Criminals vs protesters: A story of two remedies

Criminals vs protesters: A story of two remedies

JESUSEGUN ALAGBE analyses the dichotomy between the federal government’s dealing with of peaceable residents and insurgents terrorising the nation

Fifteen days after bandits stormed Greenfield College in Kaduna State and kidnapped 23 college students, a tweet by the President, Main Common Muhammadu Buhari (retd), erupted anger on social media, leaving many with the query: did the President actually imply it when he earlier stated his regime would go arduous on bandits and different insurgents terrorising the nation?

The tweet, posted on Might 5, was after the bandits had killed 5 of the kidnapped college students and threatened to kill extra if the federal government refused to pay a ransom of N100m.

It was additionally after the remaining 29 college students of the Federal School of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, have been launched by bandits who kidnapped them from their college on March 11. The bandits had earlier launched 10 of their captives.

The tweet from the President’s verified deal with @MBuhari learn, “I welcome the discharge of the 27 college students of the Federal School of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, and congratulate their associates, households, and the federal government and folks of Kaduna State. We’re joyful they’ve been launched.

“Our deep appreciation to all who contributed by hook or by crook to this joyful final result, particularly the defence and safety companies, the officers of the Ministry of Atmosphere, and the Authorities of Kaduna State. We equally thank Nigerians for his or her prayers.”

Then, the President continued, “I once more attraction for the discharge of the scholars of Greenfield College and all different residents held in captivity. We are going to depart no stone unturned in guaranteeing that Nigerians dwell in a rustic the place everybody can transfer the place and when they need — with out the concern of kidnapping & banditry.”

It was the President’s use of the phrase “attraction” that erupted the anger of Nigerians, who have been appalled that he could be begging a set of criminals who he had earlier vowed to “crush.”

Buhari had, on April 23 after the bandits kidnapped the Greenfield college students, fumed that the “insane and protracted violence towards harmless individuals should cease,” including that “such wanton disregard for all times can be dropped at an finish before later.”

“These criminals ought to cease pushing their luck too far by believing that the federal government lacks the capability to crush them,” Buhari was quoted to have stated in an announcement by his Senior Particular Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.

It was the firming down of the President’s disposition that shocked many individuals.

What has been extra surprising for many individuals is that despite the President’s attraction, 16 of the Greenfield College college students are nonetheless being held by the abductors.

“It’s unlucky that some individuals have chosen to take the regulation into their very own arms beneath the guise of banditry whereas the federal government, whose accountability is to guard the residents from such devilish acts, watches helplessly with out doing something,” the Nationwide Publicity Secretary of the Center Belt Discussion board, Dr Isuwa Dogo, stated.

“The selection is left for the federal government, however I don’t suppose that if the kidnapped youngsters have been to be the President’s sons or daughters, or  the Senate president’s youngsters, they’d have allowed them (bandits) to kill the scholars with out doing all the pieces doable to free them from the arms of their captors.”

A number of days in the past, the mother and father of the remaining kidnapped Greenfield College college students virtually begged the Federal Authorities to rescue their youngsters.

They stated the bandits refused to launch their youngsters even after paying N60m ransom, that means that the bandits had elevated their demand to a cumulative N160m.

Unhappy to say, it’s episode equivalent to this that has made many voters to plan a comparability between how the federal government handles prison components and the way it treats non-criminal residents equivalent to protesters.

“There have been quite a lot of situations the place the Buhari regime clamped down on protesters whereas criminals are dealt with softly,” a Lagos-based political commentator and lawyer, Paul Babatunde, informed Saturday PUNCH.

Such situations are usually not far-fetched.

Nearly two weeks in the past, the appearing Inspector Common of Police, Usman Baba, declared struggle on Biafra secessionists, ordering the Police Cell Pressure and Particular Tactical Squad of the Pressure to not adhere to the foundations of engagement whereas coping with the secessionist teams.

Baba stated this in Enugu after he launched Operation Restore Peace, an aftermath of lethal assaults on police infrastructure within the South-East and South-South areas.

“Don’t thoughts the media shout; do the job I command you. If anybody accuses you of human rights violation, the report will come to my desk and you understand what I’ll do. So, take the battle to them wherever they’re and kill all of them. Don’t anticipate an order,” Baba fumed.

“The time is now. At this time’s (two weeks in the past) launch of Operation RP by the Nigeria Police follows the directives of Mr President to the Nigeria Police to re-evaluate and emplace new operational methods to stem the tide of violence and secessionist agenda, not solely within the South-East, however throughout the nation,” he added.

Nevertheless, whereas the acts of violence within the South-East are being condemned, human rights consultants stated it was illegal for the police chief to challenge an order clamping down on secessionists.

“That’s a world crime [that is, the shooting of secessionists as directed by the acting IG]. In his curiosity and that of his officers, women and men, he must be stopped or resisted brazenly,” a former chairman of the Nationwide Human Rights Fee, Chidi Odinkalu, stated by way of Twitter.

Some legal professionals have additionally identified that Baba’s order of taking pictures secessionist teams is explicitly encouraging law enforcement officials to violate the Geneva Conventions, which attempt particularly to guard all human beings affected by armed battle, particularly those that are usually not, or now not, immediately engaged in hostilities.

“The appearing IG’s order is a harmful one and he ought to retract it. That some criminals are attacking police infrastructure and different authorities amenities ought to by no means be a trigger for taking pictures at secessionists,” Babatunde, the Lagos lawyer, stated.

