The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has strongly criticized the Nigerian Army for its perceived tolerance of a “private army” reportedly established by Asari Dokubo, former leader of the defunct Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF). HURIWA expressed its concerns about a recent statement issued by the Nigerian Army, wherein it distanced itself from any affiliation with ex-Niger Delta militant leader Mujahid Asari-Dokubo or his private security outfit.
HURIWA, in a statement released by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Friday, raised objections to the seemingly lenient response by the Nigerian Army. The group viewed the Army’s statement as insufficient and accused it of treating Dokubo’s private army too lightly. HURIWA contended that the existence of any form of private army in Nigeria, regardless of the affiliations of its leader, is unconstitutional, illegal, treasonous, and unacceptable.
The rights group questioned the preferential treatment extended to Asari Dokubo, wondering whether he holds a higher status than the constituted authority. HURIWA drew attention to the Nigerian Army’s contrasting actions, noting its earlier declaration of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as a terrorist group, while now appearing to equivocate on Asari Dokubo’s private army, which he claims is actively engaged in combat against the Boko Haram insurgency.
HURIWA expressed firm disapproval of this apparent double standard, emphasizing that such inconsistency erodes faith in the unity of Nigeria. The group condemned the Nigerian Army’s response as inadequate and urged for more comprehensive information regarding the legitimacy of Asari-Dokubo’s private military company and its possession of firearms.
Highlighting Dokubo’s recent assertions in a podcast interview, where he claimed collaboration between his private military company and the government, HURIWA raised concerns about covert ties between his organization and the Nigerian military. The group warned that this potential collaboration could be contributing to the activities of “unknown gunmen” causing turmoil in the South East region.
HURIWA demanded a thorough investigation into Asari-Dokubo’s claims, given the security challenges linked to “unknown gunmen.” The group called on the Nigerian Army to liaise with relevant authorities responsible for licensing private security outfits to verify the legitimacy of Dokubo’s military company and the licenses granted for the possession of multiple AK-47 rifles.
Underlining the paramount importance of national security and citizen welfare, HURIWA stressed the necessity for transparency and accountability in all security operations. The group insisted that a private army has no place in Nigeria and called on the Nigerian Army to address the issue decisively.
HURIWA further urged the National Security Adviser, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, to clarify the nature of Asari-Dokubo’s firearms license, as the possession of such weaponry should be subject to rigorous regulations and licensing protocols.
The association concluded by reaffirming its commitment to upholding the rule of law, transparency, and the protection of Nigerian citizens. HURIWA emphasized the urgency of transparent investigations into any potential covert collaborations that could impact national security, maintaining that maintaining public trust is paramount.