— Says Magu Trial Was Not Laced With Fair Hearing
— Calls For Par-Time Legislative Arms, Resource Control And Reduction of Items on Exclusive List; As Part of Restructuring Measures
— Says Sunday Igboho Not Similar To Nnamdi Kanu, Shekau Others

The Chairperson of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption [PACAC] and widely acclaimed legal scholar, Prof Itse Sagay, has called on the Presidency and the National Assembly to see to the actualization of individual and communal protection against terrorism, banditry and kidnapping via the arming of private citizens, as well as, holding a strategic session with a view of reducing crime and criminality in the country.

“I have made this suggestion before,” the Professor of Law told VINCENT KALU of Sun. “We should all be armed. Communities should be armed. Individuals should be armed so that anybody coming to attack you will know that he too has no chance of surviving.”

The acclaimed legal scholar made his position know via an interview wherein he considered the worsening security situation in the country. Mr Sagay noted that the nation as presently constituted requires [what he referred to as] ‘a balance of terror’ in other that the country scales through this state of quagmire that it presently exists in.

“… Although it [the insecurity situation] is more in the North, the South is not safe. In the Southwest now, you can’t travel by road because people will jump out of the forest and stop and then abduct you. I have never seen a thing like this; really the Federal Government ought not just to declare a state of emergency. It should have a major strategy session on this. I have made this suggestion before: we should all be armed so that anybody coming to attack you will know that he too has no chance of surviving. Communities should be armed; individuals should be armed. That is a balance of terror…the federal government should think of loosening the rules governing arms-bearing and allow persons and communities that are under attack to have arms to defend themselves. Like in America, everybody has arms; if you are going to raid somebody’s house, you know that it is a big risk….”

He further questioned why the youths of the country would prefer to cry out against the supposed invasion of their lands and homes by criminal elements disguised as fulani herders rather than seek arms and uniformly fight against such invasion. He noted that the likes of Sunday Igboho as an ‘ethnic warlord’ in the south-west seem to correct the vaccum that somewhat exist in the country and his activities are quite distinguishable from other ‘ethnic warlords’ like Nnamdi Kanu, Shekau amongst others. He however noted that if the present security situation is not properly tackled, there exists the possibility of an imminent breakup of the country.

“…So there is no peace; the whole country is boiling. The security agencies – the army, the police, the DSS, the Civil Defence Corps, if they need more recruitment into the forces, let it be done. But this thing has to be stamped out. Otherwise, Nigeria will be destroyed. I see its imminent break-up, especially by the time you have people roaming all over the places. Look at what is happening now: those who supply foods and meat from the North are saying they are not coming to the South because something happened to some of their people. They are not looking at this thing properly. The South didn’t plan anything against anybody except actions individuals might have been taken against those who were terrorizing them. But for such a situation to arise shows that the level of insecurity in the country is so bad that we are unconsciously creating a breach between the North and the South…”

On the notoriety of Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s headship and supposed negotiation with some bandits, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria urged the Federal Government and all other relevant security stakeholders to extract necessary information from the Sheikh, especially with regards to his [the Sheikh’s] relationship with the bandits. He noted that the supposed mouthpiece with the Sheikh presents himself as on behalf of the bandits serves as a contradiction in any sane society, as it compels the belief that illegality can in fact be legitimate in Nigeria. Further noting that the supposed comparison of the Herders and bandits to the Niger Delta amnesty is in fact a false equivalence, on the grounds that the militants were expressing their political and economic protest against injustice in their land, and not particularly involved in the killing and maiming of various persons for pure criminal gain as evident in the activities of the bandits.

“It is really a contradiction. Gumi should be made to tell the security organisations where these people are so that operatives can organise themselves and wipe them out wherever they are. He should be made to tell them. To create a situation in which the impression is given that bandits and kidnappers are legitimate operators with whom we should be negotiating destroys society. What this thing says is that there is no boundary to misconduct: it means that any misconduct you can carry out becomes legitimized. That is the impression…the Niger Delta militants were not killing people. Yes, they did some kidnapping. But they didn’t go to school to kidnap schoolchildren. They targeted oil companies and those expatriates working for oil companies. It is not as if I support it, but it is not the same thing. Those people were engaged in political and economic protest. They were not just engaged in pure criminality to make gain out of the evil…”

Similarly, Professor Sagay opined that the directive given by the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, was valid especially when considered in light of the purpose of the law seeking to preserve the forest reserve. He noted that contrary to the needless controversies generated by the directive, there exists nothing like unchanneled freedom of movement, noting that one’s freedom stops where the right of another begins.

“There are so many freedoms and many legal entitlements. Your freedom of association or freedom of movement is subject to other rules too. Like this question of forest reservations, the law allows you to have reservations. The whole idea is to preserve certain species from being destroyed. Government can make a law that nobody should live in such area so that they would not begin to cut down such trees or kill the animals. There is nothing like unchanneled freedom of movement. You can’t say that because you have freedom of movement, you just pack all your things into my sitting room and say: ‘I have come; I have freedom of movement under the Nigeria Constitution.’ What type of freedom is that? Your freedom ends where my right begins. So the freedom of movement ends where such laws that control reservations begin. So there is no such unchanneled freedom, otherwise, there will be chaos.”

Also, Mr Sagay noted that there exists [to his mind] no political gain with regards to the insecurity currently ravaging the country, especially by those seeking to gain political power in 2023. He also noted that the harm is done to everyone, as terrorism and criminality has no ethnic discrimination, as everyone is affected in one measure or the other. Accordingly, there exist the need for a united front by each and everyone to stamp out the menace.

Also sharing his opinion on the fight against corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, noted that the administrative probe of Mr. Magu was not laced with the requisite fair hearing expected, holding that it was a one-sided affair especially where the perception seemed to be that the tribunal had already convicted Magu before even the trial began. He however admitted to not having seen the report of the proceedings and as such would not come to any conclusion on the issue. With regards, Magu’s travails, the learned Senior Advocate noted that, ‘…I will say there are two: one, independent-mindedness, not wanting to be controlled or his discretion and authority taken over in the way he pursues war against corruption. Secondly, everybody has a candidate for that his position and they were just waiting for him to do four years before pushing their candidates forward. To that extent, there was general agreement among some powerful people that Magu should go because they have their candidates. That is the thing about Nigeria; it is a very strange country. You don’t have to be a bad a person; if you have been there for sometimes, there are people who are warming up to put somebody there, regardless of your excellence or non-excellence.’

Speaking o the perceived nepotism and the call for restructuring, Professor Sagay noted that competence should always be the watch ward, rather than ethnic sentiments, noting however that there ought to be more diffusion in the appointment of security personnels, howbeit, the manner of appointment, to his mind, is not the cause of the security problem in the country. He called for a more federal state in the governance of the country and breakdown of power from the central to the subordinate units of the country. He considered that resource control should be the duty of the generating state, whilst royalties and taxes be paid to the central government, as well as the need to reduce the items on the exclusive list of the federal government and grant same to the state governments, including the need for a per time legislative arm at both the federal and state level.

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