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Opinion

Nigeria Police, Kolade Johnson And The Rest Of Us By Alex Enemanna

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Kolade Johnson

The nationwide uproar generated by the killing of citizen Kolade Johnson, a 36-year-old father of one in Lagos by a trigger-happy, murderous cop, Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan of the Gbagada division of the Lagos State Police Command’s Special Anti Cultism Squad (SACS) at a football viewing centre in Lagos on Sunday, March 31, 2019 would have made a whole world of sense if those in authority would see it as a matter for worry.

At the risk of being branded pessimistic, beyond the rabble rousing, at best window dressing of the effect of a deep rooted national catastrophy, nothing much will be done to tackle the root cause of what has remained an age long hydra headed monster feeding on our collective bloodstream.

Sadly, this is happening at a moment when the Nigeria police as an institution has consistently maintained a leading position in exposing our dear country to a global ridicule, staunchly remained a brand ambassador of our national shame and lifted the trophy in everything that makes us feel disappointed as citizens of Nigeria.

There are catalogues of Police brutality and devious murderous activities against citizens whose outcomes have been permanently swept under the already swollen carpet or given a befitting burial in the alter of shenanigans.

Who still remembers citizen Tariela Nikadae, the 20-year-old undergraduate of Petro-Chemical Engineering, Niger Delta University, Yenagoa who was killed in November 2018 by one sergeant Timadi Emmanuel in Bayelsa State?

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Who still remembers citizens Joseph Oduluso, Odichi Sampson and Obinna Innocent who were on March 5, 2018 murdered at Ntigha Okpuala in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of Abia State by Inspector Nwitoka Nwinee, Sergeants Emeto Godwin and Chigozie Onina of the state Command?

What of another citizen, an Edo commercial driver who was in February 2018 killed by members of the Nigeria police on a patrol for apparently refusing to give them bribe? How about citizen Godwin Onoja, who was killed by a Customs officer in January 2019 while allegedly trying to extort N5,000 bribe from travellers coming from Europe on the Sagamu end of the Lagos-Ore-Benin Expressway?

While the aim of this intervention is not to rehash the mind-boggling brutality rate of the security forces in general against innocent citizens and the police in particular, it is important to state here that their effectiveness at fighting crime and criminality when put in the same scale with their unbridled penchant for unleashing terror on innocent citizens is earth-to-sky away, as the later continues to have an incomparable upper hand.

To assume that in the same week citizen Kolade Johnson was gruesomely murdered, albeit unprovoked by those who are paid from the national till to protect him, some criminal elements were having a field day maiming our compatriots across the country unchallenged is really a reason for worry.

In the same Lagos where citizen Kolade Johnson was killed for instance, one medical doctor Stephen Urueye a University of Lagos (UNILAG) graduate and House Officer at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) was stabbed to death on Thursday night right in front of the LUTH gate at Idi-Araba, Lagos just 24 hours after his graduation. Sadly, citizen Urueye is the only child of his widowed mother who was said to have single-handedly raised him.

Citizen Gabriel Abiodun, the 60-year-old Bursar of the Akure Anglican Diocese, was killed on Thursday morning by men suspected to be robbers, shortly after cashing a sum of N500,000 at a new-generation bank.

The notorious Abuja/Kaduna expressway, which has become the agony of road users did not miss out of criminality bazaar as dozens of our people were within the same week robbed, violated and killed. The same probably must have taken place in several other states of the federation and the blood of our citizens spilled without any scintilla of justification.

According to a Vanguard report, just about 10 weeks into the year 2018, the country lost about 1,351 to violent deaths. In January alone, about 676 Nigerians were cut down through herdsmen and farmers clashes, sectarian crises, communal clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, cult clashes, kidnapping, and ritual killings, among others. The deaths are 176 more than the 500 recorded in January 2017.

The question that readily comes to mind is, where was Inspector Ogunyemi Olalekan and his company of killers when their fellow arm bearers were testing their might on innocent citizens? What business did they have in the usually largely fun-filled football viewing centre when the identified criminal hideouts were unmanned?

