Nation's Security: Jonathan changes tactics… says no more sympathy for terrorists and sponsors

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    President Goodluck Jonathan: "No more mercy for wickedness"

    Emerging from his long dilemma of retaining the avowed pledge to preserve and protect the nation’s constitution to provide security and safety for the people, and his current soft touch tactics of dealing with the nation’s terrorists to avoid a tag of a dictatorship, President Goodluck Jonathan says he has woken up to a harsh reality- to meet force with force and violence with violence with agents of catastrophe in the country.

    Worried by the slow grind of the justice system, especially in dealing with cases arising from the frequent terrorist attacks by Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday promise he was ready to apply  “sudden justice” for both promoters of violence and agents of such violence.

    He expressed confidence in the preparedness of his administration not only in squaring up with the assailants but also defeating them roundly and expunging calculated violence from the fabrics of the country.

    The President assured that  he had reinforced security institutions to deal with those who have refused to repent, be rehabilitated and reintegrated into normal society, an indication that the nation’s security policing  henceforth may be a different ball game.

    Jonathan had been called names for his soft touch approach towards the handling of terrorists, being tagged as a weak leader who is  unable to handle the security of the country.

    Of more worry is the lack of will to comb out those who are terrorist sponsors in the country as street touts and almanjiris have always been shown as the face of Nigerian terrorists. But Nigerians and international communities believe there are sponsors who motivate and direct the activities of the terrorists, many of whom could be millionaire business and political actors fighting for tribal and regional interests.

    In a major change of tactics, the president has made a strong case for  the review of the nation’s justice system calling for a stronger stance by the nation’s justice system toward terrorists and their sponsors making it less adversarial in considering the introduction of suspended sentences and parole.

    Jonathan was speaking  at the State House, Abuja during the inauguration of the reconstituted Presidential Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy.

    According to him, the society should have a place for correctional approach in the penal system to make it more redemptive with the protection of human rights in mind.

    Sounding tough on the security challenges the country has been facing, the president said he would not spare the sponsors and perpetrators of the violence in the country.

    “Let me seize this opportunity, therefore, to reassure the nation that I have initiated a very rapid and robust process to enhance the capacity of our security forces to protect lives and property. Even as our nation overcame past security scares, I am confident in the ability of our security agencies to overcome the present ones as well,” he said.

    Members of the committee are Permanent Secretary (Special Duties), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Director of Special Duties in the same Office who will serve as the Secretary.

    Others are a representative each from National Human Rights Commission; Nigerian Prison Service; Jaamatul Nasir Islamiyyar; Christian Association of Nigeria; and a retired Police DIG, Alhaji Uba Ringim, who represented the Police.

    Those whose names were announced Tuesday as members are Alhaji Munir Jaffaru; Mr. T.J. Okpoko (SAN); Mr. C.N. Orji; and Mr. Bolaji Ayorinde.

    “We are resolute in our charge to the security agencies to go after all promoters of terror and other anti-social activities in the country and bring them to book.

    “Our review of processes and institutional reforms are, indeed designed to strengthen and realign all the instruments and agencies of crime prevention, interdiction and punishment. My administration will not rest on its oars until the spirit of the law runs across the land. We promise to deliver swift and certain justice for criminal elements.

    “While we intend to always provide a window of opportunity for those who have seen the folly of their anti-social behaviour to retrace their steps, I wish to renew my call to those that choose to live on the fringes of the law: “Retrace your steps and we will work with you to facilitate your reintegration and rehabilitation. If you undermine the state, be prepared to face the full wrath of the law,” he warned.

    He said his heart goes to those who lost their dear ones in the unwarranted carnage that the country had witnessed but assured them that the death of their loved ones would not be in vain as he would ensure that the perpetrators face the full weight of the law,. He added: “The caring and forgiving spirit of Nigerians had been overstretched”.

    He said the type and level of violence being visited on the country by anti-social elements was unacceptable to the culture and religion of the people and commended those who had resisted joining such groups to cause destruction.

    “I also want to reassure those of our people who have lost their relatives to these crimes that we shall bring the perpetrators to book. We share in your pain. We stand united as we confront the inhumane actions of the misguided few who seem determined to violate the core values of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. We shall fight and defeat that evil,” he added.

    The committee was last constituted in 2009 when the tenure of the one formed in 2005 expired. The present committee will be headed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke.

    President Jonathan charged Adoke to sit down with his members and clear the backlog of cases for determination on their merits so that fairness within the ambits of the law shall be engendered.

    Jonathan stressed the need to give opportunities to convicted persons by the law to either before serving their terms or after doing so, to be fully reintegrated into normal society, saying the society stands to benefit more than administering punitive system.

    “The pervasive assumption is that the Nigerian penal system is punitive, and that every encounter with the law may be a permanent exit from decent society. My view is that we need to place emphasis on our penal system being more correctional’’.

    He said exercising prerogative of mercy was a serious matter where either the president or the governors grant pardon to convicted persons either in the absolute or in mitigation and sometimes involves life and death of citizens which makes it imperative that absolute care be exercised in the discretion for public good.

    The president said the work of the committee goes beyond the quest to decongest prisons and redressing miscarriage of justice, but also includes engendering value re-orientation devoid of ethnic consideration and quota system, religion or politics as “those who look forward to the option of the prerogative of mercy as an excuse for criminal conduct will be disappointed”.
    Adoke was represented at the occasion by Dr. Tunji Abayomi who pledged to do all within their power to operate within the mandate and achieve the constitutional desire of setting them up.

    Members of the committee are Permanent Secretary (Special Duties), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Director of Special Duties in the same Office who will serve as the Secretary.

    Others are a representative each from National Human Rights Commission; Nigerian Prison Service; Jaamatul Nasir Islamiyyar; Christian Association of Nigeria; and a retired Police DIG, Alhaji Uba Ringim, who represented the Police.

    Those whose names were announced Tuesday as members are Alhaji Munir Jaffaru, Mr. T.J. Okpoko (SAN), Mr. C.N. Orji, and Mr. Bolaji Ayorinde.

    Although he was preaching the need for forgiveness and rehabilitation of repentant outlaws, he said the exercise of prerogative of mercy did not mean that the government would shy away from the protection of Nigerians against any form of violence.