By John Egbeazien Oshodi
Politically speaking, with 17 months to leave office, President Muhammadu Buhari, try to bring smiles and less fear to Nigerians, by making the Nigerian space pregnant with healthy human rights appearances and acts. Significantly, curtail rights violations by law enforcement and security agencies, especially the Nigeria police force (NPF) and the State Security Service (SSS) also known as the Department of State Services (DSS).
Over and over, the democratic world has complained and counseled you and your administration to stop violating human rights with impunity, now, you have the coming weeks and months to normalize human rights acts in Nigeria.
President Buhari, the SSS, and the police should be vigorously protecting the right of movement of citizens and visitors within Nigeria, to avoid embarrassing words like the United States issuing an alert to its citizens against travelling to Nigeria, warning them of threats by Nigerian kidnappers who now target citizens with dual nationalities as contained in the US State Department’s Nigeria Travel Advisory dated January 4, 2022. Sir, the SSS, and the Police can remain in denial, but this is no longer good for you and the nation.
In our current global surroundings, your words still ring loud when in 2015, on assuming office you said your government will not flout constitutionally guaranteed human rights of the people. Let’s assume there were mistakes made especially when you cannot monitor the ill behaviors of individual police, SSS and other enforcement agents.
Now, Sir, 17 months is enough to call to order the respective leadership, and men/women of law enforcement and security agencies.
Psychologically, this is the time for you to make a calculation, considering your age and health needs, you deserve less national stress which is quite possible with individual officers respecting and protecting the rights of the people.
As a well-known reader of traditional national newspapers and possibly online newspapers, you must have come across this: “Don’t mind the media shout; do the job I command you. If anyone accuses you of human rights violation, the report will come to my table, and you know what I will do. So, take the battle to them wherever they are and kill them all. Don’t wait for an order.” Guess what, these hair-raising words did not come from Idi Amin of Uganda or Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, they came from the mouth of Usman Baba your then-acting Inspector General of Police now permanent.
Mr. President, even with your no-nonsense, stern military doctrinaire and strict disciplinarian backgrounds, such words have never come from you, especially when Baba openly endorsed “human rights violation”.
Not long ago, the world watched how some young peaceful activists who went to a church to worship were arrested and maltreated for wearing #BuhariMustGo T-shirts on a Sunday, and they accused DSS of violating their human rights by refusing to release them from detention even after a magistrate court granted them bail.
It took the threat of a sue and a warning of contempt of court from a federal high court judge to the leadership of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, which then resulted in the release of the illegally detained peaceful protesters.
This type of sad observation of SSS officers and unnecessary disobedience of court orders does weaken the rule of law and gives you, Buhari a bad name globally.
President Buhari, 17 months is sufficient to curb these types of unwise conduct that encompasses illegal violation of individuals’ constitutional rights.
Since 2015, multiple times you are known for asking the media to be mindful of inflammatory “words and actions” and urging them to avoid anything that will “exacerbate the situation and further inflame passions and emotions.” Guess what, it is you and your law enforcement and security operations that are inflaming fear and wahala (disturbances) in terms of documented human rights violations.
On a prescriptive note, in the next 17 months, you can start showing the diversity of human rights by speaking and acting against nepotism which I must say you are not the first to practice, but you made it more noticeable even to the American congressional Human rights commission.
You can change things now, and new actions on your part will reduce acts of inflaming human rights abuses around various ethnic nationalities and affect our diverse workplace positively.
In the next 17 months, you can along with the legislature help preserve individual freedom, and equality of the people irrespective of religion and ethnicity, by causing some healthy institutional changes.
Start by repositioning the DSS which currently exists within the presidency, which makes it more of an autocratic threat to the satisfaction of ordinary citizens’ rights. The current positioning that puts the SSS under the control of the president makes it more of a political camp, that is mainly accountable to the authoritarian powers of a president. We are no longer in the military era!
On an institutional basis, you have all the time to change the name, now called the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Homeland Security Affairs (MHSA) and integrate the SSS, NPF, the so-called ministry of police, Aviation, and align them with security agencies like immigration, Corrections, fire service, Customs, and Civil defense. As you know the people’s civil rights and civil liberties are affected by the respective activities of these agencies, as such a place like MHS could better and fully coordinate all “homeland security” endeavors.
In 17 months, you can drive fully, the office of Attorney general at the Ministry of Justice, to a body that looks beyond religion and ethnicity, an organ that will pursue human rights enforcement efforts equally, to uphold the public and constitutional rights of all who live in Nigeria.
In the next 17 months, you can prepare a civil environment that will not allow a president or governor to misuse the SSS, the Police and the Military which are sometimes used to undermine the protest rights of the people.
In 17 months, you can create an atmosphere whereby the Attorney general will truly act as the chief lawyer of all Nigerians, respect and treat all court orders the same way, and not be selective regarding enforcing judgments of courts. We need a non-biased legal officer of the nation that executes court orders and pronouncements equally whether the judgment is against the federal government, state government, or revolves around a citizen.
In the next 17 months, that abusive word “invitation’ that usually comes in form of a letter to Nigerians is a foolish and tyrannical phrase often used by SSS, police and other likes, and it needs to be abolished in your time. As the proper thing to do is carry out an investigation in a non-intimidating manner without subtle or obvious threats then announce the issuing of a report for charges or no charges in a timely manner.
President Buhari as the chief executive law enforcer of the country there is one type of madness worrying the Nigeria police leadership which they all share for far too long, that is, the dispatching of a team of police officers from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to go to a State or transporting a person under investigation in their respective localities to Abuja.
Why this uneconomical method when there is a police command in every state? No other democratic police system does this except an abnormal one.
In 17 months, you and the legislature have enough time to provide an environment for States to establish State/local police by helping them put the necessary checks in place to protect the citizens against their misuse by governors and powerful persons, just as it is currently be done with the Nigeria police, SSS and others.
President Buhari, yes you come across as a faith-based president, as one with dictatorial tendencies due to your military history but as the end comes, In sha’Allah, God willing, as you are getting ready to return to Daura, Katsina State, to tend your cattle, this is the time to become a champion of human rights.
By vigorously pressing on the men and women of SSS, NPF, and others that Nigeria, henceforth will legally become an environment of human rights, but they must be willing to protect and enforce those rights. I am one of those who realize you as doing your best, and in your own words, Nigerians as a people and systems are the problems, what I long called ‘Nigeriantitis’. Sir ‘nor mind them’, do not mind them. You have said that you don’t really care who takes over from you, well Nigerians’ do as they care about human rights and strong institutions. So, prepare the grounds very well.
Remember that once you become a former president, especially on human rights issues, immunity no longer applies to you, as such you are answerable to many questions, including human rights abuses locally and globally. So, take my suggestions here.
Let the people of Nigeria and the world compose a song in these last 17 months that show Muhammadu Buhari of katsina, has significantly replaced the foundations of impunity and lawlessness with human rights and rule of law operating across Nigeria through our law enforcement and security systems.
John Egbeazien Oshodi who was born in Uromi, Edo State in Nigeria, is an American-based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. A former Interim Associate Dean/Assistant Professor at the Broward College, Florida. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings. In 2011, he introduced the State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and the Nasarawa State University where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. A Virtual behavioral Leadership Professor at the ISCOM University, Republic of Benin. Founder of the Proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien University (TEU) of Values and Ethics, a digital project of Truth, Ethics, Openness. Author of over 40 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books. He specializes in psycho-prescriptive writings regarding African institutional and governance issues.
John Egbeazien Oshodi wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
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