By Japhet Alakam
Nigeria has passed through timeless seasons of brutality. Harvest of killings through insurgency, kidnap, robbery and general state of insecurity in the country has adversely affected the economic, socio-political growth of the country. The 18-chapter book under review, Security and Justice: The Pathway For Peace and Reconciliation In Nigeria, written by Ibrahim Idris, the current Nigerian Inspector General of Police (IGP), provides a thorough and deep insights on long-standing contemporary challenges of Nigeria nation. It addresses issues relating to fears of marginalisation, sectionalism and trust in the governance process.
The first chapter examines theoretical and philosophical underpinning of justice with a view to providing an in-depth understanding of what justice is all about. According to Idris”Justice in the broadest sense is fairness. Justice cannot assure that every dispute comes out ‘correctly’ or that no mistakes are made, but it should be such as to ensure that the process by which decisions are made and goods allocated is fair and produces an acceptable result in general, even if a single case of justice fails.”
He also examines the works of various philosophers like Plato, Cephalus, Thrasymachus, Glaucon among others. Considering the Nigeria’s post independent era, the author spends quality time to deal with distributive and restorative justice. In the course of his analytical details, he posits that since citizens are fundamentally equal, reasoning about justice should begin from a presumption that cooperatively-produced goods should be equally divided.
The author also examines the issues concerning government security and also stresses the significance of reconciliation in all forms of relationships, saying it is the process of finding a way to make two different views, ideas, facts, etc, exist or be true at the same time. This, according to him, will only thrive when there is understanding, mutual respect of different opinions and views, sacrifice, compatibility, compromise, sincerity, objectivity, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, kindness and love.
In heterogeneous society like Nigeria, certain problems are visible, which include alienation, dismemberment and distrust; tribal conflict, religious conflict and disunion. The author says the heterogeneous status of the country explains the intractable ethno-religious conflicts, mutual distrust and antagonism among other societal ills that are bedeviling her growth and development.
Reconciliation, in the eye of this author is a useful tool for striking a balance between opposing interest. He, however, warns that this is achievable in an atmosphere of justice where there is application of the same standard or yardstick as stipulated by the law to all, no matter their socio-cultural differences.
The author, in the third chapter, reviews the contribution of justice to reconciliation. He says access to justice is a charged concept that embraces the nature, mechanism and quality of justice obtainable in a society as well as the place of the individual within this judicial matrix.
The author traces the history of political violence, ethnic and religious crises to pre-colonial times in chapter four. After comprehensive historical details with dates and relevant references, the author submits that the Nigerian democratic system needs to be redefined with its policies reformed and repositioned for a system which will have an all-inclusive government that is willing to champion the yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerians.
The recent menace of Boko Haram insurgency coupled with attacks of Fulani herdsmen will only be solved through peaceable coexistence among Nigerians, regardless of their religious or ethnic differences. The author considered the consequences of this disaster in the fifth and sixth chapters of the book. The author also analytically explains the rights of common citizens in the society including the impression of Nigerians about Police Force where the author belongs. “In Nigeria, the police force has been typically viewed as inefficient and corrupt. Far from it, most people failed to understand and even appreciate the challenges facing the police since the police is also a product of the society…” . He however proffers solution to human right violation.
Idris, in the last chapter, discusses his ideas on police ethics. Among other things, he stresses that police need to be focused, demonstrate courage, should be honest, God fearing and uphold spirit of utmost professionalism. The book is well researched, written with lucid language, boldly printed and bonded firmly with hard cover. It is a product of pragmatic experience of an officer with referred scholastic pedigree. It is recommended to all.