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2021 Ibadan NBA Law Week: Makinde, GOC, others, proffer solutions to security challenges

Makinde, GOC, others, proffer solutions to security challenges

 

Sola Adeyemo IBADAN To many reasonable Nigerians, the notorious issue of insecurity in the country has become a major source of worry, as nowhere appears safe any longer.

 

Gunmen, now otherwise called ‘bandits’, have, since the second term assumption of office by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, upped their terrorism and criminal game by kidnapping, maiming and killing their innocent victims before and after having forcefully collected ransom from relatives.

 

Travelling by road to certain parts of the country has become a nightmare such that many who can afford it now prefer to travel by air and later go about in their vehicles with hired armed security orderlies.

 

This ugly development, early this month, preoccupied the minds of the executives of the Ibadan branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), led by Olayinka Abiodun Esan, in choosing as theme of their 2021 Law Week: “Unity in Diversity and Sustainable Security in Nigeria: Any Role for the Law?”.

 

The four-day programme, which was flagged off on December 7, 2021 by the Oyo State Governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde, flanked by the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Munta Abimbola, and many other staff of the Judiciary, witnessed a series of lectures, discussions, sporting and recreational activities, as well as, a sumptuous dinner.

 

Among the dignitaries, who attended the programmes at the Aare Afe Babalola Bar Centre, Iyaganku, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, and expressed their displeasure with the manner the Federal Government has been handling the issue of security, were: the governor, who was represented by the Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo (SAN), the immediate past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega (represented by Prof. Kola Oderinde of the Sociology Department of the University of Ibadan), the Ogun State Deputy Governor (Engr. Noimot Salako-Oyedele), Mr Eyitayo Jegede (SAN and former gubernatorial candidate in Ondo State); Mr. Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN and former NBA presidential candidate), Prof. Abiola Sanni (SAN and Tax Law expert from the University of Lagos, who was represented by Dr. Olumide Obayemi);

 

Hon. Justice Olusola Williams (rtd), Prof. Oluyemisi Bamgbose (SAN and DVC Research, Innovation & Strategic Partnership, UI); Prof. Toyin Akintola (Dean Faculty of Law, UI, represented by Dr. Funke Ekundayo); Otunba Kunle Kalejaye (SAN), Major General Gold Ndubuisi (General Officer Commanding, 2 Div. Nigerian Army, Ojoo, Ibadan (who was represented by Lt. Col. Daniel Ehicheoya – a lawyer), Mrs. Oluyemisi Deborah Collins (Chairperson FIDA, Oyo State), Prof. John Akintayo (immediate past Chairman, Ibadan NBA), Mr O.B. Ogunkeye and many others.

 

Among the selected, security-related lectures thought out by the 10-man Law Week Committee, comprising Adeniyi Uthman (Chairman), Oluwatosin Ige (Secretary), assisted by Mahmudat Yussuf (the branch’s Publicity Secretary), which were delivered and discussed by various participants, included: “Engaging Law for Sustainable Nationalism and Security in Nigeria”;

“Women and Children in a Nation with Security Challenges”; “Impunity, Security and Access to Justice: The Role of Paralegals”; “Health Walk: Walk against Insecurity”;

“The impact of COVID-19 and other health challenges on the legal profession in Nigeria: The need to embrace EPractice as Alternatives”; and “Emergence of State VAT Laws in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges”.

 

In his address at the opening of the Week, Governor Makinde said: “The issue of security is so paramount to the governors of the South West and this led to the inauguration of the Western Nigerian Security Network and particularly the state creation of Amotekun in each of the five western states, even though in Lagos, it is known as Neighbourhood Watch.

 

Moreover, the states have been challenged with playing the role of providing security under the present constitutional arrangement because of the centralization of the security powers in the national government.

 

“Agreed, it is believed that law can play a role particularly in looking at the fundamental documents, that is the constitution, that places this power in the central government by looking at the reality of the necessity for state to play a role in allowing the state executive to be not only chief executive, but also chief security provider in each of their states.

 

“Moreover, from the recent experience in Oyo State, it has become necessary to call upon the Federal Government to recognise the need to upgrade the structure of Amotekun in providing security because in Oyo State, Amotekun has become the first responder and this was demonstrated during the jailbreak in Oyo where Amotekun suffered a lot of loss of lives because there was a disparity between the fire power of the Amotekun and the criminals that they faced.

 

“The South West governors have resolved to call upon the Federal Government to allow for the Amotekun’s weapons carrying capacity so that there can be a meaningful role being played by its operatives in the provision of security. The era of facing people with AK-47s and M15s with ‘Shakabula’ or pump action is in modern times a ridiculous scene.

 

Therefore Amotekun must be allowed to play the role that it can provide security, because as of today, the presence of Amotekun in all areas of Oyo State has brought about improved security being enjoyed today,” Makinde said.

 

 

Jega, through Prof. Oderinde, also added his fears about the festering gale of insecurity in the country, and the seeming incapability of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC government to nip it in the bud, saying: “Specifically, on insecurity, a combination of militancy, insurgency, banditry, farmer-herder conflicts, kidnapping for ransom, and ethno-religious or communal conflicts, with evident lack of competence and capacity to address these challenges, has unleashed generalized individual and collective apprehension, palpable insecurity and fatalistic resignation.

