By Centre For Crisis Communication
The Centre notes that the Nigerian Prisons Service sits at the very heart of Nigeria’s security architecture as the agency statutorily responsible for holding convicted offenders. Apart from the convicted offenders, the prisons also provide abode for those who are still awaiting trials for various crimes and offences ranging from pick-pocketing to terrorism. The prisons are indeed very sensitive and important security institution which must be accorded its priority place and strategic importance in the overall interest of the society.
The recent reported cases of security breaches that led to attempted and actual prisons breaks across the country is therefore a source of worry to Nigerians. An assessment of a number of Nigerian Prisons revealed a dire situation across the various prison facilities in the country. Apart from the obsolete and debilitating state of most of the prisons, there is an apparent shortage or inadequacy of the holding facilities. No doubt, most of the prisons are congested and over stretched not only with convicted criminals but mostly by awaiting trial inmates (ATI). Most of the reported cases of prison breaks in the country happened in the course of riots by the prisoners over prevailing poor conditions of living.
The staggering ratio of actual convicts to the awaiting trial inmates (ATI) is indicative of a systemic failure in our criminal justice system.
It is public knowledge that some of these ATI have spent far more years in the prisons waiting for justice. The Centre is convinced that the unwieldy number of inmates in most of the prisons, dilapidated structures and poor condition of service of the prison staff are some of the factors responsible for the recurring jail breaks in Nigeria.
The Centre therefore suggest that urgent steps should be taken that would see the reduction of the number of ATI which in turn will lead to the decongestion of the prisons. The steps include an overhauling of our criminal justice system to ensure rapid administration of justice. Equally important is adequate funding of the Nigerian Prisons Service to enable it fortify the prisons with trained personnel and modern facilities that will aid security and surveillance in our prisons. See the detailed info graphic analysis of situation in a few of the prisons that were assessed by the CCC.
|Analysis of 7 Nigerian Prisons depicting year of establishment, location, capacity, population, awaiting trial inmates and convicted inmates as at March, 2016.|
|S/No||Location||Year of Establishment||Capacity||Population||Awaiting trial||Convicted||% of Awaiting Trial inmates|
|Data collated by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC)|
Situation Report On The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
We recall that following the intensification of violence in the north east by the Boko Haram terrorists, there is currently a major humanitarian crisis in most parts of that region. Aside from the numerous deaths and destruction of properties occasioned by the activities of the sect, over 2 million people, mainly women and children, were displaced from their communities. The highest number of displacements took place in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
The August 2016 round of Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) assessment conducted by a team comprising representatives of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the respective State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMA) and Nigeria Red Cross indicated the following:
- A total of 2, 093, 030 IDPs (370,389 households) were identified in Abuja, Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Adamawa, Plateau, Taraba, Yobe and Zamfara.
- A total of 1,878,205 (89.74%) IDPs captured through the DTM assessment were displaced by insurgency.
- Majority of the IDPs are identified in Borno (1,446,829) followed by Adamawa (163,559) and Yobe (135,442) states.
- Of the total displaced population, 54% are children, 53% are females and 7.0% are above 60 years.
Situation In The Camps
The Centre undertook an assessment visit to some IDP camps in Borno state in August 2016 with a view to assessing progress made in the management of the camps and identified challenges. The Dalori camp for example which currently accommodates over 25,000 IDPs and one of the largest Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in the State still has basic necessities such as food, water, Medicare and sanitary facilities being a huge challenge. This is in spite of all the reports about foodstuffs, materials and cash donations from governments, international humanitarian agencies, groups and individuals. Hunger, malnutrition and starvation hallmark the daily condition in the camp.
Investigations and interactions with the IDPs revealed very disgraceful and criminal activities of some unscrupulous camp officials who divert foodstuffs and other materials meant for the camps. The Centre discovered that thousands of bags of rice and other food items are regularly diverted and re-bagged for sale in markets by state officials who are primarily in charge of camp administration. The impunity, ineptitude and insensitivity of these officials are basically responsible for the intolerable conditions in the camps. This underscores the reasons behind the current malnutrition of children, women and the aged experienced in the camps. For example, why should lack of firewood be a stumbling block to efficient feeding system in the IDP camps? These shortcomings have ensured that despondency, anguish, irritability and bottled-up anger pervade the camps. This is certainly not ideal for the psyche of the IDPs or safe for the society that they will ultimately be reintegrated into.
Our findings equally revealed that several of the “humanitarian agencies” that are more often in the news for one intervention or the other are really not physically on the ground in the camps. Except for a few acclaimed agencies like Red Cross, most of the agencies operate from hotel rooms from where they coordinate their publicity stunts. Their so-called ‘interventions’ and ubiquitous presence in the news media has little direct bearing to the welfare of the IDPs.
The Centre is of the view that there is an urgent need to review the management approach in IDP camp administration in relation to the handling of welfare needs of the IDPs. This will enable the authorities to block loopholes that engender unwholesome practices. Despite the huge donations in cash, materials and foodstuff from local and the international community, feeding and basic needs should really not be an issue in the camps. In this regard, we are urging the various governments to take a closer look at the activities of the camp officials. The Centre has noted with satisfaction the commendable roles of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force in the provision of regular medical outreach facilities and temporary educational facilities to the IDPs. We solicit for more support from all well to do men and women in our country to rise up towards assisting the IDPs with additional materials and logistic support. While we commend the efforts of several NGOs and CSOs who have been offering valuable material, spiritual and psychological assistance to the IDPs, we want to specifically acknowledge the efforts of NEMA in not only providing the necessary facilities at the camps but also constantly monitoring to ensure these essential materials are provided regularly.
