Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Nigerian Security Forces and the Management of Internal Conflict in the Niger Delta: Challenges of Human Security and Development

Academic journal article European Journal of Sustainable Development

Nigerian Security Forces and the Management of Internal Conflict in the Niger Delta: Challenges of Human Security and Development

Article excerpt

Introduction

Africa and indeed a number of other continents in the world has experienced one form of cross border crisis (wars) or the other. These continents have equally experienced series of internal crisis. These crises include insurrection, civil wars and political uprisings (agitations). Galadima (2007) writing about the African condition has observed that

Conflicts erupted into warfare in Central Africa, Zaire, Burundi; and Rwanda. There was armed uprising in 'Northern Uganda, ami war in Sudan and border conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Somalia has remained a collapsed state inspite of attempts to resusátate it. In Southern Africa, Lesotho witnessed an armed uprising. Angola was also in turmoil. In West Africa, Liberia was almost a collapsed state, even as rebels embattled Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau. While Cote d' Ivoire experiences armed rebellion, Sudan is encountering humanitarian catastrophe arising fro m a bitter intra- state conflict, almost on a genoddal proportion (p.295).

Where some of these conflicts have ceased or truce brokered (cease-fire) among the contending forces, it is always expedient for the United Nations organization (UNO) or some regional bodies to ensure the maintenance of peace and security; to avoid another period of complete breakdown of law and order. It is this necessity that leads to the setting up of peace-keeping missions around the world. In such locations, military personnel and police officers and men from different parts of the world are assembled to help ensure some level of stability, after a long period of conflict.

Records have it that Africa accounts for over 80 percent of existing peace- missions UN deployed world wide. The eight missions in Africa are said to be supported by roughly 49,000 UN peace keepers (UNDPKO, http://wwwun.org/Dept/dpko).

Nigerian security personnel have at one point or the other, participated creditably in some of these peace-keeping missions over the years. The Nigerian armed forces and police personnel have, from available records, maintained a track record of effective peace-keeping campaigns in the globe. This record of success has earned for the nation, a number of international recognitions and commendations. The officers concerned have equally won honours and got decorated with medals of honour. The government and people of Sierra Leone and Liberia in particular, at regular intervals, express gratitude to the government and people of Nigeria. This is with regard to the noble role played by Nigerian armed forces in restoring peace and sanity to those countries.

With such high profile rating in the way they conduct themselves when on international peace-keeping operations, it was expected that the Nigerian armed forces would display the same record while on national (internal) peace-keeping operations. A number of factors however, tend to expose some problems inherent in the way they have handled internal crisis flash-points, to which they have been drafted to maintain peace. A number of analysts of these internal operations have pointed to the problem of high handedness and insensitivity to the nature and characteristics of civilian dominated areas, howbeit, with an admixture of rebel elements. The dust usually left behind crisis scenes in Nigeria by military personnel (drafted to such areas) leaves much to be desire, hence, the need for an analysis of this nature. Examples of places where military forces have left behind such woes are Umuechem, Odi and Gbaramatu.

The questions to be addressed in the body of this paper include; how effective and to whose benefit have measures adopted so far by the Nigerian armed forces in the management of internal conflicts been in recent times? Is it not an indirect call for military interregnum, when democratic regimes authorize the rolling out of war machines by the military against largely defenseless civilians? Are Nigerian armed forces personnel adequately trained in surveillance and other non-combative skills of security maintenance? …

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