By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group: – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has warned the federal government of the far reaching devastating consequences of dialoguing or encouraging dialogues through the so-called back channels with armed bandits and terrorists threatening National Security.
HURIWA is also considering suing the President and the National Assembly to compel the executive arm of government and the Legislature to enforce the Counter terror Act should principal actors in the Federal Cabinet continue to actively sympathize and fraternize with terrorists and armed bandits in clear violations of the extant COUNTER TERTOR ACT.
The Rights Group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) stated that the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to tolerate the dialogues with terrorists as championed by the Kaduna Islamic Cleric Sheikh Abubakar Gumi is high treasonous and breaches the extant counter terrorism law which is a binding law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Rights group has also expressed shock and consternation with the language employed by the Kaduna Islamic Cleric in the so-called dialogues with terrorists just as the group said if it is true that the Moslem cleric blamed Christian members of the armed forces for the killings of the armed bandits, then this is an act of treason taken too far, if proven.
HURIWA has also categorically carpeted the Imo State governor Hope Uzodinma for his reckless and irrational Invitation of Military to embark on suspicious Military Operations in Orlu which is the second largest Senatorial Zone over a matter that did not call for full scale Military action given the population density of Orlu and the absence of any source of threats to the territorial integrity of Nigeria by the Eastern Security Network.
“Why did the Department of State Service (DSS) and Police harassed, humiliated and intimidated the Christian Southern Kaduna – born erstwhile Deputy governor of Central Bank of Nigeria Dr. Obadiah Mailafiya for revealing that a Northern governor knows more about the terror attacks in the North but these same Security Institutions are watching as Sheikh Abubakar Gumi is violating the counter terror Act by dialoguing with terrorists and even having knowledge of the exact locations of heavily armed non state actors and terrorists who have several kidnapped school children?
Besides, the Rights group condemned the activities of the Kaduna based Islamic Cleric for interfering with the war on terror, undermining National Security and portraying the Country as a lawless contraption whereby the counter terror law means nothing and should not be applied on some categories of terrorists because of their ethnicity or religion.
HURIWA stated that dialoguing with terrorists and armed bandits negates the essence of the extant counter terror law and does not meet the threshhold of the legal necessity of extending public support to the war on terror. Infact the toleration of the active sabotage of an existing law, portrays the Country as a banana Republic whereby some terrorists are better than the rest.
“No policy of government succeeds without public support. The war on terror is no exception. The primary way in which the law advocates support for the war on terror is the proscription of support for terrorism. Section 4(1) of the TPA provides that a person who knowingly, in any manner, solicits or renders support for an act of terrorism or a proscribed organization or an internationally suspected terrorist group, commits an offence under the Act and shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a maximum term of 20 years and a sentence of death where death results from the terror. It is interesting that support for terrorism is defined under subsection 3(c) to include offer or provision of moral assistance.”
“In same vein, section 5 of the PTA makes it a criminal offence to harbour, conceal or cause to be harboured or concealed a person known to have committed, or to have been convicted of an act of terrorism or a terror fugitive and makes such act punishable with imprisonment for a maximum term of 10 years”.
“Also the TPA, under section 7, requires any one with useful information which could prevent the commission of terrorism or aid the apprehension of a suspect to supply such to the appropriate authority and failure to do so as soon as reasonably practicable is an offence which attracts a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years. Section 8 of the Act makes it criminal offence to disclose information which could prejudice the investigation of terrorist activities, so also is obstruction of the investigation of suspected terrorist activities.”
“It is in recognition of the need to support the fight against terrorism and promote national security that in the case of Achem v. F.R.N. (2014) LPELR-23202 (CA), the Court of Appeal per EKANEM, JCA at pages 16-17, paras. F-A held thus:
“It should be mentioned that the applicant was convicted and sentenced for offences relating to terrorism which in recent times have grown in intensity and magnitude, and have become a threat to our national security. Courts should therefore be very circumspect in granting bail pending appeal to a person convicted for any offence relating thereto.”
Similarly, in the case ofDokubo-Asari v. F.R.N.(2007) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1048) 320, 358-359, the Supreme Court gave its nod of approval to the refusal to grant bail pending trial to the Appellant on ground, inter alia, of threat to national security.”
HURIWA affirmed that the public must become decisive about terror by not only not supporting terrorists but also being willing to support the war.
“Law based War on Terror and Promotion of National Security
In the same vein the government must engage in a law based war by enforcing anti-terrorism laws. Section 1A (4) of the TPA (as amended) empowers “the law enforcement agencies” to “enforce all laws and regulations on counter–terrorism in Nigeria”. Prior to the TPA, Section 46 of the EFCC Act 2004 defines “terrorism” to mean a violation of the Criminal Code or the Penal Code and with likelihood of endangering life, integrity or freedom, or causing serious injury or death with the intent to force the person(s) or body or government to do or not to do certain things or disrupt and includes financing or aiding terrorism. The punishment for the crime by Section 15 of the EFCC Act is imprisonment for life.”
“Section 1(3) of the TPA (as amended) defines an ‘act of terrorism’ as that deliberately done with malice aforethought and which may seriously harm or damage a country or an international organization. Any act also amounts to terrorism when it is done deliberately with malice aforethought and intended to unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act. A terrorist act is committed when done with the requisite intent; it seriously destabilizes or destroys the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structure of a country or international organization by intimidation or coercion. It also amounts to a terrorist act where it involves an attack upon a person’s life that possibly results in serious bodily harm or death. Intimidating or coercing a government or international organization is a terrorist act where it involves or causes: the kidnapping of a person, or destruction of a government public facility, or private property etc”.
“This is particularly so where the act is likely to endanger human life or result in major economic loss. By section 2 (b) (I), which defines terrorism as acts done to unduly compel a government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act the definition of terrorism is confined to non-state actors thereby excluding state terrorism from the ambit of its definition. There is an omnibus provision which criminalizes and treats as terrorist act ‘any act or omission’ in or outside Nigeria which constitutes an offence within the scope of a counter-terrorism protocols and conventions duly ratified by Nigeria”
“It is difficult to dismiss the general notion that the Nigerian State has not shown political will and commitment to the war on terror. It seems that not only have the real brains behind it not been prosecuted but are also being shielded. An ideology based crime does not end with the incarceration of the “foot soldiers”. Unfortunately usual extra judicial killing of high profile suspects suggests a pattern of cover up. Both Mohammed Yusuf and Alhaji Buji Foi, Boko Haram leader and the financier respectively, suffered the same fate while in police custody”.
HURIWA has also called on patriotic Nigerians to take steps legally to compel the President Muhammadu Buhari to wage law based war on terrorists and end these cocktails of appeasement of terrorists in Nigeria.