By Emmanuel Onwubiko.
Two DISTINGUISHED professors of Politics in what is considered the best University in the World- Harvard University wrote in their new book as follows: “Although some elected demagogues take office with a blueprint for autocracy, many, such as Fujimori, do not”.
Democratic breakdown, they say, doesn’t need a blueprint. Rather as Peru’s experience suggests, it can be the result of a sequence of unanticipated events- an escalating tit- for –tat between a demagogic, norm-breaking leader and a threatened political establishment.
The process, they affirmed, often begins with words. Demagogues attack their critics in harsh and provocative terms- as enemies, as subversives and even as terrorists.
When he first ran for President, Hugo Chavez, the authors recalled vividly, described his opponents as “rancid pigs” and “squalid oligarchs”; Fujimori linked his opponents to terrorism and drug trafficking; and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi attacked judges who ruled against him as “communist” Journalists also become targets Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa called the media a “grave political enemy” that “has to be defeated”.
“Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused journalists of propagating “terrorism”. These attacks can be consequential: If the public comes to share the view that opponents are linked to terrorism and the media are spreading lies, it becomes easier to justify taking actions against them.”
“The assault rarely ends there. Though observers often assure us that demagogue’s are “all talk” and that their words should not be taken too seriously, a look at demagogic leaders around the world suggest that many of them do eventually cross the line from words to action.”
This, according to these Professors, is because a demagogue’s initial rise to power tends to polarize society, creating a climate of panic, hostility, and mutual distrust.
The new leader’s threatening words often have a boomerang effect, they asserted. If the media feel threatened, it may abandon restraint and professional standards in a desperate effort to weaken the government, says the Professors of Government.
“And the opposition may conclude that, for the good of the country, the government must be removed via extreme measures impeachment, mass project, even a coup.” (How Democracies Die, What History Reveals about our Future by Steven Livitsky & Daniel Ziblatt)”.
Obviously, these words are true of what Nigerians are going through in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari who does not take kindly to constructive criticism of the widespread violence and insecurity in Nigeria.
Whilst the government of President Muhammadu Buhari who is rarely seen but often heard through the mouths of Femi Adesina and Garba his spokesmen, refuses to introduce effective strategy to combat the crimes of kidnapping and mass killings, the same government do not take kindly to constructive criticism of the Nigerian security quagmire even from his political party.
Sadly, these attacks against patriots asking government to take steps to check the rising wave of crimes, usually emboldened criminals and kidnappers/terrorists to up their deadly game of blood cuddling violence against the Nigerian citizens.
As I write, there is no place that can be described as VIRGING LAND that is impregnable to criminals- not even the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. The Federal Capital Territory of Abuja is the seat of power and is home to virtually all the military, Para-military and policing institutions.
Abuja is also the Political Capital which signifies that the Central Law making organ of the Federation Operates from the Federal Capital Territory.
In terms of security, Abuja is hitherto known as impregnable by criminal elements not until few years back when armed terrorists bombarded some sections of the very important city of Africa’s most populated nation.
The Boko Haram terrorists invaded Abuja and successfully attacked the United Nations building somewhere around Garki just as they stormed the police headquarters using a lone bomber who detonated his weapon of mass destruction and left scores of people dead with enormous structure and infrastructural damage.
The terrorists similarly bombed one of the busiest commercial nerve centres of Abuja in Wuse two, maiming, killing and destroying several facilities. They also bombed Thisday press in Jabi area of Abuja and a bus station in Nyanya near Abuja.
However, the current service Chiefs successfully drove these blood sucking demons out of the nation’s capital to far away North East of Nigeria.
After several successful raids to the hideouts of the Islamic terrorists in the North East of Nigeria, we have just been told that the terrorists have set their eyes towards Abuja with their movement into parts of Nasarawa state which is only few miles away from the Federal Capital Territory.
Gov. Abdulahi Sule of Nasarawa State had raised an alarm over the regrouping of dislodged Boko Haram insurgents along the Benue/Nasarawa border, seeking urgent presidential intervention in checking their dastardly activities.
