By Michael Peter, The Sight News
Abuja: In what appears to be a move to restrict the military to its constitutional role of defending the sovereignty of Nigeria, calls in some quarters are being made for the creation of an alternative force, saddled with the mandate to deal with terrorism and other emerging crimes.
This was disclosed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Defence, Abubakar Kyari at a presentation/launch of Report from Interactive Needs Assessment with the National Assembly Security Sector Related Committees organised by the Policy and Legal Advocacy Center (PLAC) and Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) with support from UK government through the West Africa Conflict and Security Fund.
Senator Kyari decried what he described as the lowering of the military to doing the job of policing in recent times, stressing the need to either build the capacity of the Police Force or create another Force which would be higher than the Police and lower than the military in order to effectively address the current security challenges facing the nation.
“Our military has been taken out of their original constitutional role as defenders of the sovereignty of the country to policing. That has caused many issues. We have never seen a situation where the Army, the Navy or the Air Force has been brought down to do normal policing even to controlling traffic. It has become that low.
“These are so many issues we, as a committee and as a legislature, are looking into.
“I share this view, but I am more inclined to building capacity. If the police can be enhanced to do that work more, I think it is a better arrangement, because having too many different forces may not solve the problem” he said.
Earlier, the Executive Director, PLAC, Clement Nwankwo stressed the need for the Nigerian Military to be responsive to the issues of respect for human rights and needs of citizens.
“I think that it is important for the security services to realise that there is need for respect for international best practices, security maintenance and defence of the country”.
He pointed out that on the project, PLAC in conjunction with its partners has been able to work with the national Assembly to assess their capacity to better carry out the oversight on the security sector.
Also speaking at the event, the West Africa Conflict and Security Team Adviser on Security and Justice Reform Programme, Katrina Altken-Laird, noted that as the nation approaches another electioneering season, Nigerians and security organizations must realise they have a clear role to play in promoting peace and stability in the polity.
“As we consider the various challenges that face this region, and look forward to the future, including the elections scheduled for 2019, Nigerian citizens, government structures and security bodies have a crystal clear positive role to play in promoting peace and stability throughout the region. The UK is committed to supporting that.
“We recognize improved security as a key requisite for a longer term development and economic apex” she said.
She also reminded Civil Society groups and the media of their roles in ensuring government’s policies are implemented and activities of security agencies are monitored.
In her remark, the Assistant Director and Head of Sub -Saharan Africa Division – Africa Programme, DCAF, Dr. Sandy Africa, who lauded the National Assembly for having a clear cut legislative agenda on security, noted that it has become imperative that the framework, capacity and political will be present to effectively tackle the emerging security challenges in the country.
The Interactive Needs Assessment project aims to improve the democratic oversight in the Nigerian security sector, particularly to engage with the Nigerian legislature.