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Recycling Political Appointees And National Development

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BOOK REVIEW: Ayo Joan Olatoyosi's Thesis, Antithesis And Synthesis Of Life

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Grace Ego Omoni

The drum of the forthcoming general elections is already beating and the frenzy of the dance steps of those welcoming is already overwhelming. It seems to many that this time around, something new is about to happen in the history of politics in Nigeria. However, it often ends as a vicious cycle. It is a political characteristic which has existed before and after independence over the years; a routine which has rendered this nation a laughing stock in the committee of nations. It is indeed ridiculous and utter insanity that in this 21st century, a country like Nigeria will be doing the same thing, using the same people over and over again and still expects different results! Why do we have the impression that we can find a solution to good governance with the same mindset we have used over the years? Have we not realized that until we accept our weaknesses, mistakes and limitations, we cannot attain success beyond this present unsatisfactory political system of government and society being criticized by opposing party members, critics, pressure groups, the young, the old, the elites, the illiterates, religious and non- governmental organizations and the world at large? Has it ever occurred to the politicians and ruling administration that assessment and evaluation are ways by which the development of a nation can be improved upon? With excitement, most people welcome the signing of the Electoral Act by the President, Mohammed Buhari and it is indeed a great achievement in the annals of Nigerian’s political history.

However, do we know that there is a popular axiom that borders on the premise that Nigeria is very good in making policies but totally a failure in implementation? This is a known fact to the academia especially in the area of curriculum planning. What would have been the reason for this failure over the years? The CAN President, Rev. Dr. Olasupo Ayokunle made a pertinent point in 2018 in an address to congratulate Nigeria on the 58th independence anniversary that the recycling of old politicians who are already showing signs of tiredness as a result of old age is unfair to the nation.

In the same vain, Olawepo- Hashim Gbenga asserted that fading personalities cannot be accepted as potential rescuers for Nigeria already drifting into the deep of collapse. To him, what the country needs is a new generation of leaders; not cabals or multiple pension-receiving individuals who have been on government expenses in ages or those that the nation sustains including their families at huge costs. To Olawepo, such people should be retired from politics so that Nigeria can be led to a new part of creativity. He advocates that Nigeria should stop political recycling.
Thus, this article will briefly look into the term recycling and reusing, recycling from the political point of view and the trend in Nigeria, the consequences of the recycling of political appointees to national development and then Implications for counselling.

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Recycling is a technological term which implies a process of collecting and processing materials that would have been otherwise thrown away as trash but turning them into new products. It is an industrial process that collects used or abandoned materials, smashes, melts, shreds or otherwise transforms them into consistent raw materials.
Reusing is the act that does not require new material but involves using that object by repurposing it.

Both terms are seen and used intermittently in Nigerian politics. Both are potential political acts used by die-hard politicians to maintain the status quo. The scenario shows a situation whereby the same people are seen in government moving from one political position to another for over a long period of time. In Nigeria, we see politicians who have served as governors for eight years move to become senators in the House of Representatives or Senate and even come back to become ministers without making any positive impact to national development. In fact, the greedy vertical movement starts from the local government level. Someone, after serving as the chairman of a local government, now struggles to become a commissioner in the state and moves upward to capture diverse political positions without considering others as potential personalities being capable of contributing and serving the nation.

We even have situations where the children of politicians take over from their fathers and uncles as a kind of political heritage. Olasupo Ayokunle indicted politicians who impose their children on political positions after they leave such seats.

Political recycling therefore is the deliberate maintenance of a small group of political elites who rotate political appointments among themselves. They rotate through the years with the different ruling administrations. For instance, the appointment of top level bureaucrats is among the most important decisions that a president must make. It is disheartening to note that here in Nigeria, these political assignments are ill-motivated. Instead of appointing those who simultaneously meet the criteria and who can deliver the goods, the retired but favored party members, ethnic faithful and those who over the years have not been performing well are again reappointed. This kind of patronage does not give room for development.

