The disturbing security situation in Nigeria was presented to the ECOWAS Parliament on Thursday by the Nigerian Delegation to the regional parliament led by Linda Chuba Ikpeazu, while delivering Nigeria’s Country Report.
The Delegation presented the horrible security situation of the country to the regional legislature and the attendant devastations on the country at the ongoing 2021 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament, taking place in Abuja.
The nine-page report was replete with political, security, human rights, health situations and the status of implementation of the ECOWAS texts.
Ikpeazu told the Community legislature that, “the security situation in Nigeria is dire” adding that “There has been a tremendous increase in the spate of unfettered violence, abductions, and killings by terrorist groups, bandits and other criminal elements.”
She said further that “The number of reported security incidents within the reporting period shows a progressive increase in insecurity. In the fourth quarter of 2020, 256 security incidents were recorded in which 384 persons were killed and 510 persons kidnapped. By the first quarter of 2021, the number of recorded security incidents have increased by 31.25% to 336 incidents, with the number of people killed increasing by 88.54% to at least 724 persons, while the number of those kidnapped rose by 57.25%, this translates to 802 persons.”
The Nigeria Country Report also highlighted that “highways and schools have become target places for the nefarious activities of these bandits and kidnappers, with the North-Western region being hardest hit.”
Between December 2020 and April 2021, the Nigeria Country report noted that at least 364 students have been kidnapped from their schools, along with countless highway travellers.
“Primarily affecting the Middle Belt and North-West states, clashes between farmers and herders over land have spurred the formation of ethnic militias and vigilante raids that have resulted in extrajudicial killings and the decimation of towns and villages.
“These nomadic herdsmen ravage towns in their path and have had incursions into some states in the South East, South-South and South West of Nigeria. To prevent further loss of lives and properties brought about by these clashes, there is an outright ban on open grazing in the Southern parts of the country,” the report said.
After the presentation, the parliament was perhaps left to ponder the possible ways to assist Nigeria wriggle out of the quagmire fearing that an escalation of the crisis could spell doom for the rest of West Africa as Nigeria is the biggest and most populous country in the sub-region.
But in specific terms, what would the regional parliament and other institutions of ECOWAS do to forestall the Nigerian grim situation?
The Secretary General of the ECOWAS Parliament, John Azumah, told LEADERSHIP at the weekend that one of the ways to find a solution to the crisis is for the Parliament to assist the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government through lobbying, to come up with resolutions and discussed the issue at the Authority level.
He believes that if the Parliament brings concrete ideas, concrete suggestions before the Authority and these are followed through, there could be solid support for Nigeria in the fight against insecurity.
But how far can resolutions go in resolving the Nigerian security crisis when there has been a plethora of previous resolutions that may not have been implemented?
The Ghanaian Secretary General said “This is a very frightening situation for all of us in the sub region because whatever happens to Nigeria happens to the sub region. So, our resolutions will be backed by certain practices.
“As a Parliament we are not going to rest on the resolutions, we are going to go further to lobby the various heads of state to play parliamentary diplomacy even outside the sub region with other international bodies to see the need to come to the aid of Nigeria. We have to go beyond resolutions even though that is our traditional practice.
“Because the situation is so dire, the parliament will ensure that we move it further with the support of all stakeholders because if it goes bad it goes bad for everybody. It is time to add flesh to the bones of resolutions we normally passed.”
He warned that if the Nigerian security situation is allowed to deteriorate, it could spill over into other countries in the region that may find it difficult to contain the influx of refugees from Nigeria.
“If anything happens in Nigeria because of numbers alone no other country will be able to accommodate Nigerians, so there is an urgent need not to allow the crisis in Nigeria to spill over. Nigeria is so central not only to West Africa but to Africa. So, we must create the urgent need for support and suggestions that we can bring to the table, we need diplomacy to bring groups together because together we sink or we rise,” he said.
However, an expert in international law and development, Livingstone Wechie, doubted the capacity of ECOWAS institutions to address the Nigerian conundrum, stressing that it is self-inflicted and leaves ECOWAS with little options more so when the West Africa institutions still struggle to establish systems and structures to tame such ugly security situations in member countries.
He said “the bane of Africa today is that none of the regional bodies have been vested with powers to penalise a sovereign state unlike what is obtainable in the European Union (EU) where their Community Laws and Courts are superior to those of member States.”
He however said that “If African States and their regional institutions must get the type of results that they desire to fight insecurity and achieve stability, it must be by a deliberate commitment to a democratic model law making process and application of democratic norms in their affairs.”