Hardly is there any adult Nigerian that does not have one tale of woe of brutality, assault, harassment, extortion, intimidation or the other to tell against our number one law enforcement agency. Unfortunately, no matter the series of new records they set in denigrating the force, they are like that fly in the scrotum that must be handled with utmost care; we can’t do away with them.

Your chicken mysteriously misses in the eve of Easter celebration, they are your first point of call. Your Sallah clothes suddenly have unusual oil stains and you’re suspecting a neighbour, they are your first point of contact. The leaves of ugu you planted at the back of your compound begins to reduce in a way you can’t explain, you run to the police. Your wife smiles at someone in a way that gives you concern, you report to the police.

Instructively, citizens’ confidence in the force has steadily dwindled that it has finally hit its all time low. The reason is not far-fetched; the chances are that when you take a complaint to the police, both the complainant and the respondent will likely not get justice. Both will emerge fatal losers at the end of the day while the police will maximize their exploitative tendency to milk both parties dry.

This accounts to why the “I leave you with God” cliche has become a self consolatory line many of our people have adopted to soothe their wounded minds. Those who can’t stomach it resort to self help through any means they think they can find justice.

The growing spate of jungle justice across the country is one visible indicator of a completely waned confidence of citizens in the law enforcement agencies.

Today, virtually all neighbourhoods, including those in the rural areas have formed one security association or the other to give themselves a service the police have routinely failed to give them.

The excitement on the mind of Nigerians each time a new police helmsman is appointed has always been predicated on the false hope that a new, refined force will be birthed. Sooner than later he settles down, all the hopes begin to fizzle away like a cigarette smoke in our very eye. Before you say ‘IGP’, he topples the record of his predecessor in feeding a police force that has shown lack of capacity serve the people.

Who would have believed that the kind of “surgery” Ibrahim Idris had pontificated on effecting on the notorious Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) was simply to add “Federal” to it, making it FSARS? What new thing did this bring on board to reform the minds of operatives who see themselves as sitting on the same throne with God Almighty?

What about former IGPs who simply came and changed the colour of Police barrette in the name of “I have rejigged the force for effective performance?”

That the force, particularly the criminal gang called FSARS has continued to produce Kolade Johnsons in wholesale quantity anywhere they set their feet, leaving a trail of blood and tear is no surprise to some of us. Which kind of Police will tell a man he is meant to protect “I will waste you and nothing will happen?” How on earth does such audacious impunity of a terroristic threat explain the senile cliche “police is your friend”?

In saner climes, beyond the pseudo sack of the killer cop, who is just one person out of thousands of potential killer policemen, there should be a mass disengagement of top echelon of the force for leadership failure.

Irrespective of whatever reforms the National Assembly is warming up to effect on a rotten institution like Nigeria police, it will amount to a mere treatment of symptoms rather than attacking the real ailment.

The trouble with the force begins at the point of recruitment. It has become a dumping ground for people with questionable characters. Law enforcement is a serious business that ought not to be left in the hands of people with low moral standards and no education qualification.

There should be a serious profiling of every recruit, not the usual sale of employment slots to politically exposed individuals who eventually use their army of thugs to fill such positions. What we see today is the finished product of such scandalous recruitment patterns.

As it stands, whatever gain the force has made in pinching the skyrocketing crime rate, it has been dwarfed by the activities of bad eggs within it who continue to blow on a full throttle against the collective security and protection of all Nigerians.

The lost confidence will not be regained by mere sloganeering which unfortunately is what the force has been fixated with. Nigerians want to see action plan that will engender their confidence and trust in a police force that will work for all Nigerians irrespective of their social status.

On a lighter note, this viral post on the social media captures the reservation of many Nigerians. “Last Night, on my way home, robbers stopped me and I ran. While running, I saw “SARS” I quickly ran back to the robbers 4 safety.”

Enemanna is an Abuja based journalist.

Opinion

Who Is Afraid Of Amotekun?