Another Nigerians, notably on social media, have been curious on why the police chief had by no means issued such an order towards bandits, killer herdsmen, and Boko Haram terrorists who wield subtle weapons like AK-47s.

“Pushing for secession is rarely a criminal offense. There are situations of tribes everywhere in the world who pulled out of different nations, and I don’t see any motive why individuals can not agitate for one thing.

“One of the best ways out is for any authorities in a scenario like that is to dialogue with the secessionists. Research what their calls for are, and promise to deal with their issues,” a social commentator primarily based in Abuja, Taiwo Oyeniran, stated.

In the meantime, one other occasion of the federal government’s high-handedness on peaceable residents is with the latest protest organised by the Nigeria Labour Congress in Kaduna State.

The protest was to display towards the mass sacking of staff by the state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai.

Based on the labour union, El-Rufai lately sacked 5,000 staff “unjustly” – bringing to round 45,000 the variety of staff relieved of their jobs because the governor got here into energy in Might 2015.

After the Kaduna State authorities refused to reinstate the affected staff regardless of many threats by the labour union, the NLC  launched into a five-day warning strike.

The strike, which is meant to finish 5 days after its commenceent, nonetheless, was suspended  after the Federal Authorities’s intervention.

However previous to this growth, in a transfer that was condemned by human rights organisations and activists, El-Rufai, in a tweet shortly after strike started, declared the NLC President and the protest chief, Aliyu Wabba, needed.

The governor accused the labour chief and others of financial sabotage, saying their protest had led to “shutting down electrical energy, coercion and restraints of non-public freedom, trespass into public amenities and denial of entry to healthcare for a number of of our residents.”

Citing the Nigerian structure, human rights activist and lawyer, Femi Falana, stated the governor lacked the facility to declare Wabba and different union leaders needed.

“By the mixed impact of the Commerce Union Act and the Nigerian Structure, Wabba and different labour leaders have the unquestionable rights to take part within the peaceable warning strike and mass protests towards additional retrenchment of staff within the Kaduna State public service,” Falana, a senior advocate stated in an announcement.

Additionally, the Deputy Director of the Socio-Financial Rights and Accountability Mission, Kolawole Oluwadare, stated declaring NLC leaders “needed” for peacefully exercising their human rights was antithetical to the 1999 Structure (as amended) and the nation’s worldwide obligations.

One other occasion of the federal government’s wielding the large stick on peaceable residents was throughout the October 2020 #EndSARS protests.

The protests, which sprang up on Twitter and gained worldwide consideration and media protection, have been towards the human rights abuse of the now-disbanded Particular Anti-Theft Squad of the Nigeria Police.

However the protests got here to a head on October 20, 2020 when troopers reportedly fired at a number of unarmed demonstrators on the Lekki tollgate, Lagos, allegedly killing some residents.

Amid the denials by the navy and authorities that protesters have been shot, on Might 8, the Medical Director of Grandville Trauma Centre, Aranmolate Ayobami, informed the Lagos Judicial Panel that the hospital handled 15 sufferers who suffered gunshot accidents throughout the October 20, 2020, Lekki taking pictures incident.

Ayobami, a surgeon on the hospital, stated the sufferers have been all transferred from different hospitals in Lagos.

“We had a complete variety of 15 sufferers, 4 referrals from Vedic life Healthcare, seven referrals from Reddington hospital, and two from Doreen hospital,” he stated. He didn’t, nonetheless, give particulars on the remaining two sufferers.

Equally, many received’t maybe neglect the Buhari regime’s clampdown on Shiite protesters.

Maybe probably the most unforgettable expertise could be the alleged killings of a minimum of 348 Shia Muslims by the Nigerian Military on December 12, 2015.

Popularly tagged the Zaria bloodbath, the Nigerian Military in Zaria, Kaduna State, attacked the Shia Muslims, who have been principally members of the Islamic Motion in Nigeria, reportedly killing many civilians and burying them in a mass grave.

Human Rights Watch alleged that the federal government buried the corpses with out the relations’ permission.

The explanation for the bloodbath, as acknowledged by the military, was that members of the IMN, whereas protesting, tried to kill the then Nigeria’s Chief of Military Employees, Tukur Buratai.

However this declare has been strongly rejected by the Islamic group.

Human rights organisations equivalent to Amnesty Worldwide additionally debunked the military’s declare, arguing that the bloodbath occurred with none provocation because the protesters have been unarmed.

The incident generated huge outrage, with Amnesty and others describing it as one of many worst human rights violations in Nigeria since return to democracy. There have been additionally protests in nations like India and Iran to sentence the killing of the Shia Muslims.

Whereas non-criminal residents are being harassed, many individuals are left bewildered on how insurgents like bandits and Boko Haram terrorists are handled by the federal government.

In January when Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu ordered herdsmen to go away the state’s forest reserves as a result of unlawful actions of the killer herdsmen, the Presidency rebuffed the governor’s directive, saying the governor couldn’t challenge such an order – even when the order was stated to have been for safety motive.

Of concern can be the federal government’s rehabilitation of Boko Haram terrorists, whose actions have led to the killing of 1000’s of individuals and displacement of over two million within the North-East.

Similar to many observers suggesting the federal government has been gentle on criminals, the President of the Affiliation of Industrial Safety Operators of Nigeria, Dr Ona Ekhomu, lately informed our correspondent that insurgents wanted high-handedness.

“Let me let you know one thing, you can’t placate any rebel, you can’t placate any terrorist. You possibly can’t pay them sufficient; let me sound that word of warning. For nearly 5 years, we now have seen this amnesty possibility on the desk and it has failed woefully,” he stated.

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