Emmanuel UmohInyang, a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, is the president of the centre for leadership and justice.
In this exclusive interview with Legit.ng's regional reporter, Adeoye Adewunmi, UmohInyang speaks on the recent ethnic clashes in the southwest and the high rate of insecurity across the country.
What can you say about Nigeria’s security architecture as regards recent attacks in the country?
We always look at the assessment of the country’s security architecture only from the government’s end. And like I said in the past, the Buhari administration will continue to strengthen security. With the replacement of the new security chiefs, I am sure that we should be making more progress in terms of security in 2021.
What gives you this assurance?
Well, the assurance is that some of what the government is expecting as regards sophisticated equipment will be coming in. Two, the main technique that has been introduced to fighting some of these challenges that have emerged like in the northeast where you have insurgency.
You have the issue of banditry. Recently, we have seen how the insecurity has moved towards the southwest and the government is dealing with that. Even the farmer and herdsmen clashes, the government is dealing with that. I saw the National Security Adviser (NSA) having a meeting with the northern governors.
I am sure that the meeting will go round. It is all about taking responsibility and I believe we should not see security as solely the federal government’s concern. Yes, the federal government has the financial resources to ensure that insecurity is addressed. However, citizens have the responsibility to share information with security agencies.
Recently you have Senator Ali Ndume who made it very clear that his people from Borno have started sharing information with security agencies. And what that simply means is that the security agencies will be making appreciable progress in that regard.
What is your reaction to the perception that the president is not doing enough to arrest the insecurity situation in the country?
I do not think that is correct. But those who think that the president is not doing enough to arrest the insecurity situation in the country to a large extent may be correct because of the limited information at their disposal.
And the president is not under a duty to disclose his security strategy to anybody because even the insurgents in the north also read newspapers. The Bandits also read. So, you have to be careful when you share security reports. Over time, many have called on the president to come out and tell them how he has been dealing with the issues of insecurity and I said No that is not right.
The president has the security council meeting. He invites the service chiefs as and when due and that is where issues of insecurity are raised and addressed. So, I do not think they are correct to say that the president is not doing enough. In all fairness and honesty to those who are making this comment, they must understand that security issue is not something to be discussed anyhow.
What about the recent ethnic clashes in the southwest?
It will not be fair to say that the president that was elected by over 15 million Nigerians has all of a sudden taken to the side of the criminals. That will be an unfair statement. President Muhammed Buhari will never do such a thing.
He was elected by Nigerians to rule and provide the necessary things to mitigate their sufferings. I want you to put it on record that the president will never encourage any section of the country to violate the laws of the land or the laws of any state.
And I think that should be expunged from the minds of those making those comments. Are there challenges? Yes, there are. Are they making efforts to nip these challenges in the bud? Yes, the government is trying. And even the government has begun to bring in traditional rulers for them to ensure that the crisis is immediately resolved.
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I am appealing to our leaders to act as leaders. Let us see how we can address these issues without necessarily generating more crises for ourselves. We should calm the situation in our various localities by bringing in the word of comfort, not words that will degrade our people. I do not think it is correct that the president is tilting towards a particular ethnic group.
I think they must understand that some of these tensions are not things that happen continuously. The tensions are from people who feel they have either been called to account or those who feel that the regular things they get from the government no longer come.
I always say that Muhammed Buhari is someone who will not give anybody a dime. He will never do such a thing. So, I will appeal to my brothers and sisters in the north and the south to concentrate on how we can build our country.
There are no countries on earth that are practically free of violence. We saw what happened recently in America where the Capitol was desecrated. So, we should work as a team to build our country. Nigerians have a great deal to see to it that they become their brothers’ keepers.
We must always allow that bond of unity to be our defining factor. I do not think it pays anybody if the country falls apart. For me, I have said countless times that I have no other country than Nigeria and I must stay here and see to it that things that work in other countries work here.
I think the same information is also being shared by Mr President because on several occasions, I have shared my opinion with the president on this. And we should not make the issue of security the sole responsibility of the federal government.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that following the recent overhauling and massive shake-up in the military, the newly appointed service chiefs on Thursday, March 11, stormed Ibadan, the Oyo state capital.
It was reported that the military heads were led to the 2 Division of the Nigerian Army by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Leo Irhabor, where he addressed officers.
Wale Akinola is a passionate journalist and researcher. He works as a senior political/current affairs editor at Legit.ng. He holds both B.A and Master’s degree in Communications and Language Arts from the University of Ibadan. He also holds a Diploma Certificate in Peace Journalism. He has over 15 years of work experience in both print and online media. He derives joy in keeping the public abreast of current happenings locally and internationally through his writings.