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RIGHTSView, By EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO: Security is not guaranteed without justice

By News Express on 13/04/2016

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A year ago when erstwhile military Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.),  as he then was, won election with a slim margin to clinch the prestigious but troublesome position of the president of Nigeria, he cornered victory, based entirely on the conviction by some electorate that of the two high-profile presidential candidates, he demonstrated clearer understanding of how to resolve the constant bombardments by armed Islamists, of soft targets, with concomitant devastation of lives and property.

At a point, during the presidential campaigns, the then All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, promised Nigerians that he would personally go to the theatre of war to prosecute vigorously the war on terror and ensure speedy elimination of the armed Boko Haram terrorists from the face of the earth. President Muhammadu Buhari did not clearly introduce to Nigerians his administration’s public policy concerning the prosecution and punishment of terror masterminds. But he has no choice but to rely on the tenets, provisions and letters of the Nigerian laws, including the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 and the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended). The purpose of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015 is to ensure that the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria promotes efficient management of criminal justice institutions, speedy dispensation of justice, protection of the society from crime and protection of the rights and interest of the suspect, the defendant and the victim. (See part one, the preliminary of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.) Section 1 (I) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that: “This constitution is Supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” Section 33 (I) of the constitution states clearly that: “Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in the execution of the sentence of a court of law in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria.” Section 6 gives the courts of competent jurisdiction the judicial powers of the federation of Nigeria.  

I have gone this long route to demonstrate that although the current government did not advertise its public policy regarding the prosecution of the crimes of genocide committed by armed Boko Haram terrorists and other armed hoodlums, there are sufficiently legal frameworks that must be relied upon to take swift justice to mass killers, because security isn’t guaranteed if the atmosphere of effective justice delivery system is not created in Nigeria. 

Soon after his inauguration, President Buhari gave a marching order to his military chiefs to move the operational headquarters of the Nigerian military to the theatre of counter-terror war in the North-East of Nigeria, just as the top security chiefs complied, almost immediately, to this order.

It would seem that the public policy President Buhari’s administration towards tackling the violence unleashed by armed Boko Haram terrorists is to complete the total degrading and to comprehensively deny them any territorial advantage in any part of the Federation of Nigeria. The Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) is the grundnorm which provides the legal framework for sufficiently enforcing the principle of rule of law. It follows, logically, that for the effective implementation of the public policy towards the elimination of the vicious terror attacks by the armed Islamists, Nigeria must necessarily put in place effective measures and law-based mechanisms to prosecute and punish the captured terrorists and their sponsors. The ball is now in the court of the Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, and his partners in the states, to effectively implement the measures to ensure swift and decisive prosecution of mass murderers.

R K Sapru in his classical work entitled ‘Public Policy: Formulation, Implementation and Evaluation’ stated almost the same valid points.

His words: “In the final analysis, the success of public administration for development can be measured only in relation to the implementation of policies. Policy implementation is of critical importance to the success of government. However good the political system, however noble the goals, however sound the organisational system, no policies can succeed if the implementation does not bear relationship to the intentions of the policy adopters.” 

The learned author continued: “The implementation aspect is now becoming a concern and key element in development strategy. It was during the 1960s and 1970s that a series of studies and reports appeared, indicating that policy designs should pay attention to the capacity to implement. These studies show that the implementation aspect is the most important and yet the most neglected. There is mystifying neglect of implementation issues by specialists and generalists at several levels.”

He defined policy implementation thus: “Policy implantation, as the process of putting policy into effects by public and private individuals, is difficult to define. Implementation can be seen essentially in terms of the nature and degree of control exercised over the operations of a policy/programme/project. In its most general form, it is the phase between a decision and operations. Implementation seeks to determine whether an organisation is able to carry out and achieve its stated objectives. It involves developing and pursuing a strategy of organisation and management to ensure that the policy process is completed with the minimum of delays, costs and problems.”

One year has almost come and gone since the current government assumed office, but the central government has failed to implement a significant plank of the counter-terror war, which is the successful prosecution of the sponsors, masterminds and suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorism.  

The dare-devilry of these terrorists has cumulatively caused the untimely death of over 25,000 Nigerians, and also has rendered 3 million Nigerians as internally displaced. Nigeria has now resorted to going cap-in-hand to international funding agencies for assistance to feed and house these huge numbers of internally displaced Nigerians. But those who created these spectacles of human sufferings are yet to be brought to justice here in Nigeria. 

But the neighboring Chad and Cameroon have individually successfully prosecuted and convicted 200 arrested members of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists, yet Nigeria that is the home base of these mass murders has consistently showed a clear lack of willpower to prosecute these mass killers.

The manifestation of a spectacular lack of political will to prosecute terrorists decisively in Nigeria has made me to ask a similar question posed by the mother of the American black brain surgeon, Ben Carson, as recorded in his book titled You have a brain. The mother asked her son, Ben Carson: “Do you have a brain?” Do we have brains in Nigeria at all?

The simple reason for the upsurge in terror attacks in Nigeria by a range of armed terrorists is because the officials of government have failed to respond properly to this historical question: do we have brains?

If we have brains while in government, we would not hesitate to ensure that the law enforcement authorities are properly guided to carry out their constitutional duties, and we will make sure that the justice delivery mechanisms in Nigeria are allowed to operate independently, so perpetrators of bloody violence are made to face the full weight of the law.

But since most officials of government have almost embraced impunity as a way of life, we currently exist under the constant atmosphere of fear of the unknown.

We are now being told to expect the worst in the coming days. The president of the Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON), Dr. Ona Ekhomu, has warned that an attack from terror group, Al Qaeda, is imminent in Nigeria. In a statement, he said that the recent wave of terrorist attacks in West Africa showed that Nigeria was the probable next target. “The most likely cities are Abuja or Lagos,” he noted. 

The security expert said that intelligence analysis conducted by the School of Management and Security, Lagos, from open source materials on the current phase of Jihad mounted by Al Qaeda on West African nations, showed that “Nigeria was in the next logical target for an active shooter-attack by a six-man team of terrorists. The odds are in the favour of the terrorists to cause mass deaths in these attacks,” Ekhomu added, and advised the government and corporate security executives to take urgent proactive steps in preventing the attack. 

But I ask: Do government officials have brains to act decisively and prevent this calamity from ever happening?

The security expert seems to agree with me that government officials have in the immediate past behaved like persons with no smart brains. 

He said: “I urge the government to increase police visibility and also inject plain clothes police assets into high-risk facilities. The Al Qaeda threat is more serious than the Boko Haram threat and it is hoped that the government and corporate security will take this threat more seriously and act to prevent spectacular attacks against soft and unprepared targets.”

The truth is that we will continue to live in perpetual fear so long as perpetrators of violence are allowed to roam freely without bringing decisive justice to them.

RIGHTSVIEW appears on Wednesdays, in addition to special appearances. The Columnist, popular activist Emmanuel Onwubiko, is a former Federal Commissioner of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission and presently National Coordinator of Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). He can be reached via 08033327672 (sms only) or via

Source News Express

Posted 13/04/2016 8:32:48 PM


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