Immigration and Organised Crime in Nigeria

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In a recent publication by the UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, it was stated, inter alia, that “Effective border security is key to the effective implementation of counter-terrorism measures pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001). It is the first line of defence against movement of terrorists across borders, and the illegal cross-border movement of goods”. We will view this statement, against current realities in Nigeria.

Entry into Nigeria by foreign terrorists, especially armed Fulani herdsmen, has constituted one the greatest security challenges dogging our nationhood and corporate existence. At a time, high officials of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Government scornfully told Nigerians that foreign herders will not be stopped from entering into Nigeria, notwithstanding the grave dangers posed by this migration. Such officials situated their warped opinions, in the ECOWAS Protocols on Free Movement within the Region and Transhumance. Even recently, the Governor Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, openly and shamelessly boasted that the Fulani have no respect for national borders and that they can freely, bearing AK47 assault rifles, traverse any country of their choice and ‘defend’ themselves with those lethal weapons!

Such barefaced lies, aimed at encouraging rather than discouraging cross-border criminalities, are not even concordant with the provisions of Decision A/DEC.5/10/98, reached in Abuja by the ECOWAS Heads of State, which culminated in the Transhumance Protocol. For, the Protocol itself has made provisions regulating movement of cows across the sub-Region, some of which include the following:

• All transhumance livestock shall be allowed such free movement, only if “they have the ECOWAS International Transhumance Certificate.” The aims of such Certificate include “to protect the health of local herds” and “to make it possible to inform the host communities of the arrival of transhumance animals” – as per Article 5 of the Protocol.

• The Transhumance Certificate “shall be verified and counter-signed by the competent authorities at the entry and exit points in the host country” – vide Article 6 of the Protocol.

• Herds not covered by this Certificate “shall be placed under quarantine and the costs borne by the owners” – vide Article 9 of the Protocol.

• Herdsmen “must be in possession of identity papers duly issued by the competent authorities in their countries of origin;” and “must be able upon demand, to show proof of the identity” – vide Article 12 of the Protocol.

• “Stray animals will be apprehended by the relevant authorities and impounded without prejudice to the application of sanctions against their owner or herdsmen, as provided for by laws applicable in cases of stray animals in the Member State concerned” vide Article 13 of the Protocol.

Articles 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 have regulated the movement of the cattle, protection of the rights of the herdsmen and their corresponding duty to “observe all laws and regulations of the host country”, and settlement of disputes. None of these provisions has authorised or permitted the herdsmen to carry riffles or to embark on any of the criminal activities associated with what they are doing in Nigeria currently!

Besides, there is no provision, patent or latent, in the Protocol, which permits permanent residency for the foreign herdsmen; rather, Article 2 thereof defines “transhumance between States” as “the seasonal movement between Member States of herds leaving their usual grazing areas in search of water and pasture.” This, if honestly applied, will accord with Chapter 2 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, dealing with Nigerian citizenship. There is nothing, under our Constitution, as ‘citizenship by free movement.’

Indeed, when the ECOWAS Heads of State realised, post-1998 (the year the Transhumance Protocol was passed), that terrorism was fast growing in the West African sub-Region, they met on 28 February, 2013, in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire, and adopted the “ECOWAS Political Declaration and Common Position against Terrorism”. After, amongst other things, “bearing in mind the linkages between terrorism and other forms of criminality, including trans-national organised crimes such as trafficking in drugs and human beings, arms smuggling and illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons…,” they made powerful declarations and resolutions therein, including the following:

“1. Unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including acts of kidnapping, hijacking, hostage-taking and the demand and payment of ransom….”

2. Equally condemns any movement, group or individuals using religious, ethnic or other social or cultural differences to incite or indulge in violence and other hostile activities resulting in death, injuries or damage to property, the intention of which is to intimidate or coerce a government, private business or segment of the population thereof for the purpose of achieving political or social objectives”.

International Travel

I will hereby examine other foreign legislation. The UK Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, 2015, has made provisions authorising deportation of foreign terrorists from the UK. It has also made provisions for the temporary exclusion from the UK of terrorism suspects, known and defined under Chapter 2 thereof as ‘temporary exclusion orders,’ which are issued by the Secretary of State. Relevant offences are defined in the Act, with attendant punishments.