It is a well-known fact that the constitution of Nigeria gives no room to one particular ethnic group or religion to dominate in the matter of appointments and holding political offices. It states that all political appointments must be balanced but that is not the case presently. Political appointments are recycled among people of one political group or ethnic group or religious entity. This is injustice and very unfair to others who are not fortunate to belong to the choice of the ruling party. What the country needs are fresh ideas and new people to develop the economy, unite the people and maintain the nation’s sovereignty.

Politicians recycling themselves in power must cease in Nigeria for it to move forward. Recycling political appointments among a small group of elites has negative and retrogressive consequences for the nation and its citizens.

While technologically, recycling of waste products might be good for the government and the people since it reduces environmental pollution, it is a phenomenon extremely bad for governance. Indeed, the world has come to appreciate the importance of recycling refuse and waste products as blessing but cannot accept political recycling of fading personalities in government as potential rescuers.

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The negative consequences of reusing or recycling political personnel in governance over and over again cannot be over- emphasized. Some of them are:

*Youths are robbed of the opportunity to contribute to the development of the nation;

* It leads to discontentment, agitation, murmuring and oppression and these are not good for politics and businesses in the country;

*It reinforces political instability and violence. The problems Nigeria is facing today are as a result of the recycling of political appointments among a few people. 90% of Nigerians have remained poor, unemployment is the order of the day, terrorism, banditry, murder, destruction of lives and property, breakdown of law and order, underdevelopment and violence are the order of the day. Solutions are not forthcoming because fading personalities are still in government without new ideas being proffered to eliminate or totally remove these problems. Instead, the same thing, the same way and the same method is used in solving these seemingly insurmountable challenges, hence the same unprogressive results are seen in the system. This is why the nation is in darkness and remains underdeveloped and that Is why there is moral and economic decadence everywhere;

*Lack of fair play. Greed and injustices abound;

*It undermines the possibility of good governance;

* These recycled appointees and their families benefit from the government at the expense of the majority of the citizens who out of frustration are likely to resort to violence.

* Political recycling of government appointees leads to dissatisfaction and division. It incubates grievances leading to protests and the tendency to hijack the government through violence. The failure of today’s government to refrain from using old and retired fading personalities can only rekindle the embers of resistance like the ENDSARs saga of 2020;

* Maintaining authority largely by dispensing patronage in return for political support by appointing senior posts to those who served in previous government or trusted family members only endangers the nation in terms of political, economic and educational development. It fosters corruption, cheating, deceits, lies, defrauding and opportunities benefitting the appointees and their families at the expense of the citizens;

* It also prevents the government from earning public trust.

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The following are the counselling implications for the practice of recycling political appointees in our polity:
* A system of principled governance and greater criteria for appointments responsive to the needs of the ordinary citizens must be established;

* There is the need to reform the government appointment process. In other words develop and incorporate merit- based criteria for the appointment of political personnel into government positions such that patronage is balanced with merit;

* Recycling of old politicians who are already showing signs of tiredness as a result of age must be put to an end;

* Imposing the children of politicians after they have served does not allow for others to fulfill their mandate or contribute to the development of the nation. Thus, such cyclic way of governance should cease to exist;

*The constitution of Nigeria on political appointments should be adhered to. Nobody is a sacred cow. Equity should be practised to the core;

* Seminars and workshops should be organized by educational institutions to give orientation to political personnel on the danger of practising political recycling or the reusing of those who have served in government should be discarded henceforth;

* All the divides that form the nation must be put into consideration and be balanced in the process of political appointments; there should be no lopsidedness in appointments;

* Nigeria needs a new generation of leaders and not cabals or multiple pension-receiving individuals who have been living at government expenses from ages without contributing anything positive that will end the incessant protests, poverty, agitations, underdevelopment and dissatisfaction of the masses. Such recycled politicians should be retired in Nigerian politics.

* Nigeria needs policies that will not give room to elite’s recycling and poor governance. There should be a system that needs to impose sanctions against them;

* A policy whereby politicians who have served as political appointees for a term should leave the stage. This is the practice in the higher education sector of this country. For instance, vice-chancellors after serving five years leave the stage for others to contribute their own quota;

* Illiteracy is a disease in this country. Education should be a criterion for political appointments.

