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Government must embark on security sector reforms urgently…ED CISLAC

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani is currently the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), and Head of Transparency International (Nigeria) as well as the Chairman, Zero Corruption Coalition (ZCC). Likewise, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani is the past immediate coordinator representing Sub African region on Civil Society Coalition on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. He is a co-convener of Say No Campaign.

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani is a Political Scientist from Bayero University Kano-Nigeria, with many international courses. He is a Human Rights, Anti-Corruption, Policy, and Legislative Advocacy Activist interested in the positive transformation of Nigeria and Africa.

In this interview with NigeriaCrime.com, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani talked about the security challenges that had bedeviled Nigeria and how corruption, and lack of accountability in the security sector have compromised the battle against insecurity.

Auwal Musa Rafsanjani also condemned the federal government’s rehabilitation of terrorists and bandits.

What do you think about, some state governments equipping guards to secure their states, like in Benue and other states?

Anything that is done outside constitutional provision, and without public discussion agreeing and disagreeing on it, we would call for caution.
Though we are very disappointed with the way and manner in which the federal government handles security in this country, we cannot afford to encourage any illegal means of the so-called creation of a militia group in the name of responding to insecurity.

What does these state government security outfit potent?

Invariably, what they will be doing is arming citizens that are not properly equipped, citizens that do not have the legal and constitutional mandate to carry out operations. Giving them arms, and ammunition without any proper training or skill to deal with matters of insecurity.

So invariably they will begin to or are likely going to misuse such kinds of weapons against one another.

We have seen similar incidences where politicians provide ammunition during elections to young persons and after the elections, they abandon them at the end of the day some of the young people who have arms at their disposal, use them for other things.

What other alternatives are available to address these issues?

So we think that whatever the situation, we must insist that security sector reforms are carried out in this country to ensure efficiency. To ensure that our security personnel is properly recruited, properly deployed, and given the necessary morals and incentives to enable them to carry out the work they were recruited for.

Some of these Governors over time have clamoured for state police, for the constitution to be amended, to allow for state police, these yearnings have met stumbling blocks, don’t you think their resort to creating militia, or arming guards, in response to the need to protect their population and yearnings of their people,?

I think that some of the governors that they are talking about state police know what to do because there are processes and procedures, we must follow to change the constitution and get these things done. As far as I am concerned up till now we have not seen how governors come together mobilise all the senators from their states, mobilise the representatives from their states, mobilise all stakeholders from their state, and come together to demand that the constitution must be reformed or addressed in a manner that will enhance security and will enable the state police creation.

We have governors who have been talking to be popular but in reality, they refuse to follow due process and they have not engaged even in their state’s conversations, and discussions on security.

There is a difference between cheap talk and walking the talk to ensure that it is what the majority of Nigeria agrees on.

We need to decentralise security systems in Nigeria. We need to reform security systems.

We need to have state police or community policing. Everything must be done within the legal framework.

During the time of President Jonathan, we had a national conference in 2014, a lot of discussions around improving insecurity dominated that conversation but the Jonathan administration set up the confab and did not even look at the report not to talk about implementing it.

This administration has been in power for seven years we have been talking about security sector reforms but they are not listening to anybody.

In all of these, what do you think Nigerians should do?

Nigerians must not get tired of demanding security improvements in the country.

We are in a democracy we have every democratic right to demand accountability on how security operations are carried out.

We don’t have security accountability in this country and that is why impunity is going on.

A lot of billions have been budgeted for the securit sector and yet Nigerians cannot see tangible improvement in their lives and safety. Nigerians have become endangered species, a lot of Nigerians cannot move from one local government to another. So what are they doing with all the billions budgeted in the name of security?

Do you think they have used the security vote judiciously?

A lot of governors are not able to explain what they do with the security vote.

The security vote is almost like free money because it is not audited, or accounted for.

Many officials are using security votes for political and personal enrichment.

We cannot talk about improving security when this kind of corruption is happening in the security sector.

Do you think the Nigerian Customs are doing enough to curb the proliferation of arms into the country? And what is the way out?

Customs have been very lazy in terms of detecting the proliferation of arms in Nigeria.

The number of weapons we are seeing, is no longer small arms, but big arms are coming into the country, we have customs officials at the land borders, airports, and seaports.

We cannot continue to expect an improvement in the safety of Nigerians while all these heavy arms are coming.

The auditor general made mentioned in his report that over 164 arms and ammunition cannot be accounted for, they are missing in the hands of police.

A lot of money has been budgeted for police to receive arms and ammunition since 2019, but to date, they haven’t received anything.

So we can not afford to be siphoning public taxpayers’ money in the name of security yet Nigerians are not seeing any improvement in the security of their lives and properties.

Every part of the country is vulnerable now. We cannot afford to be chasing citizens out of their homes and farms, bandits and terrorists are tasking Nigerians to pay taxes before they go to their farms, and yet you are budgeting a large amount of money for security where is the money, where is the difference between what you have budgeted and what you have not budgeted.

As far as we are concerned the solution to the insecurity in this country is to have a sincere security sector reform at all levels so that we have more decentralisation of the security sector.

We can no longer sustain this system, especially within the police.

