Theophilus Danjuma, former Minister of Defence, may have stirred the hornet’s nest by alleging that the armed forces are not neutral in the fight against terrorism and banditry, but he is definitely not alone in the call for Nigerians to protect themselves against unprovoked attacks.
This view had been expressed in the past by several political office holders, traditional rulers and even religious leaders.
Speaking at the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, on Saturday, Danjuma had called on attack-prone communities to rise and defend themselves since the security agencies appeared to be colluding with the murderers.
“Everyone of us must rise up. The armed forces are not neutral. They collude. The collude. They collude with the armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement, they cover them,” he said.
“If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State, must stop in all the states of Nigeria. Otherwise, Somalia will be a child’s play.
“I ask everyone of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory, defend your state. You have nowhere else to go. You have no where else to go.”
Danjuma’s triggered criticism from the defence authorities, Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, describing it as a “call to anarchy” which should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.
But, other than the allegation of a collusion between security agencies and criminals, did Danjuma say anything new?
LAMIDO SANUSI, 2014
Speaking on November 14, 2014, at a weekly recitation of the Holy Quran as part of prayers for peace in Nigeria, Sanusi urged religious and community leaders to instill courage in their people to defend themselves against Boko Haram attacks.
“These people (Boko Haram) when they attack towns, they kill boys and enslave girls. People must stand resolute,” Sanusi said.
“People must not assume that the crisis will not reach their area. If it comes, we are asking God to give us fortitude, but if He wishes to take martyrs from amongst us, we should be ready to give our lives.
“People must not wait for soldiers to protect them. There are even instances where soldiers on ground ran away in the face of attack.”
Sanusi urged hunters and experts in the area of security to employ their expertise in order to end the current crisis, adding that “God will grant us victory over them”.
SAMUEL ORTOM, 2018
In the wake of the Benue massacre earlier this year, Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue State, obviously fed up with the “failure” of the Nigerian police to safeguard the citizens of his state, urged the people to do all within their legal limit to safeguard themselves.
“It is because we are law-abiding, that is why we are being attacked daily. You need to listen and hear the opinion of the people of the state on the matter,” he said.
“I think the people should have the right to defend themselves and not make themselves easy prey to be killed in their homes.
“So any lawful means, you can adapt to defend yourself just go ahead in Benue state. We are not going to wait for the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to do it.”
NYESOM WIKE, 2018
Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State, also preached the gospel of self-defence when he visited Benue State to commiserate with his colleague, Ortom, on the killings.
“People who were either sleeping or doing one thing or the other to help themselves were killed like cows and ordinary animals,” Wike said.
“We just visited the graveside and it is quite touchy; you should take heart, God will fight for you. But let me say that God fighting for you does not mean that you will not defend yourself.
“The problem we Christians have is that we like to misinterpret the Bible, which says that when you are slapped you will turn the other cheek. Assuming you don’t have the other cheek to turn to? God will only fight for you when you are ready to fight for yourself.
“We must not take the laws into our hands, but that does not mean that if you see an armed robber coming to your house you should run. You must defend yourself when you see an armed robber coming. That is not taking laws into your hand.”
PAUL ENENCHE, 2018
Paul Enenche, a christian clergyman and founder of Dunamis Church, also lent his voice to the call for citizens to defend themselves from attackers.
Enenche, who hails from Benue State, gave the charge on January 12, a day after a mass burial of the 73 people killed in the New Year’s Day massacre.
Citing Section 60 of the penal code, Enenche pointed out that “it is not an offence for someone to defend himself or another from being killed”.
“So what is the useless nonsense about those who think they have the claim to take life at will and go unarrested and unharassed. The end of it has come. Enough is enough,” he said.
“Gen 9:6 says, whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; meaning the killer is qualified for killing.
“That action is not an offence because he came to finish people and the people gathered and finished him. Those people did nothing wrong.
“Exodus 22:2 summed it up thus: If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.
“Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him. Proverbs 26:27.
“Also in Rev 13:1 “He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity; he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.”
Enenche, however added: “Let me make this clear, there shall be no war in Nigeria but no demonic vagabond shall take anybody for granted in this nation anymore. Enough is enough. I don’t want to be misunderstood, no Nigerian is as patriotic as me. We have been praying for this nation and we won’t stop doing that.”
More than 300 people are believed to have been killed so far in 2018 in violent attacks across many states.