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Security: Compelling Urgent Trends
Being a paper delivered by Solomon Asemota Esq., SAN,
Chairman, Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN)
at the Conference of Edo Okpamakhin held at NTA Benin Hall, West Circular Road, Benin City on Saturday, April 22, 2006.
We are living in a state of insecurity in Nigeria and there is no pretence about this. Security therefore, may be defined as �the quality or state of being secure,� �freedom from danger� �freedom from fear or anxiety.� On the individual level, security is most often understood as safety. This safety includes freedom from harm, whether physical or psychological. Threats to an individual's security can produce fear or anxiety. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all people are entitled to �security of person.�
Chapter IV of our Constitution under Fundamental Rights make provisions that guarantee every person, personal liberty, fair trial, right to private and family life, freedom of conscience and religion, right of freedom of expression and the press, peaceful assembly, association and movement, freedom from discrimination etc. All these are intended to ensure that every Nigerian enjoys life to the fullest under the protective arm of the State. The concept of individual security can therefore be linked, not only with individual perception of his or her standard of living but also participation in the politics of the country, and the need for good governance as the state assumes responsibility for construing and implementing Constitutional provisions.
The basis of good governance under the Constitution are contained in Sections 13 and 14 of Chapter IV which provides that all organs of government and all authorities and persons exercising legislative; executive or judicial powers, conform, observe and apply the provisions of this chapter for the good of all.
The Government and the People
Section 14.-(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that: �The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.
(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that-
(a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority;
(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and
(c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.�
Unfortunately, the only subsection (3) of Section 14 that is observed religiously in favour of the elite is Federal Character for which a commission is established. Paragraphs (a) (b) and (c) of sub-section (2) above are neglected, while human right provisions are whittled down with provisos.
It would appear that the Government and the People are at cross-purposes. The Nigerian Government seems not to believe that sovereignty belongs to the people. In fact, it does not believe that the people of Nigeria are relevant in the affairs of government and therefore do not seek to derive its powers and authority from them. The military that has dominated the politics of Nigeria over the years never derived its authority from the people and because they constitute a part of the Dominant Ruling Party, they do not see, while now in mufti, why they should regard the people as relevant or that sovereignty belongs to them. In the process, the security apparatus is directed to ensuring that the people are subservient and compliant. The most glaring aspect of this anti people security apparatus was in display during the 1998/99 and the 2003 general elections where no proper elections were conducted thus making irrelevant the sovereignty of the people and providing for us a government that rules us without us. With this faulty foundation, the security agencies began to work expressly against the people.
Security and Welfare of the People
Subsection 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution provides that �the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government.�
Unfortunately, it would appear this section has been taken to mean that the security of a few men and women in position of authority and power and the welfare of these men and women, their immediate family and friends to be the primary purpose of our government. The number of people that are killed on our roads through accidents, accidental discharges, robbery etc are signs of insecurity.
Religious riots in some parts of the country during which lives and properties are lost are regular occurrences. Hostage taking and blow up of oil installations had to be resorted to in order to gain attention after over fifty years of neglect of the oil producing Niger Delta. Vigilantes now perform crude policing for our towns and villages in competition with the Nigeria Police.
Our hospitals are crying for improved infrastructures, while our trained doctors and nurses are eager to go abroad in order to live as human beings. Unemployment is so high that our young men and women are being turned to potential criminals. These youths have to belong to one cult or the other for protection in our universities.
It is therefore not an understatement to say that our government has failed in this very important aspect of security and welfare for which people come together as a community. Sections 16 and 17 of the Constitution contain the Economic and Social objectives of the Nigerian State which include: -
�16.-(2) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring-
(a) the promotion of a planned and balanced economic development; (b) that the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good; (c) that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or of a group; and (d) that suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.
17.-(1) The State social order is founded on ideals of Freedom, Equality and Justice.
(2) In furtherance of the social order-
(a) every citizen shall have equality of rights, obligations and opportunities before the law; (b) the sanctity of the human person shall be recognized and human dignity shall be maintained and enhanced; (c) governmental actions shall be humane; (d) exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons, other than the good of the community, shall be prevented; and (e) the independence, impartiality and integrity of courts of law, and easy accessibility thereto shall be secured and maintained.
(3) The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring that-
(a) all citizens, without discrimination or any group whatsoever, have the opportunity for securing adequate means of livelihood as well as adequate opportunity to secure suitable employment; (b) conditions of work are just and humane, and that there are adequate facilities for leisure and for social, religious and cultural life; (c) the health, safety and welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused; (d) there are adequate medical and health facilities for all persons; (e) there is equal pay for equal work without discrimination on account of sex, or on any other ground whatsoever; (f) children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect; (g) provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or other conditions of need; and (h) the evolution and promotion of family life is encouraged.�
As can be seen, the Constitution makes adequate provisions for the security of Nigerians. Those listed in this paper are but some of the provisions. What is lacking unfortunately is the political will to implement and enforce them.
Participation by the People in their Government
People participate in their government primarily by elections. When an election is free and fair, there is a bond between the people and their elected representatives. Their representatives know that they derive their power from the people and consult them when necessary and work to please them, so that they could be re-elected. However, when our representatives are selected for us by the Presidency the loyalty of our representatives goes to the selecting authority. This explains why our �representatives� are more concerned about the feelings, and directives from the Presidency. The conduct of our politicians is not directed to endear them to the electorate because they do not require their votes to assume office; rather it is the �franchise� from the Presidency that is treasured as it guarantees selection. In such a situation, our representatives need the protection of law enforcement agencies, for fear of the peoples� wrath. Franchise in this context means an assurance granted to a candidate of a constituency prior to an election that notwithstanding the result of the votes cast, such candidate will be declared elected and is so declared elected.
