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Who is Responsible For Protecting Nigerians? By Bayo Oluwasanmi

July 26, 2016

Following the gruesome murder of Preacher Eunice Olawale by Muslim youths in Kubwa, Abuja over a week ago, the question agitating the minds of a majority of Nigerians is: Who is responsible for protecting Nigerians?

Following the gruesome murder of Preacher Eunice Olawale by Muslim youths in Kubwa, Abuja over a week ago, the question agitating the minds of a majority of Nigerians is: Who is responsible for protecting Nigerians? 

Law and order including human rights, safety and security and democracy form the protective fire wall for  citizens without which a nation would be an anarchy. One of  America's revered founding fathers Thomas Jefferson never knew Eunice Olawale. But his words resonate with relevance as we reflect on the failure of our government to protect the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. “The first duty of government is the protection of life, not its destruction,” declared Jefferson. “The chief purpose of government is to protect life. Abandon that and you have abandoned all,” said Jefferson.

It is not difficult to phantom the reason why Jefferson attached such primacy to the right to life.  The right to life is the first right without which no other right can exist. The right to speak as one pleases, the right to preach, the right to worship as one chooses or associate with those whom one prefers, all depend on the right to life. Without protecting the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.

The aloofness and the distance of the Nigerian government in protecting our people is surprising, disturbing, and disappointing. The Nigerian government and the courts have cast a blind eye and deaf ear to the need of protecting the lives of vulnerable Nigerians. In a democracy, the courts as an important branch of government, are the bastion for the protection of individual rights and liberties. It is the courts that have been the great “equalizer” for the weak, the vulnerable, and the poor. The Nigerian courts represent the antithesis of what courts should be. Our courts have become aiders and abettors of the strong in exploiting the weak. The courts serve as accomplices of the rich in exploiting poor Nigerians. 

Nigerians are trapped between a rock and a hard place. The state governments that we have are as good as no government. The National Assembly a.k.a. National Asylum, is as good as dead. The state governments and the National Asylum have proven they are not capable of protecting Nigerians. In fact, the National Asylum is not in the business of protecting or serving Nigerians. In this messy and marred situation, it behooves President Muhammadu Buhari as the chief security officer of the country to rise to the occasion and fill the void. 

We know the government cannot provide absolute protection. There will always be those determined to break through or get around whatever security measures are put in place. But it's the government job to do what it can do to ensure that in a free society people can go about their lives facing the minimum possible risk of criminals, assassins, abductors, and kidnappers. To say there is no security in Nigeria is being charitable. Indeed, there is no semblance of security in the country. 

The government appears untouched, unaffected, unmoved at the widespread killings in the country. The whole country is smoldering in fires of Boko Haram, the avengers or scavengers, armed robbers, kidnappers, and abductors in all over the place. The government has shown wanton disregard for protecting its citizens from these mass atrocities. Going by the extent of savagery and carnage in the country, there is compelling evidence that the government has uprooted itself from existence. The inaction of the government could be summed up in one sentence – wicked-witted farce.

The lackadaisical attitude of the government runs counter to the primary function of a government. The security of the nation is federal government's foremost responsibility. The Nigerian government is obligated to protect its citizens at home and abroad irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, or political persuasion. Encouraged and incited killings are based on the spectator approach of the government. This  is  completely unacceptable and inexcusable. We ask the government to respect and protect freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, freedom of worship, for every Nigerian. 

In a democracy, citizens believe that if you're innocent, you have nothing to fear. If you have done nothing wrong and nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear. Nigerians, do you still feel that way? If our government cannot even guarantee safety for citizens traveling from one part of the country to another, or going about exercising their God given freedoms; then something is seriously wrong with such government. The Akindanidanis (dunces) in the senate instead of making the security of Nigerian people their priority, the forger-senate President Bukola Abiku Mesujamba Saraki and senate super-villains are consumed arranging and re-arranging senate “juicy committees” musical chairs to placate “enemies” who are after Mesujamba's head.

I believe the best and quickest way for the government to protect Nigerians is for Mr. Buhari to send a bill establishing state and local government police and dismantle for good the Lord Lugard NPF relic. Local law enforcement is the effective way to protect and preserve life and property of Nigerians. The responsibility for dealing with crimes and killings, threats and fears, should be put squarely on the shoulders of local  law enforcement officers. To be specific, community policing would be the best model. It will help law enforcement prepare for and prevent killings and respond to the fear such threats create. Community policing would make it possible to delegate decision-making power on safety and security of citizens to officers assigned to fixed geographic areas. State and local government police are better prepared to respond quickly in innovative and creative ways to safety and security concerns of citizens. Officers assigned  to specific geographic areas are able to build relationships with residents. Such officers are more attuned to community fears and able to respond effectively to them.

Community policing will also help to build trust between the community and law enforcement, thus making it easier and more practical to deal with community concerns. This trust will also help law enforcement to develop knowledge of community and resident activity and can provide vital intelligence relating to potential threats of killing, murder, kidnapping, and abduction.

Reducing crime and fear of crime is an important part of community policing. Imagine for example having local government police in each of the local governments in each state. The police in each precinct in each local government will do a better job protecting the citizens, and preventing crimes in their area of jurisdiction. The state police in each state would man the security in highways that connect each state thereby prevent incessant armed robberies and also apprehend reckless speeders and  other traffic violators.

But unfortunately, the governments has stubbornly refused to jettison NPF. Similarly, suggestions for state and local police have been rejected and avoided like a dissident stream. The NPF, as we all know, is an effective conduit for corruption. Money being pumped into the NPF to resuscitate and revitalize the force is not only a waste, it is criminal, dangerous, and injurious to the security of Nigerians. If the government is serious about the safety and security of Nigerians, NPF got to go!

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