures we are used to, whether it is a military court, civilian court, Sharia court, alkali court – what have you.
“I think the journalists are not doing a proper job on these types of things. Journalists must do proper research.” he said
He said, “There is a lot that is going on, but on the way forward, if somebody commits an offence here or there, and then people know about it, shout about it,and when you punish you should let the public know. These are not done, and because they are not done,the culprits continue to do what they like because nobody will come and apprehend him. and so it continues.”
“If you want to look at the answers, then you will have to look at a total change of humanity in the country. We need a complete change of humanity in the country, to change the society, to change the mode of humans that are supposed to be united but everybody is just falling apart.
‘’Everybody is doing what they like or think is their right. Unless you have somebody that is disciplined and tough in a leadership position, he cannot create that discipline and then get that order back into society. That is where we are lost,” he said
A public and private security analyst and trainer, Major Banjo Daniel (retd.) said the collapse of the justice system in favour of the elite brought Nigeria to its present state.
He decried widespread corruption and bias which favour children of the leaders, calling for an open trial and public announcement of justice once served.
“Justice served is not just a punishment for unlawful or criminal activities but also a measure of deterrence of others on the line of wrongdoings. So if the others, the populace are not aware of the justified rewards of offenses, how can they be deterred? Every aspect of our lives and every part of our governing system is corrupt and biased in favour of the rulers and politicians, their families, friends and neighbours. Thus, I see a situation where justice is tampered with if these criminals are members of the aforementioned. I see Mr. President as a man with integrity but in a governmental system occupied by a majority of non-conscientious inhuman beings in its legislative and judiciary sub-system, it becomes an ‘Animal Farm’ scenario.
‘’What happened to Evans the all-time self-confessed serial killer, armed robber-turned kidnapper? What happened to the communities in Plateau that had been killing travellers, dumping them in ponds and mines undetected until the search for Gen. Alkali’s body was revealed?
‘’What has the police done to Mr. Igboho the arsonist and murderer of the Seriki Hausa’s family? If injustice reigns, and justice, when practised, is not publicised, it is an indication of the acceptance and continuity of criminality.
‘’In summary, an open trial is recommended with maximum punishment to deter potential criminals. Unfortunately, this can’t be as the criminals are associates of our rulers. “
He advocated for the establishment of the Border Guard to protect communities and riverine areas.
“I have posited in various media that we should establish a Nigerian Army Border Guard consisting of highly trained men equipped with modern ‘ears and eyes tools’, gadgets and technology devices for ground, air and riverine operations, having control centres in all borderlines of all local governments.
“All divisions and units of the Army would be so deployed as to create an ARD – All Round Defence – of our sovereign soil and All Round Observation (ARO) of our the borderline and our neighbours’ immediate areas.”
According to him, China’s great wall and Trump’s planned Mexico borderline wall were to control entry of immigrants and criminals.
“Physical security equipment in the form of walls, wire fences to complement electrical devices and humans could also be deployed. However, these would not be done as the politicians would prefer the funds being ‘padded’ or siphoned into their accounts.
The ex-military officer also said Nigeria’s leaders may be associated with the rising insecurity.
“Imagine an individual accosted with over 2,860 Valid ATM Cards travelling out of the country. And of course for any purpose, support of terrorism and other deadly crimes inclusive. Following those cards past transactions would reveal ‘cans full of different worms’. Our rulers and leaders are likely to own or be associated with owners of these cards,” he said.
Speaking to our correspondent in Jos, the Plateau State capital, Ambassador Melvin Ejeh, a security analyst and the executive director, Global Peace and Life rescue initiative, a non-governmental organization, NGO, said federal government should conduct the trial of the Boko Haram suspects and their collaborators in an open court to serve as a deterrent to others.
According to him, their nefarious activities have brought pains and anguish to thousands of families in Nigeria, and if the federal government is serious to bring Boko Haram to a halt, those suspects and their sponsors must be tried in open court because they have committed heinous crimes against humanity.
