Caution govs over abuse of operations
Call for civility, sustainability
By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As the activity of kidnappers, bandits, ritualists, armed robbers, cultists, unknown gunmen, and insurgents continues to be a thorn in the flesh of Nigerians, Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Tuesday, the back establishment of regional security outfits to provide cover for defenseless Nigerians suffering the brunt.
However, they cautioned governors not to use regional security corps to oppress perceived enemies and gag the voice of citizens that will lead to abuse operations but should allow them to operate within the scope of the Act establishing them for professionalism and effective service to the people.
Meanwhile, the CSOs also called for sustainability of the organisation in terms of good pay package, welfare, training, deployment of modern equipment and technology, synergy with federal government security organisations, and exhibition of patriotism with all civility.
Security is purely local affair, regional security acceptable — OLF
The Founder of One Love Foundation, OLF, and also social crusader, Patriot Patrick Eholor, said, “What’s happening is the failure of the federal government to holistically tackle insecurity and the politicization of the machinery and architecture of the military.
“Of course, you were in this country when a retired military general and minister of defence told the world on National TV that a certain tribe is playing god and has politicize the military.
“The creation of these outfits is as a result of this failure and loss of trust and confidence at the centre. It is unfortunate that we have found ourselves in this state of helplessness and division.
“What I had expected the President to do was the decentralization of the security apparatus by giving each region and state the power to defend her people or outright restructuring of the country by considering and implementing the reports of the 2014 confab to tackle of the challenges bewildering the nation.
“Security is local. The people can easily defend their territory when fully supported and trained. The failed federal security agencies must not sabotage their effort since they have allowed corruption, ethnic and religious sentiment to destroy them.
“We need to have a secured nation and I support every step taken to achieve it. I have severally written to the President and the Senate on the need to fund the police and deal with the issue of religious and tribal sentiments but all seem to be abortive.
“Therefore, the governors should be careful not to use them to intimate their opponents and opposing voices because that will be the end of it. It will fail if they play politics with it rather than using it to defend the people by securing lives and properties.”
Regional security welcomed for safer Nigeria — CDNDC
The Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, said, “Although the South East is coming a bit late into the era of regional security outfits, it is better late than never as we seek a marginal opportunity of using some local stop-gap measure for addressing insecurity in our states.
“I hope the southeast Governors have learned some bitter lessons that you do not do political correctness with the security and welfare of the people which is the primary duty of government.
“The grim reality of our country today is the fact that central policing has failed and is incapable of addressing the growing insecurity in the country, and except we restructure the country and create state police, the subnationals will have no option than to embrace regional security outfits.
“However, the southeast governors must put in place legislation that will guide the conduct of the new security outfit so that their activities and conducts could be properly regulated and monitored.”
Regional security outfits indict FG’s stance on restructuring — CN
The convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, said, “The creation of the South West and South East security network is an indictment on the Federal Government because Nigeria runs a federal system where you have a government at the centre and federating units.
“So there has been a debate for true federalism over the years with the centre refusing or resisting these calls, and we can see that the centre is failing, and it is run in such a way that there is Boko Haram operating in the North East, banditry in the North West, terrorists gangs operating in North Central and there are fringes of insecurity all over the southern zones.
“The government at the centre is overwhelmed and that is way the states that are federating units are beginning to tactically restructuring by themselves.
“The restructuring government at the centre is avoiding is what is inevitably happening right now.
“The government at the centre there is little or nothing it can do now because it is overstretched, and the police manpower is not enough, and virtually the police is attached to Very Important Persons, VIPs, including government workers, Shell, Exxon Mobile, and others.
“So government at the centre cannot really do anything, and federating units should reinvent their wills to tackle their own problems by themselves since the government at the centre is unwilling to restructure.
“Basically, the governors should determine on how regional security organisations should operate by enabling laws and practice within the federating units, and a legal backing for them would determine the modus operandi as seen in Amotekun in South West.
“I see friction as inevitable between the regional security outfits and federal government security forces, and it is inevitable. For me I believe when other areas of restructuring touching the economy and others come into play the government at the centre will cave in, and for the federating units, it is a battle for survival.
“Basically, the fear has been that governors are over-reaching and use state police to victimize perceived enemies and carry out vindictive measures against these perceived enemies, and for me, State Assemblies should make these security outfits independent such a way that it limits control for the tendency of these governors who are lords in their own rights within their states who operate like little gods so that they will not use these agencies to witch haunt and victimize people.”
We support regional security to fill gaps created by govt forces — CISLAC
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, said, “The rising insecurity in the country is worrisome, necessitating the proliferation of non-state security actors to fill the gaps in security delivery where the state has not provided or operates with low strength. While the non-state security sector may neither be historically new nor used only in fragile, conflict, failing or failed states, the drivers of its growth differ from country to country.
“For Nigeria it is mostly driven by the weak state syndrome and governance failure. The failure continues to affect the performance and management of state security institutions.
