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THE KILLINGS AND ORGY OF VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA: FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN RESOLVING THE TRAGEDY

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I should like to commence by saying how highly disturbed I am, like other well-meaning Nigerians – by the orgy of violence that has rendered all of us the government and the governed, helpless in the past ten years. Evidently, the importance of the subject under reference could be gauged by the fact that there is hardly an observer of our nations political development, who is not worried about our collective dilemma concerning the cold-blooded murder of innocent souls all over the country. Certainly, many things have gone wrong. When this type of occurrence continues to defy solutions, then one could say without any fear of equivocation that something is surely wrong.

Suddenly and gladly, politicians have woken up to the reality that the hydra-headed problems of security breaches could, God forbid, consume the whole nation. In the past few days, our leaders at the federal and State levels appear to have envisaged the possible consequences of unchecked terror and are united, beyond political party affiliations, in their condemnation of the very terrible acts that are being committed daily all over the nation. Frenetic moves involving the Federal Executive and Legislative arms of government opened the fresh talks this week on how to contain the potentially explosive situation that could throw brothers against brothers in arms. State governors too moved over to Abuja to add their voices to the need to curtail the situation. And expectedly, there must have been several behind-the-scene actions that are not open to the media and the public.

Very pertinent posers are: Why are we all seemingly helpless? Why have we continued to grope in the dark after the exit of First Republic politicians from the scene? It is an established fact that for a society to be truly democratic, it must have self-ruled credentials; and it must necessarily be characterized by social justice, economic and social equality, as well as fairness. Easily, it could be asserted that there appears to be diminutive respect for the sanctity of human lives; as evidenced by the upsurge of the termination of innocent souls by terrorists. I say terrorists; because terrorism is viewed as: The use of violence or threat of violence in the pursuit of political, religious, ideological or social objectives. (Matusitz (2013) For clearer understanding of this piece, it is imperative to glimpse the laws binding the relationship of one person to the other in our nation.

THE EXTANT NIGERIAN CONSTITUTION.
Section 33 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) states most unequivocally that: Every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria. Accordingly, other points to note about this sacred responsibility of government; expected to be aided by the citizenry are as follows:
(2) A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his of her life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary –
(a) for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property:
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or
(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny.

Section 34 (1) states that Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly –
(a) no person shall be subject to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;
(b) no person shall he held in slavery or servitude; and
(c) no person shall be required to perform forced of compulsory labour.

THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
On December 10 1948, the United Nations made a commitment to uphold dignity and justice for all of us. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that addresses injustice, in times of conflicts, in societies suffering repression, and in global efforts at achieving universal enjoyment of human rights. The UN Human Rights agenda is accorded universal recognition and declares that: basic rights and fundamental freedoms are inherent to all human beings, inalienable and equally applicable to everyone, and that every one of us is born free and equal in dignity and rights. Whatever our nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. Another poser: Why have we been unable to nip this problem in the bud? Very simple. It is apparent that our inability to embrace the right culture of peace is the result of deep-seated animosity and distrust among the various groups that make up Nigeria. But one of the most potent means of controlling these ugly acts, apart from applying the use of force by governments, is the application of the Rule of Law. This writer has consistently argued that it is always better to nip a problem in the bud than allow it to obtrude itself. Therefore, there is an urgent need to have a basic understanding of how the citizenry perceive and react to the issues of violence, constraints, possible solutions and assessments of what could be achieved through dialogue and cooperation. No solution can be more enduring than home-grown solutions.

THE RULE OF LAW
The Nigerian constitution provides that the National ethics shall be
Discipline
Self-reliance and
Patriotism

PROTECTING FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS
Like Chapter 3 of the 1963 constitution, the extant constitution not only provides, but also entrenches fundamental human rights which every citizen is entitled to enjoy under the constitution. This Fundamental Human Rights reflect modern conceptions of the rights of the individuals within the leviathan framework of modern government. The nearest justification for the provision of fundamental human rights in the constitution was advanced by the Minoritys Commission of 1958; otherwise known as WILLINKS COMMISSION. Speaking about these rights, the commission declared that: Their presence, that is, in the constitution, defines beliefs widespread among democratic countries and provides a standard to which appeals may be made by those rights are infringed These rights are spelt out with some exhaustive detail and with particularity. They include the right to life, dignity of the human person, personal liberty, the right to fair trial, others include right to privacy, to homes and correspondents, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, peace, assembly and association, freedom of movement, property, right etc.

It is to be noted that human rights forbid such historic punishment as banishment, crucifixion, breaking on the wheel etc that may, under this provision, be regarded as cruel and degrading punishment. In a rather stunning judgement given by the American Supreme Court in 1972, it was held that the imposition of the death penalty was an inhuman and degrading punishment. This was held in the case of Farman us Georgian in 1972. It has also been held to amount to torture and inhuman treatment to chain a prisoner by the neck so that he could neither sit nor stand for hours. Section 34: the right to personal liberty is guaranteed every citizen as well as the right of every citizen against deprivation. The exception to these provisions are the normal sensible ones such as deprivation arising from conviction for offenses recognized by law after a trial, compulsory care for people with infections or contagious disease or subjecting to control of persons under 18years for the purpose of education; or for their welfare.

