Posted by News Express | 8 May 2014 | 4,064 times
The world is shocked to see how totally incompetent the Nigerian security forces and law enforcement have been in handling the Boko Haram sect. Indeed, it is now as if Nigeria should go down on her knees and beg Boko Haram for mercy. The question on the lips of everybody is: How come? How come that Nigerian forces are so hopelessly incompetent, weak and running away from action? The answer lies in somewhere not too far away. Over the years, Nigerian security forces and law enforcement agencies have been spending their energy and resources on how to terrorise and brutalise the ordinary citizens that are law abiding.
I have repeatedly said that countries in which the police and army engage in brutalities against the citizens are usually weak when faced with real danger or external aggression. Look at the Nigerian army? They run from a militant group and Nigeria now has to go cap in hand like a banana republic to beg for help. Where are the Nigerian soldiers that sacked the poor people of Odi? Where are the Nigerian soldiers that massacred the people of Zaki Biam? Where are the Naval officers that beat up a girl (Ms. Okeke) on a Lagos street? Please help me: Where are those Nigerian military who are so eager and so ready to use force upon the ordinary people? Where are the soliders from the 54 Brigade in Benin City who used horsewhip on the poor civilians in a cyber cafe in Benin City? Send those cowards to the frontline to fight Boko Haram. But it is obvious what they do: They run when they hear even the sound of a fire cracker. It is clear to the world now that Nigeria is a weak and much weakened state. It cannot even face a terrorist rag-tag militant.
What about the police? Those are even worse. Some police officers stopped my car on the road two days ago. I asked them if they had captured the Boko Haram people. They nearly fainted at the mentioning of Boko Haram. The police officer said to me: “Oga, I beg, no talk about those people ooo. We are not looking for them and they are not looking for us.” He said this as if the mere mentioning of BH would get BH to come to bomb their location or as if not mentioning them was all it would take to keep them off their back.
What about the EFCC? Hahahaha! Do you realise that the EFCC has a department charged with anti-terrorism and terrorism financing? There is actually such a department. Some people at the EFCC have been “chopping” money in the name of fighting terrorism. Yet, nobody in EFCC has any clue how and where the sect is getting money to finance its weapons and pay its operatives or who does their banking. But EFCC in the aim of deceiving the people claim to be also in the business of fighting terrorism. Yet, the EFCC have absolutely no clue what is going on. The EFCC seeks only the softest targets like cyber cafes where they attack everybody. Indeed, they make sure they come nowhere near the Boko Haram affair. I actually began to think there must be some tacit understanding between EFCC and Boko Haram, something akin to agreement for mutual non-interference: You don’t touch me and I don’t touch you.
If you want to see the SSS at work, go to the airport or other places where there is no real trouble. You will also see them collecting rents for their landlord friends or intimidating a landlord for their tenant friends. That’s where they are so good. The last place you will find the SSS is anywhere near Boko Haram militants. By the same logic, a powerful and strong state is the state that respects human rights and in which the coercive power of the state is not used at random upon innocent and law-abiding citizens. May we learn from our experience and build a strong Nigeria through respect for human right and freedoms. A strong state is one in which people are free and happy, not one in which people are abused and impoverished and divided among themselves.
•Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, lawyer and activist, whose photo appears alongside this piece, writes from Lagos.
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