Insecurity In Upper Sokponba and the Bakassi Boys Option: Another Knee-jerk Approach
With the incessant clashes of young people under the guise of #cult groups at #Upper Sokponba area of Benin City, in Edo State, various pressure groups have written on possible solutions to this menace.
A collection of youths poised to change the negative trends and to rebrand the image of the community under the nomenclature, Upper Sokponba #Ambassadors (USA), has been in the forefront of the agitation for a holistic approach in curbing the ugly trend the area had been known for.
We have itemized different approaches the government and all relevant stakeholders must take to ameliorate, and in the long run, eradicate the menace totally. Since our appeal had constantly fallen on deaf ears, we launched the school campaign last year, in an attempt to catch the young lads in secondary school before they are recruited into these cults.
While our effort is yet to be felt much, we want to state very clearly that the #Bakassi Boys option is another ‘#fire brigade’ approach our leaders have been known for, which always end in the same way – #short time succour.
We were shocked on Friday while returning from Niger College, where we had gone to address the students, to meet a group of young men in black and red attire, some fully masked with black headgears and red napkins, wrapped around their head and covering their face.
These young men we later learnt, are ‘Bakassi Boys’. They wield guns and machetes and the people seemed happy to have them around.
As someone who has been in Upper Sokponba since 1992, (some of our members have even been there longer than that), we can thus authoritatively say that this approach to curbing insecurity is only scratching the surface.
Some of them will ‘go on #exile’ for the time being and the cycle will continue again when the Bakassi boys are gone.
Obviously, the government or whoever brought them cannot keep them forever.
We are not in support of the Bakassi Boys option for obvious reasons:
One, it is not sustainable.
Two, you don’t curb illegality with another illegality.
What law empowers them?
Did you research the judicial cases that ensued in areas they have operated before?
Thirdly, what happened to the boys they arrested?
Reports from the streets say they are killed instantly. If that is true, what happened to the human rights that entitle culprits to a fair hearing? If they are handed over to the police, what’s stopped the police from making the arrest themselves, will also make them unable to keep the culprits safe.
Or can a group of machete-wielding and amulets based magistrates, pass sentences on citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria?
Lastly, are we saying these youths are irredeemable?
We believe the future of every society is the youth, and any society that isn’t bothered with the welfare of the youths is planning to go into extinction sooner than later.
What then is the way forward?
We are advocating for a massive infrastructural development to be taken to that area. Upper Sokponba area had been #abandoned by successive #governments. The major road that leads to the area should be #dualised with Street lights.
The government schools in the area should be revamped and equipped. The shortage of teachers is obvious in most of the secondary schools we have visited. If need be, teachers should be given incentives so that they can accept the offer to work in the area.
Communal living, which the area was once known for should be encouraged and supported by the government. Each major street should have elected executives and a bi-monthly security report should be sent to the police unit closest to them. Vigilante among the people living in the community should be encouraged too.
Religious centres should not be left out. The pulpit should be used to orientate the parents on the need for effective child monitoring.
A good number of students sent to public schools in the area don’t enter classes. Any attempt made by teachers to discipline some of them, usually lead to the child absconding from school.
These parents, because they don’t check up on their children at home would not even know that the child had long stopped attending classes.
Due to the extreme condition of things presently, there might also be a need to station retired but active soldiers, as security men at the gates of these secondary schools, to enforce discipline. A task force that arrest students found loitering during school hours would not also be out of place.
All these put together, will help galvanize the little respite Bakassi boys might bring to the area.
If the problem is not treated holistically, and the government is relying on Bakassi boys alone to do the magic, it will end up being another wasted effort.
CommunityWork #Volunteering #FixingTheNation #ACommunityAtATime #UpperSokponba #BakassiBoys
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.