New Telegraph

Our Expectations From New Service Chiefs, By Lawyers

AKEEM NAFIU writes that lawyers have called on President Bola Tinubu to set timeline within which the newly appointed service chiefs must effectively tackle the menace of insecurity in the country

Some senior lawyers have lauded the recent appointment of new set of service chiefs by President Bola Tinubu, saying it’s a step in the right direction considering the unabated wave of insecurity in the country.

The lawyers while baring their minds on the issue at the weekend however emphasized the need for the president to set timeline for the service chiefs to tackle the menace headlong for a lasting peace across the country. President Tinubu had on June 19, 2023 approved the appointment of new service chiefs.

The action was sequel to the retirement of all previous Service Chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police, Advisers, and the Comptroller-General of Customs Service. A statement signed by the Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Willie Bassey, indicated that the appointed Service Chiefs, Inspector- General of Police and the Comptroller General of Customs are to operate in Acting capacities, pending their confirmation by the National Assembly. The new Service Chiefs are:

*Mallam Nuhu Ribadu- National Security Adviser

*Maj. Gen. C. G. Musa- Chief of Defence Staff

*Maj. Gen. T. A. Lagbaja- Chief of Army Staff

*Rear Admiral E. A. Ogalla- Chief of Naval Staff

*AVM H. B. Abubakar- Chief of Air Staff

*DIG Kayode Egbetokun- Acting Inspector-General of Police

*Maj. Gen. EPA Undiandeye- Chief of Defense Intelligence

Concerns over unabated wave of insecurity

Prior to the appointment of new service chiefs by the president, concerns were mounting over the unabated wave of insecurity in the country. One of such concerns was raised by a global human rights body, Amnesty International (AI), which accused the Federal Government of failing to take urgent steps at curbing widespread killings in the country.

In a statement signed by its Acting Director, Isa Sanusi, AI claimed that more than 123 people have been killed since President Bola Tinubu was inaugurated on May 29, 2023. The organization alleged that authorities in the country had failed to protect people as killings have become a norm.

It added that killers were being emboldened by the authorities’ refusal to launch independent and impartial investigations that could lead to the end of the killings. The statement reads: “It is horrific that attacks by gunmen have claimed at least 123 lives, mere weeks after President Bola Tinubu assumed office on 29 May.

Rural communities, always bracing themselves for the next bout of violence, are facing deadly attacks by rampaging killers. Protecting lives should be the utmost priority of the new government. The Nigerian authorities must urgently take steps to stop the bloodletting.

“The brazen failure of the authorities to protect the people of Nigeria is gradually becoming the ‘norm’ in the country. The government said it would enact security measures in response to these attacks, but these promises have not translated into meaningful action that protects the lives of vulnerable communities.

“The Nigerian authorities have also consistently failed to carry out independent, effective, impartial and thorough investigations into these killings — and this is fueling impunity. “The Nigerian authorities are obliged under international human rights law, regional human rights treaties and Nigeria’s own constitution to protect the human rights of all people without discrimination — and that includes the right to life.

Those suspected of criminal responsibility for these callous crimes must urgently be brought to justice in fair trials”. In a related development, an advocacy group under the aegies of the Global Society for Middle-Belt Heritage (GSMH) had petitioned President Bola Tinubu, the Plateau State Governor, Caleb Mutfwang and the Department of State Services (DSS) over recent attacks in the state by gunmen where over 276 persons were reportedly killed.

In a statement jointly signed by its President, Jerry Datim, and Secretary, Joshua John, the GSMH asked all security agencies to swing into immediate action to bring the perpetrators of the dastardly act to justice. The group alleged that during the attacks, about 43 villages were invaded by the assailants who have not relented in the attacks.

The statement reads: “You are all aware that on the 14th of April, 2023, within the transitional period in Plateau State while Governor Simon Lalong was still the Governor of Plateau State, three villages which are Murish, Jwak-Maitumbi, and Kyam- pus were attacked by gunmen, where six people were killed in cold blood without any provocation.

“Furthermore, on the 15th May, 2023, another attack was witnessed simultaneously in thirty-nine (39) villages which are: Kantoma, Manja, Tyop, Alohom 1 and 2, Madi-Man- gul, Dan-Hausa, Gaude, Kikyau, Farinkasa, Gudum, Dung-Munan, Kirana, Dungwel, Sarbot, Tukur, Gyambwas, Fungzai, Ruvwang, Kubwon, Timnanle, Mper, Danper, Chisu, Kombun, Changal, Ajing, Washna, Jwankchom, Kombili, Lar- kas, Kwakas, Tugun, Ndai, Jwakchan, Kuwes, Nting-Kombum, Sabon Layi, Vodni, Gongong and Mbwon, where a number of 276 persons were killed, including the recent attacks.

