Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Security Sector Reforms and Governance in Post-Conflict Environment: An Assessment of Nigeria and Liberia

Academic journal article IUP Journal of International Relations

Security Sector Reforms and Governance in Post-Conflict Environment: An Assessment of Nigeria and Liberia

Article excerpt


Managing security in post-conflict environments is essentially carried out on a platform of reforms. The rationale behind this is established by the fact that the conflict was a function of the collapse of security in the first place. Consequently, no matter the divergent issues that constitute the causal factors of the conflict, the connection of each of those issues to security correlates must be revisited and restructured to address present realities. The present realities in question may be mutated versions of the pre-conflict ones and as such opportunities to redress past shortcomings may present themselves. Some of the causal factors to conflict in Nigeria and Liberia still remain in different forms within the polity. Most of them actually emerged as issues of contestation because of either the failure of or the flawed nature of the democratic process they were compelled to coexist in. These issues consequently constitute security risks and once peace is restored reforms must be undertaken with proper democratic oversight to forestall a reoccurrence of the collapse of security structures. This paper investigates the attempt of security sector reforms to mitigate some of these causal factors.

Post-Conflict Challenges and Security Sector Reforms in Nigeria

Instituting general reforms in the police, military and other security apparatus to meet emerging challenges like arms proliferation and threats to human security had been largely neglected in Nigeria. In the immediate aftermath of the Nigerian Civil War, the need to reduce the size of the army was crucial. This reform could not be fully implemented due to the threat it posed to larger human security if large numbers of military trained personnel were injected into a troubled economy without jobs. For the sake of peace building and national reconciliation, about 20% of former Biafran officers were reintegrated back into the military structure, leaving out 80% who did not go through any kind of formal disarmament before full reintegration back into society.1 This eventually accounted for the increase in incidences of armed robbery throughout the country in the period following the end of the war.

Security sector reforms at this point were not entirely abandoned but were first channeled through legal structures. The Nigerian Firearms Act of 1969 came under several amendments during the subsequent military regimes that followed the Civil War. The Armed Robbery and Firearms tribunals that emerged from these reforms were legal structures that were meant to improve the post-conflict security environment but ended up with bad human rights records. Nonetheless, reforms that are significant to direct implementation of small arms control and security were largely ignored.

Implementing reforms either for the military or police had been a slow and tedious process over the years. The fourth republic president Obasonjo, on assuming office in 1 999, attempted to engage the military in reforms that were ill-fated. In order to contain the military in the barracks and prevent further incursions into political life, he contracted the assistance of Military Professional Resources Incorporated, a US security training firm. This initiative was short-lived since military leaders were unhappy at the lack of consultation on the decision to hire an external firm. They eventually rejected the reform process altogether.2

Regarding the police force, the president, in 2006, established a committee on police reform and gave it a period of three months to review the structure, administration, morale, operations, training, and community relations of the force. At the end of its working period, the committee submitted a report on May 25, 2006, which contained recommendations for several reforms.3 This committee was set up in the wake of public outcry against police brutality and the use of weapons against innocent civilians. The killings of six persons by the police in Apo in Abuja in 2005 had resulted in the setting up of a judicial panel of inquiry that necessitated the setting up of the committee. …

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