Also, the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 has made far-reaching amendments to existing legislation on immigration matters. Thus, Section 5401 of the Act has amended Section 274(a) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, by adding a provision to the effect that any person who has brought aliens to the US in violation of the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, shall face a jail term of up to 10 years.

One important aspect of the provisions of Section 5401 of the Act is the requirement that there be an outreach programme developed and implemented by the Homeland Security Secretary in consultation with the Attorney-General and the Secretary of State, as appropriate, “to educate the public in the United States and abroad about the penalties for bringing in and harbouring aliens in violation of this section”.

Another important provision is that of Section 5402, which has again amended Section 237(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, by mandating deportation of aliens who have received military-type training from terrorist organisations.

There are no such elaborate provisions under Nigerian law. Rather, Section 37 of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act of 2011, as amended by Section 18 of the Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act of 2013, has merely made provisions mandating the Nigerian Immigration Service to prevent from entering into Nigeria persons reasonably suspected to be terrorists. Also, Section 38 of the same Act, as amended by Section 18 of the 2013 Act, has mandated the Nigerian Immigration Service to refuse an application for refugee status, if the applicant is a terrorist.

I further observe with pain, that Nigeria has not complied with the “ECOWAS Political Declaration and Common Position against Terrorism”, adopted by all the Heads of States of the sub-Region, including that of Nigeria, in 2013 in Cote d’Ivoire.

It must be further observed that the US Congress, in Section 7201(a) of the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, made several findings, based on the 9/11 Commission recommendations, but the three most important findings are hereby reproduced as follows:

(1) Travel documents are as important to terrorists as weapons, since terrorists must travel clandestinely to meet, train, plan, case targets, and gain access to attack sites.

(2) International travel is dangerous for terrorists because they must surface to pass through regulated channels, present themselves to border security officials, or attempt to circumvent inspection points.

(3) Terrorists use evasive, but detectable, methods to travel, such as altered and counterfeit passports and visas, specific travel methods and routes, liaisons with corrupt government officials, human smuggling networks, supportive travel agencies, and immigration and identity fraud.

The US Congress then in section 7201(b) of the Act made comprehensive provisions on detailed strategies to be adopted in dealing with this problem, and possibly eliminating it; while it also, in Section 7201(c), legislated on the requisite technological way of achieving these goals.

In Section 7204(a), the Congress made comprehensive findings, detailing the international or trans-national travels of the terrorists that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, finding (1) under the section goes thus:

(1) International terrorists travel across international borders to raise funds, recruit members, train for operations, escape capture, communicate, and plan to carry out attacks.

Section 7204(b)(1) then imposes executive duty on the President of the US in the following words:

(1) The President should lead efforts to track and curtail the travel of terrorists by supporting the drafting, adoption, and implementation of international agreements, and relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions to track and stop international travel by terrorists and other criminals through the use of lost, stolen, or falsified documents to augment United Nations and other international anti-terrorism efforts.

Closely related to immigration issues, is the issue of border security against organised crime. It is indeed, interesting to note that the northern border of the USA which poses a serious security challenge to that country (just like Nigeria), did not escape the prying eye of the US Congress, which in Title V Subtitle A of the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, paid special legislative attention to that border through dynamic legislative action. Section 5101 of the Act has mandated the Secretary of Homeland Security to “carry out a pilot program to test various advanced technologies that will improve border security between ports of entry along the northern border of the United States”, while Section 1502 requires the Homeland Security Secretary to design the pilot programme with the following features:

• Use of advanced technological systems, including sensors, video and unmanned aerial vehicles, for border surveillance.

• Use of advanced computing and decision integration software for: (a) evaluation of data, including border incursions; (b) assessment of threat potential; and (c) rapid real-time communication, monitoring, intelligence gathering, deployment and response.

• Testing of advanced technology systems and software to determine best and most cost-effective uses of advanced technology to improve border security.

• Operation of the programme in remote stretches of border lands with long distances between 24-hour ports of entry with a relatively small presence of US border patrol officers.

