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Foreign mercenaries is a call to anarchy 

By Kayode Ajulo
10 April 2022   |   3:50 am
It is now trite that Nigeria in recent times has been trailing through periods of insecurity of lives and property as well as no respect for the rule of law, natural justice and human dignity.
Nasir El-Rufai

Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai | Lagos traffic

It is now trite that Nigeria in recent times has been trailing through periods of insecurity of lives and property as well as no respect for the rule of law, natural justice and human dignity. This fact has in recent months been unhappily emphasised by the startling events which occurred in this country. I shall not belabour the point but it will be unrealistic not to draw attention to the recent Abuja-Kaduna train attack where several persons were injured while some others were kidnapped including the loss of lives of innocent Nigerian citizens.

Consequent on the above unfortunate incident, the Governor of Kaduna State in a statement credited to him has threatened to employ the services of foreign mercenaries in combating the insurgencies in the state. It is in the backdrop of the above statement that I am compelled to beam the searchlight of the law on both the immediate and remote consequences of the statement credited to the Governor.

Duty of Government to safeguard security of lives and properties
It is important to start on the premise that the central pillars of Nigerian national security is the safeguard of the Nigerian sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the State as contained in the 1999 Constitution (as amended). Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution states that: The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of any government.

Essentially, this concern over the security of the state has remained the defining feature of a democratic state and its relations with the individuals in their interaction and any state which fails to ensure the security of its citizens is said to have failed completely and therefore faces great challenges in governance.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the state of insecurity in Nigeria is becoming worrisome and disturbing considering the high rate of killings, bombing, kidnapping, conflicts, wars, and clashes etc. which innocent people fall to the guns of criminals in the country today. These have led to political, social and economic disruptions which in turn lead to slow economic, social, religious and political development.

On the use of foreign mercenaries to fight insurgencies
There is no doubt that by the combined interpretation of Section 214(1), 217(1) and items 38 and 45 of Part 1 to the Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), provision of apparatus for ensuring security in the country is the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government. Hence, the constitutional obligations to safeguard the security of Nigerian citizens in any part of the country is within the powers of the Federal Government, without prejudice to the cooperation of the component state government.

While the statement credited to Governor Nasir El-Rufai can be justifiable on the standpoint of concern for immediate response on the imminent danger and state of insecurity in Kaduna State; it is apparent that the existing security framework has shown that there is no clear chain of command and thus making it difficult for the security authorities to deal with the rising wave of insecurity in country. However, one must not shy away from the dire consequences of the attempt to engage the services of foreign mercenaries to combat insurgency in the state.

To lend my two cent to the present hullabaloo, Governor Nasir El-Rufai must understand that engaging foreign mercenaries is surely not a miracle solution to the complex operational and security challenges and the logic does not seem very compatible with the principles and concept of sovereignty within the circumference of a nation as ours.

While it is undisputed that a number of these foreign mercenaries have been used by several countries for logistics, protection of personnel and sometime to combat armed groups, it is also imperative to stress the legal and reputational risks and danger that could result from using these foreign mercenaries to combat terrorism in Nigeria.

There have been records of events where mercenaries have been used to topple governments and to cause a state of anarchy in a sovereign state. For instance, in 2004, former British special forces officer, Simon Mann – founder of the private military and security company (PMSC) Sandline International was arrested in Zimbabwe for planning to overthrow President Obiang.

This experience and many others explain why many countries are wary of foreign mercenaries and private military companies and also why the organisation of African Unity (now African Union) was a pioneer in developing the Convention for the Elimination of Mercenarism in Africa.

Similarly, with the admission of some northern governors and the federal authorities that some of the perpetrators of these dastardly acts are foreigners, one must therefore be wary in the use of foreigners as the use of same can be counterproductive in the fight against insurgencies in the country.

What is more, Governor El-Rufai ought to have been advised that with the system of government operative in Nigeria and the oath of office he took on ascension of the office of the Governor, he has no mandate to contemplate procurement of home and foreign mercenaries.

• Dr Kayode Ajulo, FCIArb. UK is a legal practitioner.