Thursday, 06.08.2020 - Abuja

Civil Military Relations During Covid-19: Turning Crisis into Opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic is first and foremost a public health crisis, whatever its immediate strategic knock-on effects, or longer-term geopolitical implications. Unsurprisingly, at a time of near-universal emergency, governments of all hues – from dictatorships to democracies – are enlisting their security and other armed forces to help combat the pandemic. While this may appear to be an obvious measure, the security’s contribution is worth analysing for what it reveals about civil–military relations and national resilience in Nigeria.

The peculiarity of Nigeria's transition lies in the improvised nature of the political system. This challenged the basic principles of democratic system. Being formerly a praetorian state, consolidation of Nigeria nascent democracy is therefore tied to the relationship between the civilian authority and military institution. Regrettably, in the midst of the lockdown, some communities are still experiencing isolated killings which further raises concern around compliance, capacity and capability to protect. As of April 17th 2020, National Human Rights Commission said it had received and documented "105 complaints of incidents of human rights violations perpetuated by security forces" in 24 of Nigeria's 36 states and Abuja. Of these complaints, "there were 8 documented incidents of extrajudicial killings leading to 18 deaths,"

Indeed, there is a renewed call to strengthen civil military relationship in Nigeria and take specific steps to redress the identified gaps during the period of the pandemic as it affects the reputational integrity of the security institutions and the armed forces which is considered a huge risk.

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