‘Call for self-de­fence is a veiled ref­er­ence to breach of so­cial con­tract be­tween gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple’

The re­cent out­burst by re­tired gen­eral, Theophilus Dan­juma, ac­cus­ing the mil­i­tary of col­lud­ing with killer ban­dits, raised huge dust. Not just that he made the damn­ing al­le­ga­tion, he called on Nige­ri­ans to de­fend them­selves or get killed one af­ter an­other

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - LAW -

Self-de­fence is a con­sti­tu­tion­ally recog­nised right. What do you make of the call for self-de­fence by Gen. Theophilus Dan­juma (rtd)?

UR crim­i­nal ju­rispru­dence recog­nises right of self­de­fence. Even at that, it is not a right that is in­voked ar­bi­trar­ily. Firstly, it is fun­da­men­tal to de­ter­mine whether the right of self-de­fence can be ap­plied col­lec­tively in a cor­po­rate man­ner or what is only in­voked by an in­di­vid­ual in a per­sonal man­ner. What I am al­lud­ing to is, can a mob in­voke col­lec­tively self-de­fence for an ac­tion? Gen­eral Dan­juma’s pos­tu­la­tion un­doubt­edly was made in good faith. Given his track record and ac­com­plish­ments; it can­not be de­nied that his pro­nounce­ment was mo­ti­vated by high­est pa­tri­otic ideals. But the gen­eral state­ment must not be seen from most sim­plis­tic per­spec­tive be­cause it does con­vey more mes­sage than the eye can see. Gen­eral Dan­juma’s state­ment is an in­di­rect in­dict­ment on the gov­ern­ment of the day and its per­ceived in­abil­ity to pro­tect lives and prop­erty of its cit­i­zenry. Also it is a veiled ref­er­ence to a breach of the so­cial con­tract be­tween gov­ern­ment and the peo­ple of Nige­ria. The peo­ple of Nige­ria in whom dwell sovereignty have ceded pow­ers to the gov­ern­ment by virtue of so­cial con­tract as en­cap­su­lated in the con­sti­tu­tion. The pow­ers ex­er­cis­able by the mil­i­tary and the po­lice con­sti­tu­tion­ally and statu­to­rily to pro­tect life and prop­erty are prod­ucts of sur­ren­der of right of de­fence by the peo­ple to law en­force­ment agen­cies. Thus, to in­vite the peo­ple to as­sume such power is an in­di­ca­tion that the agen­cies have failed and so­cial con­tract vi­ti­ated. I am not un­mind­ful of the qual­ity of peo­ple in gov­ern­ment and their ca­pac­ity to read in be­tween the lines to ap­pre­ci­ate the wake-up call from Gen­eral Dan­juma. For me, the gen­eral sounded an alarm bell that must be heeded more by gov­ern­ment than by in­di­vid­u­als. My fear is that if not prop­erly con­tex­tu­alised, peo­ple may see it as a li­cence to take laws into their hands and be­fore we know it, mob ac­tions will reign supreme and peo­ple will re­sort to lynch­ing, shoot­ing and other vi­o­lent con­ducts all in the name of self-de­fence. This we must not al­low and I bet that is not the in­tend­ment of Gen­eral Dan­juma’s out­burst.

Nige­ri­ans want good faith as­sur­ance from law en­force­ment agen­cies that they are still ca­pa­ble of pro­tect­ing lives and prop­erty in this coun­try.

Some crit­ics are say­ing that Dan­juma was part of the rot in the

Mil­i­tary and there­fore has no moral right to talk.

What is your view on this?

I beg to dif­fer.

Ev­ery cit­i­zen of

Nige­ria has free­dom of ex­pres­sion guar­an­teed by the con­sti­tu­tion.

OGen­eral Dan­juma has made his com­ments re­spon­si­bly and within the bounds of law. He there­fore de­serves com­men­da­tion and not con­dem­na­tion. As an in­di­vid­ual, Gen­eral Dan­juma is nei­ther lo­qua­cious nor gar­ru­lous. In­deed he is con­sid­ered as one of the most tac­i­turn sol­dier of his gen­er­a­tion. So for a man not given to ir­re­spon­si­ble state­ments, peo­ple are bound to lis­ten when he speaks. I am not aware of the rots in the Mil­i­tary or his con­nec­tion to it in any form. As a Nige­rian of dis­tinc­tion, he does posses the moral right to speak on burn­ing is­sues of the mo­ment.

The re­tired Gen­eral was un­equiv­o­cal in his out­burst that the mil­i­tary is col­lud­ing with ban­dits by pro­vid­ing them with lo­gis­tics. As a for­mer Gen­eral, do you think he has in­for­ma­tion not open to the pub­lic?