For instance, if anything thing is happening in a state, the state governor cannot call on the police to do anything except there is approval from the federal government, from the president by that time people would have been wiped out, and people would have been killed.

So there is a need for us to have a holistic national discussion and dialogue about security sector reform.

It is not to form a militia or to use the so-called militia tactics to steal money and leave the citizens in a very hobble and miserable way.

We are condemning any attempt to create a militia that is not coming from the constitution or any legal framework that will guarantee the safety and security of Nigerians.

On the influx of small arms in the country, what do you think is the way to mop them up?

Firstly, Customs sometimes say that have arrested some containers of arms and ammunition.

The question is that where are those arms and ammunition are they destroying them, or are they putting those arms into use?

Secondly, the arms that suspects say they surrender and they give up their arms who are in the custody of those arms.

Thirdly Auditor General of the federation those the missing arms within the police, who are responsible for missing those arms.

What have the police done to recover those arms and to discipline those officials within the police that connive with the criminals to rent the arms to them?

So we must be more serious about safety and security in Nigeria. We can’t simply be sweeping issues in the carpet.

The National Assembly has a responsibility under its oversight function to ensure that they take an audit of all the money allocated which is supposed to be spent based on the appropriation act of the National Assembly.

Why is it that the National Assembly and relevant committees are not able to interrogate the missing trillions of naira that are not commiserate to the safety, protection, and welfare of Nigeria’s security, including the Army and police?

We cannot continue to serve the interest of a few individuals at the expense of the lives and protection of Nigerians.

What are CSOs doing to address these issues?

Civil Society will continue to draw the attention of the government and will continue to provide credible information on how to government should go about dealing with issues of insecurity, and civil society organisation has been engaging in a very productive and credible way to provide information to government based on international comparison and experiences to see how we can improve in terms of insecurity challenges in the country.

But rather than listen to some of their officers who benefit from siphoning, diversion and stealing public taxpayer’s money in the name of providing security they won’t listen, but we have a responsibility as responsible patriotic Nigerians to continue to demand accountability, to continue to ensure that Nigerians are protected because the consequences of refusing to secure the country are enormous.

What are the economic implications of insecurity?

There are lots of consequences for refusing to take appropriate and timely action to secure the country and the people.

Many companies are shutting down by implication, more Nigerians are going to be thrown into poverty because there are no jobs to keep their families.

And this government has committed itself during the last electoral campaign, in 2014/2015 they promised to secure the country but as I speak to you now a lot of children cannot go to school, hundreds of them are being abducted, kidnapped by terrorists, by impregnating them, marring them up illegally. and yet the government is sitting down there.

Sir to be clear are you against the government negotiating with bandits and terrorists?

We cannot be pampering terrorists and criminals.

The government is engaging in what they call rehabilitation, and mobilisation of repented criminals that have destroyed communities, that killed people.

No dialogue to let the community forgive the wrong that has been done to them.

Now they are empowering those criminals who committed those atrocities.

Something is wrong with the policy that the Nigeria government is applying.

The same applies to negotiating with bandits and criminals.

Nigerians are suffering, we need to do something, in other to restore the hope and confidence of the citizens, that is why we are calling on the government to urgently embark on security sector reforms.

without reforming, the current security architecture it is going to be difficult for Nigerians to be safe anymore.

We have a population of over two hundred million, we have a huge amount of billions spent on the security sector.

Why is it that the gadgets are not working? where are the satellite images? where is the intelligence? where are the people that are supposed to help us dictate crimes and criminals?

We condemned taking taxpayer’s money to pamper and remobilise criminals because the more you give them that money you are intensifying them to commit more atrocities; so government must utilise its resources, internal and external, to block this tendency of more criminals.

Don’t you think that terrorism in Nigeria is financed through our financial system?

Look, Nigerian government is very much aware that terrorists are financing terrorism through the financial system. Where is the Central Bank of Nigeria? The Central Bank of Nigeria allows terrorists to use the financial system in the country to finance terrorism
This is a report coming from ECOWAS.

Nigeria is a member of ECOWAS, and in ECOWAS report, clearly shows that Nigerian financial institutions are being used to finance terrorism.

The government keeps on saying that they know Boko Haram, they know the sponsor of Boko Haram, where are they? Why are they not arrested them? They have not done anything, so the game is too much.

Government must come clean, we can not continue to allow citizens to die simply because some few individuals are untouchable.

Recently, sir, there were reports on some soldiers tendering their resignation letters for inadequate logistics to fight banditry, how do you manage that with our government at the same time procuring Hilux vehicles even though the Niger government said it’s not true, what danger does this portend to the already devastated Nigeria?

It comes out to show you how serious our public officials are, and it also shows you the in-depth corruption in Nigeria.

That is why the government is unable to prioritise our internal security challenges. They are using the opportunity to siphon public taxpayer’s money.

The Niger people, said they have not seen any vehicle, and these vehicles that the government of Nigeria has spent money to buy, are not for any securities, they are luxurious cars and yet even the receivers are denying that they have received anything, so, something funny has happened, they must account for it.

Unfortunately, National Assembly has not called for a public hearing to interrogate who are the contractors. We have a public procurement loan they applied to procure these vehicles.

Why should Nigeria prioritise other countries’ luxury enjoyment over its citizens that are killed every day? I think something funny has happened and they must account for it.

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