The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has responded to the recent statement made by the Nigerian Army, disassociating itself from any collaboration with ex-Niger Delta militant leader Mujahid Asari-Dokubo or his private security outfit.
HURIWA thinks the soft statement made by the Nigerian Army dissociating the institution officially from Asari Dokubo’s private army is not far-reaching enough just as the toleration of any sort of a private Army in Nigeria by anybody no matter how connected the head of such a private Army is to the holder of the temporary office of the President of Nigeria is absolutely unconstitutional, unlawful, treasonous and intolerable.
HURIWA wondered if Asari Dokubo is bigger than the constituted authority to warrant this level of treacherous pampering by the Nigerian Army just as the Rights group wondered why this same Nigerian Army was at the forefront of pronouncing the hitherto unarmed pro-Biafra group headed by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu called the Indigenous peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group but this Nigerian Army is now speaking from both sides of its mouth on the private Army set up by Asari Dokubo who has severally boasted that his Army is the primary combatants fighting the Islamic terrorist group of Boko haram in the North East.
HURIWA affirmed unambiguously that this double standards by the hierarchy of the Nigerian Army under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is the reason millions of Nigerians are losing faith on the need to support the unity of Nigeria if some persons are treated as sacred cows and can set up armed groups whose members brandish military grade weapons and others are clamped into DSS underground solitary cell for years for attempting to do the same thing or same thing but of lesser impacts.
HURIWA opposed the Nigerian Army’s response as falling short and urged the army to provide concrete information regarding Asari-Dokubo’s claims and the legitimacy of his private military company’s firearms possession.
In light of Asari-Dokubo’s startling claims during a recent podcast interview, where he asserted that his private military company collaborates with the government and operates alongside the military in various states, including Niger, Plateau, Abia, Imo, parts of Rivers State, and Anambra, HURIWA found these claims deeply suspicious.
The association raised the alarm over the possibility of covert collaborations between Asari-Dokubo’s private military company and the Nigerian military, potentially and allegedly contributing to the rise of “unknown gunmen” wreaking havoc in the South East, and underscored the urgent need for the Nigerian Army to provide comprehensive clarity and transparency on these allegations.
In an extensive statement released Friday, HURIWA’s National Coordinator; Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko vehemently demanded a thorough investigation into Asari-Dokubo’s claims, particularly given the ongoing security challenges in the South East of Nigeria attributed to “unknown gunmen.”
The foremost Civil Rights Advocacy Group contended that the alleged collaboration between Asari-Dokubo’s private military company and the Nigerian military could be linked to this phenomenon, which has caused widespread chaos and the loss of lives in the region.
HURIWA further stressed that the Nigerian Army must engage with the relevant statutory agencies responsible for licensing private security outfits to invalidate the legitimacy of Asari-Dokubo’s private military company and to verify the nature of the licenses granted for the possession of multiple AK-47 rifles, as claimed by Asari-Dokubo.
Underscoring the critical importance of safeguarding the nation’s security and the well-being of its citizens, HURIWA cautioned that any entity engaged in security operations must adhere to the highest standards of accountability and transparency.
HURIWA, therefore, called upon the Nigerian Army to engage with relevant statutory agencies responsible for licensing private security outfits to invalidate the legitimacy of Asari-Dokubo’s private military company given that the Grund Norm absolutely prohibits the existence of a private Army in Nigeria.
Of equal concern is Asari-Dokubo who had in a viral video shortly after visiting President Tinubu in June brandished multiple AK-47 rifles and threatened to kill Igbos because they supported Labour Party’s Peter Obi in the February 25, 2023, presidential poll against the ex-militants preferred candidate in the person of Tinubu, the then candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
A key aspect of HURIWA’s concerns revolved around the Nigerian Army’s response to Asari-Dokubo’s claims. According to the rights group, if the Nigerian Army is truly not engaged with Asari-Dokubo’s private army, why has he not been apprehended despite his threats to destroy the country if arrested for unlawful possession of assault rifles and his menacing threats to lives and property of the Igbo people in the country?. HURIWA denounced this perceived inaction as a severe dereliction of duty by all security forces.
Hence, HURIWA insisted that the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, should publicly elucidate the nature of Asari-Dokubo’s firearms license, as the possession of such weaponry must be subject to stringent regulations and licensing procedures.
The Association underlined its unwavering commitment to upholding the rule of law, transparency, and the protection of Nigerian citizens, urging the Nigerian Army to act swiftly and decisively in addressing these grave concerns with the utmost seriousness.
The Association stressed the urgency of transparent investigations into any potential covert collaborations and their potential ties to the escalating security challenges in the South East or any part of the country to maintain the trust of the Nigerian people. The Nigerian Army should come clean on this Asari Dokubo’s private Army. Why is there a private Army in Nigeria when the Nigerian Constitution in Chapter 6, section 217 prohibits the creation of a private Army other than the Nigerian Army?