A human rights group, The Save Humanity Advocacy Centre (SHAC) has raised the alarm over what it said are the risks posed to the security of the country by activities of extremists groups, urging the federal government to pass stronger legislation that will clampdown on extremists and their foreign sponsors.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, SHAC Executive Director (Public Affairs), Moses Odoma said under the current trend, perpetrators of evil acts against Nigeria are able to evade existing anti-terror legislation once they invoke their foreign affiliation or claim international status.
He said though, Nigeria currently has the Terrorism Prevention Act but said the reality is that its implementation has exposed areas of shortcomings for which additional legislations are needed.
He pointed that one of such gaps is the ease with which foreign elements are able to influence the course of events in Nigeria. According to him, this ranges from countries and organizations openly supporting insurgents or extreme groups in the country to those that hide under the umbrella of NGOs to inflict havoc on counter-insurgency efforts.
“We urge the Federal Government, that is the executive arm working with the National Assembly to come up with legislations that will effectively put an end to this threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria. When the legislations are in place, the judiciary would be implored to give them the bite needed to deter the enemies of Nigeria,” he said.
He warned that these sponsors of extremists engage in the proliferation of arms and ammunitions to their agents who in turn engage in all manner of human rights abuses whilst leaving the society with deplorable humanitarian crisis in the country.
He said the federal government through the military and the security agencies are treating the issues of extremism, separatism and militancy with undeserved kid gloves which would in turn encourage armed struggle by any part of population that feels it is aggrieved.
He said, “The sad reality is that the Federal Government has until now refused to prosecute those who have been found wanting in this regards. This has to stop. The government must show the needed will by taking decisive actions against those that have engaged in acts of terror.
“We are warning that all these are the elementary stages of terrorism that must be addressed by the various stakeholders in the country before they have the chance to lead to serious human rights and humanitarian crisis in the respective regions .
“We urge the military and the police to do everything within their powers to ensure that based on the existing rules of engagement no individual or group of persons are allowed to throw the nation into mourning. The federal government must on its part tackle the numerous challenges confronting the citizenry.”
He said, “for Nigeria to defend itself against both internal and external aggressions by political and religious groups who go beyond their briefs for selfish interests, the country must put in place legislations that would make it impossible for either the citizenry or external agents within or outside the country to voluntarily torment the peace of the country at will.
The SHAC boss also noted with dismay the call for the release of the detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) Sheik Ibraheem El Zakzakky or calling for his speedy trial without recourse to grave security implications that could arise thereof.
He urged the federal government to beware “of foreign agents bankrolling the pro-IMN protests in recent times.”
According to him, some foreign elements are hell bent on using the trial of El Zakzakky to invade the country to incite the populace against constituted authorities.
He said SHAC will be leading other civil society organizations to have a nationwide protests anchored in three states to march against terrorism, hate speech and extremism.