That Nigeria’s security is in a deplorable state is to say the least in the mildest way. In recent times, the country has witnessed increasing attacks on hapless citizens by bandits/terrorists who ceaselessly abduct for ransom, kill and destroy properties. Hardly does a day go by without reports of attacks and killing by bandits and unknown gunmen.
Sadly, innocent citizens are being killed in attacks that have continued unabated and are gradually becoming our defining features. Communities are being displaced on a daily basis, forcing more and more people to desert their communities and leave live in refugee camps as internally displaced persons.
Recently, innocent travelers along Jos road in Plateau State capital were attacked with scores of persons brutally murdered. Barely two weeks after the attack and gruesome murder, residents of Yelwa Zangam, a sleepy community, were attacked in a raid that left no fewer than 20 persons, including children dead with houses razed, leaving the state governor, Simon Lalong, with no option than to re-impose a 24-hour curfew earlier imposed in some parts of the state.
As of the time of writing this report scores of those abducted are still languishing in captivity following their abduction by daredevil kidnappers.
Security experts have said, nothing further underscores the enormity of the security challenges like the confrontational manner in which dare-devil bandits/terrorists brazenly breached security of the Nigerian Defence Academy, killed two officers and abducted a Major who is still being held by the criminals as of the time of writing this report.
From Benue, Taraba, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina to Zamfara, Nasarawa, Kogi, Sokoto, there is a reign of terror that has continually left the citizens at the mercy of bandits/terrorists or supposed killer herdsmen.
To compound the situation, these incessant killings, according to experts, are happening at a time security operatives whose responsibility is to protect lives and properties appear to be over-stretched. They pointed to the fact that troops are deployed for operations across almost all states of the federation.
A retired general who did not want his name in print told our correspondent that in the history of Nigeria, the military has never been so stretched beyond elastic limit. “Unfortunately, the police are ill equipped, under-staffed and not properly motivated to combat the current internal security challenges,” he added.
Curiously, there is a congruence of opinion that these attacks continue persistently in spite of the much talked about measures being put in place by the relevant security operatives. The killings have become routine in the North West where in states like Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara this dastardly act is now a daily ritual. Killing and abduction seem to be the new normal in all of these states.
Obviously disturbed by the wanton destruction of lives and properties, kidnapping and cattle rustling which have made farming, their economic mainstay, impossible and making lives unbearable for them, Nigerians have intensified the call for a radical approach to confronting the monster staring them in the face.
Recently, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State joined other prominent Nigerians angling for self-defence. Specifically, Masari called on the people in areas prone to activities of bandits to acquire weapons and defend themselves against the terrorists.
The governor said it was morally wrong for people to submit meekly to the bandits without any attempt to defend themselves, noting that security is everybody’s business. According to him, the people’s submission emboldens the bandits to continue with their heinous activities with murderous frequency. He noted that people must divorce their mind from the mistaken notion that security is the government’s sole responsibility.
But while some persons have attempted to fault his position, there are keen observers who have drawn the attention of the public to the fact that even before Masari made his stance known, other eminent Nigerians, including the minister of Defence, General Magashi (rtd) and former Defence minister, General TY Danjuma (rtd), had enjoined Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves against killers. Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff, had on March 24 2018 called on Nigerians to rise up and arm themselves against the murderous attacks by Fulani herdsmen following the failure or inability of the Federal Government to defend the citizens. Eminent Nigerians, including Professor Ben Nwabueze and Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State endorsed the call for Nigerians to arm themselves against blood-thirsty terrorists.
Known for his taciturn nature, Governor Masari broke his silence on insecurity and toed the same line. Analysts said the governor may have considered self-defence as a last resort in the face of endless reports of killings, abductions and attacks in different parts of the state.
But while some people viewed Governor Masari’s patriotic clarion call with political lenses, the question on the lips of most Nigerians is: has the governor said something novel? Was his call contrary to natural instinct and even the national discourse at the moment on how to save life and property which he swore to defend? Should the citizens watch idly while marauders and murderous elements decimate them in gradual but sustained and endless attacks?
They argued that Governor Masari’s call, which is not different from what many Nigerians, including highly-placed individuals, had reechoed at different times, is not only legal and constitutional, but also in tandem with the natural instinct of humans. The thinking is that section 33 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended) emphasizes the sanctity of human lives. It states explicitly that no one shall be intentionally deprived of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty.
Also, section 286 of the Nigerian criminal code envisages the need for self-defence when it provides explicitly for conditions under which one can resort to self-help. “If the nature of the assault is such as cause of reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm…it is lawful for him to use any such force to the assailant as is necessary for defence, even though such force may cause death or grievous harm,” it states.
Those opposed Masari’s position cited concern about the likelihood of more weapons in the hands of non-state actors. But security experts have contended that while their position is true, there are weapons in the hands of non-state actors already.
More than anything else, the interminable security challenges points to the need for the nation to restructure its security architecture. Governors have no control over security operatives even though they are referred to as chief security officers. The security personnel take directives only from Abuja.
The experts insisted that the governors have been reduced to chief logistics officer, as far as their relationship with the security operatives is concerned. The security operatives in their respective states rely on them for logistics support and take directives on what to do or not to do only from their superiors in Abuja.