Sule who frequently travels to Western nations on holidays, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, on Friday.
According to him, even though the terrorists had been dislodged from Toto Local Government Area of the state, where they had camped, they have regrouped at the Nasarawa/Benue border from where they are now causing havoc.
He said some of the Boko Haram elements active in Nasarawa State belonged to the Darussalam group that had been dislodged from Niger.
“I have come to see the leader of our party and the leader of the nation, Mr President to brief him about some the activities happening in the state (Nasarawa). First, especially in the area of security – that we continue to have challenges with a team of Boko Haram who were settled at the border with the FCT.
“And, we thank the security forces that they had been able to dislodge them. But, now they have gone back and gathered at our border with Benue, and they are causing a lot of havoc.
“Therefore, it was an opportunity as Mr. President wanted to know. So I briefed him and I strongly believe, just like the decision was taken last time to take care of this, and another decision would be taken to do this,’’ he said.
Sule revealed that he also updated the president on other socio-economic issues including the possible federal government take-over of the construction work on Jitata road. The road serves as an alternative route from the state to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He expressed the hope that the road when completed would open up the area for development as well as reduce traffic jams being experienced along the main Abuja – Keffi – Lafia road. Some armed men believed to be kidnappers only few days back raided Pmagbe Layout in Ushafa, Abuja, abducting 3 persons.
The community located around Usuma Dam was thrown into panic when the armed men numbering over 10 stormed the community around 6.30pm, shooting sporadically in what appeared like a total raid. Usuma Dam supplies water to FCT residents.
An Eyewitness told a respected online newspaper- DAILY POST that the Dam gate has recently become notorious for criminal activities following a high level of movements by cultists and other criminal elements around the dam, deep inside the forest and the adjoining mountains.
The witness who does not want his name in print said just recently, a car was snatched from its owner in front of the dam gate.
Narrating further on how the kidnappers successfully abducted their victims, the eyewitness said the gunmen spent about 3 hours inside the dam, strategizing on how to invade the community.
“The fishermen and other people inside the dam were held down at gunpoint until the time for their operation. I was one of those held down.
“It was after they left the dam that they fired shots sporadically while storming one of the victims’ house. They took him and walked him down the dam gate, after which they stopped an oncoming Toyota Camry and abducted a woman and her nephew.
They took them through a rocky path around the dam. The media gathered that the DPO, Bwari Police Division, CSP Biodun Makanjuola, upon receiving a distressed call, mobilized his men to the scene of the crime but the kidnappers had left before the police got to the scene. A search party was immediately conducted around the area, but the victims and the abductors could not be traced.
Ironically, whilst the incessant raids of armed kidnappers around Abuja are yet to abate because a clear lack of strategy on the part of the police and other security agencies, the order issued by the Ondo state Governor on suspected armed herdsmen masquerading as Fulani herdsmen to vacate Ondo forests should call our attention to the unresolved case of suspected invasion of armed herdsmen/kidnappers at the forest near the Ushafa dam in Abuja.
This writer reliably gathered that all the policing institutions in Abuja including the secret police otherwise known as DSS have been told to ransack the Ushafa forest to dislodge the suspected armed herdsmen who are mostly the kidnappers that invade parts of Abuja to wreak havoc. The security forces have done nothing thereby creating the impression that these herdsmen turned kidnappers are above the law.
Is anyone therefore in doubt when the spokesman of the President attacked the Ondo state governor for seeking to clear the Ondo forests of alleged armed herdsmen who are terrorizing parts of south west as kidnappers? These are the issues the book “How Democracy Fails” has told us at the beginning of this piece.
Now here is what Ondo governor did.
The media reports that herdsmen will not be allowed to operate in Ondo State’s forest reserves without permission, the state government insisted on Wednesday.
The insistence came against the backdrop of Tuesday’s caution by the presidency against the seven-day ultimatum the state Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), gave to herders to quit the forest reserves.