• Capability to expand the programme upon a determination by the Homeland Secretary that expansion would be an appropriate and cost-effective means of improving border security.

Even though the northern border of Nigeria, particularly the northwestern and northeastern borders, are the hub of terrorist infiltration, there are no such provisions under Nigerian law. We should as a matter of urgency, enact similar provisions in our body of laws. Nigeria has enough money to import necessary technology, that would complement the efforts of the military in its fight against organised crime.

Need for Comprehensive Legislation Authorising Trainings Against Terrorism

There is no single doubt that the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 is one of the most comprehensive enactments the world over, on security of the lives and property of any given nation. Thus, comprehensive provisions are also made to cover the following areas:

• Establishment by the Director of National Intelligence of a cross-disciplinary education and joint training, “in order to promote a more effective and productive intelligence community”, vide Section 1002 of the Act.

• Establishment by the same Director of an intelligence community scholarship program, “to award scholarships to individuals… designed to recruit and prepare students for civilian careers in the intelligence community to meet the critical needs of the intelligence community agencies,” vide section 1002 of the Act, etc.

Speaking in comparative terms, and sadly too, Section 2(6) of the Nigerian Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act, 2013, quite leisurely, with respect, provides thus:

(6) The law enforcement agencies may initiate, develop or improve on specific training programmes for its officers charged with the responsibility for the prevention, detection, investigation, elimination and prosecution of terrorism activities in Nigeria.

As can be seen above, the Nigerian legislation on this very important aspect of counterterrorism is grossly lacking in content and focus. For instance, the word “may” in the provision connotes a mere directory, as opposed to a peremptory or mandatory duty. Secondly, unlike the US model, the office coordinating intelligence on counterterrorism in Nigeria is excluded from this training exercise; rather, the exercise is left in the hands of prolix security agencies. This is not proper, and will least yield results. Once again, the US model is hereby suggested.

Need for Comprehensive Legislation on Private Security and Public-Private Partnership Against Organised Terrorism

Section 6402(a) of the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 has created an Act within the same Act, by providing thus:

(a) SHORT TITLE.- This section may be cited as the “Private Security Officer Employment Authorisation Act of 2004.”

After this short title, Section 6402(b) then goes on to tabulate the findings of the US Congress on the subject matter, as follows:

(b) FINDINGS. – Congress finds that–

(1) employment of private security officers in the United States is growing rapidly;’

(2) private security officers function as adjunct to, but not a replacement for, public law enforcement by helping to reduce and prevent crime;

(3) such private security officers protect individuals, property, and proprietary information, and provide protection to development centres, manufacturing facilities, defence and aerospace contractors, high technology businesses, nuclear power plants, chemical companies, oil and gas refineries, airports, communication facilities and operations, office complexes, gated communities, and others;

(4) sworn law enforcement officers provide significant services to the citizens of the US in its public areas, and are supplemented by private security officers;

(5) the threat of additional terrorist attacks requires cooperation between public and private sectors and demands professional, reliable and responsible security officers for the protection of people, facilities and institutions;

(6) the trend in the nation toward growth in such security services has accelerated rapidly;

(7) such growth makes available more public sector law enforcement officers to combat serious and violent crimes, including terrorism;

(8) the American public deserves the employment of qualified, well-trained private security personnel as an adjunct to sworn law enforcement officers; and

(9) private security officers and applicants for private security officer positions should be thoroughly screened and trained.

The rest of Section 6402 has defined major terms used in the provision and has gone ahead to make other comprehensive provisions, like (a) criminal history information search; (b) providing information to the State Identification Bureau; etc, while section 6403 deals comprehensively with criminal history background checks.

Also, Section 7305 of the Act provides an insight by the US Congress of private sector preparedness for instantaneous security challenges thus:

SEC. 7305. PRIVATE SECTOR PREPAREDNESS

(a) FINDINGS.- Consistent with the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Private sector organisations own 85 percent of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and employ the vast majority of the Nation’s workers.

(2) Preparedness in the private sector and public sector for rescue, restart and recovery of operations should include, as appropriate–

(A) a plan for evacuation;

(B) adequate communications capabilities; and

(C) a plan for continuity of operations.