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By Azuka Onwuka

In the past 10 days, about 100 people were killed by Boko Haram, bandits and highway kidnappers in different parts of northern part of Nigeria. The Emir of Potiskum escaped being kidnapped by spending the night in the forest, but some of his aides were killed. However, these killings were not the key issue in the news last week. The key issue was the declaration of illegality given by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, to the launch the South-West Security Network, code-named Operation Amotekun. Not only Malami opposed the launch of the security outfit. The Miyetti Allah Kaute Hore, a cattle breeders’ association, also opposed it.

Interestingly, most of the opponents of Operation Amotekun are northerners whose territory has been a source of serious security concern for many years now. There has never been any plan by the proponents of Operation Amotekun to move to the North in the exercise of their security duties. They will only operate within the states of the South-West. One then wonders why anybody from the North should be worried about it when there are enough things of worry to occupy the person. The issue of securing the South-West has sadly been made to look like a case of North vs South.

Given the level of insecurity in Nigeria and the number of casualties recorded every week, especially in the North where three dreaded groups operate, one would think that every Nigerian would gladly welcome any initiative that would help to check the activities of criminals in Nigeria. However, it is often said that with the exception of the gay issue, every national issue polarises Nigeria into North and South.

Our military are overstretched and war-weary. Our police are overstretched too and unable to cope with the diverse and complex nature of the security challenges facing Nigeria from different zones. And like former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar said over the weekend, in his support for the launch of Operation Amotekun, local policing has become a necessity as a result of the “obvious inadequacies of the federal police to effectively deal with these rapidly growing security challenges.”

The former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the added: “The police are more likely to be effective in areas where they are well known and trusted by the local communities who in turn are willing to share information about known criminals and criminal activities, thereby foiling those crimes before they are even carried out…

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“In the envisaged new order, states and local governments shouldn’t be reduced to peripheral players in policing and security matters. When local police structures are closest to the grassroots, emergency response will be more effective than the current unwieldy chain of command that renders local government chairmen ineffective when their people are under attacks.”

The most ridiculous aspect of the opposition to the launch of Operation Amotekun was the threat that by its launch, the South-West may lose the opportunity to produce the president of Nigeria in 2023. This came from Alhassan Salleh, national secretary of the Miyetti Allah Kaute Hore. It is a way of telling the people of the South-West that if they want to be given the opportunity to produce the president in 2023, they have to leave their zone porous to make it easy for their people to be massacred. One wonders if a dead person can be president.

It is this sort of subtle blackmail that has made the South-West to virtually turn to the lamb since 2015, ignoring all the threats to their people. On July 19, 2016 I had written an article titled, “Something strange is happening in South-West”, to buttress this strange behaviour of playing the lamb led to the slaughter in a bid to be considered good by the North “to inherit the kingdom of Nigeria.” Some people even added a ridiculous dimension to the debate by telling me that I would not succeed in making them clash with the North.

One wonders how protecting one’s home should equate to fighting with the North. Can a zone be only said to be friends of the North if it does not complain or react when its people are killed? What type of friendship is that?

The biggest threat to security in Nigeria since 2015 has been the fear that protecting one’s people means fighting against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Governors and other key politicians have been afraid to complain or take measures to protect their people against the killer herdsmen because of this fear. Few governors like Samuel Ortom of Benue and Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti who tried to take action against the killer-herdsmen faced stiff opposition from Nigerian security agencies as if they were the aggressors. Rather than being supported to protect their people, they were threatened and harassed by the security agencies.

This confirms the views of many that the worsening security situation in Nigeria has the backing of government in one form or the other. In March 2018, Lt Gen Theophilus Danjuma (retd.) had said: “The armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the armed bandits. They kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movements, they cover them. If you depend on the armed forces to stop the killings you will all die one by one…. I ask everyone one of you to be alert and defend your territory, your state. You have nowhere else to go.” If anybody should know about what is happening in Nigeria security-wise, it should be Danjuma, a former Minister of Defence and Chief of Army Staff.

