*** Adds: Ransom payment illegal in US, Nigeria
*** Security Forces Who Will Not Accept International Military Cooperation – Matthew T. Page
*** Holding Political Leaders Accountable for Security and Justice – Bukola Saraki
*** Illiteracy, large unregulated spaces responsible for the rise in mass kidnapping – Atanda Ashiru, US Air Force veteran
From Luminous Jannamike – Abuja
Former US Ambassador to Nigeria John Campbell said if the federal government does not address the issue of human rights abuses by the security forces, Nigeria may never receive technical and financial assistance in the fight against the US and its allies in terms of uncertainty.
According to him, US laws prohibit the US government from providing technical expertise to security forces accused of human rights violations.
He therefore called on the Nigerian government to restore public confidence in the security forces, especially the police.
The former US envoy spoke on Friday during the first edition of “Grow Nigeria Conversation” on “Reversing the thriving economy of kidnapping and banditry: Immediate and long-term solutions” in Abuja.
Campbell, who attended the event virtually, said: “The Nigerian government must do its best to restore public confidence in the security forces, especially the police.
“External friends of Nigeria can provide the country with technical expertise in the fight against insecurity.
However, under US law, we are prohibited from providing technical expertise to security forces accused of human rights violations.
“Human rights violations are a major obstacle to a more cordial relationship between the US and the Nigerian security forces. And we know that removing this barrier is a complex problem.
“There could be financial support to help build the security forces. There could also be a technology transfer. When human rights abuses go away, the possibility of a deeper relationship is possible. “
Campbell continued to oppose paying ransom to bandits as a solution to the kidnapping problem, describing it as illegal in both the US and Nigeria.
“Paying ransom is illegal in the United States, but it could be extremely unpopular, especially with those close to kidnapping victims. It’s illegal in Nigeria too, but it’s common in the country, ”he added.
In his remarks, US-Africa policy expert Matthew T. Page said the unwillingness of the Nigerian military to accept international military cooperation is another major barrier to Nigeria’s access to counteract insecurity.
However, he noted that seeking international aid was not the way out for Nigeria, but that ending impunity and making the security forces accountable would bring more benefits to the country.
Page said: “Ending impunity and making the security forces accountable for serious human rights violations could actually bring more benefits in the long term than any international aid we could provide, as it would restore the trust of local communities and end the radicalization of local people and communities rebuild the legitimacy of the state.
“Furthermore, ending human rights violations alone cannot improve bilateral military-to-military relations with Nigeria. This relationship has always been a challenge. It is about a cultural problem within the Nigerian military.
“Nigeria is generally reluctant to work closely with foreign military partners to give them access to the kind of close relationship necessary for the sustained and meaningful training of troops over time.
“We saw that with Operation Focus Relief in 2001, when the late Chief of Army Staff, General Victor Malu, viewed American training for Nigerian peacekeepers as a kind of violation of Nigerian sovereignty and potential espionage.”
Former Senate President Bukola Saraki also noted that while kidnapping is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria, it is the current level.
He called for greater accountability on the part of political leaders for security and reform of the nation’s judicial system.
“We as a people must hold the heads of state and government accountable in order to have the willpower to do everything that is necessary and important for security in Nigeria, and also to reform the judicial system.
“If people have to wait two or three years to get justice and criminals believe they can do something wrong and get away with it, we should be concerned,” he said.
Tanwa Ashiru, a US Air Force veteran, blamed a lack of education, poor government presence in local communities, and large unregulated spaces for the rise in systemic abductions in the country, particularly in the northwest.
Other speakers at the event include Kabir Adamu, General Manager of Beacon Consulting Limited; Cheta Nwanze, the leading partner at SBM Intelligence, including Nnamdi Obasi from the Crisis Group.
Vanguard News Nigeria