Therefore, it is being recommended that training and retraining of political administrators in charge of appointments will go a long way to helping them choose political appointees based on merit and not by patronage or compensation for political support;

It must be emphasized once again that it is insanity doing the same thing, the same way over and over again and expect a different result. Putting new wine in an old wine bottle is only calling for disaster. Nigeria cannot solve the problems of underdevelopment by engaging in the recycling of political appointees. In fact it will compound the issues. Therefore, the president of the country and others who have the sole responsibility of political appointments and taking important decisions concerning this nation must as a matter of urgency appoint those who are talented, young but qualified, committed and ready to give the best to our nation. STOP POLITICAL RECYCLING and REUSING of OLD POLITICAINS and their CHILDREN who are already showing signs of tiredness and dementia for they have nothing to offer Nigerians towards national development.

 

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Opinion

Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

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Counterterrorism, Technology, And Development In Africa

By Toyin Falola
Undoubtedly, Africa has a persistent issue with insecurity. Terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al-Shabab have continued to endanger the security of people’s lives and property as well as the survival of democratic governance in Africa. Unsurprisingly, the threat of terrorism has put Africa’s collective development and growth in even greater jeopardy. Due to the fear of investing in countries affected by terrorism, economies have collapsed. As statehood in some of these impacted countries slowly deteriorates, political advancements have also been hampered. Lately, discussions have focused on how crucial it is for African governments to stop this threat and nip terrorism in the bud. Africa is experiencing a rise in terrorism, which in addition to other humanitarian disasters, has caused mass migration and the loss of lives and valuables.

One of the key factors contributing to the domination of insurgency is the frailty of political institutions in most African countries. The blunt truth is that terrorism grows when the government is unwilling to combat it. Take the case of Nigeria as an example, the government’s longstanding unwillingness to engage in tactical warfare with Boko Haram has blown the destructive activities of the terrorist group beyond proportion, creating fertile ground for other insurgents to rise, and daily, it becomes even more complex to eradicate them. Repeatedly, worries have been expressed about the predicament of African countries in the face of internal and international terrorist attacks, as well as concerning potential repercussions for African political states, most of which have been labelled as weak or failed states.

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While different state actions have been carried out against terrorist groups, the lack of robust democratic institutions in Africa is a significant barrier to the success of counterinsurgency efforts across the continent. African nations have been unable to work together to combat insurgency due to acrimonious politics. A close examination of leadership structures in African nations reveals that most of them are unsuccessful. How would this lead to success against the rebels in nations where the state and the people are constantly at odds? Internal conflict hinders African democratization and fosters rebel domination in return. It is sadder that democratic leaders also take advantage of their nations’ security to run for political office. Regrettably, most African leaders now place fighting terrorism at the top of their list of political priorities just because it commands a lot of emotions that can sway elections in their favour and not because they genuinely want to tackle it. Most African states’ security structures are, in fact, relatively flimsy. In many nations, domestic conflict further expands security gaps and creates the conditions for the insurgency to flourish.

In debates about terrorism, technological progress is unavoidable. Terrorists in Africa are developing, thanks to technical advancements. Terrorism and counterterrorism rapidly assume a new shape in their operations and subject engagement due to the expanding global instrumentalization of technology. Although both countries and terrorist organizations are modernizing their operation methods, there is evidence that many terrorist organizations in Africa are rapidly creating technical solutions to enhance their lethal operations. The internet, especially, is one technical tool feared for its potential to significantly impact global security. Policymakers are concerned about how communication networks like the internet may be used to carry out terrorist activities. Internets, specialized websites and social media platforms are frequently used in conjunction with secured networks to set up chat rooms for talks and activity monitoring, produce disinformation that could incite panic and conduct recruitment in Africa. Today, terrorist organizations like Boko Haram, Al-Shabab, and others use untraceable video and audio recordings to broadcast attacks, demand ransom for hostages, and engage in other despicable activities.