THE MAJOR CONSTRAINTS
How did Nigeria find itself in this very awkward position? What has gone wrong? And what needs to be done to move our dear nation forward? Our search for political stability has been long and tortuous and we are surprisingly yet to reach the Promised Land. Unfortunately, poverty, hunger, and uneven development, easily pose the most serious threat to peace all over the world, including our nation. Why must we all pay particular attention to these dreadful occurrences? The possible consequences are too grave to be imagined. Former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, once pointed out that there can be no long-term development without security; and no long-term security without development. Nor will any society remain prosperous for long without the rule of law and respect for human rights. This is why we all must rise up to the occasion by continuing to take measures that would make our country peaceful. The truth is that government alone cannot successfully arrest these problems. Governments require the collaboration of the people.

What we are witnessing in the Federal Republic might be a deliberate invitation to anarchy sponsored by people who dont love Nigeria; and indeed humanity. This is indeed a dangerous phenomenon that has to be reversed as quickly as possible in the interest of peace and stability; and the continued existence of Nigeria. Measures must be put in place to guarantee security and reduce poverty. There is nothing to suggest that we do not have some of the best brains in the world as citizens of Nigeria, who can turn the situation around. Commendably, we have a wonderful history of agitation for self-determination which assisted Nigeria in earning independence from colonialists, in a struggle championed by our forebears, who could stand shoulder to shoulder with other world leaders of their time in terms of intelligence, capability and patriotism.

POLITICAL LEADERS
Leaders should be seen to be engaging in pure service and not in unbefitting antics. I must state that it is evident that the conduct of the political class is still less than satisfactory. Leaders of the Executive and Legislature that should act as checks and balances, including the judiciary and the media, have happily reacted and are cooperating to find lasting solutions to these problems. We must realize the fact that there is no other civilized method of expressing preferences for politicians seeking elective offices than utilizing the democratic process. Politicians must learn to accommodate one another, no matter their political inclinations. It is tragic that the values of the society over the years have not helped the situation substantially. The political space has been greatly heated up such that we require positive actions to ward off the negative effects of incendiary pronouncements. And anyone who aspires to leadership role must never thrive on the basest of sentiments. Let our fundamental commitment be to the sustenance and promotion of peace and prosperity, as well as to the building on the solid foundation constructed by our departed leaders.

For our nation to properly chart an enviable course of development, we must thoroughly educate our people on their rights and obligations to the State; while also ensuring the delivery of sound education to the growing ones in our institutions. In addition, those who lead and govern must be ready to be transparent in their actions, while also demonstrating commitment and dedication to the growth and sustenance of our dear nation. This is where Civil Society Organizations must come in to join the campaign for peace and development; as well as the need to ensure that this democracy endures by educating the populace on the need to create more interest in democracy. Greater attention and emphasis must be accorded visioning and long-range planning to cater for reforms, especially institutional, fiscal, economic, political and legal reforms, which are believed to be capable of promoting good governance.

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION BE CAUTIOUS
Chapter 4. Section 39 of the Constitution provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including holding of opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Whoever has anything to say or write in order to proffer solutions must be allowed to make his or her views known. But we should also realize that there are boundaries to free speech. It is important to realize that as a society, we have no prospect of developing except our common policies, programmes and plans are executed in accordance with modern established principles of governance. I am sure that there is not a soul in this country today who in comfortable with the constant security breaches recorded, and the killings of innocent souls; even though insecurity is a global phenomenon.

If we must progress, we must insist on electing our preferences. And there is no basis to fight ourselves on electoral contests if the true intention is to serve the populace. One of the causes of the feverish struggles to occupy political offices, is the result of huge benefits accruing to leaders and appointees, such that many who engage in the vocation now view it as a do-or-die affair. A system that allows for electoral contests to be fiercely fought, not on the basis of issues, but with every conceivable dirty manner resulting into bad blood among the contestants must be actively discouraged. I ask that our leaders, and all who mean well for our nation should work out measures that will bail Nigeria out of the problems of insecurity, especially the termination of lives of innocent people.

A TEMPTING PERIOD FOR LEADERS
The season of elections is fast approaching. Evidently, the political barometer is currently dangerously high, notwithstanding the various measures adopted so far to make us witness peace. We are in the era of both genuine and sponsored solidarity marches and protests on account of monetary considerations. Every so often, when I run into anyone believed to be a charade, I wonder why? And all political parties are involved. Similarly, we are in an epoch of sycophancy that will thrive to its peak; and acted on account of bread and butter, to court the favour of bosses and rulers. It is for leaders at the three tiers of government to determine the directions of their governments and if they would permit sycophancy. And lastly, there will continue to emerge on the scene, many Biblical Ahitophels: the wise man who committed suicide, on account of making an unforgivable error of judgment when he advised Absalom to kill his father David, but God turned his counsel into foolishness.

Finally, it is important for our leaders to weigh suggestions carefully, because the buck stops on their tables. You can never tell. That Ahitophel that is hugely trusted as an adviser; could very well be the first person to betray the leader when he or she quits office. Let leaders be firm, decisive, forward-looking, check all tales and representations, and reason properly before taking actions.

May God help Nigeria; our own Jerusalem.