“Thirty thousand (30,000) IDPs are scattered in Mangu, Panyam, Mangu Halle, Yilpo (Sabon Gari), in Mangu; Fan in Barkin Ladi, Mai- katako and Marish in Bokkos, Bu- kuru in Jos-South and a lot in Jos North LGAs of Plateau State. “We are calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Governor Caleb Mutfwang, the DSS, the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies to immediately arrest the perpetrators and bring them to book.

“We want our people to be returned to their ancestral land with immediate effect because they are agrarians farmers. “We are also calling on interested stakeholders, those parties with interest in this conflict who don’t suffer any direct impact both short term and medium term to desist from escalating the conflict through insinuations, thereby adding more salt to our injuries.

“We are equally calling on our youths not to become agents of these conflict merchants because we can fish them out easily.”

APC reacts

Meanwhile, in its reaction to the concern raised by Amnesty International (AI), the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), faulted AI’s submissions, saying it is hasty and inconsiderate. In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, APC thanked the global organization for its concern, but asked that the president should be allowed to settle down in office to have ample opportunity to address the teething challenges facing the country.

The statement reads: “During his inaugural speech, President Bola Tinubu said clearly that security will be the topmost priority of his administration, and he promised to reform the nation’s security doctrine and architecture. “He promised in categorical terms that security shall be the top priority of our administration because neither prosperity nor justice can prevail amid insecurity and violence.

To effectively tackle this menace, we shall reform both our security doctrine and its architecture. “We shall invest more in our security personnel, and this means more than an increase in number. We shall provide better training, equipment, pay and firepower.

President Tinubu demonstrated he prioritised security, when few days after he was sworn in, he met with his inherited security chiefs. “He gave marching orders to them to redouble efforts in dealing with the menace of terrorism, insurgency, banditry, oil theft, sea robbery and piracy, among others that have conspired to weigh down the nation.

“President Tinubu decried the persistent security breaches in the country and said he would not allow insecurity to bring Nigeria to its knees, while other countries are advancing. “It is, therefore, uncharitable and in- considerate of Amnesty International through its Acting Nigeria Country Director, Isa Sanusi, to accuse the new government that is just settling down of dereliction of duty.

“Amnesty International is known for stoking internal conflict and citizen antagonism in developing nations through weaponisation and accentuation of local situations to achieve its sinister objectives, while hypocritical- ly looking the other way when similar incidents occur in developed nations, especially in the Western World”

Lawyers expectations from new service chiefs

Speaking on his expectations from the new service chiefs appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Yusuf Ali, said the newly appointed security chiefs should protect lives and property of Nigerians.

According to him, “The need to make Nigeria secure cannot be over- emphasized. They should make Nigeria safe”. For another SAN, Wahab Shittu, the new service chiefs should ensure security, synergy and intelligence sharing, while also avoiding corruption and ensure that there is a sustainable environment for businesses to thrive. Shittu posited that without security, the economy and all other indicators of development cannot take place.

On his part, a professor of law, Awa Kalu (SAN), who declared that the newly appointed service chiefs are professionals, argued that they ought to know what they should do in their professional capacities to secure the nation.

In his words: “They also need to use their social barometres and as Nigerians, they should know what Nigerians expect from them. They should guarantee the safety and security, peace and harmony among Nigerians”. In his own submissions, a former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Adekunle Ojo (SAN), while lauding the appointments of the new service chiefs, urged President Tinubu to set timeline for them to tame the rising insecurity level in the country ”

It is a most welcome development, bearing in mind that in the last couple of years, particularly under Buhari’s administration, there is practically nothing tangible that was achieved by security operatives in the area of securing the country. “Nigeria has been as porous as ever, with insecurity in almost every facets of the country.

The man that was the National Security Adviser (SAN) during Buhari’s regime, Babagana Mongunu, was too impotent to achieve anything. “In essence, I want to suggest that we need to be tactical and traditional in what we are doing to secure the country. Basically, technology will do a lot, but beyond it, we need some local understanding of the nation’s security situation.

On this, I want to suggest that other security agencies should take a cue from how the Amotekun security outfits have been managing the issue of security in the South West. “Besides, I want to suggest that timeline within which the new service chiefs should carry out the task assigned to them should be spelt out by President Tinubu and I believe that the new set of men that have been brought in will live up to Nigerians expectations”, Ojo said.

