By Our Reporters
ABUJA — Human rights activist, Mr Shehu Sani, who facilitated the aborted dialogue between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Boko Haram sect said, yesterday, that the insecurity in the country had transformed into a money-making venture for politicians and many in the security services.
Speaking on the second day of the Vanguard organised national summit on security challenges in Nigeria, Shehu regretted that the original Boko Haram group had split into factions with fake groups masquerading under the guise of the group to acutalise their private financial agenda.
This came as speakers and participants at the second day of the Vanguard organised national summit on insecurity, yesterday, identified manipulation of ethnic and religious differences by some individuals as a primary factor in the escalation of insecurity in the country.
Sani spoke following requests from some participants at the summit for him to shed light on Boko Haram, given his famous role in brokering dialogue between the group and Obasanjo and some other trouble shooters.
He said: “It appears that over the years, since that effort was made, that there have been a series of scams that have been coming out. In as much as insurgency has become an industry, so has the peace process. People are also catching in on it, politicians are using it, people are also turning it into a profitable venture and as such, it has now become difficult knowing which one is genuine and which one is fake.
Our intervention was to get out the facts
“So, our intervention was simply to get out the facts and to know the grievances and to see how we can stop this senseless killing that has taken the lives of our people, for the very fact that we are of the belief that the solution doesn’t simply lie with law enforcement, but it is also about engagement.
“In the literal sense, (the group is) faceless or whatever it is being called, what we should understand clearly is that some people are bombing, they are maiming, so they exist.
“I took former President Obasanjo to meet with the family members so that we can see from our own side as advocates of peace what could we do to contribute. We have seen how many people remained silent out of fear and many people have also chosen not to speak out for other reasons, not for fear.
“What we need to understand clearly is that we are facing a crisis that is not particular to our country. It is there in Sudan , it is there in Egypt , Libya and many other countries of the world. So, by virtue of our geopolitical location and if you follow what is happening in Northern Kenya , it is still the same thing.”
Nature of Boko Haram group
Speaking on the nature of the Boko Haram group, he said: “They exist, they have their structure and they also have the ideology they are pursuing. But what we need to understand clearly and which many people are ignoring, is that when they say sect, there are also other sects that exist and I don’t think that our democracy has stopped anybody from expressing his views on how he wants his country to be governed. But where you cross the line is where you violate the rights of others or impose your own ideology on others by force or do things that breach the law.
“There are sects, we have the Ahmaddiya sect, Izala sect and the Shite sect. Today, the Shite sect nobody is harassing them, but they also have an ideology and they don’t recognise the constitution of the country. They also have their vision of an Islamic state. They also want the Koran to be the constitution of the country, but nobody is going against them for the very fact that no weapon is used in the pursuance of such an ideology.
“My own concept is that you don’t need to kill, you don’t need to bomb to pursue and win converts in the sense that today it is the Islamic Brotherhood that is heading a democratic government which many Christians even voted for them.”
Manipulation of ethnic and religious differences cause of insecurity
The stakeholders also identified the exploitation of loopholes in the judiciary and lack of synergy among the nation’s security agencies for the spate of insecurity that have bestirred the nation.
The speakers and participants spoke in the course of the four different papers presented during yesterday’s second session of the security summit also spoke of the need of putting human security of the population over and above national security.
Four papers were presented at yesterday’s two major sessions of the summit that drew participants from various sectors of the society.
The first paper of the day entitled “Religious and ethnic discord as a threat to national security,” delivered by Prof. Sam Egwu, the second paper on militancy, terrorism and arms proliferation as a threat to national security was presented by Gen. Charles Omoregie, a former commander of the Joint Task Force and currently a top security aide to Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State.
The paper on the “role of the judiciary in ensuring national security” was authored by Joe Gadzama, SAN, while the paper on Intelligence gathering and sharing as an effective tool for national security was presented by Mr. Innocent Chukwuma of Cleen Foundation.
