Emeka Umeagbalasi, Uju Joy Igboeli and Chidinma Udegbunam
Combination of Government insincerity and dishonesty, falsehood and propaganda, ethnic chauvinism and religious extremism, tribalism and nepotism, militarization and failed intelligence, incorrigibility and entrenched impunity and intolerance and censorship are the fundamental drawbacks inherent in the central Administration of Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari and Prof Yemi Osinbajo. They have also characterized the conducts of the country’s security forces including counter insurgency operations in the Northeast.
By Government insincerity and dishonesty, the conducts and activities of the Buhari Administration and its security forces are continuously mystified or shrouded in secrecy and falsehood. The composition of the country’s security establishments and their administrative management are also ethno-religiously skewed or lopsided. Divisiveness and disharmony have further taken the centre stage in the midwifery of Nigeria’s security forces and got promoted with high frequency.
The country is also over militarized or can best be described as “meta-diarchy” system of government. It is a settled opinion in the field of modern securitization and military science that “violence begets violence” and that state actor militarization also leads to increase in the non state militancy or militarized response or reprisal radicalism. The present central Government in Nigeria is further characterized by entrenched culture of intolerance, censorship, incorrigibility and impunity and has led the way as its major policy direction.
Consequently, Nigeria as a country can never find itself back on the right track or path unless these fundamental drawbacks are comprehensively and sincerely redressed. This is more so when the present central Government is peopled by a ruling cabal which does not wish the country and its people well but runs the country as “criminal and business enterprise” or as “a lucrative venture”; a sort of “Hobbesian Society” where might rules and rises in perpetual and arbitrary judgment against the Society.
Intersociety is, therefore, not surprised at recent barrage of attacks launched by the Buhari Administration against Amnesty Int’l particularly the Administration and its military’s calls few days ago for closure of “all the offices of Amnesty Int’l in Nigeria”. The calls are nothing short of height of intolerance and abuse of power and office. The Government having compromised the National Human Rights Commission and the mainstream human rights activists and organizations in the country; is hash and antagonistic of AI reports because of its several failed attempts to stifle its credible activities in the country particularly its reports on Nigeria. Somehow, the same Government appeared succeeded in the case of HRW, but has failed woefully to cage AI.
The Government’s barrage of attacks on AI is saddening and shocking. This is because the Organization is somehow soft on the Government of Nigeria including the AI’s adoption of Government’s censored term of “Herders-Farmers’ clashes” in its latest report even where evidence clearly indicates the contrary. AI has further maintained a policy of “fair hearing” by availing draft copies of its planned reports to the concerned Government’s security establishments and other bodies; weeks or months before their final publications. Such draft copies are sent to them weeks or months ahead for inputs or responses to allegations leveled against them; only for the same Government or its security body to turn around and use them adversely including launching of verbal and media attacks.
It must be clearly stated that whether in in-service or out-service military and other security conducts or in act of war including counter-insurgency operations or non war military and other security conducts or activities; such conducts and activities are at all times strictly guided by sets of local, regional and international written rules.
In time of war, for instance, military conducts are governed by the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the ICC Statute of 1998; likewise in non war military and police conducts which are strictly governed by the laws of Nigeria including the 1999 Constitution and regional and international human rights and humanitarian laws as well as plethora of ethical codes. These laws not only have binding effects on Nigeria and its leaders but also derogations associated with them are criminally punishable. It must also be emphasized that in the conduct of modern warfare, “all is not fair or free” and every conduct is strictly regulated and punishable if associated with any form of derogation.
It is therefore saddening and shocking that the present central Government of Nigeria and its security agencies have continuously chosen to rigmarole in frivolities and irrelevancies; instead of studying and addressing the findings arising from various credible reports on “industrial scale” rights abuses and violations by military and other security commanders or agencies in Nigeria. The intolerance of the Government and shielding of the culprit commanders have not only fueled the impunity but also turned the perpetrators into repeat offenders or atrocity criminals and-escalated the abuses and violations.
The Government of Nigeria is therefore treading on international dangerous path by threatening or calling for closure of the offices of Amnesty Int’l in Nigeria. Apart from lacking municipal and international power to do so, AI is a borderless organization that operates beyond national and international borders and an integral part of the global community or village. AI activities also cover the rights and fate of 10 million stateless persons across the world.
The Government of Nigeria must, therefore, reverse its boat of prediction and return the country to the right path. Continuously threatening, intimidating, harassing and censoring the activities of AI and other local and international rights groups or interfering with their research or investigative works can boomerang and lead the country into international isolationism. Protecting or shielding the perpetrator or culprit commanders can also attract international sanctions and blacklisting or international policing and judicial embarrassments by way of arrest at international borders and criminal trials. It can also lead to stoppage of humanitarian and development aides; among other international civil and criminal reprimands or reparations.
To effectively combat the insurgency operations or violence in the Northeast, Nigeria, the country must demystify the operations including comprehensive reorganization of the country’s security forces particularly the Armed Forces and the Police. The present COAS has not only overstayed in his position, having been due for statutory retirement since January 2016, but he has also failed woefully in his duties as COAS and overspent his welcome. There must be total reversal and abolition of the above named 14-point fundamental drawbacks in the country’s security establishments including the Armed Forces and the Police.
With the country’s 300, 892 officers and personnel of the Nigeria Police Force and their over N300b or $1b annual recurrent expenditures, Nigeria spends or loses at least N1.5m annually to keep each of them in service; and with N700b or $2.3b annual defense expenditures for the country’s 181,000 officers and personnel of the Armed Forces, Nigeria spends or loses at least N3.5m to keep each of them with weapons allocated to each. Nigeria also spends over N150b or $500m annually to keep 100,822 officers and personnel of its paramilitary formations as well as officers and personnel of SSS and NIA; on average of at least N1.25m each.
Yet, despite these huge defense and other security expenditures by the central Government of Nigeria, there is little or nothing to show for such huge spending. Insecurity has not only risen to maddening and intractable levels, but the country’s intelligence has been brutally collapsed; with electronic security and intelligence nowhere to be found in the country. Nigeria’s e-security and e-intelligence have acutely remained locomotive and in shortest supply while the country’s regional and international counterparts have for long advanced into the age of “artificial intelligence” where mental intelligence is transformed into machine intelligence and bossed by the same mental intelligence for “super man-machine intelligence”.
What is constructively needed in the counter insurgency operations in the Northeast are not battalions of infantry soldiers or containers load of AK-47 and other automatic rifles or hundreds of war jets; but super human and electronic or machine intelligence accompanied by sincerity of purpose, openness and political sagacity. Shrouding the counter insurgency operations in “meta-secrecy” and releasing in droves hundreds of Boko Haram insurgents or conscripting them, if true, into the Armed Forces and the Police, expressly calls for international attention and comprehensive inquiries. They also raise a fundamental question of sincerity of the counter insurgency operations.
Umeagbalasi, Igboeli and Udegbunam writes for the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety)