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On combating the recent wave of violence in Nigeria

Most recently, the southeast has been awash by gruesome activities of hoodlum, bandits, arsonists and unknown gunmen, from burning strategic police stations, INEC offices and strategic offices to killing of security personnel. Gun battle between the police and bandits is becoming a terrible new normal. There have been alleged violent clashes recorded between the Nigerian military forces and the Eastern Security Network (ESN).

 

The exponential rising of frequent killings, attacks, and kidnapping for ransom across Nigeria have left people feeling more unsafe, showing utter failure of the Nigerian authorities to protect lives and properties, said Amnesty International as she marks the 60th anniversary of the organization.  Incessant killings and the stunning failure of the authorities to end them and bring suspected perpetrators to justice have been and continues to be a threat to the right to life in Nigeria. From the days of military’s heavy-handed rule to the years of civil rule and up to today violation of human rights by both state actors and abuses by non-state actors continue to be matters of concern.

Across the nation, Nigeria’s security woes are deepening. Floodgates of violence reports and conflicts point to the ever present wave of security challenges. Beyond the open grazing crisis, new attacks have been recorded in the northeast and northwest violence, and there are emerging threats in the south-south and southeast zones. On February, suspected pirates hijacked a passenger boat in River state and abducted eleven people. On Tuesday, February 23 2021, Niger Delta militants threatened to destroy all the Federal government infrastructures in Lagos and Abuja over alleged marginalization of the region and failing to deliver on the amnesty programme. Meanwhile, BokoHaram insurgents attacked the relatively peaceful city of Maiduguri on Tuesday, February 23 2021, killing 16 people, including nine children.

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Most recently, the southeast has been awash by gruesome activities of hoodlum, bandits, arsonists and unknown gunmen, from burning strategic police stations, INEC offices and strategic offices to killing of security personnel. Gun battle between the police and bandits is becoming a terrible new normal. There have been alleged violent clashes recorded between the Nigerian military forces and the Eastern Security Network (ESN). The ESN was formed by the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to tackle emerging security challenges in the southeast region.

In fact, it does seem that a killing spree is on. Just recently, Ahmed Gulak, an ex aide of Goodluck Jonathan and former speaker of Adamawa House of Assembly was gruesomely killed in Owerri by bandits while trying to catch his flight.  Barely twenty four hours after Ahmed Gulak was killed, a former Enugu State High Court Judge, Justice Stanley Nnaji was reportedly assassinated by a yet to be identified gunmen in Enugu in a broad day light. The tension is building up in seconds. We are definitely on the keg of gunpowder.

The Nigerian government’s chances of effectively managing the escalating violence appear to be more compounded by multiple state government and non-state actors’ responses. The Nigerian government must stay ahead of the challenges, from combating existing violence to managing emerging threats and non-state actors’ unorthodox responses.

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First, to avert this looming war coming, it is very important to note that violence can never be matched with violence. The end result will never benefit parties involved. No Nation has ever survived two internecine wars within a short period of time. The government should know that conversations about ending banditry through amnesty must be comprehensive and widely consultative. But then, consultation here in not only about ending banditry but also an open platform of dialogue in welcoming and listening to the yearnings of the Nigerian people towards reviewing the 1999 constitution and more still bringing the proponents of different secessionists movement springing up speedily across the country to the national dialogue table.

Government must learn lessons from the widely regarded unsustainable presidential amnesty programme for ex-Niger delta militants and the litany of failed peace deals extended to bandits in the past. These experiences must inform the government to collaborate with conflict experts in negotiating and drafting a comprehensive and sustainable amnesty programme for bandits.

It is important to note that the commitment of the Multinational Joint Task Force should be considered and renewed. The New Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Major Gen. Farouk Yahaya must ride on his appointment’s newness to stimulate further assurances among the MNJTF member-states. We want to believe that it is in our nation’s best interest to champion the call for improved regional commitment against the insurgency. It seems that Nigeria’s military outfits are overwhelmed by the country’s escalating security crisis. Improved regional collaboration will complement Nigeria’s war-weary troops against the insurgents.

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We are of the position that the recent explosion of fresh violence and conflict in Nigeria  should engender the Nigerian government to find new solutions to it before they skyrocket to a point of no return.

Rev. Fr. Anthony Aneke is the Managing Director and Editor in Chief of The Choice Flame Newspaper, Catholic Diocese of Enugu. He is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. His Passion for media is born out of his desire to see a media in our ever challenging and complex world whose dexterity is centered on facts, truth and accurate representation of events with the aim to strengthen the many institutions of our society and the church to serve all across spheres.
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Rev. Fr. Anthony Aneke is the Managing Director and Editor in Chief of The Choice Flame Newspaper, Catholic Diocese of Enugu. He is a Priest of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu. His Passion for media is born out of his desire to see a media in our ever challenging and complex world whose dexterity is centered on facts, truth and accurate representation of events with the aim to strengthen the many institutions of our society and the church to serve all across spheres.
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