Funke Busari, Lagos
Discourse on Protection of Civilians, PoC, and Civilian Harm Mitigation, CHM, again took the centre stage of the advocacy for protocol by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, on Thursday.
The workshop, a sequel advocacy engagement to an earlier call for policy framework, supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, deliberated on life-saving measures that the media, security managers and policy makers could employ to push for protection of civilians via a PoC legislation for the country, in order to arrest the realities of insecurity in Nigeria which had witnessed casualties from both sides of the civilians and combatants in armed conflicts.
The frontline advocate for protocols is further calling for non-kinetic approaches to mitigate the harm ravaging citizens in theaters of wars across the country, opining that such strategies would save lives and means of livelihood of the citizens.
Speaking at the the event, Auwal Musa Ibrahim (Rafsanjani) led CISLAC feared that lack of safety in Nigeria is a deliberate cause and he was of the view that some people might be benefiting from the chaos.
The Executive Director therefore called for not just having a policy for protection of civilians but also harped on the need for policy makers to domesticate and operationalize policies they are already parties to.
He bemoaned a situation where policy for the Internally Displaced Persons are not even being upheld.
He advised critical stakeholders to help in creating enabling environment for safety of their citizens, as he shared optimism that if security challenges are appropriately dealt with, its effect would also be beneficial to policy makers.
His insight on the abduction of about 17 University students in Kaduna State was narrowed on leadership intervention, even as he reiterated that kidnapping has become a business in the country.
Auwal Musa Ibrahim expressed sadness over the incidence and wondered why government is not fixing the issue coupled with the economic, social injustice and hardship Nigerians are facing.
He said, “I think it showed that either the government is overpowered by groups of kidnappers or it is business that some people are doing while some are occupying official positions.
He said,”I can not understand why we cannot deploy official resources, both human and financial intelligence and what have you, to ensure that we bring an end to this constant and regular abduction of children.
“They’re depriving them of going to school and already we are in crisis. Nigeria has the highest out-of-school children and coupled with all the people that are being displaced by insurgency, by violence in Nigeria, a lot of young people are roaming on the streets, they have become orphans, they have no future and yet, this is the hope of the nation.
“We are not utilising the human capacity that God has given to this country.
“Allowing this people to be kidnapped, abducting these children, disrupting their school is also disrupting their psyche and is also creating social vices and also helping criminals to recruit them again. Secondly, it is also helping criminals that are taking children for rituals.
“So, there are a lot of multiple problems involved in this and that is why Government must make a deliberate effort to ensure that this thing is stopped. Whoever is involved, government must go after these people.
“And again, if government is having shortage of human and intelligence capacity to deal with this, that is why there’s a bilateral with other countries who have similar experiences that have been able to overcome this.
“They should go and source and seek for support in order to end this miserable, constant abduction and kidnapping of Nigerians who are already living in a very miserable life.
“Speaking on the concept of ransom payment for captives, CISLAC Program Manager, Mr. Salaudeen Hashim said non-kinetic approach is the way to go.
“There are communities in most of the hidden areas where captives are kept or where those who are victims are kept.
“Those communities are deliberately not volunteering information because of the threat that has been given them, so they fear the bandits more than they fear security agents and after all what has Government done to them ever since? And the presence of governance is very important in our rural communities, that is the only way to win patrotism. So, that must be the change of approach.
“Every government intervention has always focused on the urban. Our problems are rural, we need to find rural solution to this particular problem.
He spoke extensively on the failure of non-payment of ransom to kidnappers in exchange for captives by government officials.
He explained that such position is a way of de-marketing the ‘industry’.
His words, “For me it is actually a way of de-marketing the industry in those states. It is a strategic political approach. It might be painful, in some developed climes, they have a way of negotiating.
“Unfortunately, if they are going to negotiate, it is not necessary they are going to negotiate based on paying ransom but there are other tools for negotiation.
“So for life, we need to negotiate somehow. If you are not paying cash, then you should be able to offer some level of amnesty that would provide a way to say that look!, you have respect for those lives, that are in captivity, but not necessarily giving you money. Then overtime, those people can actually find it unattractive and leave.
“I think I like the position of not paying ransom but you just have to negotiate somehow and for that negotiation, the bargaining might be different, it might just be something else and that would actually keep the lives of those people who are in captivity going,” Hashim said.