“If the federal government conducts their trial in secret, it goes to show that they have something to hide and it is not wrong to say that they are accomplices to this crime against Nigerians,” he said .
For a Jos-based Lawyer and human rights activist, Barrister Lawal Ishaq, it is sad that the Federal Government seems to be afraid to make full disclosure on the supposed sponsors of Boko Haram in the country.
According to him, ‘’When the government said it has a list that will shock Nigerians, we expected real names, not abstract like the one we saw released recently who are said to be operators of bureau de change that supply Boko Haram with cash.
“This means sponsors of Boko Haram pay them in hate currencies. It goes to give credence to the allegations of foreign involvement.”
He pointed out that in any case, Nigerians will take the government more seriously when they see real names, and not just naming names, but full and speedy prosecution of all involved.”
The secretary of Plateau Initiative Development for the Advancement of Natives (PIDAN), Comrade Nanle Gojur in his reactions said, “I don’t know why it has taken the Federal Government this long to publish the names of such people.”
The scribe of PIDAN, an association of over 54 ethnic nationalities in Plateau State, argued that this has further clouded the minds of Nigerians about the transparency of government, stressing that it appears that they are giving cover to such people.
Gojur queried, “Should these bandits finish Nigerians before they are exposed? I think it shouldn’t be so. They should be tried publicly, otherwise, there is the tendency that the outcome will be the perfect guess of many of us.”
Terrorists, Bandits Must Be Tried In Special Courts CSOs, Others Insist
Civil society organisations and human rights activists have insisted that the bandits and terrorists must be tried in special courts.
Director of Programmes, Development Dynamics, Dr. Jude Ohanele, advised the federal government to display transparency and sincerity of purpose in the trial of suspected terrorists and banditry sponsors, by trying them openly as this will restore the confidence of the masses.
Dr. Ohanele stressed that a situation where the suspected sponsors of banditry were arrested and kept in custody for quite some time does not augur well for the country and demanded that they should be tried openly .
He submitted that the reason Insurgency and banditry persist is because the government appears to be handling this challenge with kid gloves.
A security expert, Dr. John Okoronta, said if the trial is not done publicly, it would appear as if there is something the government is hiding from the citizens and advised the government to follow the popular views and do the needful expeditiously.
He cautioned that the world is watching and takes note of how the federal government intends to handle the sponsors of terrorism and banditry.
In her reaction, the executive director of Women Empowerment and Peace Building Initiative, a non- governmental organisation based in Enugu, Oguadinma Ijeoma Joy, called on the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency release the names of the sponsors of banditry and other crimes.
Apart from releasing the names, she said there was need for the sponsors to be prosecuted.
He said apart from the patrols, the command had been providing training operatives with a view to improving their performance.
He further disclosed that the command is presently on advocacy visits to traditional rulers in the state, adding that the command has been sensitising them on the need for them to mobilise their subjects and advise them on the need to avoid violence and issues that encourage such.
Still on the vexed issues of insecurity, the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and the Centre for Basic Rights Protection and Accountability Campaign (CBRPAC) also enjoined the Federal Government to set up a special court to try sponsors of Boko Haram insurgency.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend in Port Harcourt, CLO’s South-South zonal chairman, Chinedu Karl
Uchegbu said: “There is no doubt that the only way for the Federal Government to demonstrate its seriousness about the war against the Boko Haram terrorists is to publish the full lists of the sponsors of terrorism and banditry. This will help shore up government’s waning credibility in the war on terror.
“Nigerians have watched helplessly in the past as the government wrung its hands on a helpless gesture of lack of political will to deal decisively with terrorism.
“Globally terrorists are not tried in open courts, but rather in secret courts to shield the trial judges and prosecutors and also to protect their families.
“The mode of trial here is not the issue but the commitment of the government to secure convictions against terrorists and their sponsors.”
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, CBRPAC’s national coordinator, Prince Wiro, urged the Federal Government to ensure that the trial of the Boko Haram sponsors are concluded in record time.
Wiro said: “Yes, Federal Government should publish the list of sponsors of Boko Haram to demonstrate that there are no sacred cows in the fight against terrorism.
