Insecurity has become an everyday issue in Nigeria. Almost on a daily basis, dead bodies are counted from across Nigeria. The country has become an abattoir of human bodies. Cries and wails are constantly expressed and hearts are broken each day. Communities are displaced. Loved ones are separated. Life and livelihood are easy targets as it is becoming a normal experience in the life of Nigerians. About 1,603 people were killed in the first quarter of 2021.
It is the constitutional duty for the government using the apparatuses of security to protect the Nigerian people. Given the incessant attacks on the citizens, the government is failing in one of its primary duties to protect the life and property of the people.
This failure has resulted in government officials; those who have the mandate to secure the life and property of Nigerians, to ask the citizens to consider self-defence as a way to protect themselves from the continuous daily killings and attacks across the country.
In February, the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, while speaking about the attacks by the bandits in Kagara said, “It is the responsibility of everybody to be alert and ensure safety when necessary…If these people know that the people have the competence and capability to defend themselves, they will run away…we shouldn’t be cowards.”
Governor Aminu Masari, said, “There are not enough security personnel. How many soldiers are there in Katsina and this is because this insecurity affected virtually all states of the federation… This compounded the problem and people cannot fold their hands and watch themselves being killed. If they abandon their villages, where will they go and when will the killings end?”
When will the killings end?
“In April this year, the government said they had arrested 400 Bureau De Change (BDCs)-related people that were sponsoring Boko Haram…Try them, we know them. Why can’t this government, if not that they are partisan, bring those people out for trial… Some of them are governors now. Some of them are in the Senate. Some of them are in Aso Rock.” Former Navy Commodore, Kunle Olawunmi said.
The National Defence Academy was compromised and two soldiers were killed as one was abducted. When a defence institution is compromised and officers are killed and abducted, it means that these gunmen have compromised the national defence. What hope does a common man have for his security?
As the Commodore said, “the government has developed cold feet in fighting the insurgency because some of those backing Boko Haram are now top-ranking government officials.” Based on this, the sponsors of these terrors are in government, without any fear of being arrested and tried and may be part of the decision makers on insecurity.
Weapons in the hands of gunmen
In February, 2018, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris directed the Commissioners of Police of all the State Commands to conduct the disarmament and recovery of prohibited firearms, ammunition and weapons in the possession of all suspected Militias, Bandits, vigilante groups, or Individuals. With several attacks on the police stations and the criminals carting away several weapons, these weapons are back in the hands of these gunmen who carry out more attacks on the citizens.
In addition to this, arms and weapons pass through the porous borders into the hands of the gunmen. In 2014, David Parradang, then Comptroller-General of Immigration, said that there were over 1,400 illegal routes, although the country had 84 approved borders.
Is self-defence the solution?
Is self-defence the solution for the incessant attacks and killings in Nigeria? Or a way the leaders are trying to escape from their responsibilities; after all, the people should defend themselves.
Many high profile individuals, elected officers and some organizations are calling on people to defend themselves. Self-defence is recognized by law but what are the people going to use to defend themselves? Gun rights are not freely given in Nigeria. Owning a gun requires getting a licence granted by the Inspector-General of Police, which licence shall be granted or refused in accordance with principles decided upon by the President. What can a person with a bow and arrow, clubs or machete do with a person with a gun?
Recently, many communities in the northern part of the country have resorted to stockpiling arms for self-defence. How wide will the various individuals and communities be able to stockpile arms across the country? Possession of guns not only needs a licence, it also requires adequate training of handling and testing of mental balance. As these basic requirements are not conducted and no adequate checks for the possession of the arms, self-defence may escalate the security problem.
Since the Buhari administration is lacking in their duty, and the inadequacy of the security personnel to effectively provide security for the country, self-defence may be a welcome idea.
If the Buhari Administration has the will, with the ammunition and intelligence at their disposal, utilizing the full government machinery, insecurity in Nigeria will become a thing of the past.
Majority of Nigerians do not have access to arms, and if the government should allow citizens to really seek self-defence, it shows that the government has failed the people. Anarchy may be the fate of the country.