(3)…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

(4) The mandate of the Department of Homeland Security extends to working with the private sector, as well as government entities.

Moreover, the imperative of public/private partnership (PPP) in the fight against terrorism has gained acceptability globally, since terrorists mingle more with members of the public than with security agencies; and since private security outfits, organised and non-organised, also play important roles in providing security for life and property. Thus, the international community has, since 2006, turned its attention to making the PPPs work, because of their strategic importance in the global fight against terrorism. We shall discuss some of these meetings and their resolutions.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Political Public-private Partnership Conference entitled “Partnership of State Authorities, Civil Society and the Business Community in Combating Terrorism,” was held in Vienna, Austria, between 31 May and 1 June, 2007. This meeting emphasised the importance of the PPPs in the following paraphrased words:

• Participants though acknowledged the importance of the role of States to combat terrorism, yet acknowledged that given the nature and scale of today’s constantly evolving terrorist threat, States alone cannot successfully counter terrorism in all relevant areas without the deployment of all elements of national power together with the business community and civil society as a whole. “Such voluntary cooperation, based upon the principles of partnership and mutual trust, can be enhanced by taking due account of the relevant functions, tasks, and specific expertise of all partners involved.”

• Enhanced public-private co-operation demands better information sharing mechanism and the active dissemination of best practices in this respect.

• All sectors of society can benefit from working together to counter violent extremism and terrorism and their ideological justification.

• The private sector is a clear target for terrorists and its active involvement in support of counterterrorism can complement political, law enforcement, developmental, and other governmental activities already underway.

One key recommendation, therefore, was that there was need for “joint antiterrorist efforts by government bodies, civil society and business”. They also “welcomed the discussion regarding models of continuous and active exchanges of information by them on issues regarding prevention, suppression and mitigation of terrorism”.

Follow-up conferences/meetings were organised by the OSCE in Madrid, on 30th November, 2007; Helsinki on 5th December, 2008 and in Sarajevo, between the 8th and the 10th of December, 2010. Amongst the relevant resolutions of the 2010 meeting were the following:

• Anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing (AML/CFT) legislation should be drafted in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including financial institutions.

• State authorities should ensure adequate confidentiality and protection of obligated entities from liability vis-à-vis third parties in the context of reporting on suspicious transactions.

• On Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs), State authorities should join forces with the DNFBPs to achieve, maintain and disseminate a clear understanding of the Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (ML/TF) risk facing each designated non-financial business or profession in each country. Also, DNFBPs should be consulted in the process of defining and if necessary, re-adjusting their respective AML/CFT regimes, regular interaction and a constructive spirit of co-operation between equal partners.

• Civil society should be galvanised and empowered to challenge violent extremist narratives, and to engage with vulnerable groups/individuals.

• In partnering with the civil society, State authorities should respect the independence and preserve the credibility of those private partners.

• Religious institutions and leaders have the moral authority and duty to promote dialogue, mutual respect and tolerance, and to publicly denounce terrorism and violent extremism.

• Acts of violent extremism and terrorism, especially against religious sites or figures, should be promptly, publicly and jointly denounced by religious leaders of all faiths, (local) authorities and other relevant institutions, to demonstrate cohesion and determination in the face of terrorism.

Sadly, once again, Section 3(1)(b) (c) and (d) of the Nigeria Security and Defence Corps Act, 2004, as amended by the Nigeria Security and Defence Corps (Amendment) Act, 2007 provides as follows:

(1) The Corps shall–

(b) recommend to the Minister the registration of private guard companies;

(c) from time to time, inspect the premises of private guard companies, their training facilities and approve same if it is (sic) up to standard;

(d) supervise and monitor the activities of all private guard companies and keep a register for that purpose–

(i) …………………………………………………………………………………………….

(ii) seal up any private guard company which operates without valid licence.

There is no gainsaying that Nigeria needs to enact legislation and fine-tune existing ones, and also to reshape its public policy, in order to key into some of the OSCE recommendations above, useful as they are to our collective resolve against terrorism and organised crime.

