Self Defence and the Rule of Law

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Self Defence and the Rule of Law

There is no gainsaying the fact that security of lives and property is the primary responsibility of government across all climes.

Nigeria as a nation is not an exception and could boast of security apparatus to maintain law and order as well as defend her territories against invasion and other security threats.

It is suffice to say that Nigerian security agencies have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism, diligence, doggedness, discipline and integrity in the peace mission operations in Africa and beyond.

However, recent happenings have raised serious concern on the capability of Nigerian security agencies in the task of protecting people as security breaches remain unabated.

The country, therefore, is grappling with recurring cases of terrorism, herdsmen /farmer’s clashes, insurgency, abduction and bunkering.

In January this year only, available statistics show that over 120 people were sent to their early grave allegedly due to herdsmen/farmers clashes in Benue and Taraba states, while uncountable number sustained varying degrees of injuries.

These unfortunate shedding of blood across the country which had defied solutions might have compelled retired general and former Minister of Defence, Theophilous Danjuma to call for self defence.

This volatile statement from an elder statesman has generated mixed feelings among Nigerians. Some see the action as uncalled for, it could do more harm than good

The senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and Publicity, Mr. Garba Sheu while reacting to the statement, pointed out that the defense must be within the ambit of the law.

According to him, self defence which is the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of one family, is entrenched in the law of the land, which only allowed when four principal elements are proved

The elements are an unprovoked attack which threatens imminent injury or death, an objectively reasonable degree of force used in response to and an objectively reasonable fear of injury or death.

It is apparent that the interpretation which is cumbersome is not the best option rather, the protection of lives and properties.

As good as the call for self defence is, it can be hijacked by people with sinister thoughts to perpetrate their selfish and nefarious interests.

More importantly, Nigeria is a developing nation is not ripe enough for such a call, as arbitrary acquisition of weapons by the citizens would portend more danger for the nation on the long run.

Nigerians should realise that no meaningful development could take place in an environment where blood shedding and other forms of intolerance are the order of the day.

Rather than embarking on self defence, the Federal Government as a matter of urgency, should adequately equip all the nation’s security agencies to enable them be alive to their responsibilities.

The security agencies should shun all forms of the alleged ethnic bias by treating all citizens equally irrespective of their, tribal, religious or political leanings.

The citizens also owe a duty to give adequate information to the security agents of any suspicious movements. On no account should they harbour terrorists in the name of ethnic or religious coloration.

It is when there is collaboration between the security agents and the citizens that the nation could be rid of terrorism and other criminal activities.

Iyabo Adebisi

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