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Kidnappings: Nigeria Is A Failed State-Says Intersociety

July 18, 2010

According to the 2010 Failed States Index Report recently released by the Fund for Peace, Nigeria is sinking, and therefore needs salvation. Nigeria was ranked by the group to be among 20 States that are most vulnerable to state failures. Sadly, Nigeria was placed in the same category with the troubled or war-ravaged countries like Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, North Korea, Kenya, Niger, etc.

According to the 2010 Failed States Index Report recently released by the Fund for Peace, Nigeria is sinking, and therefore needs salvation. Nigeria was ranked by the group to be among 20 States that are most vulnerable to state failures. Sadly, Nigeria was placed in the same category with the troubled or war-ravaged countries like Chad, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, North Korea, Kenya, Niger, etc.
A State is deemed to have failed when government of such a State is so weak that it is unable to perform the basic responsibilities of a sovereign State, especially in the areas of provision of security and rendering of social services. The state-failure status earned by Nigeria was as a result of the rabid invasion of her 17,500 top public offices by the criminal class after the end of military rule in 1999.

Just as the meaning and the art of the word-assassination originated from the political class in Iran, so were militancy in the Nigeria’s Niger-Delta and recent kidnappings in the South-east Nigeria, originated from the Nigeria’s political class through arts of election rigging and white-collar criminality. In the Niger-Delta, the street urchins who were armed to rig elections of 1999 and 2003 for the political class later resorted to using what they have to get what they want, in the form of oil-revolt. In the Southeast Nigeria, today’s kidnappers and armed robbers were yesterday’s members of State-oiled militias raised for the purpose of silencing opposition voices, especially in Anambra and Abia States. Through these  State-oiled murderous brigades, the likes of Bona Egbuawa, Chuma Onwuazo, Ezeodimegwu Okonkwo, Mr. Odigwe, Rockfeller Okeke, Edward Okeke, Mrs. Ngozika Oranu, Chief Sunday Uzokwe, Barnabas Igwe, Amaka Blessing Igwe, to mention but a few, were sent to their early graves, courtesy of the then State political class. Today, those killers have become first-degree kidnappers for political class; second-degree kidnappers for business moguls in Nnewi and elsewhere; and third-degree kidnappers for third-degree money-making ventures.

It is therefore shocking to note statements credited to the President of Senate, Mr. David Mark and the Primate of Anglican Communion in Nigeria, Most Reverend  Okoh, especially their calls for the state of emergency  to be declared in those States being ravaged by kidnapping and armed robbery. Mr. David Mark, the Senate President, also called for the suspension of the rule of law with a view to squarely deal with the problems. While that of the revered Reverend can be understood as an attribute of infantilism associated with transformation from highly conservative priesthood to a  more radical media evangelism and social re-engineering, that of the Senate President is not surprising because of circumstances around him. It is still doubtful in some quarters whether the Senate President became a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a credible electoral process. Secondly, his military background still speaks for itself. In other words, over 12years after he left the military and over 8years after he became a senator, he has not been civilianized, not to talk of understanding that strictly speaking, even during the military regimes, rule of law is not entirely suspended, talk more of under civilian administration. It is very unfortunate that Senator Mark does not know the A.B.C. of rule of law, yet he parades himself as Nigeria’s Senate President, under a dispensation governed by the rule of law.

Simply put, the suspension of rule of law, whether in Nigeria or any part thereof, means anarchy. Suspension of rule of law expressly means that the court system will give way; the law enacting body will disappear; and even the law executing body [including the law enforcement agencies] will also disappear because they are all embodiments of the rule of law. In fact, Senator Mark’s unpopular call amounted to an invitation for the military to come and take over the polity. Though, Senator Mark was said to have been quoted of context on the aspect of state of emergency, his suspension of rule of law call still links his comment to the traditional meaning of state of emergency. Also, Senator Mark’s comment to the effect that kidnapping is more dangerous than AIDS/HIV and Malaria is totally false. Instead, it is election rigging that brought most of the present occupants of Nigeria’s 13,700 elective offices that is far worse than AIDS/HIV and Tuberculosis.  As a matter of fact, the current state of insecurity in Nigeria formally and informally originated from Nigeria’s political class, which is divided into antagonist and protagonist categories.

