By Emmanuel Onwubiko
“Government is not a trade which any man or body of men have right to set up and exercise for his own emolument, but is altogether a trust, in the right of those by whom that trust is delegated and by it is always resumable. It has of itself no rights; they are altogether duties.” -Thomas Paine.
The decision by the current central government to keep releasing hundreds of terrorists arrested and detained by the military in the ten year-old counter terror war is such that lacks rationality, sound reasoning and is in no way pragmatic and remains existentially unhelpful to the aims and objectives of running a constitutional democracy in which the people of Nigeria are the owners of the sovereignty. The policy turns logic on its head and has set tongues wagging on the commitments of the current to defeat these armed Islamists who as i write are said to still control some territories of North East of Nigeria.
The beginning assertions find logical reasoning in the universal fact that the people and their general wellbeing should have dictated to the politicians who exercise democratic authority derived from the legitimacy donated by the people that it is futile and evil to focus government’s counter terror war around the meaningless idea of servicing the interests of the terrorists who have for ten years taken up arms to wage war against the state and the people of Nigeria. These atrocious acts of terrorism have made Nigeria to become the third most dangerous place on the globe at the moment going by the statistical computation done by a conflicts observatory platform.
Reading through the whole gamut of the policies captured in section 14 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is all about promoting the security and welfare of the citizens of Nigeria. Without security and welfare of the greatest number of Nigerians, then the central place of government is lost in transit, so to say. Thomas Paine made this point clear in the beginning quotation I included in this piece.
The idea of investing substantially in the meaningless project of the so-called rehabilitation and reintegration of terrorists into the society even when millions of the civilian victims of terrorism are languishing in unwarranted existential pains and in very intolerable excruciating conditions is a total negation of the provisions enshrined in section 14 of the 1999 constitution.
Specifically, section 14 of the grund norm states as follows:” (1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice. (2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that: (a) sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its powers and authority; (b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government: and (c) the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. (3) The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies. (4) The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognize the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.”
To therefore continue to witness the bad policy of neglecting victims of terrorism whilst investing in the resettlement of terrorists is nothing more than a constitutional aberration which seems to have drawn the motivation from the absolutely unlawful and totally weird way of viewing or explaining the exercise of sovereign power as promoted by the philosopher Jean Bodin (1529-1596).
In his ridiculous work titled: “Sovereignty is the absolute and perpetual power of a commonwealth,” this philosopher made it appear like the ruler can simply exercise power in breach of the normative and legal provisions that centralized the interests of the people as the aim and objective of government in the twenty first century World.
The politics Book has indeed offered us a bird’s eye view of this outrageous piece of opinion by Jean Bodin.
“In his treatise Six Books of Republic, Bodin argued that sovereignty had to be absolute and perpetual to be effective. Absolute sovereignty would create a stronger central authority over its territory. To avoid conflict, the sovereign should not be bound by laws, obligations, or conditions, either from outside factions or from his own subjects.
Bodin’s insistence on the need for absolute sovereignty says the compilers of the Politics book, formed an intellectual pillar supporting the rise of absolute monarchy in Europe.
He (Jean Bodin) also argued that sovereignty needed to be perpetual. Power could neither be granted to the sovereign by others nor be limited in time, as this would contradict the principle of absolutism.
Bodin used the Latin terms res publica (“republique” in French, or “commonwealth” in English) for matters of public law, and believed that any political society must have a sovereign who is free to make and break the law for the commonwealth to prosper.”(The Politics Book). This Jean Bodin’s wild and weird reasoning may be the ‘fountain of wisdom’ from where President Muhammadu Buhari may have drawn inspiration in carrying out this wholly inexplicable and unacceptable policy of prioritizing the interests of the so-called terrorists over and above that of the people of Nigeria and the laws which mandates government to enforce relevant laws against terrorists and mass murderers. After all section 33(1) of the Nigerian Constitution gives Nigerians the RIGHT TO LIFE which the armed terrorists deprive them wantonly.
However, the insistence of President Muhammadu Buhari to go on releasing the erstwhile terrorists at a time of dangerous resurgence of terrorism and attacks by terrorists including public executions of dozens of Christian hostages by these deadly terrorists goes to demonstrate the insensitivity and irresponsibility of those clothed with the executive power to govern the country.
Since the last five years, there have been spikes in the number of violent attacks in the North East of armed Islamists even as this period has witnessed the unprecedented releases back unto the public of those who had waged war against the nation and the citizens of Nigeria. How does government expect mass murderers to co-habit with their victims of terrorism? This is incredible.
How the central government carries on with this primitive and wicked policy of releasing of terrorists in the guise of deradicalization whereas the country stands to gain nothing from this unconstitutional practice has remained one of the wonders of the earth and indeed is a signal that Nigeria is a failing state.
Indeed, it is only in a banana republic will those who were sworn in with the solemn pledge to comply with the constitution now go on violating all the relevant criminal laws that demands that those who carry out mass killings must face the full weight of the law because Nigeria should be a nation governed by law.