 READ ALSO: Gunmen Kidnap Over Three Policemen

Terrorism in Africa has a detrimental effect on the socioeconomic and political developments of the region. However, it has been demonstrated that successful counterterrorism has benefited, or at the very least can improve, the socioeconomic and political environments on the continent. Like every other continent, Africa has experienced significant terrorist activity. The effects of terrorism, however, have affected Africa far more than other, more developed continents. Terrorism still exists on the continent of Africa despite the efforts of various African nations and regional and international organizations to combat it. The failure of the different counter-terrorist strategies launched to maintain long-lasting peace on the continent has exacerbated the continent’s underdevelopment. Despite security issues, Africa lags behind other continents in scientific, social, and political progress.

These reasons are why it has become paramount for African counterterrorism efforts to keep up with technological advancement. Due to the unique characteristics of each nation, the specific insurgent groups, and the nature of operations, counterterrorism battles in Africa assume diverse forms and employ varied techniques. Departments, institutions, and programs have been established in countries to address the crime afflicted by terrorism. In addition, several laws, regulations, and directives have been passed to guarantee the success of counterterrorism initiatives and tactics. Technology and new technologies are used to acquire additional intelligence and prepare for counter operations.

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Creating powerful political institutions is the first transition stage African nations must go through. A nation’s political structure has a significant role in determining its security architecture. Launching counterterrorism investigations and conflicts between the political class and those in important leadership positions with access to resources and intelligence that could jeopardize government efforts is the second transition stage. As a result, corruption and money laundering are curbed, closing doors to money that may be readily transferred to fund terrorists. Additionally, collaboration with the public is required to create a community policing operation. By acting as informants and providing the necessary information to security personnel, citizens would be involved in the security architecture of African states. African nations must also calm ethnic tensions that could lead to domestic conflict because internal weakness in a nation creates favourable conditions for insurgency growth. Insecurity in Africa stems from internal crises that aim to undermine people’s safety and the African state’s coherence. Therefore, individual African states must organize more effective counterterrorism policies.

For this to be accomplished, effective political leadership and corporate governance must be ingrained at the internal level of the African state. Each African state administration must understand that defeating terrorism requires teamwork and must demonstrate the capacity and willingness to achieve victory. This is because if internal conflicts are permitted to persist and damage the political structure, it will pave the way for external forces to invade. African nations must fortify political institutions in their particular domains to achieve a change in the security architecture. Also, African governments must work together with other nations to implement counterinsurgency strategies. The African Union and regional organizations like the ECOWAS must intervene to maintain Africa’s peace and security. African nations must cooperate on forward-thinking projects to reach a common goal.

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The trajectories of political and economic progress have been significantly impacted by security issues brought on by internal conflict, civil wars, and terrorist acts. In light of the continent’s security issues and other difficulties, and to address the problems that are slowly destroying the continent, African political leaders must use the opportunity to restructure the continent’s democratic system. The promises made by African leaders to develop counterterrorism technology development plans must also be reaffirmed. Establishing strong democratic and political institutions in each African state is crucial to transform Africa into a safe continent free from terrorist attacks and other types of danger. These institutions must be capable of using the military and diplomacy to combat terrorism.

Lastly, the effectiveness of the actions and policies put in place by the individual governments of African countries will significantly impact the future trajectories of counterterrorism and security in the continent. For African nations to effectively battle terrorism and firmly establish peace and security throughout the continent, better political institutions must be built, alliances with militarily stronger states must be formed, and counterterrorism policies and actions must be well coordinated. African nations must build strong political leadership and corporate governance in the battle against terrorism to overcome the insecurity dilemma brought about by terrorists in their continent. Only then can the fight against terrorism in Africa be won.

. Excerpt from a Keynote Address, International Conference on “Counterterrorism, Technology and Development in Africa”
September 22, 2022
Stellenbosch University and Obuda University.

