‘Security Sector Must Protect the Will of the Governed’

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Nigeria Ambassador Chigozie Obi.jpg

Nigeria’s Ambassador, Chigozie Obi-Nnadozie, says the real challenge to Liberia’s peace and stability is in realigning attitudes, doctrine and operations of the security forces to rest on the understanding that they are institutions to project the will of the governed, stressing though they may immediately be under the control of the state.

“If lessons from the country’s recent history is anything to go by, the future hangs on entrenching the institutions, doctrines, as well as the principles of rule of law that define contemporary understanding of good governance,” Ambassador Nnadozie said.

The Nigerian diplomat made the assertion last Friday, when she served as keynote speaker at the induction ceremony of officers-elect of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA).

The ceremony held at the Monrovia City Hall was attended by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor and other Justices of the Supreme Court as well as representatives of the international community.

Ambassador Nnadozie, who spoke on the topic, “The Role of Rule of Law for Future Peace and Stability in Liberia,” reminded her audience that “our destinations and futures are linked in West Africa, and where we failed, we paid in blood. So rule of law is critically important.”

The first requirement of security sector reform is the relative autonomy of the police from immediate political and partisan interests, Nnadozie pointed out.

“That reflects the first two of the universal principles alluded to earlier, which means that the government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law,” She added.

She said the laws should be clear, publicized, stable and just and should also protect fundamental rights which include the security of persons and property.

“These laws should apply equally to the state and citizens and define their quotient relationship.”

For government to operate properly, the law implies that while the Police may be good in the mechanical elements of their training, greater focus should be placed on developing Standard Operating
Procedures (SOP) that emphasize the persuasive dimension of State power rather than coercive, said Nnadozie.

In my view, that is the only way to re-orient the security sector to become constructive elements in the future stability of the country.

She went on to advise that the SOP must focus on how the Police can become instruments for the protection of human rights with less emphasis on the coercive dimension of state power.

“It is the difference between a people’s police force or a people’s army and a distrusted state police or a national army,” she maintained.

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