Nigeria’s security architecture must be revamped to combat insurgency – Akrika – New Telegraph
A constitutional lawyer and former commissioner of Anambra State, Okorie Akrika in this interview with OKEY MADUFORO talks about the insecurity in the country, the way forward and other national issues
Recently, some members of the National Assembly attempted to impeach President Muhammadu Buhari due to the insecurity in the country. What is your vision of the move?
The fundamental norm of the country which is the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria rests upon the National Assembly, the power to impeach the President just as the various state assemblies have the power to impeach Governors for certain categories of official offenses drafted in simple language. as serious misconduct. Thus, in essence, the National Assembly reserves and retains the constitutional powers to impeach the President in clear cases of breach of constitutional provisions and breach of the oath of office.
Do you think impeachment is all the rage right now when the President’s term is about to end?
The truth is that if you look at the constitutional provisions, they never stipulated a time frame in which a president or a governor can be impeached. Thus, he can be dismissed a day before leaving office. A governor can also be impeached a day before leaving office. But it will appear that the National Assembly that you know slept on its constitutional powers for a very long time.
This is because it is very evident that the President has wrongfully violated the constitution of Nigeria in many instances from the mode of appointment in which the law requires him to form his cabinet and make appointments of way to reflect the federal government. character of the federation and which is contained in the basic objectives and principles of state policy as summarized in Chapter Two. The president blatantly disobeyed and ignored this constitutional mandate.
It is also on record that so many federal government officials have violated the financial regulations of this country for one reason or another and the President has refused to implement the law to bring these officers to order. We have cases of abuse of authority and we have cases where funds are withdrawn without following due process.
You remember what happened about two years ago when the Federal Department of Finance started sharing money under the guise of a COVID-19 response and ultimately it didn’t there were no proper records and that many Nigerians criticized it and talked about it. We were told that the office of the Federal Ministry of Finance was burnt down although they claim the required documents were not affected. To date, we do not have records of financial commitments from the Ministry of Finance.
The issue of insecurity is no longer new to Nigerians, but they fear that the government has become incapable. What is your position on this?
Allow me to situate it legally and politically. Legally, in section 14 subsection (2), the constitution was very clear that the safety of life and property is the primary purpose for which government is established. Thus, the duty that the President owes to Nigerians is not only fundamental and constitutional, but also at the root of the very essence of government. So I will say that the federal government, in fact, failed in every aspect and in every ramification of putting in place a salutary security equipment or apparatus for the country.
Let’s see how security chiefs are appointed. There is no doubt that if you look at the security architecture of this country, you will find that it is unwarranted and unbalanced. You talk now about how they work and it’s baffling that after spending colossal sums to acquire Tucano jets, the Feds finally turned to a pedestrian approach saying they wanted to ban the use from Okada. The federal government has failed to address the root cause of insecurity in the country and it will seem that according to what some people claim; there are elements of complacency if not collaboration between the federal government and the bandits.
Otherwise, how do you explain the situation where people who are arrested and who claim to be bandits are not formally prosecuted months or even years after their confession and in the end there is an escape from prison at the correctional center? from Kuje. After arresting them, why didn’t you activate the judicial process to ensure that people will now be taken from Kuje Correctional Center and placed in a maximum security prison?
So you can see that the federal government has not done what it has to do to protect lives and property. So Nigerians will appear vindicated when they accuse the government of not doing enough or being complacent or collaborating with bandits or that security officers are not doing the right thing. So what I’m saying is that to fix the anomalies, the security architecture of this country needs to be revamped without wasting time. The president must also change his personal orientation vis-à-vis the issue of insecurity.
He should appreciate the fact that since security is everyone’s business, it is urgent for him to be pragmatic in intervening with the governments of the respective states. Security is under the exclusive list, which means that only the federal government has the exclusive right to make laws and implement programs on security, but nothing prevents it from being a little pragmatic in engaging the governors and finding out from them where there are dangerous people present, so that he can now deploy security guards to contain them. If you don’t, they will now start from point A to point B.
That is why the Governors of the South West opted for Amotekun, and Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, on his own, decided to lead the process and the Federal Government said nothing and did nothing. By this act alone, the federal government unlawfully shaded and failed to excise its powers. When insecurity got almost out of control in Zamfara State, the governor came out to allow people to acquire weapons. So we can see that the federal government is taking a hide and seek approach or a selective approach to issues and problems of insecurity in the country, which should not be the case, because it means that the problems concerning our lives are politicized.
What do you recommend as an outing?
There should be an amendment to the Constitution, so that the issue of security is no longer left on the exclusive list, as incidents have shown that the federal government is not determined to contain the issue of insecurity in the country. When you look at the Kuje prison case, you can agree with me that the government did not think it wise or important to explain to Nigerians what really happened. The same is true of the attack on the presidential convoy as well as the attacks on the seat of power in the country.
They said they cannot fight insecurity on the ground and in the isolated case of banditry they are better armed than our security agents. Now the question is: the colossal amount of money spent or allocated to our budget; why is it?
Assuming without admitting that terrorists are stronger on land, what happened to the Nigerian Air Force? Are they telling us that terrorists are also better on the air? We can conclude that either the federal government is not telling us the truth, or it treats the issue of insecurity with kid gloves, or that the federal government had a different agenda. The late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, as despotic as they claimed, said that any act of insurrection, insecurity or banditry that lasts more than twenty-four hours, this government is there for Something. So if this has gotten out of hand, from the statement above, it will not be wrong or misplaced to say that the government has a role to play.
Some people leave Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, for fear of a possible attack; do you think this is the solution?
It is impossible to justify a situation where bandits have found the courage to fight the battle to the seat of power. There is no reason for the federal government to close public institutions now because of insecurity. It means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the management of security activities in this country. If the Federal Government cannot openly tell Nigerians what the position is, then Nigerians may as well believe the rumor that is gaining ground that all these things are put in place to truncate our fledgling democracy.
There is no reason for the problem of insecurity to extend to Abuja now to the point of affecting our national lives. Public institutions have closed, so the federal government cannot be exonerated if it does not make decisive decisions and actions on what is happening from the insinuations that are circulating that this is a ploy to create a situation, to justify military intervention.
But I want to tell you that military intervention can no longer be accepted by Nigerians under any pretext or under any reason and in any form. It’s because you have to let democracy take its course. If the federal government is not doing well, Nigerians should be given the opportunity to excise their franchise and elect a government of their choice.
So, anyone considering using the military to truncate this democracy and prevent Nigerians from excising their right to vote should bear in mind that they are calling into question the continued existence of this country. This is because it is very evident that what holds Nigeria together now is the sustenance of our democracy. If for some reason the different components of this country feel that they can no longer stay together; that keeping them together can no longer be guaranteed, we may as well do it the Soviet Union way of coming out to say that this system is not working, so “To your tents, O Nigerians”.