 

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Opinion

‘No Work, No Pay’: Oppressors’ Law

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'No Work, No Pay': Oppressors’ Law

By Tony Afejuku
“No work, no pay” has since gained currency as never before in a kind of obviously puzzling manner that has befuddled me as drink befuddles a drinker it makes stupid but I am not a drinker of drinks that should make me stupid. I am a drinker and eater of ideas, thoughts, notions, concepts, curiosities and more and more remedies, and conditions and desires that make it hard and impossible for me to bow the knee. Nothing befuddles me. Yet I must utter this confession: the “No work, no pay” remark that has protruded from the protruding tongues of the men and officials of protruding stomachs in government and outside government seems to perplex me. The phrase or remark has been particularly popularized in a very, very bastardized manner since ASUU has declared its popular strike of more than seven months now as “total, comprehensive and indefinite.” Of course, some television pundits, newspapers’ reviewers and anchors who have lately made remarks that mark them as our oppressors’ megaphones have reminded us that “No work, no pay” is an “extant law” – whatever they mean or meant by that. ASUU has rightly and correctly countered the oppressors by saying and insisting that “No pay, no work” is its members’ fundamental human right. This countering remark of ASUU’s supreme lords titillates me immeasurably. But this for now is foreign to my declaration here. And my autobiography hopefully anchors here.

What, indeed, I am challenging and will always join ASUU and the Nigerian worker to challenge is the declaration of our oppressors that “No work, no pay” is part of our law – extant or not extant. I don’t need to be a labour law lawyer or labour law expert to descend on the “formulators” or “champions” of “ No work, no pay” which did not emanate from collective bargaining in a formal meeting between ASUU and FGN’s representatives. All the utterers of the remark in the endeavour to threaten and cage ASUU members to submission are nothing but boon-dogglers. But much more seriously they are members of the mediocre, unimaginative, materialistic class exploiting and humiliating the working class. In this country in particular many of them who, as a matter of fact in Marxist terms and thought are bourgeois, prefer to close their eyes and ignore the reality of the circumstances of the Nigerian working class. The “No work, no pay” remark they have uttered and declared as an “extant law” is the “law” of the bourgeoisie which this class enacts or promulgates to make the worker perpetual and forever victim of its onslaught. The bourgeoisie class consists of capitalists, manufacturers, bankers, and other employers of labour within and outside our central and states’ governments. What I am saying or have said is the unholy relationship between the worker and his/her bourgeois exploiter and oppressor is not new.

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What the many bourgeois in our central government in particular find strange is the tough and strange resistance that the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has mounted against them. In fact, for a long period of seven months plus ASUU members have defied the oppressors who have deprived them of their salaries of serfs and slaves in their feverishly and wickedly pale wisdom of “No work, no pay.” The bourgeois government is taken aback by ASUU’s rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance. Indeed, this rare power, courage and consciousness of resistance that welds the members of the union together in a manner that suggests that they were prescribed a seasoned doctor’s effective medicine, has inflicted their oppressors, each one of them, with an unusual and spectacular borborygmus. What a constraining rumbling of each one’s stomach of cavalier discomfiture!

READ ALSO: NANS Rejects Court’s Ruling Against ASUU

And clearly for ASUU, hunger has turned out to be a tonic that is or that has become more than a curative tonic. It has become milk of resistance. It has imbued each typical member of the union with an anger, a desire, a wish, a joylessness, an un-happiness, an intolerance, in short a longing not to bow the knee. If Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980), the “hugely influential French philosopher, novelist, and playwright” who in 1964 rejected the Nobel Prize in Literature was invoked and requested in his grave to say a word or two on the character of ASUU he would probably have said that “there’s gold not mud in your veins, pride not servitude.” My dear and very dear readers, ASUU, I must say is Nigeria’s King of Resistance. ASUU’s law promotes a supreme act of generosity towards every state and shade of colourful justice. ASUU’s reputation as a resister of fascism and the mind-set of the exploiter and oppressor has spread throughout the world. You better believe me!