 

“Many citizens have been killed, maimed, raped, displaced, and properties stolen, confiscated and/or destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have been staying in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps for long, with the future of children compromised by malnutrition, diseases, and prolonged abandonment of schooling.

 

“In some areas of the country, notably the North-East and North-West geopolitical zones, famine is imminent, as insurgents and/or bandits have obstructed farming and agrarian food production and destabilized the rural economy, with outright killing of whoever ventures out to their farms, or imposition of heavy taxation on those allowed to farm. “Indeed, things have been so bad for so long that some scholars are beginning to perceive Nigeria now, perhaps exaggeratedly, as a ‘failed state’.

 

Even if we doubt that Nigeria is now a ‘failed state’, nobody in his right senses would dispute that it is a ‘failing state’,” Jega stressed. Still on insecurity, Joe-Kyari Gadzama, who identified lopsided implementation of federal character policy, tribalism, indigeneship, ethnicity, religion, lack of good leadership, and non- implementation of good laws prescribed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (As Amended), as culminating in the web of insecurity the nation is entangled, noted that “now is the time to properly implement laws for a better society and to instill fear of punishment in the minds of criminals who have sworn to tear it apart with threats of violence and insecurity.

 

“The provision of Section 147 (3) sustains the idea of indigeneship in the 1999 Constitution (As Amended) when it comes to the appointment of ministers.

 

It goes to show that even though the Constitution has made copious provisions to encourage unity, a provision like S. 147(3) is its albatross. It opens a window for the idea of indigenization to flourish negatively. We cannot promote indigenization while sincerely promoting unity, especially with the present active fear of ethnic domination, whether unfounded or otherwise.” Blaming the raging tide of insecurity on bad leadership,

Gadzama noted that since the 1980s, militancy and religious extremism have been the order of the day, “and there appears to be no end in sight. Nigeria,   without  doubt, has a leadership crisis.

 

But rather than waiting for good leaders to fall from the sky and do the necessary, every Nigerian should become the good leader he or she desires. To be a credible leader and follower, one must be open to genuine change and not just the mantra of it.

 

“The Bar and the Bench must also unite and ensure implementation and compliance with the law, no matter whose ox is gored. The law must reign supreme before all and against all. The country has adequate laws, save for a few laws that demand urgent amendments.

 

These laws should and must be implemented in letter and spirit.” During the lecture themed: “Women and Children in a Nation with Security Challenges”, where she was special guest of honour, the Ogun State Deputy Governor, Mrs. Noimot Salako-Oyedele dwelled on poverty and social issues as ingredients of insecurity in the country. To her, when ladies or girls are abused and raped, “what compensation should be extended to the victims?

 

Because of their inability to get justice most of the time, they hide their faces and lick the shame in secret. There is also the social media effect after they have reported attacks on them, which prevents them from coming out to defend themselves in court.”

 

In his guest lecture at the dinner, themed: “Where are the Boys?”, Otunba Kunle Kalejaye (SAN) expressed worry about the preponderance of social vices and lack of adequate attention to academic excellence among the male youths compared to their female counterparts.

 

He said he had attended some graduation ceremonies in some universities in the South Western part of Nigeria in the last five years and had observed a sharp and wide gulf between the performance of females and the males.

 

According to Kalejaye: “In our own Oyo State – there are 15 male Judges and 11 female Judges in the High Court. In the Customary Court of Appeal, there are three male Judges and two female Judges. Total for Oyo is therefore 18 male Judges as against 13 female Judges, that is, about 42%.

 

“However, in the prisons all over Nigeria, available data shows that there are more male prisoners than females. The percentage is as high as 98.2% in favour of males. The male gender also commits the top 10 crimes for most prison admissions!

 

The data from the Nigeria Correctional Service showed that as at  19th April, 2021, there were 65,424 inmates across the country out of which 64,214 were male and 1,210 were female prisoners. Amongst the women, 298 are convicts while 912 are awaiting trial.”

 

The Chief Judge, Justice Munta Abimbola in his goodwill message on the occasion had said: “From this year’s theme, it is undoubtedly a notorious fact that at no time in the nation’s history has the issue of division and security posed serious challenges as we have. As a judicial officer, I  hereby refrain myself from commenting on the topic beyond the instant statement. But it is my opinion that for the law to be functional, it must have organs of motion.

 

The Bar and the Bench, to me, are the organs of motion for the law to work in any society. Unless the law rules, the rule of anarchy will prevail and the state of nature as postulated in the Hobbesian theory of social contract may become the order of the day.”

 

In his welcome speech, the NBA Chairman, Olayinka Esan, said that the theme of the Week: “Unity in Diversity and Sustainable Security in Nigeria: Any Role of the Law” spoken on by Joe-Kyari Gadzama, was meant: “To investigate and itemize the role of the law in the issue of insecurity bedevilling the Nigerian State. Nigeria is naturally divided into three by Rivers Niger and Benue; it is also naturally divided by the various ethnic groups and languages. Despite that, the need for unity in diversity is apparent in the face of insecurity plaguing the country.”

 

After participating in the Health Walk against Insecurity in the land, the GOC, represented by Lt. Col. Daniel Ehicheoya, who was handed an award by the branch’s Chairman, called for supply of right information at all times from the Nigerian populace

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