Recent events surrounding Asari Dokubo, a prominent figure in Nigeria who has taken upon himself the role of a private militia leader, the Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), have shed light on a concerning trend in our nation’s security landscape. The rise of private militias and their unaccountable actions pose a significant threat to our national security and the rule of law. It is essential to condemn such practices and learn from global examples, particularly the events in Sudan and the ongoing crisis in Russia, to understand the inherent dangers involved in allowing these elements to become part of our security infrastructure.
The Arrogance of Asari Dokubo: Asari Dokubo’s recent arrogant outburst at the Presidential Villa, where he claimed to protect Nigeria better than the Nigerian military, is not only a display of audacity but also a stark reminder of the perils of privatised security. Dokubo’s actions undermine the authority of the state and demonstrate a disregard for the principles of democratic governance and the rule of law. Such arrogance and unchecked power can lead to dire consequences, as witnessed in other nations. Dokubo’s outburst is not an isolated incident. In recent years, there has been a growing trend of private militias and security companies taking on a more prominent role in Nigeria’s security landscape. This trend is worrying for several reasons.
First, it undermines the authority of the state. When private militias are allowed to operate with impunity, it sends the message that the state is not capable of providing security for its citizens. This can lead to a breakdown of law and order, as well as an increase in crime and violence.
Second, private militias are often used to settle political scores. This can lead to violence and instability, as different groups compete for control of resources and territory.
Third, private militias are often not accountable to the law. This means that they can commit human rights abuses without fear of punishment.
Lessons from Sudan: The former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir bent government institutions to serve his regime. He chose conflict over compromise in dealing with politically marginalised groups in Darfur, in Sudan’s west, and in the south. He used force to hold on to power. One of the ways he achieved this was to give support to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, which was used to check regional rebels and the army. The RSF has its root in Janjaweed and it is instructive to note that Dagalo, was the deputy chairman of the Transitional Military Council that forced al-Bashir out of power in April 2019. Now, the inability of the RSF leader to have his way in the running of the affairs of Sudan has led to a full-scale military offensive in Sudan.
Sudan serves as a cautionary tale of the dangers posed by private militias. In the past, Sudan witnessed the emergence of various armed groups and private militias with their own agendas, which further destabilized the country and undermined the central government’s authority. These militias often operated with impunity, committing human rights abuses and perpetuating violence, leading to prolonged conflict and suffering for the people of Sudan. The lesson to be learned is that when security is entrusted to unaccountable entities, chaos ensues, and the rule of law becomes a mere illusion.
The Crisis in Russia: The ongoing crisis in Russia provides another compelling example of the dangers associated with allowing uncontrolled armed groups to operate outside the purview of state authority. In recent years, Russia has faced challenges in reining in powerful private militias and paramilitary groups. These armed factions often operate on their own terms, engaging in criminal activities, spreading fear, and challenging the state’s monopoly on violence. Their existence not only undermines national security but also threatens the stability and well-being of the entire society.
The Wagner Group is one of such powerful private militia group. A private military company that emerged in 2014 during Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The organization is financed by Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a Russian businessman and a close associate of Vladimir Putin. The group has been involved in several conflicts around the world, including Syria and Libya .
The crisis between the Wagner Group and Vladimir Putin is a complex issue that has been developing for years. According to The New Yorker, Putin outsourced his military ambitions to the mercenary force and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, for a decade. However, the group turned against him leading to an insurrection that has been described as the biggest affront on the Russian leader, ever.
The Russian experience underscores the critical importance of maintaining a strong and accountable security apparatus under state control.
The Perils of Privatised Security in Nigeria: Nigeria cannot afford to ignore the perils associated with privatised security. Allowing individuals like Asari Dokubo to operate outside the framework of the Nigerian military and security forces sets a dangerous precedent. It undermines the efforts of our security agencies, fosters a culture of impunity, and weakens the authority of the state. Private militias can easily become a breeding ground for human rights abuses, corruption, and increased violence, further exacerbating existing conflicts and hampering the nation’s progress.
The Way Forward: To safeguard our nation’s security and protect the principles of democracy and the rule of law, it is imperative that the Nigerian government takes decisive action. Steps must be taken to reign in private militias and hold individuals like Asari Dokubo accountable for their actions. The government should ensure that the Nigerian military and security forces are adequately equipped, trained, and empowered to maintain law and order within the country, the staggering sums of monies that are rumoured to have been paid to these militias can build an entire army with modern warfare technology, one then wonders why these funds cannot be used to improve our military and entrust the security of the nation into their hands. Additionally, efforts should be made to address the root causes of social unrest, inequality, and grievances that often fuel the emergence of such private militias.
Conclusion: The privatisation of security in Nigeria, as exemplified by the rise of private militias like Asari Dokubo’s group, poses a severe threat to our nation’s stability, rule of law, and progress. We must learn from the experiences of Sudan and Russia, where the proliferation of private militias has led to chaos, human rights abuses, and a breakdown of law and order. The Nigerian government must take swift action to curb this dangerous trend and ensure that our national security is entrusted to accountable and legitimate institutions. Failure to do so could have dire consequences for the future of our nation and its citizens’ well-being.