KUJE PRISON BREAK: OF AN INEPT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, SOCIAL CONTRACT AND THE NEED FOR DECENTRALIZING POLICING
To make sense of this topic, I want to humbly ask my readers to read this article with an open mind. This is important because Nigeria is now clearly very close to the edge of the cliff and in this moment, tag along with me without your religious and ethnic, but more importantly your partisan garments. Nigeria is on the verge of implosion so we no longer have the privilege of resorting to those cleavages in our analysis and assessment of the government of the day.
Since I began writing, my ardent readers know that I am not partisan, tribalistic nor intolerant of the religion of others. But as with everyone of us, I have milieus, some of which I had no hand in forming, but they never interfere with my analysis/views/perspectives on issues. It is important that I state this before delving into this discussion. Please come along with me.
As rookie Political Science undergraduates, we were taught that the first responsibility of government, any government, is the security and welfare of it’s people – under a social contract where the people, as opposed to living in a dog eat dog arrangement against each other, surrendered their rights to life and safety to the government in exchange for collective security. Thus, maintaining law and order, which in turn ensures that the people are safe, is the first duty of every government all over the world, including the government of Nigeria.
With this backgrounder, can anyone, in all sincerity and honesty, say that the Nigerian Government (that is, the Federal Government, since it is solely in charge of the security of lives and property in the 36 states, FCT and 774 LGAs in the country) is fulfilling it’s part of the social contract entered into with Nigerians?
We already know that Nigeria is a federation (at least in theory) having a central government (federal government) and sub-central governments (the 36 state governments). In many other countries practicing federalism like we do, the responsibility to protect citizens deriving from the social contract agreement is devolved and decentralized such that each tier of government, federal, state and local, have shared but equally important responsibilities in achieving the objectives of the contract. In the USA for example, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) is that country’s federal police in charge of providing internal security across the country – and it’s role is complimented by the 50 states independent police departments. This is why there is the New York Police Department (NYPD), the Minnesota Police Department (MPD), etc. And under the NYPD, MPD and those of other states, there are county (local government council) police departments, e.g the Minneapolis Police Department in Minnesota. In fact, the American Capitol Hill (housing both the Senate and Congress) located in the state of Washington has its own separate and independent police department in charge of the security of lives and property in that area.
This devolution and decentralization of the internal policing security architecture of America is why that country, to a larger extent, is one of the safest countries in the world and unsurprsingly the most economically developed country in the world many years running. Without this system of internal security architecture, America as we know it would not be. This example also speaks to the important Siamese/cojoined linkage/relationship between security/peace and development. Through empiricism, we know that most countries still struggling with large scale insecurity challenges are typically poor, unsafe and underdeveloped. Wither Nigeria?
Pray but why can’t 2022 Nigeria emulate the American system of internal security that devolves, decentralizes and shares policing responsibilities between the federal, state and local governments? Some of us have been asking for this for a long time but unfortunately, the current Federal Government under the rulership of President Muhammadu Buhari would hear nothing of it. And this is because President Buhari, like other presidents before him since 1999, enjoys the enormous powers attached to the office of the Nigerian president. Although President Joe Biden of the USA is the most powerful president in the world, there are many decisions that affects Americans that he cannot single-handedly/unilaterally make, however badly he wants to. In Nigeria, the president is the doer-of-all-things and the chief allocator of values and why for most Nigerians, the focus is often on the president/federal government, and rarely the states and local governments.
Two days ago, the Kuje Prison located in the Federal Capital Territory where the federal government of Nigeria (Three Arms Zone) seats and decides the fate of Nigerians, was attacked by vicious Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists who successfully, and without any form of counter fire from the country’s forces, released 64 terrorists and hundreds of prisoners. The Kuje Prison is a medium correctional center and to imagine that terrorists, with the knowledge of the president, were kept there for years, is both shocking and not shocking. It is shocking because no serious country keeps arrested terrorists in a medium security facility as opposed to a high one. It is not shocking because this is Nigeria where anything can happen. This is Buhari’s Nigeria where the more you look the less you understand. This is Nigeria where the president is shocked that this happened when he knows that hundreds of his subjects are murdered and dehumanized everyday by rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. This fearless and bold terrorist attack, although it happened for over three hours undeterred, is not shocking to some of us because we already know that the Buhari government is both inept and clueless in every aspect, but especially and particularly with security issues.
Residents of Kuje are saying that the terrorists arrived the prison on foot – so we ask: where were the security and intelligence federal officials who were supposed to notice their movement from their base until they arrived the prison? These terrorists, who we hear were almost 300, planned this attack from somewhere and drove themselves to the Kuje area and approached the prison but without any security outfit noticing them. Are the security officials that inept in their duty like the president or they deliberately turned the other way, meaning that the terrorists had inside cooperation? These are questions we seek answers to but as usual, we would never, not may, find answers to them. While we know that we cannot get answers to these questions and many others troubling our minds, the time was yesterday when we tell ourselves the truth: devolving and decentralizing the command and control policing architecture that allows for state and local council comand and control is now the only viable option before us. QED!