Thankfully, the support for Operation Amotekun has been swelling. Groups from the South-East, South-South, North-Central as well as individuals from many parts of Nigeria have given support to it. Interestingly, those with different political views from the mainstream APC in the South-West have been the strongest supporters. That points to the fact that life comes first before politics.

The words from the governors of the South-West have shown that they are not ready to be cowed or blackmailed into backing off the plan to secure the South-West. The level and depth of insecurity that the North-East and North-West have faced should not be wished on any zone. The regular kidnapping of people on the highways in the South-West is a warning that all is not well. The killing of Mrs Funke Olakunri, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in July last year seemed to have jolted the governors out of their slumber.

For me, the South-West should take all possible measures to safeguard its zone for my selfish reasons. I live in the South-West. Because I love to drive between the South-West and South-East, I have to drive through Ogun and Ondo states. One cannot guarantee that one would not meet highway kidnappers on the way. I occasionally have projects that take me through the South-West. In recent times, I have been wary of undertaking such trips within South-West. If these highway kidnappers embarked on intelligence gathering on their targets, I would not be a target because I am not a high net-worth individual. But their modus operandi is weird.

The South-West governors should immediately individually send bills to their respective state House of Assembly to pass a law legalising the security network in each state.

The issue of bearing of arms by members of the Operation Amotekun is also a major one. Using batons to battle well-armed criminals is suicidal. People’s children and husbands should not be sent on such a suicide mission. Just as many different vigilance groups are allowed to bear arms, the operatives of Operation Amotekun should bear arms. Thankfully, the police had given support to the group. They should work closely with the police to make the South-West safe.

— You can Onwuka on Twitter @BrandAzuka

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Opinion

‘Regional Security Organisation In The South East Is A Child Of Necessity’

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By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

I decided to make another round of case for a regional security organization in the South East of Nigeria in other to remind the political leaders of the region that evil is already in their midst. This will be the last time I will ever attempt to drum up support for this issue. One thing I have come to understand about the leaders of this region is that they are too lukewarm and cowardly disposed when it comes to confronting matters that is strangulating to death the interest of their people. There is this Igbo maxim that say: only an irresponsible person will run after a black goat in the night. For one not to be cut up in the middle of nowhere there is need to arrest a pressing situation before it blows out of proportion and consume everyone.

The Nigeria of today is full of unimaginable surprises. When a section of the country now possesses the prerogative power to determine who forms any group or who becomes the President then one begins to wonder if there is any difference between a banana republic and Nigeria. In a country where terrorists are treated with kids glove while peaceful agitators are massacred with AK47 and even in most cases bathed with chemical weapon, there is every need to bale the water while it’s still an ankle deep. The aim of my message is neither to open old wounds nor to inflict fresh ones. It is a divine mandate, designed to wake every lucid mind in the South East region with the bitter and incontrovertible truth.

Time and events have proven that truly Nigeria belongs to an uneducated tribe, while the other educated tribes in the country are slaves and must bow to the command of uneducated arrogant demagogues. Sometime ago a vituperative leader in this country once said that Nigeria is the estate of their father and they must ruthlessly do everything humanly possible to make sure it doesn’t slip away from their hand. Fifty nine years after independence, the story has been the same. There is no record of unity, peace and progress. The nation has been enmeshed in all manner of ethnic jingoism, killings, tribal warfare, economic terrorism and political parochialism. Nigeria has been nothing but a skeletal shadow.

In natural law, I was made to understand that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. From time immemorial, this law applies in all human interactions and has become one of the yardstick for measuring fairness and equity in all social stratum. Unfortunately the revise is the case with Nigeria. While a section of the country is qualified to own all the oil wells, control the Presidency and the coercive apparatus of the state, the rest exist to applaud and lick their filthy anus. This reocuring ugly incident of a section of the country attempting to lord and intimidate the rest is becoming so visible and embarrassing. It is really a mockery on collective intelligence that an infinitesimal group in a nation will be bold to tell others when to eat and when not to eat.

