Security agents struggle to balance human rights and responsibilities

Some participants at the workshop

By Williams Ago, Gombe

A one-day workshop in Gombe, Gombe State, delved into the challenges faced by Nigerian security agents in reconciling the respect for human rights with the effective performance of their duties.

The workshop, focused on security and human rights, brought together a group of security agents who shared their perspectives on the delicate balance between upholding fundamental human rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. 

Many participants expressed concerns that the adherence to human rights principles could impede their ability to enforce the law and extract crucial information from suspects.

During discussions, it emerged that some security agents believe that resorting to tactics like torture or force is necessary to ensure compliance with the law and gather intelligence effectively.

However, a human rights activist, Dr Innocent Ajenogore, who is also a consultant with Lite Africa, and who was the key resource person during the workshop, said Nigerian security agents would earn the respect of Nigerians and enhance the performance of their responsibilities if they (security agents) execute their functions under the rule of law.

He said, "as you can see from the security personnel present, they still feel that the fundamental human rights or the Constitution of Nigeria is a limitation to their ability to perform their duty.

"They do not know that it even enhances their ability to perform their responsibilities in check, if they follow and abide by it. When they do that the citizens are likely to respect them more because their (citizens) fundamental human rights are respected,” he emphasized.

He explained earlier that the training workshop was key, particularly for the security personnel to really understand the value of human life and how to respect the rights and fundamental freedom of Nigerians.

He added that "while the security personnel are doing their jobs, they should always have at the back of their minds that there is need to respect the rights of suspects or detainees and Nigerians as a whole.

"Whenever there is rule of law, fundamental freedom, equality and enabling the rights of the citizens are respected, there is bound to be peace, prosperity, growth in such communities.

"The rights of Nigerians must be respected at all times not minding how the security personnel feel. It is not about their emotions, it is about what the Constitution says that should be applied at all times," he pointed out.

Another resource person and Gombe State Coordinator of the National Human Rights Commission, Mohammed Shamsudeen Ayuba, noted that security personnel complain that "we human rights defenders are fond of hiding individuals and preventing them from doing their jobs."

He said "this kind of training is supposed to be given to them (security personnel) because some of them don't know the difference between torture and human rights."

Baring his mind on the issue, chairman Gombe State Network of Civil Society (GONET) Ambassador Ibrahim Yusuf, described the training as very important and timely because it will enable people at the community level to be able to know how to engage relevant authorities whenever they have issues.

"This training can open the eyes of community, to share experience especially when they are having issues with some facilities, especially private companies that are within their communities. They don't know where or how to channel their grievances," he stated.

Dr. Erisa Danladi, Executive Director, Mother Hen Development Foundation and facilitator of the training, expressed delight over the interest shown by the participants during the training.

She said, it was a milestone for Mother Hen Development Foundation to be able to bring stakeholders on security to discuss issues of human rights.

"It's very important we had this meeting. We brought the stakeholders together to be able to make our position known as human rights advocates. We've been doing this before but this is the first time we're engaging security agents. 

"This is a step in the right direction and as time goes on, you will see more of these by the grace of God," she assured.

Stakeholder holders at the workshop included community leaders, security agents, CSO's, private security organizations, journalists, human rights organizations among many others.

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