This is why the respected statesman and Bishop of Sokoto Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah rightly stated that Nigeria is the only country in the world whereby the greatest numbers of killers move freely in the society without being made to face the wrath of the law.
This expanding frontier of impunity and reckless lawlessness by the Federal government is an absolute negation of the role of government as propounded by fathers of politics and philosophy of law. From the media we can find dozens of report that hundreds of terrorists are being freed back into the society even when violent attacks targeting basically Christians are on the increase.
Around January 18th 2020, The Guardian reports that the military authority says no fewer than 608 repentant Boko Haram insurgents are currently undergoing De-radicalisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DRR) Programme by Operation Safe Corridor (OSC) at Malam-Sidi, Gombe State.
Brig: – Gen. Musa Ibrahim, Commandant DRR Camp OSC made this known when the Managing Director, North East Development Commission (NEDC), Mr. Mohammed Alkali visited the camp.
He said 14 of the repentant insurgents were foreigners from Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic.
Ibrahim said: “From inception, we received 893 out of which 286 graduated and were returned to their respective states and countries for reintegration’’.
He said the personnel in the camp were working diligently with the mandate of OSC in conformity with international best practices.
According to him, the success of the programme will go a long way in restoring peace and security to the North East in particular and the country as a whole.
Ibrahim said the programme was in need of five Hilux vans, additional vocational center, accommodation for camp staff and clients, and prompt release of funds to run the power generator among others.
In his remarks, Alkali said the purpose of his visit was to have an on the spot appreciation of how the programme has been run.
He said NEDC would do everything possible to ensure that the programme succeeded by providing them with facilities needed.
Mr. President established this organization and the NEDC with the mandate to make sure peace came back to the region as it was before in terms of development’’, he said.
He, therefore, urged unrepentant insurgents who were still in the bushes causing mayhem to come and embrace peace and live a normal life.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Alkali also interacted with the repentant insurgents and inspected the camp facilities.
NAN reports that a cross-section of the clients expressed delight in the Federal Government intervention to rehabilitate them even after collateral damages they had caused the country.
The Nigerian Army on Monday released over 150 “repentant” Boko Haram members to the Borno State Government.
The exercise was part of the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ in the North-East.
The former militants were released to reunite with society after they had undergone rehabilitation in Gombe State at a centre established for the purpose.
The deradicalised and repentant terrorists were released to the Borno State Deputy Governor, Usman Kahdafur, in Maiduguri.
The Coordinator, “Operation Safe Corridor,” Maj. Gen. Bamidele Shafa, said the deradicalisation and the subsequent acceptance of the returnees back into society would encourage other insurgents still in the bush to lay down their arms.
Shafa said the returnees had been trained in various skills during the 52-week training before their graduation in November last year in Gombe State.
He said they were held for another eight months after their graduation because of the resurgence of Boko Haram activities.
“The government is magnanimous in receiving them as we have witnessed. So we keep telling them to embrace peace. They cannot continue to remain in the bush. Let them come out and be rehabilitated.
“A lot of sensitization has been done through the traditional rulers before their return. We have 151 of them comprising 19 teenagers and 132 adults,” Shafa said.
He lamented that they were about 152 as of Friday last week, but one of them died after battling health complications at the Gombe Federal Medical Centre.
In his remarks, the deputy governor, on behalf of the Borno State Government, expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the ‘Operation Safe Corridor’ for the deradicalisation of repentant Boko Haram terrorists.
Punch of last July 3rd reports that the Nigerian Army had just handed over 151 repentant Boko Haram insurgents to Borno Government for rehabilitation and reintegration into the society.
Maj.-Gen. Bamidele Shafa, the Coordinator, Operation Safe Corridor, made the disclosure during the handing over of the repentant insurgents at the Bulunkutu Rehabilitation Center, Maiduguri.
Shafa disclosed that the 151 male repentant insurgents comprised 132 adult and 19 minors, who completed 52 weeks of de-radicalization process at its center in Gombe.
He said that the clients were exposed to formal literacy classes, skills acquisition and Islamic Religious Knowledge (IRK) as well as drug and psycho-therapists during their training.
Shafa explained that the Operation Safe Corridor was designed to encourage Boko Haram insurgents to surrender, provide de-radicalization and rehabilitation programme, to enable them rejoin the society.
“The clients confessed their past misdeeds; denounced membership of Boko Haram group, asked for forgiveness and took oath of allegiance to Nigeria. I believe they are now good citizens to rejoin the society,” he said.
Shafa lauded the state government over its support and efforts to assist the repentant insurgents to reintegrate into the society.
Also, Alhaji Umar Kadafur, the state Deputy Governor, commended the Federal Government over the implementation of Operation Safe Corridor to rehabilitate and reintegrate repentant insurgents into the society.
Kadafur said that the state government had adopted effective measures to accept the insurgents willing to voluntarily surrender and to create an enabling environment for them to rejoin the society.
He said that the state government had also directed community leaders to sensitize their people on the need to accept the rehabilitated insurgents, and warned against infringement on their rights.
