By Kareem Shamsudeen
Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and human rights activist, has denounced the alarming rate of insecurity and cultism in the country, while enjoining the government to treat the security and the welfare of the citizens with huge importance to ensure a peaceful Nigeria.
The renowned lawyer, who said though cultism started in the University of Ibadan by Prof. Wole Soyinka, Prof. Muyiwa Awe, among others, with pure intentions and no records of violence has, especially from the 1970s and 1980s, become a crime group in the society, contributing to insecurity in the nation. Nigeria, over the years, has faced many security issues most of which are heightened by the negligence of the government towards providing welfarism and protecting the lives and properties of the citizens.
Femi Falana, said on Monday, while speaking on the discourse titled; “ Policing in Nigeria and Anti-Cultism Legal Framework in Nigerian Tertiary Institutions: Contemporary Issues and Challenges,” at the University of Ibadan, that it is unfortunate that cultists are part of the powerful echelon in the society, including the police force, which makes it difficult to totally eradicate them. “There is no way you can successfully fight cultism, if cultists are in power. Cultism is already part of policing in our country,” he stated.
He further mentioned that the Nigeria Police Force is established to provide law and order for every citizen, and not for government officials alone. He added: “The Nigeria Police Force is not a federal government police force. It is a Police Force for the federation of the people of Nigeria. The Nigeria Police Force is for the entire country.”
However, with the recent and alarming rate of insecurity in the country, the human rights activist opined that the federal government is not prepared to secure the country with their lacklustre attitude to security issues affecting the country. He stated that, “the president and the governors have powers to maintain law and order in the country.”
Femi Falana advised the federal government to take the issue of security as highly important if they are to guarantee the continued existence of the country and should avoid “concentrating unnecessary powers in Abuja”. He briefly added that asides security of lives and properties, the government should also ensure “social security,” so the welfare of the citizens can be guaranteed and protected.
While commending the security consciousness of the south-western governors by establishing “Operation Amotekun,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria added that Amotekun is not enough to solve the problem of insecurity the country faces, it is only a step further. He also warned that “Amotekun is not a paramilitary force for the Yorubas, it is for everybody in the South-west.”
He also advised that Operation Amotekun must be funded by the state government and controlled from the Central, and it should comprise of the youth who understand the strong need for the security of lives and properties. “Employ young men and women who have gone to school, who can understand what security is all about,” he advised.
“Policing is the business of everybody”—Oyo State Commissioner of Police
The Oyo State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Shina Olukolu, has said policing is the business of everybody, both the paid police officers and the citizens. He added that at times like this, the police and the citizens must cooperate to bring about peace in the country. “Police and other security agencies cannot do this alone, it requires everybody,” he stated.
He also mentioned that “the nation is going through violence extremism—cultism, religious—which no doubt is challenging the security of individuals and the nation at large,” while adding that there are efforts by security operatives to curb the menace of insecurity in the country.
Corroborating the lecture made by Femi Falana, the Commissioner of Police, represented by Mr. Abayomi Oladipo, denounced the activities of cultists, who he said wield dangerous weapons and are audacious in the crimes they commit. He also lamented on how the intake of hard drugs negatively orient the youth to join bad gangs and thus suggested proactive measures to reduce the consumption rate of hard drugs by the youth.
He stated: “We all know that there is restricted access to drugs in the country. There is need for us to work on how to reduce or even eradicate drug movement in the country.”
He, however, condemned the use of cultists as political thugs by selfish politicians who hold public offices. “Those who are known to be identified with cultism should not hold public offices,” he advised.
Mr. Shina Olukolu, stressed the importance of the citizens’ and universities’’ cooperation with security operatives to ensure that cultism is eradicated and the country remains peaceful. ”We need the collaborative efforts of Nigerians to volunteer information. There is need for collaboration between the security agents and the school to address the issues of cultism on campus.” He stressed.
“Cultism is a manifestation of darkness”—Oyo State Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice
The Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice for Oyo State, Professor Oyelowo Oyewo, has emphasized that cultism is a manifestation of darkness and that any students engaging in it should be severely punished.
Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, mentioned that the universities are expected to deal with the misconduct of cultist-students. He, however, lamented on the moral decadence in the society which in his opinion, gave room for cultism. “The increase of the phenomenon (cultism) is the increase in the moral, social decadence of the country,” he said.
The Commissioner of Justice, further added that even as the primary duty of the police is to protect lives and properties, there have been increase in cultism and other insecurity issues as a result of the failure of the police to maintain law and order. He stated that, “the failure of policing in Nigeria is documented and even documented by Human Rights International.”
He also stressed on the need for cooperation among all spheres in the country in order to ensure peace and security, since adequate security is of paramount importance to everyone. “We must take the project Nigeria as belonging to all of us. The issue of security is a matter that concerns all of us.” He stressed.
Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo called on the government to deal with the problem of insecurity and ensure there is capacity building for the citizens so that the fight for security would be a success. “Government at all levels should be interested in capacity building so that the fight against cultism and crime in general would be a success,” he suggested.
As a way to curb cultism in varsities, he recommended that since there are laws that proscribe cultism, varsities should suspend students engaging in cultism and hand them over to security operatives. He said that, “the universities must understand that the justice of the law, is justice according to law.”
On curbing the issue of insecurity in general, the Oyo State Attorney General said the solution lies right in front of Nigerians. He then added that, “we need to be protective, we need to be federalist.”