Law enforcement duties are basic demand of the society from its government. Human lives better lives where their cherished values and properties are protected from atacks and injustices are prevented. Most developed societies are places where citizens are allowed to think and achieve their aspirations under well defined and working state’s law enforcement capabilities.
What defines a failing state according to the UN, is the level of local perception of security. The higher the abuse on right of citizens and apparent lack of remediation via law enforcement, the more people resorts to self help, keeping of private armies and warbands.
Policing and timely equity based justice are sine qua non for development of a society. States without proper security protocol and abuse of processes eventually descend into fratricidal civil wars.
Nigeria is a well endowed nation with abundant deposits of minerals and human resources. One major advantage of this should have been accelerated economic growth and development. But apparent failure of the state to engineer real growth from these potentials have created a huge population of poor and largely deprived population.
Increased criminality -kidnapping, armed robbery and murder-, growing illicit economies – drugs and narcotics, smuggling and human trafficking, and a resort to self help and protests by the public are apparent reflecting of a defective society on the brink of extinction.
Failure of state’s law enforcement structure to be proactively respond to criminals and provide adequate justice has been proffered as a major index in the proliferation of armed groups and development of terror groups like Boko Haram and the Herdsmen imbroglio. Since growing radicalism are usually premised on the perceived lack of politically correct solution to issues in the state, then failure of law enforcement in Nigeria to address effectively agitations in public domains could be deducted as stimulating factor for expansion of insecurity perception in the society. Increase insecurity is an invitation to public rebellion and radicalization.
Local laws are stringently applied to restrict public ownership of control of means of violence in Nigeria. Only the state is allowed to own and control instrument of violence. Yet current estimates put light arms on Nigerian streets to be between five and twenty millions guns in a country with less than six hundred thousand law enforcement personnel.
This statistics reveals the reason behind recent call by the IGP for immediate mop up of guns on the streets as a preventive effort. The effort which was embraced by few law abiding members of the public, has been met with descenting voices from ethnic groups that perceive it as a ploy to disarm them and make them vulnerable to attacks from government sponsored killing groups.
This response is a reflection of the level of trust between the public and the government. High distrust in ability and determination of the state to provide realistic and dependable security is behind a growing market in arms in Nigeria. Even while it’s illegal to own high calibre guns, most Nigerian youth got exposed to and have handled machine guns at relatively young age comparable with their counterparts in states with relaxed gun laws.
Insecurity normally begets fear and the need to protect personal and cherished values, hence public need for means of protection have occasioned growth in public need for arms and ammunition in a society where only the state is legally the only form of legal protection and strict gun control laws.
Recent happenings with the Shiites movement which has been ongoing for the past three years and has moved from Zaria to the hallowed ground of Abuja remains worrisome to discerning security observers. It’s a reflection of the events in Maiduguri and Yobe that led to the emergence of the Boko Haram group by the turn of the century. The continuos use of police as instrument of oppression by the state and lack of concise information and plan on ending the siege from the government creates divisions and improves resorts to violent acts by the people in retaliation.
The Nigerian State is currently too divided for a prolong security challenge in Abuja of all places. The Nigerian state should concentrate efforts on solving the current issue with the Shiites and get a closing on the issue before it transform into another major crisis. The current security forces are too over stressed, too few and highly ineffective given current success statistics to take on newer challenges. A stitch in time could still save nine.