The deputy governor added that the state government would support rehabilitated insurgents to set up their business, to enable them to engage in productive activities and contribute to the development of the society.
Tela Dandija and Kyari Buguma, some of the repentant insurgents, thanked the Federal Government for the amnesty granted to them and called on the insurgents still in the bush to surrender.
They also called for support to enable them to set up their businesses in their respective communities.
Now, compare the reckless releases of terrorists by the Federal government currently and the lackluster display of executive rascality of going to the media with the military strategies against armed hoodlums and bandits who have killed thousands of Nigerians and destroyed many communities, the thinking would be that this government lacks tact and is largely garrulous. How can the commander in chief go to the media to announce a yet to be carried out bombing campaigns against bandits and you think the bandits will then relax and wait to die rather than run away? What is the policy guidelines of this government in both the counter terror war and the protection of national security and maintaining the sanctity of Nigeria’s territorial integrity? For the benefit of those who are not aware, I will proceed to reproduce the public announcer telling the World that the military has been ordered to bomb armed bandits in Niger state.
In the release, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly ordered air strikes against bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers that have been attacking remote communities around Dogon Gona forest in Niger State.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement said, Buhari gave the order after he received assurances that with the harmattan dust gradually easing its hold on the skies, the strike would happen this week.
Buhari, who described the repeated attacks leading to the losses of several lives in the communities “as a disaster for the nation,” had authorized the deployment of air power to support troops and policemen deployed to the “difficult terrain,” to counter the menace of the attackers operating in the forest area bordering Kaduna, Niger and Zamfara states.
The statement read: “In line with this directive, the Nigerian Air Force is setting up refueling facilities at Minna, Niger State to support the aircraft operations, giving assurances that given the improved weather conditions, a major exercise to ‘visually acquire targets’ and launch attacks will soon follow.
“The Police Command in Niger has equally given assurances that the planned dedicated air raids to complement the police helicopter gunship operations remain the best approach given the lack of motorized roads in the areas constantly under attack.”
President Buhari commiserated with the government and people of Niger State following the attacks and the loss of lives that followed, and assures that victim communities in the state will not be abandoned by the rest of the country.
Niger Governor, Abukar Sani Bello, also said that the deployment would be backed with 24 hours air surveillance across the three LGA’s currently under siege by bandits.
In a statement issued in Minna yesterday, by Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mrs. Mary Noel Berje, Bello, condemned the “inhuman activities” of the bandits and said that air and land surveillance would help a great deal to fish and flush out the bandits.
The statement is coming barely 24 hours after bandits numbering about 50, overran no fewer than five communities in Shiroro LGA of the state, killing 11 people and rustled over 300 cattle, in the early hours of Saturday. The bandits who invaded the communities at about 6am ransacked the entire communities as they moved from one house to another without any resistance for hours.
Communities that were affected in the latest attacks are: Kudodo, Galapai, Dnakpala Makera and Dnalgwa.
Bello expressed regret over the continued loss of lives and property daily, pointing out that the criminals were taking advantage of the vastness of the terrain to unleash terror on innocent people. He said that the State government would fully support the joint security task force to chase the bandits out of the state.
This policy of informing terrorists and bandits of the yet to be carried out military campaigns reminds me of what a scholar wrote about how most government officials have turned governance into something primitive, sinister and wicked.
The scholar said that most people accept the institution of government because it has always been there; they have always assumed it was essential. People do not question its existence, much less its right to exist.
Government the author says sponsors untold waste, criminality and inequality in every sphere of life it touches, giving little or nothing in return.
“Its contributions to the commonwealth are wars, pogroms, confiscations, persecutions, taxation, regulation and inflation. And it’s not just some governments of which that’s true, although some are clearly much worse than others. It’s an inherent characteristic of all government”.
The essence of something the author says is what makes the thing what it is. But surprisingly little study of government has been done by ontologists (who study the first principles of things) or epistemologists (who study the nature of human knowledge). The study of government almost never concerns itself with whether government should be, but only with how and what it should be. The existence of government is accepted without question.
The writer being quoted continued thus: “What is the essence of government? After you cut through all the rhetoric, the doublethink and the smokescreen of altruism that surround the subject, you find that the essence of government is force. And the belief it has the right to initiate the use of force whenever expedient”.
The author says: “Government is an organization with a monopoly, albeit with some fringe competition, on the use of force within a given territory. As Mao Zedong said, “The power of government comes out of the barrel of a gun.” There is no voluntarism about obeying laws. The consent of a majority of the governed may help a government put a nice face on things, but it is not essential and is, in fact, given with any enthusiasm”. (https://www.lewrockwell.com/2001/10/doug-casey/the-essence-of-government/).
However, the Nigerian Constitution states that “The primary duty of government is to provide security and welfare to the people.” Any policy which is not to the interest of the greatest number of Nigerians is evil. The constant releases of terrorists undermines the Nigerian Constitution and is an ABSOLUTE EVIL. This must stop forthwith.