In the fight against insecurity, the EU advises the Federal Government to look beyond the military

[FILE] Ambassador Ketil Karlsen and other EU officials during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The European Union (EU) has urged the Federal Government to consider alternatives to military deployment in the ongoing fight against terrorism in the Northeast and other crises causing instability across the world.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Europe Day 2021, Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said that while the military option should not be ruled out, other alternatives, such as dialogue and legal instruments, should be developed and explored.

Karlsen reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to a deep and robust mutually beneficial relationship with Nigeria, and stated that the EU will continue to help the country in addressing challenges and finding opportunities.

Even in the face of recent upheavals, he said, the EU-Nigeria relationship has never been stronger or more important, noting that the EU bloc of 27 member states remains Nigeria’s largest trading partner, first investor, top donor of humanitarian and development aid, and largest diplomatic network.

He cited many examples of EU involvement in Nigeria, including collaboration with authorities to address security issues across the region. According to him, “we are endorsing the government’s attempts to combat terrorism, radicalization, and violent extremism, as well as criminal justice system reform.”

MEANWHILE, Femi Falana, a human rights activist and senior lawyer, has said President Muhammadu Buhari should stop giving Nigerians the “false impression” that the US would intervene in Nigeria’s security challenges.

“Rather than give Nigerians the false impression that the US would send troops to protect them, the Federal Government should be forced to embark on mass recruiting of military and police personnel, equipping and motivating them to defend every part of the country. Furthermore, all state and local governments should proceed to establish defence committees comprised of young men and women in each community to work with the police in securing the lives and assets of all citizens,” Falana said yesterday while delivering a paper in Abuja.

The paper was presented at a public lecture commemorating the 80th birthday of Omotoye Olorode, a botany professor and activist. Falana said that the government should reinforce its security forces rather than rely on US assistance, which he believes is unlikely.

According to the senior advocate, “regrettably, Nigeria is currently witnessing the virtual collapse of the neocolonial state’s security infrastructure due to successive regimes’ diversion of the massive fund earmarked for procurement of arms and ammunition for the armed forces and the police.”

“To prevent terrorists and bandits from overthrowing the government, President Buhari has asked President Joe Biden to join the ruling class in the fight against terror and banditry. The federal government has also requested President Biden to move the US African Command (AFRICOM) from Germany to Africa without consulting the African Union or ECOWAS.

“Since 2009, the cry for assistance in prosecuting counterinsurgency operations has fallen on deaf ears among Western leaders. As if that weren’t enough, the US and its allies stopped Nigeria from possessing critical security equipment to fight the war on terror due to the armed forces’ and police’s appalling human rights record”.

Reports of kidnappings and brutal killings carried out by bandits and Boko Haram terrorists have recently dominated the news. Last week, 239 people were killed and 44 were kidnapped in separate incidents across the region.

Alarmed Nigerians, including senators, have urged the presidency to pursue international assistance. During a virtual meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday, President Buhari begged the US government to reconsider relocating US Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa, closer to the theatre of operations.

THE PROPOSAL has elicited a wide range of reactions from diplomats, foreign policy experts, and security experts, as predicted. Dr. Olu Agunloye, former Minister of State for Defence, said the invitation from the United States and other foreign nations is a welcome development because Nigeria has been mismanaged and now faces crucial problems that could lead to its complete collapse. When confronted with problems that have the potential to become permanently irreversible, he believes that you must swallow your pride and seek assistance from all sources.

“The security situation has outgrown us; we must return to the Americans to reintroduce ARFICOM, because we previously said that we did not want it when we were in a position of power. This new decision is not a sign of weakness, but rather a desperate last-ditch attempt because the leadership has fucked things up.”

Prof Ayodeji Olukoju, a renowned historian and member of the African Peace Building Network’s Advisory Board in New York, believes that asking for aid is not anything to be ashamed of.

“Why have we had to wait this long to ask for this kind of assistance? I believe it is a sound decision; it is late, but it is never too late. But first and foremost, what are the terms, what do we have to offer in return for this assistance?

“Some may call it re-colonialism or neocolonialism, but Nigeria interfered in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and, most recently, Mali and Guinea. The situation then justified ECOWAS leaders’ opposition to locating AFRICOM here in 2012, but this is 2021, and the situation does not justify it.”

Dr. Joshua Bolarinwa, Assistant Secretary General of the Nigerian Society of International Affairs, Society for Peace Studies and Practice, and Historical Society of Nigeria, stated that the invitation is appropriate because Nigeria’s security problems are much greater than she can bear. “Unfortunately, Idris Debby’s death has also provided a significant obstacle for Nigeria in its battle against Boko Haram. Chad has been extremely supportive, which is why the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force were relocated to Ndjamena,” he explained.

However, Davidson Aikhmen, National President of the Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria (ALPSPN), the umbrella body of all registered and licenced private security companies in the country, said those calling for foreign involvement are not serious in their request for assistance. According to the security expert, there is currently a lot of chaos in the country.

“We have the domestic tools to curb and deal with the insecurity issues, but our dilemma is more political. We will achieve results when there is political will on the part of the leadership to deal decisively with the challenges we face, when there is no ethnicisation of the issue. When matters are treated with fairness and total neutrality on the part of the leadership, and military operations are permitted to be carried out in accordance with military procedures without intervention from the political leadership, restiveness will subside and there will be little need for foreign assistance.

“At the start of the Boko Haram insurgency, we had a lot of foreign assistance that came in, but when they saw the betrayal, particularly how knowledge and intelligence was getting into enemy hands, they beat a retreat.”

GOVERNOR Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State has announced that the National Assembly’s declaration of a state of emergency would not resolve the nation’s raging security challenges. He talked to State House Correspondents yesterday after meeting with the President’s Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

This comes just 48 hours after the National Assembly asked President Muhammadu Buhari to declare a state of emergency on security following Boko Haram’s recent takeover of 42 communities in Niger State.

According to Governor Masari, the military is already overstretched, and declaring a state of emergency will only add to their workload.

He urged Nigerians not to politicise security issues, pointing out that policing the country, particularly at this critical juncture, was everyone’s responsibility.

THERE WAS MORE SECURITY AT THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LAST NIGHT, with security agents spending more time checking vehicles entering the assembly complex.

The vehicle quest was more severe than normal, resulting in a long line at the Assembly’s entrance. Legislators and journalists have spent more time attempting to gain access to the complex.

Some workers and visitors grew tired of waiting and were seen getting out of their cars to walk from the MOPOL gate in the scorching heat. According to sources, there was an alleged security threat, necessitating the increased scrutiny.

THE Rivers State Security Council has levied a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the state’s entire 23 Local Councils, effective today. Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike said in a statewide broadcast yesterday that the decision to enforce the dusk-to-dawn curfew on the entire state was made after an exhaustive deliberation by the State Security Council at Government House, Port Harcourt.

The governor recalled that on April 28, the State Security Council placed a nighttime curfew on all entry and exit points with Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Imo states in response to recent murderous attacks on security personnel in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.

However, after reviewing the current security situation, the governor stated that there is a possibility of further deadly attacks on hard and soft targets in the state. To that end, he said that it has become imperative for the government to take additional required steps to secure the state and protect life and property.

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