Need for Improved Legislation on Consequences of Providing Material Support to Terrorists

Section 6602 of the US Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 has amended Section 2339C of the United States Code, by inserting a new paragraph D(a), which has criminalised the offence of knowingly receiving military-type training from or on behalf of any organisation designated at the time of the training by the Secretary of State, as a foreign terrorist organisation. Additionally, paragraph D(b) of the provision imbues US courts with extra-territorial jurisdiction over some persons named in the provision.

The US Congress also took a proactive legislative action, by enacting into law its findings on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, in Section 7101 of the 2004 Act, as follows:

SEC. 7101. FINDINGS

Consistent with the report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, Congress makes the following findings:

(1) Long-term success in the war against terrorism demands the use of all elements of national power, including diplomacy, military action, intelligence, covert action, law enforcement, economic policy, foreign aid, public diplomacy, and homeland defence.

(2) To win the war on terrorism, the United States must assign to economic and diplomatic capabilities, the same strategic priority that is assigned to military capabilities.

(3) The legislative and executive branches of the Government of the United States must commit to robust, long-term investments in all the tools necessary for the foreign policy of the United States to successfully accomplish the goals of the United States.

(4) The investments referred to in paragraph (3) will require increased funding to United States foreign affairs programs in general and to priority areas as described in this title in particular.

Sections 4-14 and 19(b) of the Nigerian Terrorism (Prevention)(Amendment) Act of 2013, have quite commendably made provisions relating to providing material support to terrorists. Also, Section 32 of the Act has quite commendably imbued the Federal High Court with extra-territorial jurisdiction over terrorist activities affecting Nigeria. However, legislative efforts like those in Section 7104 of the USA Act be also considered by the Nigerian National Assembly for legislative action, because they emphasise diplomatic efforts towards the fight against terrorism.

Need for Legislation Authorising Reward for and Protection of Private Sources of Information

Section 501 of the US Patriot Act, 2001, whose full title is “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools for Intercepting and Obstructing Terrorism Act, 2001,” as amended in March, 2006, has authorised the US Attorney-General to make financial rewards to US citizens for assistance to the Justice Department in the fight against terrorism. The section further provides that neither failure to make such financial reward nor the amount of such reward, shall be subject of judicial review.

Also, Section 54(6) of the Philippine Human Security Act of 2007 has mandated the Anti-Terrorism Council to grant monetary rewards and other incentives to informants who give vital information leading to the apprehension, arrest, detention, prosecution and conviction of person or persons who are liable for the crime of terrorism or conspiracy to commit terrorism.

No legislation in Nigeria, to the best of my knowledge, has made provisions rewarding informants of terrorist activities. However, provisions are made for protection of such persons and witnesses who testify in terrorism trials, under Section 33 and 34 of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act of 2013. Relevant laws in Nigeria should be enacted or existing ones amended, to accommodate reward for persons acting as informants on serious security threats, especially terrorism.

Need for Intelligence Financing to be Activated in Nigeria

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Act, 2018, even though contains very robust provisions on tracing, tracking and monitoring of funds, with the aim of combating terrorist and other financial crimes, this Unit, with due respect, seems to be moribund, at least on the issue of terrorist financing.

In the US, Section 205 of the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001 which amended Section 1564 of the Annunzio-Wylie Anti-Money Laundering Act, has granted similar powers granted to the Director of the Nigerian Unit, to the Secretary of Treasury. Also, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was established by order of the Secretary of the Treasury through the Treasury Order 105-08 on 25th April, 1990. Upon the passage of Title III of the Patriot Act on September 26, 2002, the FinCEN was made an official bureau in the US Department of Treasury.

In Canada, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), was established in 2000 by the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act, 2000; but was amended in 2001 to become the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, 2001. This Centre which is under the Canadian Minister of Finance, gathers, analyses, assesses and discloses financial intelligence. It currently also provides the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), with information on terrorist financing.

Similarly, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), was established in 1989, pursuant to the provisions of the Financial Transaction Reports Act of 1988. The Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act of 2006 again re-established the AUSTRAC, which is Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator and a specialist financial intelligence unit. Unlike the Canadian FINTRAC, however, the Australian AUSTRAC is under the office of the Attorney-General for Australia.

