CALL ON UNARMED NIGERIANS TO DEFEND THEMSELVES: Magashi, Defence minister under fire

Abducted students…He should’ve been fired by now – Gbagi, HM Ayemi-Botu, HRM Whiskey

…YCE, Afenifere, Agbekoya blast him

…Magashi said nothing wrong – Brig-Gen. Ikponmwen (retd)

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South; Dapo Akinrefon & Rotimi Ojomoyela

MINISTER of Defence, General Bashir Magashi, faced barrage of criticisms, weekend, over his proclamation that weaponless Nigerians should defend themselves against bandits.

Angry reactions have continued to trail the remarks credited to the Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd) asking Nigerians to defend themselves whenever they were attacked by bandits and other criminal elements.

The Minister of Defence, while reacting to the kidnap of students in Niger State had tasked Nigerians to defend themselves.

In their separate reactions, the Yoruba Council of Elders, YCE, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere and Agbekoya Farmers’ Association, yesterday, berated the minister over his remarks.

His statement is embarrassing —YCE

The Secretary General of the YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, said, “I’m not happy about it at all, because the Minister of Defence is supposed to be the Chief Defence Officer for all Nigerians and the territorial integrity of the country and if he now calls all us to rise up and defend ourselves it means that he is throwing up his hands in despair, that he can no longer protect us and that the government is no longer interested in protecting us.

So anybody who wants to live should find other means of protecting himself or herself. And that is particularly more embarrassing in a country where it is unlawful to purchase and carry fire arms. So, he is literally calling on Nigerians to violate the law of this country and go and look for fire arms anywhere they can get it to protect themselves.

“It is as if there is no government in place, I have been expecting our legislators, both at the state and national level, and our governors to rise up and challenge him and call the attention of the president to such statement which is an abdication of responsibility.”

Should we attack with bare hands against AK-47?—Afenifere

In its own reaction, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, lampooned the minister for making such remarks. Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin said: “We are not impressed with that deception. To defend ourselves with bare hands against AK47? When the people are ready, they will see.”

It’s a licence to carry firearms — Agbekoya Farmers’ Society

Also, the Agbekoya Farmers Society, said such remark has given Nigerians licence to carry fire arms.

Agbekoya’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Adetunji Bandele said: “The position of Agbekoya on this is that, the government and security agencies in Nigeria have lost the battle against insurgency, banditry and kidnapping.

The minister of defense has given green light to Nigerians to carry fire arms and weapons to defend themselves. Such a statement coming out from the minister of defense is an indication that the federal government is supporting the criminal Fulani herdsmen to carry AK47.”

It’s official endorsement of self defence—S-West security stakeholders

On its part, the South-West Security Stakeholders said the minister’s statement was an official endorsement of self-defence. In a communique issued after its security summit, which was convened by the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba Land, Iba Gani Adams, the summit faulted the minister’s remarks.

The summit was attended by members of the Oodua Peoples Congress, Agbekoya, Hunters Group, Isokan Ile Yoruba, Vigilante Group of Nigeria (JAHUN), Vigilante Group of Nigeria, Ibarapa Group and Community Society Awareness Initiative.

According to their communique, “the meeting noted the exasperation inherent in the statement of the Minister of Defence of the nation calling on Nigerians to defend themselves. This is clearly official endorsement of self defence. The meeting feared that the situation, if not addressed, signals a grievous national crisis. The meeting therefore called on the government to quickly arrest the apparent descent into anarchy.

“The meeting aligned with the call of the governors of South West that President Muhammadu Buhari should prove his innocence in the carnage being perpetrated by herders by not only unambiguously condemning the nefarious acts but also take clear steps to exterminate it.

Defence minister should’ve lost his job by now – Gbagi

Criminologist and former Minister of State (Education), Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, expressed surprise at the implication of the minister’s declaration just as a retired military officer and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, HM Charles Ayemi-Botu found the proclamation unacceptable.

However, former Provost Marshal, Nigerian Army, Brig Gen Don Idada Ikponmwen (retd.) said the minister should not be crucified for voicing the palpable truth.

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Olorogun Gbagi who spoke to Saturday Vanguard on phone, said: “Asking Nigerians to defend themselves, my immediate reaction is that could that actually have come from the Minister of Defence of Nigeria, will that automatically not remove him from that office by any standard of measurement in the world. Is it possible for a man who is supposed to be coordinating the agencies of security in the country to make such a statement. That statement by itself is disturbing to the diplomatic world, disturbing to investors, disturbing to people that have any reason to have anything to do with this country, disturbing to what the flag represents to the entire fabric of this country.

“I find it unacceptable and unbelievable that the Minister of Defence can ask Nigerians to handle their own security by themselves. It is a grand failure, accepting that that nation has collapsed and indication that there is no more government.”

“If the Minister of Defence made that statement, it is a serious confirmation of what people like General Theophilus Danjuma (retd), Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue state and people all over the country have said, even President Muhammadu Buhari alluded partially to it. But coming from the Defence Minister, it speaks volume not just to Nigerians but the entire world. Anarchy is what has been spelt out as the position we find ourselves in the country.