The presidency’s intervention stoked the controversy over the quit order as the pan Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), which supported the governor, clashed with the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that opposed the decision.
Some senior lawyers have also endorsed the constitutionality of Akeredolu’s decision. In a statement in Akure on Wednesday, the state government, in a tacit repudiation of the presidency’s intervention, said no herdsman will graze on the forest reserves in the state without permission.
The state Commissioner for Agricultural and Rural Development, Mr. Adegboyega Adefarati, said in the statement that over 50,000 farmers have been registered to engage in various agricultural activities in the state’s forest reserves and no herder will be permitted to graze without going through the same process.
It said: “We have registered over fifty (50,000) thousands of farmers who engage in different forms of agricultural activities in Ondo State Government Forest Reserves. With this, we regulate their activities and reduce criminality as we interface daily with farmers.
“Love it or leave it; farming is farming, be it crop production or animal husbandry. If any Nigerian irrespective of his/her state of origin desires land for farming in Government Forest Reserves, he/she must apply to Ondo State Ministry of Agriculture and pay the normal fee for the required hectares of land.
“It is illegal for herdsmen to encroach on the Ondo State Government Forest Reserves without permission and graze on the farms, many of which will be destroyed.”
But as the back and forth debate about the Ondo forest occupation by armed herdsmen continued, Abuja has again being hit by kidnappers.
Gunmen suspected to be kidnappers invaded Rachael’s Orphanage Home opposite UBE Junior Secondary School in Naharati, Abaji Area Council, Abuja, and abducted seven orphans, including a security guard of the home in the area.
Media learnt that three persons, which comprised of two house wives, Rukaiyyat Salihu, Suwaiba Momoh and Momoh Jomih, who reside behind the orphanage home were also abducted by the kidnappers.
The names of the kidnapped orphans were Elizabeth Andrew, Dayo Udeh, Jacob Ukpas, Melody Ijeh, Benard Itim, Issac Mathew and Laruba Emmanuel as well as the security guard of the home, Joseph Mathew.
A resident of the area who preferred anonymity, said the incident happened on Saturday around 1am when the gunmen in their large numbers with sophisticated weapons invaded the orphanage home.
He said the gunmen gained entrance through the main gate. He said the gunmen forced the gate opened and went straight into the rooms of the orphans and whisked seven of them alongside the guard at the gunpoint.
“In fact, they came in, in their large numbers heavily armed, even though they didn’t shoot as they carried out the operation quietly before they proceeded to neighbours houses,” he said.
A victim, Mohammed Nurudeen, whose wife, Rukaiyyat Salihu, was abducted by the gunmen, said he was sleeping when gunmen came and forcefully opened the door and whisked his wife away at gunpoint.
“I was sleeping when they came and threatened to shoot me if I refused to open the door for them, in which I refused until they forced the door opened and entered inside the room and whisked my wife away,” he said.
Well, since the government does not seem to be on the side of the citizens, the citizens must take lawful means to defend themselves. Mr. Jefferson Uwagieren, a lawyer based in Benin City, Edo state has written a beautiful prose on why people should opt for self-defense.
He states as follows: “The right to use force in defense of oneself or another against unjustifiable attack has existed from time immemorial. If you don’t exercise it you will suffer and you will deserve the suffering.
The rule as to the right of self-defense or right of private defense has been stated by Russell W.O (1958), Russell on Crime, published by Stevens & Son Ltd 11th Edition, Vol. 1 at page 491.
“A man is justified in resisting by force anyone who manifestly intends and endeavours by violence or surprise to commit a known felony against either his person, habitation or property. In these cases, he is not obliged to retreat, and may not merely resist the attack where he stands but may indeed pursue his adversary until the danger is ended and if in a conflict between them he happens to kill his attacker such killing is justifiable.”
Self-defense or private defense has not been given a statutory definition in Nigeria, but has to be understood in the common law context of which there are two aspects.
