Beyond National Security

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“This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half”- George Orwell (Animal Farm)

National security means a lot to Nigeria but you wonder why when Nigeria has not been involved directly in any international conflict situation. The glaring reason why Nigeria continues to spend so much on the defence budget and security votes is simply because Nigeria breathes heavily under its own internal torment.

Nigeria’s security concerns which cost her so much financially and uses up a lot of her resources are mainly the challenges of criminal law enforcement, separatist agitation, Boko Haram terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and also to include the new-found obsession of the government which is to clamp down on dissent.

What constitutes a threat to national security can be so diverse and multiple in meaning that this very article can come under the scope of it. A threat to national security can be ambiguous in a way that a clearly unarmed protester could constitute enough concern for the deployment of military force.

The fright in this country today is if our national security is what is really still the concern of government or bare-faced tyranny, the sort of which the military years stamped in our memories.

It seems the government or rather her favorite security apparatus for such affairs, the DSS, has gone beyond the call of national security in her recent arrests to become a specialized agency that skims through content to identify that which it does not like to made public.

How unarmed protesters and activist constitute a security threat in a country which is already fighting insurgency, daily kidnappings, armed violence and other such remains a mystery.

The method used to quell the Monday, August 5 protest nationwide raises another concern for the Nigerian who cherishes liberty. In a country where our police have learnt to use such violence on protesters without public outrage, the culture of repression would stick and continue to spread.

As at when the protest started, aside being named “RevolutionNow,” nothing else about the protest suggested from the appearance and conduct of the protesters that they could be violent. They were dressed in uniform and carried placards. Not so mighty a number, but all the same were visited with police brutality.

Whilst the type of “revolution” intended is being watered down from the narratives of the “revolutionaries” to mean a peaceful protest to solicit national changes, on the day of the protest, even if they intended to carry out a revolution, the whole world saw that they were a tiny group that had only placards. Why the descent to the deployment of brutish force?

Adams Oshiomole, chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress has drawn the similarity between the quell of the protests and the actions of the French government on the yellow-vests protesters; he like others has failed to show how a group of not more than 100 people who carried only placards could possibly threaten national security to the extent of being beaten and battered.

The process of dehumanization in Nigeria will soon be complete with public acceptance of such deployment of force. At worst, the dispersal of the protesting crowd was sufficient but the security apparatus insisted on arrests and use of brute force like the pictures show.

This all in contravention of established principles of human rights especially those of dignity of the human person protected by the constitution and international treaties to which Nigeria is signatory.

A classic scene of overkill, perhaps due to a fear that the idea could catch on and the government is haunted by the burden of the possibility that it would be confronted by the rage reflected in the statistics of the national condition governed by World-class poverty and widespread dissatisfaction with the present leadership.

Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa, koyetolu@gmail.com