“The continuous growth of ungoverned spaces, mostly rural areas and township slums, has led the state governments, street associations, local rural communities, individuals, and others to establish and fund their own security.
“The powers backing such arrangement depend on where each establisher (s)’s authority is derived from. While there is no consensus on the debate on legality or illegality of regional security organisations, they have helped in improving security, but notwithstanding, have in many cases committed illegal and criminal acts by breaching fundamental human rights of the citizens.
“The rationale for using them hinges on people’s trust and confidence in them than they have on state security. There are lessons for the state, regional and other stakeholders in security on the need to build synergy among the providers for effective policing.
“The non-state security sector is not only attractive to weak and fragile states but is also important to strong and stable states. In developed and better-governed societies, the sector supports the state security sector in providing a safe and secure environment for the citizens.
“It is a policing philosophy based on the principle that police officers and community dwellers partner together in such a manner that such synergy solves security-related issues at the community level.
“In 2020, growing violence and insecurity triggered new conversations on creating state police structures across Nigeria. Due to the federal government’s reluctance to give the nod to state police, regional police structures came to be.
“State governments in the southwest zone took the lead by establishing a regional security network code-named Amotekun. Amotekun has been complementing Nigeria’s overwhelmed security agencies in mitigating the upsurge of security challenges in the southwest region.
“Unlike the South West, the southeast state governments continually dragged feet in replicating the Amotekun template in the region despite proliferating violence. Indeed, southeast state governments’ failure to respond decisively to insecurity in the region largely led to the creation of the Eastern Security Network (ESN) by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“The ESN is a brainchild of IPOB, a pro-secessionist group that has experienced series of a government crackdowns. As predicted by CISLAC’S Defence and Security work, the creation of ESN spelt doom as they were bound to clash with formal security actors. Clashes between IPOB and Nigerian military forces have led to losses of lives and livelihoods in the South East.
“A new security threat has now emerged in the southeast zone with multiple attacks on police stations and checkpoints by unknown gunmen. Since December 2020, about 67 security agents have been killed by gunmen in the southeast and south-south zones.
“On Monday, 5th April 2021, about 1,800 inmates were freed when gunmen attacked Owerri Custodial Facility. The attack is the most brazen incident so far in the litany of gunmen violence in the South East.
“It has taken a series of assaults on police posts, a correctional facility and proliferating violence for southeast state governments to collaborate and establish a regional security network code-named Ebube Agu. Among other duties, Ebube Agu, a joint security outfit, is charged with coordinating the activities of vigilantes in the South East and checkmating rising unrest in the region.
“Ebube Agu is late to the party of regional outfits for some reasons. The unfavoured ESN has already installed itself as the regional security structure for the southeast. This means that clashes between the ESN and Ebube Agu may be imminent.
“Second, how the Ebube Agu will prevent the recent string of attacks on police stations and checkpoints is uncertain, considering that the Nigerian Police Force is better trained and armed than Ebube Agu.
“Ebube Agu also comes at a time of double trouble; unknown gunmen running riots in the South East and ESN activities, which government is highly against. “Concerns are how Ebube Agu will navigate through the distractions the ESN will pose, tackle unrest, and complement the efforts of the now-vulnerable police force in the South East.
“The Nigerian government must consider communicative engagement in dealing with the pro-secessionist movement. The creation of Ebube Agu does not make ESN fade away. Rather, it will deepen already existing tensions in the zone.
“Beyond Ebube Agu, there is a need to increase deployment of security agents and securitisation of the southeast zone to manage the unfolding era of gunmen attacks. Nigeria struggles to manage the over ten years of the Boko Haram conflict and its implications, new wave of armed banditry, pastoralists and farming communities’ crisis, periodic Niger Delta militants’ violence, and now South East gunmen showdown and pro-secessionist agitations.
“Nigeria cannot afford to have a new violent destination that will require more resources to mitigate. Although Ebube Agu appears to be late to the party, strategic kinetic and non-kinetic solutions are key to saving the South East zone from the slippery slope of crisis.
“Advice to Governors: Defined Accountability Mechanism. There should be a defined accountability mechanism for ensuring justice and human rights observation within the Regional Security system.
“Registration of Non-state Actors with Local Authority; Every Regional security organisation and its members should be registered with their local government council and each member be provided with a unique identification number and card.
“Cooperation and Collaboration between the State and Regional Actors-Cooperation and collaboration efforts between the government and promoters of Regional security organisation such as local communities will help in controlling the activities of the regional security sector, as well as in curtailing their excesses.
“Restricting Policing Role; Regional Security organisations should be restricted to ancillary crime control functions. They should be educated and not be empowered to conduct any arrests or to prosecute offenders.
“Formal Education and On-the-job Training; There should be a formal education and continuous training for members of all regional security actors by the NSCDC as well as regular monitoring of their activities. As part of their registration and renewal of registration conditions, regional security groups must submit evidence of participating in continuous education.”