First, a man may in defense of liberty, person or property use such force as is necessary to obtain its object and which does not cause injury that is disproportionate to the injury sought to be prevented.
Second, a man may use so much force as is necessary in repelling an unlawful attack on his person or liberty, but may not cause grievous bodily harm or death except in defence of life or limb or permanent liberty.
In Nigeria, the right of defending one’s body or the body of any other person is codified in Section 32 (3) of the Criminal Code applicable in the Southern States of Nigeria and Section 59 of the Penal Code applicable in the Northern States of Nigeria.
Section 32(3) of the Criminal Code provides, inter alia: “A person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission if he does or omits to do the act… when the act is reasonably necessary in order to resist actual and unlawful violence threatened to him or to another person in his presence.”
Section 59 of the Penal Code on the other hand reads as follows: “Nothing is an offence of which is done in the lawful exercise of the right of private defense”.
It is well known, and psychologists have confirmed it, that if one is beaten/abused as a child, it is very likely that child will grow up violent. It is also likely that if our parents, brothers, sisters, are being murdered, by identifiable terrorists, we will grow up violent and seek revenge. If you beat a dog everyday, even if you own and feed it, one day when the dog has had enough, it will forget who owns or feeds it. A word is enough for the wise.
Any idiot going about arrogantly murdering today may tomorrow have their intestines used as necklaces. Those who are meant to protect and speak for us who condone and collude with the enemy may also suffer the same fate.
Those in power must stop the wanton acts of murder perpetrated daily, across the country, on innocent Nigerian citizens by terrorists who seem emboldened and empowered by inaction and financial support disguised as ransom payments.
People are not stupid and they are angry. Much patience has been displayed and much has been lost in the process. These killings must stop. Chukkol, K.S. (1989) The Laws of Crimes in Nigeria. ABU Press Limited Zaria at P. 100 says:
“This is necessary if society is not to degenerate into anarchy with everybody taking the law into his hands”.
In Akpan V. State, Adio JSCourt (as he then was) in interpreting section 286 of the Nigerian Criminal Code held as follows:
“When a person is unlawfully assaulted, and has not provoked the assault, it is lawful for him to use such force on the assailant as is reasonably necessary to make effectual defense against the assault. The force which may be used in such circumstances must not be intended, and should not be such as is likely to cause death or grievous harm.
“If the nature of the assault is such as to cause reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm, and the person using force by way of defense believes on reasonable grounds that he cannot otherwise preserve the person defended from death or grievous harm, it is lawful for him to use any such force to the assailant as is necessary for defence even though such force may cause death or grievous harm.”
The above dictum was cited with approval by the Court of Appeal in Karimu V State, where the court ruled that before the defense of self-defense can avail an accused or can lawfully be invoked, three fundamental principles must be established, viz:
1. the defense can only be invoked against a person who is an assailant or an aggressor;
2. the person attacked or assaulted or threatened with violence by the assailant must be in actual fear or belief of reasonable apprehension of death or grievous harm;
3. the force used to repel the attack by the assailant must be proportionate to the force used in the attack.
Under section 60 of the Penal Code, it is provided that subject to restrictions contained in the code, every person has a right to defend his own body, and the body of another person against any offence affecting the human body. One of the restrictions is that “the right of private defense in no case extends to the infliction of more harm than is necessary to inflict for the purpose of defense.”
Also, under Section 65 of the Nigerian Penal Code, private defence may, in certain circumstances, extend to killing where the act being repelled is one of the following categories:
(a) an attack which causes reasonable apprehension of death or causing grievous hurt; or
(b) rape or assault with intent to gratify unnatural lust, or
(c) abduction or kidnapping
Under the Penal Code of Nigeria, express provisions are made which give an accused person a right to kill in self defence where the act repelled is either rape, assault with intent to gratify unnatural lust, abduction or kidnapping.
