Government should bring perpetrators of Benue killings to book

Arinze Odiari

Arinze Odiari is a legal practitioner and the president of National Association of Seadogs, Lagos Mainland 1. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, he raises concerns on the issue of security especially with the killings in different part of the country and suggests ways the government can strengthen security to avert impending danger.

What is your take on the security situation in Nigeria especially with herders and farmers?
I think things are getting worse by the day especially with the politics around it and if proactive measures are not taken, it will escalate. We should call a spade a spade. Lives matter irrespective of where they are killed or who is killing who. No life is more important than the other. It is condemnable and a terrible thing to take another’s life. We have had massacres in different parts of the country. Herdsmen cannot be only Fulanis, it can be anybody but the way it appears seems like a section of the country is being targeted. Killing in any form is evil. Things should be done in a civilised and fair manner.

What should the government do to strengthen security in the country?
It is the responsibility of the government to protect its citizens. If the herdsmen are behind the attacks, they should be fished out and brought to book. There should be thorough investigation on the matter. This shouldn’t be allowed to continue in a sane society. I was appalled by the statement of the Inspector general of police saying that the killing in Benue was a communal clash, which is not true. Communal clash is when two communities have crisis but in this case it is from outside. All we ask for is for government to wake up to its responsibilities and take the bull by the horn. Lives are lost on a daily basis. Safety of lives is paramount and should not be handled with kid gloves. To avoid more casualties, government should ensure that the culprits are found and charged to court so that the right punishment will be meted out on them.

What impact has your association made on the society?
The association is filled with young, bright, like-minds whose aim and goal is to better the society. We are non-political and non-religious. What we have done over the years is to sensitise the people and serve as advocacy group for the community where we ensure that the right things are done. Sometimes, we realise the problem is not with the government but with the individuals who are part of the society. As the president of Mainland 1 of the association, I rally troops and ensure we are focused on what we are set out to do. I supervise and ensure things are done in the right manner. I have been in the association for 17 years and I must say we have touched lives positively in so many ways. We have been involved in so many charity works in the country. We have the medical outreach where we provide free healthcare services to the communities while we advocate for other good things of life for them. We have the educational aid where we distribute books to schools free of charge (pro bono) and lecturers and teachers in our midst volunteer to lecture part time students and students in secondary school for free. We also have a legal aid where we offer free legal services for those who can’t afford it. We have recorded so many success stories and hope to do more.

What motivated you to study law?
While growing up, I attended a court session with my uncle who was like a mentor to me. I was told that a police officer molested a child and at the end of the day, judgement was passed and the man punished for his offence. Though I was very young then but felt satisfied because the officer faced the full wrath of the law. From there, I picked interest in law. I went into law because it deals with fighting for humanity and it is the last hope of the common man. I want to be a voice for the voiceless and fight for the oppressed in the society. I am glad that I made that decision and have no regret because I love my job. It is one of the best things that have happened to me. Sometimes, you receive threats because you insist on the right procedure. I believe I took a step in the right direction and living my dreams.

What lessons have you learnt on the job?
We learn every day. I’ve learnt to listen to all sides in order to make better judgement. These days, we hear a lot of happenings like in the political arena, when one party talks, you just conclude but listen to both sides to avoid wrong judgement and get to a fair conclusion. My advice to those who would like to study law is to ensure that it is what they are called to do. They should be focused, read, do a lot of research, be steadfast and ensure they are going into it for the passion. Lastly, ensure you don’t take anything for granted while preparing to be a better lawyer because every lawyer owes a duty to the society as well as the people.

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