By Yakubu Mohammed, WikkiTimes
They called themselves “Jagaban Army”.
Led by Dayo Israel, the national youth leader of All Progressives Congress who named himself the chief of army staff of Jagaban army commanding their so-called foot soldiers of more than 3,000 persons who would work to secure the victory of the party’s presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu.
But the bits and pieces of the Jagaban army violate the provisions of the electoral act, WikkiTimes can report.
The seemingly paramilitary group of nearly 4,000 members spread across the country was inaugurated in Kaduna last month.
The APC youth leader, Israel described himself as: “The Wing Marshal of the APC national youth wing and chief of army staff of the Jagaban army.”
Since their inauguration, the foot soldiers have been engaging in several activities, like canvassing for votes, inducing prospective voters, and harassing citizens as seen in a video obtained by WikkiTimes.
Israel in a video posted on Twitter said the foot soldiers arrested a woman who tore Tinubu’s poster.
“Jagaban solider [sic] makes citizen arrest on APC poster destroyer,” he tweeted. “Criminals released with caution to go and sin no more. Our soldiers are on guard everywhere. We will not allow you steal our mandate.”
“A citizen of Nigeria cannot arrest another citizen for simple offenses or misdemeanors,” said Abba Hikima Fagge, a Kano-based lawyer. “A citizen can only arrest a citizen for a misdemeanor only at night.”
“Removing a poster is a form of simple offense in which the Jagaban army shouldn’t have arrested the lady. In fact, they were not only trying to arrest her, but to assault her,” Fagge said.
WikkiTimes observes that the group’s activities violate section 92, subsections 5 & 6 of the Electoral Act.
Subsection five of the act reads: “A political party, aspirant or candidate of a political party shall not retain, organize, train or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest, or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organized, trained or equipped for that purpose.”
“A political party, aspirant or candidate shall not keep or use armed private security organization, vanguard or any other group or individual by whatever name called for the purpose of providing security, assisting or aiding the political party or candidate in whatever manner during campaigns, rallies, processions or elections,” a part of the section read.
On your mandate! The Jagaban Army pic.twitter.com/ZipiAJ86Wh
— The Dayo Israel™ (@dayoisrael) January 13, 2023
Jide Ojo, a public affairs analyst told WikkiTimes that the group should not have been allowed to be inaugurated in the first place.
“When it comes to election security, it is within the purview of the security agencies,” Ojo said, making a reference to a Punch report revealing that the police received about N64 billion for the 2023 elections.
Ojo wondered whether the police were aware of the group’s inauguration in Kaduna, adding that the commissioner of police in Kaduna State ought to have cautioned the party that such a group is illegal.
“No association shall retain, organize, train or equip any person or group of persons for the purpose of enabling them to be employed for the use or display of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest or in such manner as to arouse reasonable apprehension that they are organized and trained or equipped for that purpose,” reads section 227 of the country’s amended constitution.
Ojo explained that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), since 2015, has a standing committee known as the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security. According to him, the committee has several security agencies ranging from Nigeria Police Force and Nigerian Army to Economic Financial and Crime Commission, and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, among others.
“These agencies should have been aware that the group contradicts some sections of the electoral act as well the constitution and should have called for the disbandment of the Jagaban Army,” Ojo said. “Even by the choice of the name – Jagaban Army – it is frightening. You are not allowed to use a private army or private militia for whatever.”
Abba Hikima Fagge, the Kano-based lawyer, shares similar views with Ojo. He believes that the Jagaban army’s operations are wrong, especially its name.
“A common and every serious Nigerian believes that they mean army in its strict sense,” he said. “Even by the way they dress, I could see their leaders; they were dressed in attires that looked like a security agency’s uniform.”
Apart from the electoral act, Fagge noted that the group, by its members’ dressing, violated sections 7 & 8 of the Public Order Act.
“You cannot just wear a uniform that could cause apprehension. Also, you cannot hold flags except a certain one that has been approved,” he said.
Fagge called upon the police to look into the group’s activities.
“According to section 7 of the Public Order Act, it is only the commissioner of police in each state that can ban them from wearing the uniform which appears offensive or likely to breach public peace and order,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Nigeria Police Force, Olumuyiwa Adejobi told WikkiTimes that the force had received some petitions via its official email address, adding that they had been forwarded to the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
“I will need to find out the position of the petitions so that I have better information on the development,” Adejobi said.
Debo Ologunagba, the spokesman for Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, said the party would soon address the public on the illegality of the Jagaban army.
He pointed out that the party had earlier reacted to the creation of the group. “But we will look at this particular aspect and address the public,” he said.
Aziza Uko, spokesperson for Labour Party’s Peter Obi, and Femi Fani Kayode, spokesman for Tinubu did not respond to requests for comment.
Dayo Israel, the leader of the Jagaban army, also declined to comment.
This report was published with support from Civic Media Lab.