In construing the Nigerian Penal Code provisions on the right of private defence, the Supreme Court in Kwagshir v State held that four cardinal conditions must exist before the taking of the life of a person is justified on the plea of self defence. These are:
1. the accused must be free from fault in bringing about the encounter;
2. there must be present an impending peril to life or of great bodily harm real or so apparent as to create honest belief of an existing necessity;
3. there must be no safe or reasonable mode of escape by retreat; and
4. there must have been a necessity for taking life.
It is clear that the Authorities are unwilling, unable, uninterested. ……in stopping these murders of innocent people in our communities. The rape of our mothers, sisters and daughters. The butchering of unborn babies ripped out of the stomachs of pregnant mothers in farms and communities. The organised murders of whole communities at a time and burning down of such communities.
Defend yourself or you die.
The force used to defend must equal the force used in the murders of our families. It is unbelievable that words like these should be voiced in the 21st Century but it is where we find ourselves.
Under the common law of England, the courts have equated the defence of others with the prevention of crimes. In R V Duffy (1988) IAC 130 at page 144, it was held that a woman would be justified in using reasonable force when it was necessary to do so in defence of her sister, not because they were sisters, but because “there is a general liberty as between strangers to prevent a felony”.
My position is supported by many civilised legal systems. Even in the law relating to homicide worldwide, provocation is an acceptable defence to killing. I said at the beginning of this write up, killing is permissible. It always is. It is the circumstances that are debatable.
In Baridam v State (1994) 1 NWLR (Part 32) at page 250, the Supreme Court held that:
The onus is always on the prosecution to disprove the accused’s defence of self defence and not on the accused to establish his plea. Thus, the defence of self defence will only fail where the prosecution shows beyond reasonable doubt that what the accused did was not done by way of self defence.
We must fight. Fiercely and intelligently. The alternative is displacement, loss of lives and property, ethnic cleansing and extinction.
We cannot keep pretending that the Landlord has not become a tenant and soon to become a street dweller”, the Lawyer affirmed.
Here is what the land Use Act says meaning that the Ondo state governor was right to clear armed Fulani herdsmen from On do forests. Sections of that law states thus: ”
1. Subject to the provision of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each state in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that state and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this act .
2.(1) As from the commencement of this Act-
a) All land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the governor of each state; and
b) All other land shall, subject to this Act, be under the control and management of the local Government within the area of jurisdiction of which the land is situated.
(2) There shall be established in each state a body to be known as “ the Land Use and Allocation Committee” which shall have responsibility for-
(a) advising the Governor on any matter connected with the management of land to which paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above relates:
(b) advising the governor on any matter connected with the resettlement of persons affected by the revocation of rights of occupancy on the ground of overriding public interest under this Act; and
3. determining disputes as to the amount of compensation payable under this Act for improvements of land.
4.The land use and Allocation Committee shall consist of such number of persons as the Governor may determine and shall include its membership x-(a) not less than two persons possessing qualifications approved for appointment to the public service as estate surveyors or land officers and who have had such qualification for not less than five years; and
(b) A legal practitioner
5. The Committee shall be presided over by such one of its members as may be designated by the Governor and, subject to such directions as may be given in that regard by the Governors, shall have power to regulate its proceedings.
6. There shall also be established for each Local Government a body to be known as “the Land Allocation Advisory Committee” which shall consist of such person as may be determined by the Governor acting after consultation with the Local Government and shall have responsibility for advising the Local Government on any matter connected with the management of land to which paragraph (b) of subsection (1) above relates.
7. Subject to such general conditions as may be specified in that behalf by the National Council of States, the Governor may of for the purposes of this Act by order published in the State Gazettee designate the parts of the area of the territory of the State Constituting land in an urban area. (The Land Use Act, Cases & Materials by Olakanmi & Co).”
So what’s all this noise from Garba Shehu who is passionate about defending his ETHNIC group of Fulani even in matters that offend extant laws?
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and blogs@www. theingerianinsidernews.com,
Disclaimer: “The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Emmanuel Onwubiko and do not necessarily reflect those of The World Satellite. The World Satellite will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.”