Security And People: Perilous Nigeria!

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

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By Mustapha G. Lamin
The suffering is immeasurable, the economic losses are unquantifiable, the social dislocation is unglue-able, the fear is unconcealed, the mistrust is blanketing and the general apathy is infecting and debilitating. The whole of Northern Nigeria has been turned into a war zone and all Northerners are now seen as criminals and Boko Haramists. Even in the hollowed chamber of the National assembly, Northerners are viewed as ‘Boko Haram.’ Many times the chambers have come close to fist cups! But we all know there is a breaking point and it is near!

Our children, all young men under the age of 25 who reside in the North are now viewed as criminals! They are stopped, searched, harassed, punished, humiliated, abused, and taken advantage of all in the name of Security. The checkpoints are mostly nothing but traffic choke points manned by extortionist police and sometimes even Soldiers! Nigerians are now routinely exploited at these points! At one checkpoint, I personally observed our brazen police giving change to motorist. His primary duty is to collect the N20 passing fee!

So while we all live in fear of the unknown, we also live in fear of the known; i.e. law enforcement agencies that are notorious for humiliating disadvantaged law abiding citizens while collecting bribes and begging well dressed and nicely transported Nigerians.

Is there truly a reasonable Nigerian today who is convinced that the checkpoint system is truly providing security to Nigerians? The overwhelming answer from all Nigerians is a resounding NO. Somehow this simple and glaring fact escapes the brains of our inept security chiefs! Shame! Shame!!

In the wake of the September 11 (9/11) attacks, the United States’ government grounded all commercial flights to figure out how to secure the skies. Nigeria would have grounded all flights for a year! The US wanted safer skies forever, so they developed and deployed new technology. Today they have perfected those systems and that there must be a balance security with economic activities. Nigeria is proving the complete opposite.

The measures deployed by our security agencies have never offered any improvement from day one. The checkpoints have no success stories except the one televised a few weeks back showing soldiers beating up an old lady with four home-made guns in her rice sack! Are Nigerians supposed to believe that as security?

Why is Jonathan impoverishing the whole North since he won his election on the pledge to create jobs, overhaul electricity production and cut poverty. The few Jobs he has created are for the people of his village, and a few more for Bayelsans and Militants. It was a welcome surprise when he said that now all positions will be given based on Merit. Meaning it was not on merit before now.
The case of Damaturu is the best example of how blanket security can produce many opportunistic elements that use the cloak and veil of BH to commit unspeakable crimes against a whole town. A Gang of thieves had held the town at ransom for four (4) months until their luck run out.
They (the gang) were the armed robbers, the thieves, the blackmailers, the extortionists, the assassins, the bombers and daytime fear mongers that terrorized Damaturu for four months. Not BH! Almost all the killings and bombings in Yobe state exclusively were carried out by this band of organized, overwhelmingly armed criminals disguised as the BH combatants. They have made it impossible for all of us to conduct business, to travel, to tend our farms and even sleep in our beds.

The final blow is the declaration of war on Potiskum by a criminal gang that attacked the Potiskum Cattle Market on Wednesday May 2nd. Over 160 people were killed and at least 29 people injured and hospitalized while the town is under a choke hold of Military Occupation imposed by Jonathan without National Assembly debate. It must be noted with dismay that the market is within 500 meters of Military Checkpoints on both sides but no soldiers responded while the attack was in progress.

And according to the Code Group, our citizens now “suffer from physical and psychological trauma of being simultaneously under siege from insurgents and military occupation. Civilians are now caught in crossfire since merely walking on the streets has become a major risk.” Our lives are no longer safe while our social and economic endeavours have been brought to a standstill.

The Potiskum Massacre is “yet another testimony to the increasing impotence of our security services in the face of deadly challenges and in spite of the colossal amount of resources that being channeled into them,” the code group concluded.

Where is the balance between our concern for security and the equally important concern for our citizens to live and continue their livelihood activities unhindered? Why is the entire North viewed as criminal? Some in the highest chambers even say it openly, “let them kill themselves.” The old adage that says ‘United we stand’ has been forgotten in many policy engines of this government.

Wise to remember that in most perfected democracies, the majority voice rules!! Now everyone knows that minority rule is a fallacy! We shall not disappear in 2015. In the mean time, Mr. President, let me be the one to ask you publicly. Please remove the Local Government ‘State of Emergencies’ you unilaterally imposed in our States. It is a worthless and misguided policy plagued with failures and wasted effort. I know I speak for many.

Mustapha writes from Sabon Pegi Damaturu, Yobe State
Monday, May 14, 2012

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