The magnitude of Nigeria’s security problems seems to have exceeded the coping capacity of the conventional security outfits in Nigeria combined. Only few states have minimal security challenges. From Imo State where separatist are on a rampage, to Kaduna and Benue where university students were kidnapped right in their hostels, the news sends panic into the minds of law-abiding citizens.
In the attempt to nip this problem in the bud, different regions in the country are coming up with regional security outfits. The moves started with the emergence of Western Nigeria Security Network (WSNS), code-named Operation Amotekun.
Most recently, the Southeast governors joined the frenzy by establishing their own security outfit called Ebube Agu. Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, Dave Umahi, made the announcement after a meeting in Imo State.
Speaking on the development, Umahi said; “after exhaustive discussions on the current security challenges in the Southeast and with valuable contributions from participants at the first Southeast security summit in Owerri on this day Sunday, 11 April 2021, it was resolved as follows:
That the five Southeast states are on the same page with the federal government on the issue of security challenges in the country. To this end, the meeting makes it absolutely clear that the Southeast will stand resolutely with the Federal Government to fight terrorists and bandits to a finish.
Even in the North, the Coalition of Northern Group (CNG) has announced the establishment of a security outfit known as “Shege-Ka-Fasa”, its own version of “Amotekun” to tackle the security challenges facing the North.
Announcing the establishment of the outfit at a time in Kaduna, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, spokesman of the group, said the CNG had written to the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) to support the group.
Abdulazeez explained that “the outfit is designed to be the vanguard of the entire North, encompassing every ethnic group and religion and would be patriotic in its operations in addition to performing general complementary tasks for enhancing security in the region”.
He said, “If the state governments and other leaders of the region fail to take action to protect the region the way their southern counterparts are doing, CNG is willing to follow through with all the processes of obtaining the required legal backing for the outfit from the relevant federal authorities.”
At some point creating a security outfit became a fad. Even Fulani herders, Miyetti Allah and Southeast separatist group, IPOB have claimed at different times that they are setting their security outfits.
It is obvious that the insecurity conflagration in Nigeria has assumed a very threatening dimension that it does not only requires a multi-stakeholder approach but also necessitates a revival and reinforcement of moral values and virtues.
The thirst for blood and the preference for violence in expressing pent-up frustration and disenchantment with the state and its citizens should be a pointer to the need to revive moral values and virtues within the socio-economic, political, religious, and educational institutions in the country.
There have been series of debates over the establishment of regional security outfits in Nigeria in response to the increasing need for citizens in their regions to protect their farmlands and livestock, and to curb the menace of unknown gunmen, banditry, cultism, terrorism, among others.
Political commentators have described the establishment of the security outfit as one of the most courageous and most commendable moves by the governors of the various regions. They also noted that it was a very clear demonstration of the weakness and inadequacy of our structure of governance and the national internal security system.
Although Nigeria is a federal state, the central government has always found the idea of a decentralised policing and security activities scary. This is not unconnected with the post-civil war mentality of ensuring the absence of coercive instrument of state in the hands of people perceived to have centrifugal tendencies.
However, insurgency and other forms of criminality have rendered these fears obsolete at this time. Contrary to the widely held belief that policing and security is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government, there are provisions within the Constitution and other laws that could enable regional security outfits to operate lawfully in Nigeria.
Their effective operation however requires a measure of cooperation with the central government in view of the fact that arms and ammunition which constitutes the major weapon used in security operations is within the exclusive legislative list.
It’s important to note that the fact that this cooperation is required does not make the establishment of security outfits by the states unlawful. In view of the enabling laws, the devolution of powers for the establishment of a regional security outfit is inherent within the constitution.
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While the establishment of regional security outfit is considered a welcome development, there is also a growing concern over the possibility of state governors using regional security corps to oppress perceived enemies and gag the voice of citizens which will lead to abuse of operations.
Therefore, analysts called for adequate sustainability of various security outfit in terms of good pay package, welfare, training, deployment of modern equipment and technology, synergy with federal government security organisations, and exhibition of patriotism with all civility. There is nothing as dangerous as putting arms in the hands of hungry, rag-tag outfit with the hope that such groups can tackle banditry
However, the fact is that security problems are usually localised. The people can easily defend their territory when they are organised, fully supported and trained. The federal security agencies need to cooperate with the regional outfits for dependable results. It is only a matter of expediency that the country is returned on the path of peace and tranquillity, while every Nigerian must support every step taken to achieve this.