Former Chief of Army Staff, retired Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, has described military coup as an organised crime and should be punished accordingly to allow democracy to survive in Africa.
Buratai, who spoke at a One-Day International Conference on Organised Crimes, put together by the Tukur Buratai Centre for Contemporary Security Affairs, Igbenedion University Okada, today, July 18, in Abuja, said that the military has no business in governance.
The theme of the conference is: “Organised Crimes Network as an Emergent Threats to National Security.”
The retired General, who is also a former Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of Benin, said that the battle against organised crime require concerted efforts of experts, policymakers and stakeholders from diverse sectors.
Buratai said that the contemporary challenges had shown that the military must continue to play its constitutional role without getting involved in governance while democratic governments should govern the citizens well.
He said that the military had been at the receiving end because of the rate of attrition, adding that the crave for democracy now requires the military to perform its constitutional role rather than get directly involved with governance.
“They can have many ways to influence the government to make sure that security role is played appropriately and also allow the democrats, the civilians, to perform their roles properly.
“The best way is for the military to remain within the constitutional bounds and also encourage the civil administration to do their best to solve the governance challenges or the developmental challenges of our country.
“It is by doing so that everybody playing his role, the democrats doing their own properly, the politicians, the military, the populace are performing their own roles properly.
“The politicians and the military should try to avoid being influenced externally to disrupt the democratic process in the country.”
The former army chief said that the causes of organised crime in the Sahel, particularly in Nigeria, are multifaceted, adding that porous borders remains one of the primary contributing factors.
He said that the easy movement of criminals and illegal goods across national boundaries as well as the prolonged conflicts in countries like Somalia, DR Congo, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, and now Sudan, had a direct impact on the rise of organised crimes.
“In Nigeria, organised crime has taken various forms, reflecting the country’s socio-economic challenges and political landscape.
“One notable episode of organised crime was the Maitatsine insurgency in the 1980s, which saw a radical sect advocating for a strict form of Islamic governance, resulting in violence and loss of lives.
“Another infamous case was the Anini saga in the 1980s, where Lawrence Anini led a notorious gang involved in high-profile robberies and assassinations.
“Additionally, the rise of kidnapping syndicates has posed a significant security threat, with criminal groups targeting individuals for ransom.
“Furthermore, banditry has become a major concern, particularly in the northwestern region, where armed groups engage in cattle rustling, armed robbery, and other criminal activities.
“The emergence of drug cartels has also contributed to the expansion of organised crime, leading to increased drug trafficking, money laundering, and corruption.”
Buratai said that the scope of organised crime in Nigeria is vast and diverse, requiring comprehensive and multifaceted approach from law enforcement agencies and government to effectively combat and protect citizens.
According to him, Nigeria has a criminality score of 7.15 out of 1 to 10 and is ranked 5th out of 193 countries.
“It is 2nd of 54 countries in Africa and 1st of 15 countries in West Africa according to the Global Organized Crime Index.”
He added that the countries with the highest criminality levels were those experiencing conflict or fragility.
Buratai cautioned that the alarming reality of ongoing criminal activities, ranging from the illicit theft of about 500 barrels of crude oil on a daily basis to the calculated displacement of communities for the purpose of mining minerals could not be ignored.
“These multifaceted crimes not only undermine the stability and well-being of affected regions but also perpetuate a cycle of violence and exploitation.
“These criminal enterprises not only rob our economy of legitimate growth and development but also inflict immeasurable harm on individuals and communities,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor, Igbenedion University, Professor Lawrence Ezemonye, said the scale of insecurity in Nigeria was heightened by the growing convergence and proliferation of organised criminal activities such as banditry, terrorism, human and drug trafficking, kidnapping, among others.
Ezemonye said that the menace had together put serious strains on the nation’s security architecture.
He said that the university under the auspices of the Buratai Centre for Contemporary Security Affairs, is poised to respond to the challenges through convocation of versed security analysts and security personnel including top-notch operatives to interrogate the issues.
This, according to him, is in tandem with the overall goal of the centre, which is to build the nation’s capacity in dealing with evolving and novel security challenges through cutting edge knowledge.