“Also, we recommend that there should be special courts for terrorism cases for speedy trial and dispensation of justice, and with special courts the trial will be completed in record time.”
SAN, Others Support Prosecution Of Alleged Sponsors Of Terrorism
The nation’s legal icons are also on the same page with other stakeholders on the right punishment for sponsors of terrorism and banditry. For instance, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Kehinde Eleja said the government has a duty to expose crimes and criminals.
He, however, stressed the need for the government to ensure that thorough investigations have been conducted and necessary evidence that could lead to successful prosecution had been obtained before the suspects are charged to court for prosecution.
“The government must not stop at publishing the names; they must proceed to prosecute them to logical conclusions. This is the only way to avoid a media trial which usually is counter-productive.
“It may also not be out of place to identify some courts, judges to try the suspects expeditiously,” he added.
PMB, Security Chiefs In Marathon Meeting, Adjourns Till Tuesday
President Muhammadu Buhari has met with the security chiefs over the worsening state of insecurity in the country .
The meeting which lasted for several hours was adjourned till Tuesday next week .
In a statement after the meeting, the National Security Adviser( NSA), Retd. Major-General Babagana Monguno said President Buhari expressed sadness that insurgents and bandits are still wreaking havoc in the country .
He also disclosed that President Buhari expressed confidence in the ability of the security chiefs to end the insecurity.
He said “Concerned about the persisting security challenges in parts of the country, Mr. President summoned a crucial meeting of the National Security Council today as he continues to frontally confront the situation in the country.
The meeting which held at the First Lady Conference room had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Relocation Of Africom, Foreign Troops Will Be Counterproductive, NLC Warns
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has warned that the call by President Muhammadu Buhari for the relocation of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Germany to Africa would be counter-productive.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, gave the warning at the 2nd NLC Peace and Security Summit with the theme, ‘ Overcoming the Siege of Insecurity in Nigeria: Imperative of Human and Physical Security,’ on Thursday in Abuja.
Wabba insisted that with adequate and necessary support, there was no need for foreign soldiers as those in the country were capable of overcoming the rising spate of insecurity witnessed in different parts on a daily basis.
He said: “The summit is looking at how best to support the armed forces in the prosecution of the anti-terrorism war.
“However, we are concerned about recent plans to relocate the US African Command from Germany to Nigeria. While we welcome intelligence sharing and ammunition support to our armed forces, we warn that it will be counterproductive to replace our army with foreign soldiers.
“Nigerian Armed Forces are capable of surmounting the insecurity challenge if they are supported with adequate funds and technological equipment.”
Wabba, who disclosed that the aim of the peace summit was to interrogate the issues causing insecurity and find a lasting solution to them, added that Recommendation 205 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recognises that there can be no sustainable peace and security without respect for human rights and rule of law, including respect for fundamental principles and right at work and International labour standards.
According to him, one possible reason for the increasing rate of insecurity in the country, especially Kaduna State, was the high rate of unemployment.
“Our political leaders should be ready to take responsibility for the actions they took while in office. There is a nexus between throwing workers out of their jobs and the resultant increase in unemployment and rising wave of insecurity.
“The present high state of insecurity in Kaduna state has a lot to do with the penchant by the state government for throwing workers out jobs. As we Speak, from 2016 to date, over 29,000 workers have been thrown out of their jobs in Kaduna state. Also tuition fees in Kaduna state have been increased by 100 percent.
“What this means is that many children of the poor workers will not be able to attend good schools while the children of the rich are sent to study outside the country. The implication is that these children who dropped out of school will now be used by bad elements to perpetrate insecurity in the country.
“We call on the governor of Kaduna state to rescind the decision urgently. As we are aware, we have already slated five days of withdrawal of services in Kaduna state. All services, in all sectors, including, banks, railway, air transport and Civil Service will be withdrawn completely, in the first instance and where he does not show remorse and does not to be called to order, Nigerian workers will follow up to withdraw their services nationwide.”