It is important to stress time after time that ASUU is in the bad and black book of the ruling bourgeoisie because of the union’s quest for the absolute in terms of its purposes for our public universities. Primarily for this reason the lord-less lords of the manor have denied members of ASUU their richly and rightly deserved due. In fact, the hollow lord-less lords are determined to employ their possessed power of coercion which possesses them to turn our intellectuals into a class of classless workers to be continuously undermined. Through the payment of ASUU members “proletarian” wages regardless of their academic and intellectual worth, standing and solid degrees, the average politician in political power today wants our dons to understand that each one of them is now no more a don but a mere “worker” who is a “wage earner” to whom the ridiculous “law” of “No work, no pay”, must apply. All kinds of laughable excuses and reasons are being tendered to make this impossibility possible. Or am I building castles in Alor-land?

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Even assumed liberal journalists, and newspapers’ reviewers (who clearly are conservatives), especially in the electronic media are seemingly accepting the situation. I can vividly remember and recall two or so in our television houses. This past Tuesday, one of them whom I have nicknamed “Let-us-be-realistic” on account of his repeated use of the phrase to make pointless points about lack of resources to meet ASUU’s legitimate demands, had a field-less field-day because no one was in his almighty studios to counter him. Did ASUU steal Nigeria’s oil which on a daily basis many officials in and outside government steal? And why must we be devoting our sole attention to petroleum-and-gas to generate and re-generate our economy that corruption that is corruption has disabled? Is ASUU responsible for this? And why can we not pay real interest in agriculture to sustain our economic, educational and medical growth and advancement, for instance? And the wastages of the tax-payers’ monies on frivolities, did ASUU cause or inspire them? Journalist-and-newspapers’-reviewer “Let-us-be-realistic” would prefer to ignore the criminal and uneconomic reality that ASUU did not create. Perhaps I should here relate the news to all those who care to know that your country my country our country, the giant of Africa, is not “ranked among the top 10 countries with the best educational system in the Dark Continent,” as Biodun Busari recently reported in Vanguard Online. Are you surprised? You better don’t be – as I deliberately spare you sumptuous details of the report. We have seen nothing yet. The useless “No work, no pay” policy of this government that is killing and crushing the dream and future that are our dream and future will eventually crush the mode of action of the grand-off-springs of this deceitful divide-and-rude and rule-and-divide government’s dramatis personae. They are too dumb to know this fully because they think it won’t happen. How eyeless they are in their pompousness! But why do I speak where no one has my kind of eyes? Why do I speak where no one has my kind of ears? O Thot! O Nietzsche! I invoke you dear, dear, dear Masters as I am losing my cool! May ASUU reject and decline the enemies of the masses and of our tax-payers’ doctrine of coerced submission to a situation and reality of wretchedness! Let this sentence be a reminder that you are the real and authentic King of Resistance in the land. To death you won’t starve – despite your current kingly pain. Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! Thunder!!!

Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

 

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Opinion

Police: Fear Of Witches And Law Enforcement In Benue

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Police: Fear Of Witches And Law Enforcement In Benue State
Dr Leo Igwe

By Leo Igwe
On Saturday, September 17, 2022, officers from the state police command took over the premises of the Greenbelt Hotel, the venue of a seminar on witch persecution in Benue. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW), a non-governmental organization that works and campaigns to end witch persecution in Africa, organized the event. Witchcraft accusations and related attacks are pervasive in Benue. Recently, the mob attacked and almost killed a woman in the state, following an accusation of causing sickness and the eventual death of a young man through witchcraft. Some relatives rescued her and took her to a safe location. The police did not intervene. In parts of Benue state, a witch-finding group, Okinibi, attacks, strangles and stones to death suspected witches. AfAW organized the event to sensitize the Benue public, and draw attention to these human rights abuses.

