Barr. Alex Ter Adum is the immediate-past Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Benue State. He also served the State as Commissioner for Commerce and Industries, and currently the Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer of Benue Investment Property Company, BIPC. In this interview, he speaks on the agitations by some Nigerians for the creation of state police and incessant attacks on farmers by militant herdsmen among other issues. CEPHAS IORHEMEN reports
There have been agitations by some Nigerians for creation of state police to help tackle the insecurity bedevilling the country. What is your view on that?
The fault lines of this federation have become too pronounced and the structure of the federation is defective. So, if you want the governors of the states to provide security for their people, then the structure of the federation must be reengineered.
How do you mean by reengineering Nigeria’s structure?
Reengineering of the federal structure as I have rightly said means devolution of powers and control of internal security to the states. So, I meant to say clearly that the demand for state police is no longer negotiable.
Nigeria needs to be structured so that we can have each of the sub-regional governments maintain internal policing of the territories they govern. What we have now is a situation where the president is in charge of the police, he recruits the police, he trains them, he arms them, he commands them, he directs them and then he tells governors of the states to take charge of security.
How will the governors take charge when they do not have the basic manpower that is required to enforce law and order?
Benue State has enacted the anti-grazing law but, to date, no single police station in the state has been able to arrest herdsmen who have been openly grazing their cattle except the internal security arrangement put in place by Governor Samuel Ortom – the Livestock Guards and the Agro Rangers, who are not even properly armed in the first place.
How can you stand barehanded against a man who is carrying an AK 47? The language which an AK 47 hears is fire power. You respond back to the same fire power using superior power.
The kind of security gadgets that are given to the Agro Rangers are not sufficient for them to confront a Fulani herdsman. One man with 150 rounds of AK 47 can destroy a whole state.
So, the question of state police is no longer negotiable and I call on the National Assembly to proceed with the constitutional amendment and ensure that this question of state police is addressed. We must reengineer this federation to be able to guarantee security for all of us.
There are concerns that governors collect security vote to tackle insecurity, but embezzle such funds. What’s your take on that?
Let me tell you, I have also been in government at a certain period of time. I was the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Benue State and I know that we don’t have anything like security vote. What we had was Service White Votes (SWV) and SWV is to enable any chief executive at that level to be able to run back on the course. Emergencies crop up, so you are not going to say you don’t have SWV.
Then, it is used to buy arms for the police. Arms and ammunition is under the Exclusive List of the federation; it is not even on the Concurrent List, so most state governors have no powers to order arms except the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
If you don’t restructure this federation, there is no way we will have peace as what is happening to us is beyond bare face criminality. We are talking about insurgency, we are talking about bandits, we are talking about people who are insurrection completely.
So, on the question about state police; we have come to a point where whether we like it or not, Nigeria must be reengineered for us to move forward.
President Muhammadu Buhari recently removed the service chiefs and appointed new ones yet insecurity is on the rise as Nigerians are killed in their numbers on a daily basis. Would you say the new crop of service chiefs are doing much in the task of protecting lives and property of Nigerians?
The overall Commander-in- Chief is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; the three commanders can only do as much as they are directed by the Commander- in-Chief. If you appoint new service chiefs what was the debriefing for the service chiefs to proceed to act.
So long as the president remains complicit, the presidency, from the statement issued by Mallam Garba Shehu, it tells you clearly that the presidency is not prepared to address the aggressors or our enemies who have brought this hardship upon Nigerians. So, it is not the appointment if service chiefs, the question is, is the presidency willing to address the insecurity in this country today?
The President has remained complicit; he does not talk against the Fulanis. Any mention about Fulanis and cows, the President gets very hysterical and that hysterical reaction from the President tells you that the Commander-in- Chief himself has not given the right command to the military to act. If he has given the right command, they will act.
Look at what happened in Bonta in Konshisha Local Government Area of Benue State, when it was purportedly reported that eleven military officers were felled. That same day, Alpha jets flew the entire land of Benue. The military bombed Bonta out of existence. If the President can direct the military to do the same thing to the bandits, then the military will also do so. It is said that we cannot dictate where bandits are moving in this country, are we serious?
It is the President, not the commanders, if the commander-in-chief is serious, this thing can be overcome. You know what the late Sani Abacha said, that in any insurrection in the federation, if the sitting government of the day does not have a hand in it, it can never last for 24 hours.
If the sitting commanderin- chief today is not bias, not complicit in this security situation in Nigeria today, it will not take the Nigeria military more than 24 hours to wipe out the entire terrorists that are terrorising this country. Remember the glorious outings of the Nigerian military in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo.
This is a military that has been rated as the best military in the whole of Africa and we have small insurrection in the country that has lasted for more than 10 years. This general (Buhari) has been in power since 2015, he promised this country that as soon as he takes over power, within three months the question of insecurity will be addressed. He listed three things – economy, insecurity and corruption.
In all these three parameters that President Buhari employed to deceive this nation to come to power in 2015, none has been able to address. Today, we are printing money to save the economic problems and corruption. I bet you this country has never been as corrupt as it is today since 1960.