“As a criminologist, I am disturbed that a statement such as this is credited to the defence minister of the federal government, I think this calls for serious discussion and to go to the drawing board – as to where we got it wrong, as to who are benefiting from these hoodlums, as to who are taking advantage of the country and its resources and creating this mayhem. As I said five years ago, I do not see why the military apparatus should not move to exterminate this mess we have found ourselves. But for the defence minister to accept, which again is a blatant truth of the situation on ground, we need to decide as a people where we go from here. The man whose duty to protect us has spoken, we have to decide as people and as a country whatever it will take for us to go forward,” he said.

Resign or be sacked – HM Ayemi-Botu

Retired army officer, HRM Ayemi-Botu, said: “The Minister of Defence has made total mockery of himself and the President who appointed him as Defence Minister and the entire nation that he is incapable and not qualified to be appointed to such sensitive and very important ministry.”

“No wonder the entire security architecture in Nigeria has failed or better still collapsed. To tell Nigerians to defend themselves is a clear demonstration that he has surrendered the country to the insurgents and he should resign immediately if Buhari does not sack him within the next 24 hours.

“It is very shameful for this unguarded statement coming from the minister, taking into cognizance the numerous deaths recorded on a daily basis and the security situation that is at the brink of collapse and the Senate asking the President to declare a state of emergency. But the question that is begging for answer is where is the National Security Adviser? In developed countries when the service chiefs were shown the way out, both the Minister of Defence and the National Security Adviser would have equally been sacked. But ‘Baba Go Slow’ is taking his time until the entire country is invaded, overrun and overwhelmed by the tripod of Boko Haram, combined team of foreign and indigenous Fulani killer- herdsmen and bandits unabatedly rampaging, raiding, kidnapping, taking hostage innocent students who are our future leaders throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria,” the monarch added.

Govt should issue firearm license to Nigerians – HRM Whiskey

Security advocate, HRM Whiskey informed Saturday Vanguard that: “The statement by the defence minister has more security implication on the general security architecture of the nation. Firstly, is the defence minister accepting that our security operatives have been overwhelmed by bandits? Or is he advocating for individual arms for defenseless Nigerians who are being killed like chickens in their farms?”

“If the two questions have affirmative answers, then let government start the issuance of permit for guns ownership. On the other hand, if the defence minister is encouraging our populace to defend themselves without arms against heavily armed bandits, then he must be encouraging our unarmed Nigerians to embark on a suicidal mission which will result in a journey of return.

“The country must now sit down and review the general security architecture of the country as evidence are now available that most of these deadly bandits are foreigners and if that is correct, the Federal Government must rise swiftly and deal decisively with all foreign bandits and their collaborators so that Nigeria and Nigerians will enjoy their peaceful life once again,” the monarch stated.

We are not in state of hopelessness – Ikponmwen, ex-Army Provost Marshal

Brig- Gen Ikponmwen, who is also a lawyer asserted: “I would like to start by saying that this is not the first time in recent times that pronouncement such as this has been made. Gen Danjuma once spoke in the same vein.

His statement was applauded by some people while others criticized him. Now, the follow up question is how and when did we get to this point of apparent breakdown of security? One cannot proffer answer to this poser without first having a meaningful appraisal of the right to self- defense on one hand and the doctrine of social contract on the other hand. Right to self-defense can simply be defined as the right to prevent being a victim of force or violence through the use of a sufficient level of counteracting force or violence. It is an inherent right to use force in response to an armed attack. Originally, there was no restriction to anybody’s effort to defend his life and property.

“So it was until the advent of social contract doctrine which concept originated during the age of enlightenment and usually concerned the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to a central authority in exchange for protection of their remaining rights for the maintenance of social order.

“In other words, people gave up some of their rights to government so that government would regulate between the right of one person and another. Social contract, driven to its logical conclusion, meant that government that failed to discharge the duty of protection and security of the people lost its rights to govern.

Succinctly put, failure of successive governments in Nigeria to address the issue of security and welfare of the people the way they ought to have done is responsible largely for the near collapse of our security architecture as we have witnessed in the recent times. Thus, what our two ministers (present and past) have said can hardly be faulted. While we recognize the effort the government has been putting into ensuring security and welfare of our people, we cannot in view of the present situation in Nigeria, avoid seeing a serving Minister of Defence’s pronouncement as amounting to admission of failure of government. This apparent admission must emphasize the need for government to do much more to encourage, assist and position the people to help themselves to protect their own lives and properties

“On the whole therefore, I must say that the Minister of Defence, General Bashir Magashi, being a lawyer, must be seen to mean what he said that Nigerians should defend themselves; but knowing him to be a committed, patriotic and hard-working Nigerian, I cannot agree that his statement should be construed as portraying a state of hopelessness on the part of the Nigerian government. We must concede that the government is looking holistically into all possible measures of solving security problems of our country.


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