It is also despicable and condemnable for the sovereign State of Nigeria to run to foreign security organizations so as to curb her mere internal urban violent crimes. There are over 700,000 officially armed persons in Nigeria, including States-controlled vigilante groups, combating less than 100,000 violent criminals nationwide including kidnappers. We all saw how less than 25,000 militants in the Niger-Delta held Nigeria’s 377,000-person police force as well as about 60,000 land Army in addition to thousands of Airforce/ Navy/SSS/NIA personnel to ransom. If not for amnesty, maybe, American Marines would have been contracted. Yet, despite the fact that the Israeli MOSSAD and the Interpol were said to have been contracted to track down those that kidnapped the four journalists on Aba-Ikot-Ekpene Road, the kidnapped journalists reportedly regained their freedom either via voluntary release or on payment of agreed ransom, thereby making jest of police claims that the kidnappers had been traced to a bush as well as the purported presence of the said special foreign detectives.

1.There must be immediate end to election rigging in Nigeria, which brings about thuggery, militancy, brigandage and youth disorientation. To this end, efforts must be made to ensure the conduct of credible elections in 2011 so as to oust most of those who presently occupy Nigeria’s 13,700 elective offices, who ascended to same through electoral banditry and have continued to serve as role models to these violent criminals.
  2. The Federal Government of Nigeria must enforce to the letter the 1998 ECOWAS Moratorium  on the Importation and Use of illicit small arms and related weapons as well as to strictly monitor the high influx of illegal small arms into Nigeria, especially  into the Southeast Nigeria from Coutonou, Benin Republic and the Republic of Ghana.
3.There should be an administrative overhaul of all police and security agencies’ armouries  nationwide for proper administrative control.
4. The data base of the Nigeria Police Force should be overhauled and there should be huge human and material investments into forensic and pathological technologies to enhance Nigeria’s crime detection and combat artistry.
5. All corrupt practices within the Nigeria Police Force, which range from roadblock or checkpoint extortions to pretrial detention/criminal investigations extortions, must be abolished.
6. Henceforth, the practice of shielding sponsors of kidnappers and armed robbers, who are usually the highly placed persons, must be prohibited.
7. All pretrial executions, with few exceptions as provided in the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, must be prohibited.
8. The Southeast States of Abia, Anambra and Imo must take over the administrative control of all vigilante groups operating in their areas by way of operating a register of membership with strict code of ethics, while various police high commands in the areas will ensure the operational controls  of these vigilantes in addition to strict numbering and monitoring of weapons being used by them.
9. There should be periodic immigration and migration of the officers and persons of the command and the rank and files hierarchies of the police and other security forces in the Southeast Nigeria.
10. There  should be removal of all roadblocks in the Southeast, especially in Abia and Anambra States and recreation of few formidable checkpoints particularly at border zones and  other security sensitive zones to be called commissioner of police or IG’s security check zones. Few formidable Army checkpoints may still be maintained and members of the public must be dutifully informed of their presence and no acts of molestation and extortion must be allowed.

Finally, we are happy that the journalists were freed unhurt. We sincerely sympathize with them over their possible physical and psychological tortures in the hands of their captors. We urge them not to give up their profession and stand on the side of the truth at all times. While we commend the mature conducts exhibited by soldiers manning few formidable check-points in parts of Anambra State which have recorded near-zero molestation and extortion, we condemn the military police personnel and members of the so-called SWAT for converting their call to service into call to extortion and molestation, to the extent that those who hawk bread, maize, ice-creams, etc are now being chased about with intent to extort and molest them. As for the IGP, who uses every medium to attack the human rights’ groups, especially the Anambra-based vocal rights’ groups, we appreciate the losses to be incurred from removal of bountiful check-points, but it is far better to put him on his toes so as to save his important job than to close our eyes and refuse to speak out against the nefarious conducts of his Force personnel including torture and extra-judicial executions.
Emeka Umeagbalasi
Chairman, Board of Trustees
International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Onitsha, Nigeria

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