It will be interesting to find out how much is spent annually on items on the Executive Legislature list.
(a) Item (17) Defence
(b) Item (38) Military (Army Navy and Air-force)
including and other branches of the armed forces of the Federation.
(c) Item (45) Police and other government security services established by law and
(d) Item (48) Prisons
and, of course, the all purpose Security Votes at National and State levels.
It is very clear that Nigerians are not getting value for their money.
Governor as Chief Security Officer of a State
The Constitution does not provide for the Governor of a State as the Chief Security Officer of the State. Whereas the President is the Chairman of the National Security Council, no such provision was made for the Governor. All instruments of security, the military, the police, the state security services, even the road safety personnel and the traffic wardens are all federal establishment yet the state governor is supposed to be the �Chief Security Officer.� The governors are not complaining no doubt because of the fat security vote which they spend on invisible security outfits for which no account is rendered. The Governor of a State needs a state police establishment (not force) for the protection of lives and property in the state.
In the Memorandum to the Committee on Police Reform presented on behalf of the Christian Social Movement of Nigeria (CSMN), we had cause to say that:
�The Nigeria Police, like any other Police establishment in a Democracy, can only function under the Rule of Law. Rule of Law places restraint on individuals and on government � providing the limits. Unfortunately, the Police cannot operate successfully where the rulers vacillate from time to time and from one person to the other where crime is defined but its application is selective. With respect to administration, crime and criminal propensity should be the basis for police administration and operation not political convenience or objective. The re-organization of Police in England and Wales - The Economist of September 24, 2005 at page 40 wrote that: -
�There are 43 independent forces in England and Wales, all of them supposedly equal, even though the largest is more than 30 times bigger than the smallest.�
The Association of Chief Police Officers hold the view that in a few years time, no force will have less than 4,000 officers and men. Presently, over 34 of these Police Forces have less than that number.
�The police tend to distinguish between various kinds of criminality, which, with typical terseness, they refer to as level one, two and three. Level-one crime is the common stuff like burglary, mugging and car theft. Most of it is crude and takes place within a few miles of the perpetrator�s home. Level-two offences involve a bit more planning and travel-a bank robbery, say, or a revenge killing. Level-three crimes are international conspiracies like terrorism and human trafficking.�
It is our submission that because the Nigeria Police is centralized, it has imbibed the colonial practice of bringing other nationalities to police an area different from their own. The Nigeria Police has found it difficult to keep an eye over the level-one criminals � the bread and butter criminals because of incessant transfers. The level-one criminals graduate to a local warlord aided by military intervention and politics. It is because of the inadequacies of a centralized police force that we recommend three levels of Police authority: The State Police, the Regional Police and the National Police, to adequately meet the demands from the various kinds of criminality.�
Dominant Ruling Party and Security
The Ethnic Nationalities Movement is of the view that:
�A close study of the political development in Nigeria since then and especially since 1960 - (46 years ago), shows clearly that the Dominant Ruling Party � The Northern Peoples� Congress (NPC), at various times metamorphosed from agbada to khaki in the sequence of Military, NPN, then the Military, then to the NRC, to the military then to PDP. The military was an extension of the Dominant Ruling Party (DRP).�
The seat of the DRP is now the Presidency and because of government policy, security means the protection of franchise, the DRP and its leadership. The DRP does not want any challenges and now that it is in favour of �Third term,� this concept must be protected by all means. Fortunately for us, however, the DRP is now divided into two factions - the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Action Congress of Democrats (ACD) that are presently in the struggle for supremacy. The Presidency is in support of third term and has used various arms of the security and personnel to put down demonstration against �Third Term.� For the ordinary Nigerian, however, the PDP and the ACD will grant franchise depending on which party controls the Presidency. They are not likely to rely on the people�s vote to assume power. They will settle their differences by out-witting each other in rigging. The security situation will remain the same as it affects the ordinary Nigerian if not worse unless there are free and fair elections where the people�s choices are made.
It is necessary, in the circumstance, to suggest reasons for these security lapses. It must be remembered that the long military rule promoted the class system of officers and men; now we have the ruling class � the Dominant Ruling Party (DRP) and the others. Fortunately, elections provide for equality of voters, which is very much anti-class. In addition to this is the question of power shift from the gun holders to the people. In order to subvert the power shift which free and fair election will provide, security personnel had to be used to ensure that the status quo is retained by political assassinations, abductions and sabotaging election processes. This explains in our view why we cannot conduct free and fair elections or even credible census. Every effort is being made by the Dominant Ruling Party (DRP) to ensure that the people are not organized to confront these evils. Until we all decide that enough is enough, our progress as a people will continue to suffer.
It is clear that the Constitution and various laws make adequate provisions for security. Unfortunately, the government and the people seem to operate at cross purposes because of conflicting interests. The DRP wants to govern us without us and to ensure that this happens, security is directed at protecting the DRP against us. What should be of immediate and paramount importance to us is to ensure that those who rule us, must do so with us, and if they refuse to allow our participation or relevance, we have the duty to compel them to abide by the National ethics and duties of a citizen which include abiding by the Constitution, respect for the dignity of the citizenry, contribute to the advancement, progress and well being of the community. It is also clear that when a people move from Military rule to Democratic rule, there is always the need for a �clearinghouse� where military tactics is separated from democratic norms. The Oputa Panel was a �clearinghouse� for the nation�s rebirth. Unfortunately, the Panel�s report is yet to be released. Until this is done, the old habits and methods will persist.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
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