Dialogue/Amnesty For Boko Haram
There is no doubt that the Nigerian military has largely achieved the mandate given them to crush the Boko Haram (BH) terrorists about a year ago. Although the operation is not over yet, these are certainly key indicators that the Nigerian military and other security agencies are winning the war against terror. The Centre is particularly excited about the rescue of thousands hostages made up of men, women, children and the aged freed from Boko Haram captivity over the past one year. Several territories and communities have been liberated with thousands of battle-weary ex-Boko Haram members surrendering to the superior fire power of Nigerian security agencies.
The subdued terror group no longer poses much threat to the Nigerian state. Indeed, a clear sign of the weakened position of the BH is the recent emergence of the Al- Barnawi group. There is no gainsaying that terror groups world over capitalise on modern information super highway to seek support and alliances. The recognition of the Al- Barnawi has therefore finally laid to rest the previous speculations on the BH alliance with the ISIS. While the military and security agencies have continued to intensify counter- terrorism efforts to end the insurgency, we must accept that the recent recognition of the BH splinter group has increased the complexity of the terror groups’ threat to Nigeria even if from a weakened position.
Accordingly, military solution as the Centre has stated in the past is not the only option. We view the recent overtures by the Shekau led BH faction for release of our abducted Chibok girls in exchange of some members of his group as providing another good basis for dialogue. We note with satisfaction the ardent desire of the government for the quick release of the Chibok girls through a genuine facilitations, negotiations and mediations. The Centre urges the government to continue to keep all options open. Similarly, on the issue of amnesty, we want to urge the government to be circumspect bearing in mind the complexity of the parties involved. The Centre believes a lot more homework needs to be done through public education and sensitization in the North-East to ensure aggrieved parties subscribe to granting amnesty to the BH.
An Omni-bus approach of political, socio-economic, trado-religious and other stakeholders’ is required in the issue of dialogue versus amnesty. This has to take into cognizance the need for concrete and implementable post-conflict rebuilding initiatives by the government backed by a legislation of the national assembly.
Niger Delta Militancy
The renewed militancy in the Niger Delta has been very costly to the Nigerian state in terms of loss of lives, damage to critical national infrastructures and environmental degradation. The Centre therefore call on the militants to immediately cease from their clandestine operations and urge for restraint from all sides to avoid unwarranted consequences. Niger Delta leaders and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians should prevail on the militant groups to embrace the olive branch of dialogue to address their demands.
Herdsmen – Farmers Clashes
The recurring violent clashes between herdsmen and farmers in various parts of the country which have continued to result in the deaths of hundreds of Nigerians have reached a crescendo.
The Centre welcomes current government action aimed at finding lasting solution to these deadly clashes. The Centre believes that more discussions and legislative actions at the National Assembly level are needed to fashion out appropriate laws guiding cattle herding in the country with a view to stemming the tide of recurring incidences of bloody attacks.
Attacks On Security Personnel
The Centre condemns in strongest term the recurring incidence of willful attacks and killing of security personnel by tribal militias and other criminal elements across the country. It is unwarranted, provocative and counter-productive.
The Centre viewed with shock the attack and killing of 11 soldiers by armed bandits in Bosso LGA of Niger State, recently. The soldiers were killed in a surprise attack by the bandits as they were about to deploy for cordon and search operation following reports of activities of gun runners in Kopa, Dagma and Gagaw villages in Bosso Local Government Area of the state.
Security personnel deployed for legitimate, official internal security duties must on no account be target of villainous attacks. Citizens must note that attacking security agents will attract retaliatory attacks by the security forces which definitely will not augur well for both the perpetrators and the community at large. The citizens owe it a duty to not only assist the security personnel with valued information that will aid our security agents to carry out their legitimate duties.
Indeed, the Centre recalls the savage attack on officers of Nigerian Police and the Department of State Service in 2013 by members of the Ombatse cult group in Nasarawa State that led to the death of over scores of security personnel.
Again, in September, 2015, no fewer than 10 personnel of the Department of State Services were killed by pipeline vandals in the Alepo creeks, Ogun State. The security operatives were on a legitimate duty at the creeks to police the oil pipelines when they were swooped upon and murdered in cold blood by the vandals.
Similarly, on May 10, 2016, gunmen suspected to be militants laid siege and killed three soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta at Foropa, Southern Ijaw LGA of Bayelsa State. The soldiers were also on legitimate surveillance duty against militants who were blowing up pipelines in the Niger Delta when they were ambushed and killed. These are just a few of such ugly incidences apart from the well-known attacks on security personnel by the Boko Haram terror group.
The Calls For Restructuring Of Nigeria
The Centre has also noted the recent calls for the restructuring of the country by some notable Nigerians. Some proponents posits that the only solution to the current socio-economic and political challenges in the country is to restructure it in such a way as to give room for fiscal federalism. Several variants of these advocacies and models are constantly being advanced which the proponents believe hold keys to our current problems. However, the extreme position is the one calling for the breakup of Nigeria if the present federal system is not working.
The Centre has no problem with Nigerians with different altruistic intentions coming out to proffer solutions to the country’s myriad of challenges. In fact, the Centre believes and encourages healthy cross fertilization of ideas and exchanges aimed at making our democracy and country great. However, the Centre urges Nigerians to be circumspect with calls for the breakup of the country. Anything that will lead to the disintegration of a united Nigeria must be jettisoned. The Centre does not believe in or subscribe to anything other than a peaceful, united, prosperous and progressive Nigeria.
Air Commodore Yusuf Anas
Centre for Crisis Communication
September 7, 2016