Police officers were at the hotel premises as early as 8 am, before the organizers arrived. They said that the Commissioner of Police (CP) instructed them to stop the event. They ordered all participants to leave the premises. Efforts by the organizers to get the CP to allow the event go ahead were unsuccessful. One police officer from the state investigation bureau told the organizers that they got some intelligence that the seminar was a meeting of witches, and were instructed to stop it. A meeting of witches? An officer said that the police considered the meeting a security breach. The police officers could not disclose the source of their intelligence; they seized the conference banners and took away other event documents. The decision by the police to disrupt and stop a seminar on witch persecution under the pretext that it was a meeting of witches was unwarranted. It was a demonstration of fear and ignorance of the law and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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First, the CP and the police public relations officer were all duly informed about the event; they were in touch with the organizers before the program. The police could have called to seek clarifications if they had any concerns. But they did not. Again, there is nothing hidden about AfAW’s campaigns and activities. Information about the programs of AfAW, rescuing and rehabilitating victims of witch persecution, is out there online and offline, in print and electronic media, and can easily be accessed. Soft copies of the event banners, which they seized, are online, and contain telephone contacts that police authorities could reach for more information. Fear, prejudice, and willful ignorance motivated the actions of the police and their lack of diligence should be excused.

The police misdirected resources and intelligence, and ended up stopping an event that should have been held. The police equated a meeting to address human rights abuses in the name of witchcraft to a meeting of witches. Is that not absurd? Who should the police institution blame for their lack of proper understanding and their inability to distinguish a meeting of witches from a meeting to address abuses linked to witchcraft beliefs? One female police officer said that she swore not to step her foot at the venue where ‘witches’ were meeting. A senior police officer noted that he did not see the ‘alleged’ in the name of the organization until the day of the program. He claimed that once he saw the name ‘witches’ on the poster, he concluded that the event would not hold.

It is pertinent to remind the police that Nigerian law does not recognize witchcraft, and under the law, witchcraft accusations are criminal acts; identifying somebody as a witch is an offense. So by calling the AfAW event a meeting of witches and wizards, the police violated the law. They transgressed because they branded the organizers and participants at the event witches. By criminalizing witchcraft accusations, the law tries to forestall miscarriage of justice and other horrific abuses that result from allegations of witchcraft in societies like Nigeria, where witchcraft fears and anxieties are pervasive.

Now, let us address another pertinent issue. What if witches planned to meet in Benue, what if the AfAW event was indeed a meeting of witches and wizards as some imagined? Is it within the powers of the police to disrupt or stop such a gathering? The answer is: No. The police do not have such powers. And here are the reasons. The police are a constituted authority and should act in line with their mandate as prescribed by the law. The Nigerian constitution has outlined the functions of the police. So, police interventions should be guided by the provisions in the constitution, not by the religious or belief whims and caprices of police officers and politicians. The constitution recognizes the right of every Nigerian to meet, associate, and assemble. The police must act to protect, not deny these rights, including the rights and liberties of Nigerians who describe themselves as witches, Satanists, and occultists to meet and assemble. Yes, the police should act to protect the rights of witches.

READ ALSO: Witch Hunting: Torturers Should Not Get Away With Their Crimes – AfAW

Some people would argue that this is a contradiction, especially in a situation where identification of and as a witch is a crime under the law? No, it is not. Nigerian law is an evidence-based law. The law does not recognize witchcraft or witches because there is no evidence for witchcraft or witches. Witchcraft is not a justiciable crime; witches do not exist. Witches are not persons; they cannot be citizens, and cannot obey or break the law. The meeting of witches, which the police in Benue came to stop or disrupt last week, is not recognized in the constitution. There is no evidence that such meetings hold or are held anywhere. So, the police, by stopping – pretending to be stopping, or disrupting any real or imagined meeting of witches, act ultra vires, that means, beyond their powers. As shown by what happened at Green Belt Hotel on Saturday, witchcraft fears and anxieties are pervasive in the Nigerian police force, and these occult fears are hampering the ability of the police to effectively combat crimes and atrocities linked to witchcraft beliefs. Witchcraft fears cause the police to misinterpret the law and misapply the limited police resources. Witchcraft is superstition, and witches are imaginary entities. The police should learn to act in deference to the letters and spirit of the law and constitution of Nigeria, not based on fantasies and fears of witches and wizards.

Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches, which campaigns to end witch persecution in Nigeria.

 

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