Header Ads Widget

Responsive Advertisement



Shoot-On-Sight Order: Lawyers Fault Buhari, Say Nigeria Is Not a Jungle

                      President Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerians have begun to lambast President Muhammadu Buhari and some governors over comments to summarily shoot anyone illegally seen carrying an AK-47 rifle.

President’s spokesperson Garba Shehu Wednesday said Mr. Buhari has directed the military to shoot whoever is seen with sophisticated weapons like AK-47 at sight.

Mr. Shehu said the president’s directive was to clampdown on bandits terrorising parts of the country and have refused to surrender.

The directive seems to go well with some governors. Benue governor Samuel Ortom said the directive will make communities safer for already displaced farmers to return home and farm.

But activists and lawyers have faulted the directive, saying Nigeria is not a jungle where anyone with arms should be shot at.

Human rights activist, Iniebehe Effiong, told Peoples Gazette that such a directive of the president is not legal and possession of arms is not a capital offence under the firearms laws. 

Mr. Effiong explained that anyone could be found with an AK-47 in the bush including security personnel who carry arms while on mufti, saying Nigeria is not a jungle but a country governed by laws and the president should follow the law or resign.

“If you see people with AK-47 in the bush even if they are bandits, you can disarm them but if they refuse and exchange firearms with the security personnel then they can be shot. 
“The security officers that carry AK-47 on mufti can also come under attack. Everybody should be treated depending on a case-by-case basis of a particular state otherwise, it will mean we are in the jungle. 

President should uphold the law or if he can’t, he should resign. You can not reduce the country and say anybody seen with arms should be killed,” Mr. Effiong held.

Mr. Effiong noted that the issue is not the possession of firearms but what looks like a complicit attitude of the federal government in the sense that many of these bandits are covered by the government. 

“The government is not ready to disarm them. The president’s order is just playing to the gallery. The president has given such orders before and nothing was done,” he added.

Courage Nsirimovu, executive director at the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law also defaulted the presidential directive. He said Nigeria is not in a military era but in a democracy which implies rule of law.

Mr. Nsirimovu told the Gazette that the law does not permit anyone to be killed if caught with arms but should be arrested and prosecuted under the court of law, but the resistance of arrest and engage in a shootout with the forces then the military can shoot under self-defence.

Mr. Nsirimovu urged the NBA and CSOs to stand up and protect the rule of law.

Human rights lawyer, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, told the Gazette the president directive is ” too little and too late”, saying if the president had issued such an order as said by the spokesman, such order can only take place when the people are seen or caught.

“All the evidence is that these people doing these things are ghosts, the security services are afraid of them or higher up people are involved. Or how do you explain hundreds of terrorists traveling hundreds of kilometers, carting away hundreds of kids in operations taking hours & no security person shows up to stop them or ask questions? So who is going to shoot whom”, Mr. Odinkalu asked. 

Eneefa Georgewill, leader of the Coalition of Rivers Civil Society Organizations said “Every citizen is innocent until he is proven guilty by the court of law”, urging the president and governors to measure their ways else they will give a free order to already trigger happy security officers.

“What the government should do is to invite security agencies to trace these people and arrest them for proper prosecution. We don’t live where anyone can do anything in life. Tracing these persons is not difficult if Gumi can trace them. These are persons who kidnapped in dozens”, Mr. Georgewill said.

But retired colonel Chinedu Owhonda supports the president’s directive to shoot at sight, saying it is in the right direction.

Mr. Owhonda told the Gazette that constitutionally, there are people asked to carry weapons such as vigilantes, police and the military. He said any other person seen with the weapons especially when it is not licensed “has done wrong.”

Mr. Owhonda noted that his support for the president’s directive is based on recent activities causing unrest in Nigeria where bandits kidnapped and “killed women, girls, and our sons.”

This is not the first time President Buhari is ordering the military to shoot on sight. During the 2019 general elections, the Gazette learnt Mr. Buhari, a retired army general, said he has ordered security personnel to shoot ballot box snatchers on sight.

But despite the president’s directive, states like Kano and Lagos experienced brazen ballot box snatching during the elections to Mr. Buhari’s consternation.

Parts of northern Nigeria, particularly in states like Zamfara, Katsina and Niger have been under sustained attacks in the past weeks. Bandits within the last four months have kidnapped more than six hundred students, killing dozens of citizens, the Gazette learnt.

Post a Comment