Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Friday, August 19, 2016

Morality enforcers

Nigerian President Buhari wants to restart his "war against indiscipline." He started that war back when he was the military dictator back in the 1980s.

Iran has its Guidance Patrols and Basij militia. Saudi Arabia has its Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Sudan has its Public Order Police. Malaysia has its "religious officers" who can arrest people for violations of Sharia (who are tried in Sharia courts).

All of these are special law enforcement agencies aimed at promoting proper behavior (as defined by some interpretation of religion or polite society.

It's as though we in the USA granted religious conservatives the power to supervise and arrest people who publicly violated their sense of decency. On another side of the equation, it might be like giving similar powers to members of the Libertarian Party.

Nigeria relaunches controversial 'war on indiscipline' brigade
The Nigerian government has announced it is relaunching the controversial “war against indiscipline” task force, more than 32 years after it was first introduced during a military dictatorship.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected last year after running a campaign promising to fight corruption, first established the brigade in 1984 and charged it with maintaining public order.

Pledging that it would once again fight for “orderliness in our society, both in private and public life”, the 170,000-strong force made up mostly of volunteers will be redeployed across Nigeria. When operating under Buhari, the force was able to hand out fines for offences such as littering or “not queuing correctly” at bus stops…

The minister of information, Lai Mohammed… said that the brigade will help to address the “lack of ethics and values” in Nigerian society.

“Many Nigerians are worried about the erosion of values, widespread indiscipline, dwindling integrity and poor attitude to work,” he told reporters when plans for the WAI’s return were first announced in May…
WAI Brigade

Though it is unlikely to be as aggressive as it was in 1984, there is little clarity on the powers that will be granted to the modernised force, leading some citizens to fear a return of the brutality of the public order campaign of the 1980s, a period of beatings and human rights abuses that came to characterise Buhari’s military regime…

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