We have mentioned few of such bodies as the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, in countries where incidences of terrorism are very low – just to strongly suggest that the Nigerian Unit should work just as hard. After all, Section 2(2) of the Nigerian Act provides that “The Unit is independent and operationally autonomous in the discharge of its duties and performance of its functions under this Act.”

Need to Amend the Constitution and other Laws, to pave way for State Police

We cannot continue to live in self denial on the MOST URGENT NEED to establish or permit the establishment by the various State Governments, of their respective Police departments. I note with admiration that, barring public image stunts, this call has received the positive nod of persons who hitherto, had conservative reservations against this idea. If adhered to, community policing will naturally spring up; thereby closing the operational space of terrorists.

Conclusion: Rights of Citizens

The primary duty of any government is to protect its citizens, Nigeria not being an exception. Thus, Section 14(1) and (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended has provided in emphatic terms thus:

14(1) The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.

(2) It is hereby, accordingly, declared that:

(a)……………………………………………………………………………………………………

(b) the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.

Also, Section 33(1) has guaranteed to “every person” the right to life and has provided situations under which he/she could be deprived of that right, which situations do not include termination of such life through terrorist attacks condoned by the Government. Indeed, Section 33(2)(a) of the same Constitution imbues every Nigerian with the right to defend himself and his property against external aggression; and by judicial decisions, with the use of “proportionate force.” Thus, if the aggressor is armed with a knife, machete or a gun, the defender is constitutionally entitled to arm himself with a weapon proportionate to that of the aggressor. See firmly on this: Edoko v State (2015) All FWLR (Pt. 772) 1728, (2015) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1465) 454 S.C. and Sule v State (2009) All FWLR (Pt. 481) 809 at 836 S.C. The Supreme Court was very emphatic in its stand on this defence, in the case of Uwaekweghunya v State (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 259) 1911 at 1931, per Belgore, JSC (as he then was), thus:

“The attack on the Appellant, was completely unprovoked. He was faced with no option but to defend himself, which he did. If he did not defend himself, there certainly was the apprehension the deceased would kill him or inflict grievous harm on him. The victim of an unprovoked and unlawful attack is entitled to defend himself, and in doing so, to use such force as is reasonably necessary to ward off the attack. If the unprovoked attack is likely to cause him grievous harm or even death, or he is reasonably in apprehension of the same, he is entitled to use such force available to him to preserve himself from such grievous harm or death”.

Section 42 of the same Constitution provides that no Nigerian shall, by the application of any law or by “any executive or administrative action of the government,” be discriminated against on account of his place of origin, sex, religious or political opinions. Also, in their “Strategic approach” as a way of preventing terrorism, the ECOWAS Heads of States, in the 2013 Cote d’Ivoire resolutions, identified “economic and political marginalisation of some groups” and “human rights abuses” as governmental policies that should be eliminated. The Nigerian government, undeniably, has breached all of these, in their open tolerance of the criminal actions of herders.

Innocent victims of these highly organised crimes against Nigerian citizens can, indeed, sue the Federal Government and obtain from the courts, relevant remedies. Thus, while construing a similar provision in Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Human Rights Court has always held that the State is not only duty-bound to ensure that human life is not intentionally taken, it is also under duty to do all it should, to protect same from being unlawfully taken – failing which damages and other remedies will avail relations of the victims. See firmly on this: Kilic v Turkey (2000) ECHR 22492/93, para. 62 and Osman v UK (1998) 29 EHRR 245, para. 115.

I hereby conclude by boldly saying that, Nigerian legislation and governmental action on or against organised crime is grossly inadequate, and lacks the necessary bite to stem the tide of these rapidly ravaging scourges. The acknowledged circulation of light military arsenal in the West African sub-region, owing to the Arab Spring and the ferocious attacks orchestrated by the Boko Haram insurgents and Fulani herdsmen on locals, is a testimony that the time to act is now!

Executive action must be complemented or backed by proactive legislative action, to achieve desired results. Again, the time to act is now!

Chief Sebastine T. Hon, SAN, FCIArb., Constitutional Lawyer and Author