For a man not given to friv­o­lous state­ments it is ob­vi­ous that he has his facts. That is highly re­gret­table. Why some sol­diers will be­tray pub­lic trust and vi­o­late their con­stitu- tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend. What is re­as­sur­ing how­ever is that the art of col­lu­sion is by some bad eggs in the mil­i­tary and they can be fished out and flushed out. It is not an in­dict­ment of the com­mand­ing heights of the mil­i­tary. Nei­ther is it in­dica­tive that there is a de­lib­er­ate pol­icy by the mil­i­tary high com­mand to en­gage in such ne­far­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties

The mil­i­tary has ini­ti­ated a panel to in­ves­ti­gate Dan­juma’s al­le­ga­tion. Don’t you think an in­de­pen­dent and neu­tral body would have been bet­ter? I whole-heart­edly en­dorse the ap­proach of the Mil­i­tary High com­mand. Mark you; it is not the mil­i­tary as an in­sti­tu­tion that is under scru­tiny but rather some bad el­e­ments within the mil­i­tary. Con­se­quently, it is only proper that in­ves­ti­ga­tion is done in accordance with the in­ter­nal mech­a­nism for ex­haus­tion of reme­dies within the am­bit of struc­tural and ad­min­is­tra­tive organogram. It is only where this fails that the is­sue can be ex­ter­nalised. Will the coun­try be bet­ter po­liced if state po­lice is le­galised?

I hon­estly be­lieve that Nige­ria is un­der­po­liced. Given our large pop­u­la­tion, it can only be said that we are grossly under-po­liced as there is room for more po­lice per­son­nel in the coun­try. Also be­side numer­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tion, there is ev­ery need for a highly modernised Po­lice force with state of the art polic­ing equip­ment; this is an op­tion that can­not be glossed over. The sum­mary is that as much as state po­lice in my con­sid­ered view is an idea whose time has come, one must pre­sume that ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient polic­ing is best pred­i­cated on cre­ation of state po­lice.

The po­lice have called on Vig­i­lante groups to sur­ren­der their arms and no such or­ders were given to killer herds­men. Could there be a link be­tween the or­der and Dan­juma’s self-de­fence call?

The law recog­nises and per­mits le­gal pos­ses­sion of firearms. How­ever the li­cence can be with­drawn or the con­di­tions over­hauled. Against this back­drop, the po­lice op­er­ated within the am­bit of the law by re­quest­ing vig­i­lante groups to sur­ren­der their arms. It can­not be ex­pected that the “ubiq­ui­tous herds­men” should be in­vited to sur­ren­der their arms when it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to track their move­ment or de­ter­mine their place of domi­cile. What is de­sir­able is to track the herds­men and dis­pos­sess them ei­ther peace­fully or force­fully. It may well be that Gen­eral Dan­juma’s state­ment has pushed law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties to re­think their strat­egy and press for re­duc­tion of arms and am­mu­ni­tions in cir­cu­la­tion. This is a plau­si­ble ap­proach to re­duc­ing in­ci­dences of armed crim­i­nal­ity.

The Pres­i­dent has ex­er­cised his con­sti­tu­tional right to seek for re-elec­tion and this is gen­er­at­ing a lot of com­ments. Do you think he de­serves a sec­ond term look­ing at his per­for­mance so far?

Mr Pres­i­dent has a right to re-elec­tion and it is his pre­rog­a­tive to in­voke it or not. Whether it gen­er­ates com­ments or not is nor­mal as far as con­tes­ta­tion of po­lit­i­cal power is con­cerned. Ul­ti­mately it is for the vot­ers to de­cide by ex­er­cise of their fran­chise. My per­sonal opin­ion is to­tally ir­rel­e­vant at this point in time.

What is your view about the in­creas­ing ex­changes of hate speeches across the land and gov­ern­ments ef­fort to tackle it through leg­is­la­tion?

It is dis­turb­ing and wor­ri­some in­deed. Ob­vi­ously re­gret­table that at this age and era we are still re­sort­ing to hate speeches as in­stru­ment for ven­ti­lat­ing eth­nic griev­ances. This takes us back to when peo­ple usu­ally found refuge in pri­mor­dial sen­ti­ments of trib­al­ism and eth­ni­cism. But more fun­da­men­tal is that hate speeches in­cu­bate more where there is ab­sence of sense of be­long­ing in the af­fairs of the coun­try or patent dom­i­na­tion of one group over oth­ers. The is­sues above must be ad­dressed, in ad­di­tion to the pro­mo­tion of in­clu­sive gov­ern­ments and ac­com­mo­da­tion of shades of opin­ion in de­ci­sion-mak­ing and pol­icy for­mu­la­tion. Leg­is­la­tion against hate speech is not a bad idea. But not all is­sues can be ad­dressed by crim­i­nal­iza­tion. One be­gins to wonder if leg­is­la­tion can serve as de­ter­rence to po­ten­tial hate speech mak­ers or will the leg­is­la­tion be hon­oured more in the breach than ob­ser­vance? In this dig­i­tal era, hate speeches abound on the In­ter­net, Face­book, Twit­ter, What­sapp etc. The chal­lenge is how do you track, in­ves­ti­gate and pros­e­cute per­pe­tra­tors of hate speech us­ing the dig­i­tal de­vises above men­tioned? That is the crux of the mat­ter.

Quote of the week


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.