Failure of governance
In his paper, Egwu attributed crisis associated with religious and ethic groups in Nigeria to failure of governance and use of language by politicians.
Nigeria, he lamented, was ranked one of the least peaceful nations in the world, an assertion he said did not portray the nation in good light.
He, therefore, called for focus to be centred more on human security rather national security if the nation must succeed as a democratic state.
He explained that while national security tended to focus on the security of the state in military terms and the protection of the state from external aggression, it placed humans which formed the basis of any country as secondary importance.
He said: “For the subaltern groups and classes, national security simply represents an ideology of domination, exploitation and political repression. For this reason, it becomes imperative to go beyond the narrow concern for national or state security and focus on issues of human security.”
In this concept of human security, he said human beings would form the core issue with the fundamental focus on survival, livelihood and dignity as the irreducible minimum.
“The multidimensional nature of this conception of human security is underlined by the recognition given to economic, food, health, environmental, personal, community and political security.”
He also called on the Federal Government to expedite action in the area of poverty reduction, reduction of impunity by security agencies, a total revamp of in-training, equipment, re-orientation and welfare of the security agencies, justice and accountability in governance and vast improvement in infrastructure to support meaningful human progress.
Discussing the paper presented by Egwu, Shehu Sani, a civil rights activist from Kaduna and Rev. Joseph Ahaya, also from Kaduna, agreed that Islamic and Christian clergy had in the past tended to exploit even minor and irrelevant incidents to push ethnic agenda.
Bad governance generates high unemployment
In his paper, Militancy Terrorism and Arms Proliferation: Implication for Nigeria’s National security, Maj.-Gen; Omoregie (rtd) lamented that the growing spate of militancy, terrorism and arms proliferation posed dire consequences for national security.
He blamed the major cause of proliferation of arms to the rising state of insecurity and privatisation of security.
He also said bad governance over the years in Nigeria had generated high unemployment among the youths and poverty in the midst of plenty. He therefore, called on the Federal Government to accelerate the pace of technological development of the country through reverse engineering and technology acquisition from countries such as China, Israel and Brazil.
Participants blame proliferation of arms on politicians
Responding to the paper, Mrs. Victoria Potoki, a retired Warrnt Officer from the Nigerian Army, blamed politicians for the proliferation of arms.
According to her “politicians give these arms to youths to help them during campaigns and elections. But they did not retrieve them from them. Until this is stopped, there may be no solution to proliferation of arms.”
Mr. Max Gbinite, while discussing the paper presented by Omoregie said the Anti-Terrorism Act did not allow the prosecution of those engaged in terrorism, adding that it is the duty of the Attorney General of the Federation and the High Court to ensure that there is the enabling law empowering the judiciary to prosecute those involved in the act of terrorism.
He also raised alarm that cyber terrorism was gaining ground in the polity and advised the authorities to be pro-active by establishing a Police cyber crime detection unit before it ruins the nation’s economy.
Discussants on the paper on the role of the Judiciary in ensuring national security expressed concern on what they alleged to be the collaboration of judges in the worsening insecurity condition in the country.
AIG Sulaiman Abba in his contribution said:
“Some of us in the Police have very worrisome experiences on the way some judges pass their judgments.”
According to him judges have often released kidnappers and some others indicted on criminal offences who then go back to harm the security officers that originally apprehended them.
“There are judges that need to be identified so that this issue that affects national security can be well addressed,” he said.
CSP Emmanuel Opara spoke in the same vein saying that policemen suffer to apprehend Boko Haram operatives but those arrested are eventually released by the courts under the guise of human rights.
“The courts should not under the guise of human rights grant bail to such people because the Policemen who they attack also have their human rights,” he said to a loud cheer from participants.
Justice Olufunola Adekeye, a retired justice of the Supreme Court, however, disagreed saying, “It is not the making of the courts, if they are brought to the courts under minor offences, they are entitled to bail and it is only when they are brought on strong charges that they would be refused bail.”