Speaking on the issue, a rights activist, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, noted that Nigerians are expecting so much from the newly appointed service chiefs. Speaking further, Akingbolu said: “This is because bandits and Boko Haram terrorists have taken over our land and things have gone terribly bad.

As a Nigerian, I don’t think the new service chiefs can achieve anything except and of course they are ready to blow the lid off the can by exposing the sponsors of this heinous crimes. “If the sponsors which the former administration boasted to know cannot be identified and brought to justice quickly, there is no end in sight for all these illegalities.

Similarly, there should be a special legal framework with which terrorists and bandits can be dealt with to avoid the situation whereby all or some of the captured bandits and terrorists are set freed by their cohorts through illegal jail break. “There must also be cohesion and professionalism amongst the various security agencies in terms of operation, data and knowledge sharing and exchange, as well as keeping secretive intelligence information.

It is only in Nigeria that security agents will purchase a new crime fighting equipment like aircraft or the like and share all the components as well as features and capacities of the equipment to the public. “This is sad because any- one who is not part of the agencies are not supposed to know anything on our security information.

I submit respectfully that our security information is too readily available in the public. It should be secret, discreet, confidential and restricted to the relevant agencies alone”. Speaking in the same vein, a senior lawyer, Dr. Yemi Omodele, said the appointment of the new service chiefs is a right step in the right direction on the reason that it is long overdue.

“For the new ones appointed now, Nigerians expect a lot from them, particularly in terms of security, protection of lives and property. If that is taken care of, the administration will not have problems. “I expect them to ensure that the criminals are dislodged in this country. Then the idea of smuggling crude oil and petroleum products should also be considered by immigration, Customs, Army, Navy and the rest of them so that we can have our resources retained here.

“The era of using our resources to develop neighbouring countries should be jettisoned and then, the issue of kidnapping, armed robbery and insurgency should be decisively dealt with. “It is time the service chiefs should ensure that all these men- aces become a thing of the past in Nigeria. They should not embarrass the country, both locally and internationally.

They should ensure that peace is restored in troubled areas in the country”, he said. Omodele further argued that, “It is when there is peace that there can be development. We need peace in this country. We require peace in terms of our economy, education, agriculture, security and development so that we can break even in the international market.

“The era in which a person would be afraid to move about at night and even during the day should be brought to an end. They should swing into action. “Competent hands in the Military, Police, Civil Defence Corps, Customs, Immigration and the rest of them should be brought to work with the service chiefs to move the country forward.

“I am not unaware of the fact that having sworn in the new service chiefs, there are some other high- ranking officers that may be affected; those should go so that the new blood can take care of the security architecture of the country.

“We expect a lot from them and they should discharge their responsibilities without fear or favour, and they should forget about corruption and favouritism”. Speaking on his expectations from the new service chiefs, an Anambra- based lawyer, Chuma. A. Onwua- soeze, said the newly appointed security chiefs should use their offices in a manner that would be neutral to the service of the nation.

Referring to the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari as being characterized by a high level of nepotism and tribalism among the ranks, the lawyer who expressed sadness, argued that such practices affected the efforts of the military in combating crimes.

Onwuasoeze said: “They should promote neutrality as a way of trying to unify the nation and not allow politicians use them to achieve their purpose. “For instance, in the course of fighting the issues of unknown gunmen, IPOB and insurgency in the South-East, you discover that the hand, equipment and method- ology in combating these IPOB and unknown gunmen in the South-East are not the same as what is being used against the Boko Haram.

“Up til today, the insurgency of Boko Haram is increasing daily, and it is obvious that we are not applying national interest at the forefront of this issue. “The military should promote national unity rather than nepotism and tribalism in combating crimes and all that.

“Another thing is the issue of admission into the National Defence Academy. There should be neutrality so that every tribe and other entity should be carried along. There should be diversity, it shouldn’t be a situation of nepotism or a quota system.

“The issue of procurement in the military should be made transparent and due process followed”. A Lagos-based rights advocate, Imran Ganiu, posited that the newly appointed service chiefs should ensure that all the necessary machinery is put in place to secure the nation against both internal and external aggression, taken into consideration, the principle of transparency, honesty and justice.

“The issue is not about the capacity or the capability of the Nigerian Army to deal with insurgents or to address the internal security challenges that we are having, but the issue is that we do not have enough encouragement, weapons to battle the insurgents.

“They should do everything possible to address the wrongs of the past, especially as regards the procurement of standard and up-to-date equipment to fight the battle”, Ganiu said.

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