The horrible security situation in Nigeria calls for a thorough regional introspection. There is no day that passes without one hearing stories of how terror movements and other bandits killed and displaced hundreds and thousands of people from their communities, and these are happening in a country where there are functional security agencies who are paid with the tax payers money to maintain absolute security. There are recorded cases of Fulani bandits kidnapping and raping aged women in their farmlands. The one that happened in Ebonyi State which was widely reported by media houses is a clear testament. The same carnage is on-going in Enugu, Imo, Anambra and Abia states. No arrest has been made and the governing powers have not held anyone accountable for all these heinous crimes. These killers and terrorists appears to be above the law because there seems to be some level of conspiracy from the top to shield them from prosecution

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Moreover, the lopsided structure of Nigeria and its security architecture is a larger signature to the fact that nobody is safe in the country. The Fulani tribe is in charge of the police, army, DSS, civil defense, customs, Navy and Immigration. It’s all about the government of the Fulani, by Fulani and for the Fulani. Other extractions of the country have been displaced from the national security formation.
When it comes to security and beyond, the South East region has been jettisoned. The only thing that works in the region is the mounting of road blocks from one pole to another by haggard and poorly trained security agents. Coordination of various military operations (like operation Python dance), extortion, killing and illegal arrest of motorists who refuses to part with their hard earned money on the numerous checkpoints littered all over the region is categorically seen as an act of gallantry.

However, there can’t be and will never be one Nigeria when some selfish and backward folks have chosen to arrogate power to themselves. There can’t be one Nigeria when there is no sea port and international airports in the South East. It is sheer deceit and folly for anyone to say there is one Nigeria when the Hisbah police and Civilian JTF in the North are legal while in other regions of the country such organizations are deemed illegal.

Nigerians don’t need to be told that one of the major reasons that have compelled the various regions of the country to establish indigenous security organizations is because the centre cannot longer hold. The security architecture in the country has been crippled by dead woods and ethnic chauvinism; hence the regions are now left to source for concrete alternatives for self preservation. The police and the army as presently constituted have stupendously failed to secure the people.

It will be bad and very regrettable that the South East leaders will fold their hands and watch while other regions of the country assiduously work to protect lives and property of their people in the face of this terror that is escalating in the country. It is necessary to constitute a viable regional security organization. It is a child of necessity. There is Hisbah police and JTF in the North, while there is Amotekun in the West. Thus, South East region shouldn’t be left behind in this self preservation mechanism. Political leaders from the South East must synchronize and push for the formation of an indigenous security outfit. Anything short of the above suggestion will continue to put the region in the radar of killers who maim and kill with impunity. My suggestion is not an attempt to be divisive and sadistic, but the reality on ground is what I’m laying bare for every reasonable mind to embrace.

In conclusion, I will quote professor Farooq Kperogi’s commentary of 18th January, “It’s irrelevant if Amotekun is constitutional or unconstitutional. You need to be alive to read the constitution. Only the living debate legality and constitutionality. The seemingly never-ending widening and deepening of the theaters of bloodshed in the country, occasioned by the unrestrained sanguinary fury of homicidal marauders, in the face of the inability or unwillingness of federal security forces to protect lives has made Amotekun an issue on which most people in the Southwest won’t compromise”.

I will advise all stakeholders from the South East to take a leaf from professor Farooq Kperogi’s commentary. Decisive measures should be taken to ensure the safety of the region. There is no room to start arguing the legality and illegality of setting up such security organization. Self preservation is a basic instinct in human beings and animals. A Stitch in time saves nine.

  • Kalu Nwokoro Idika is a political analyst, investigative and freelance journalist. You can reach him via kalunwokoroidika@yahoo.com

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Opinion

Project 002: The Wonders Of Nigeria (Clinical View)

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Nigeria

By Ikechukwu Agada

When duty calls, the vast majority of men sprout emergency wings and fly away to safer heavens where the clarion call of service cannot reach. An anonymous cocoon might be a good temporary place to hide away from the missiles and derision of traducers but it is no permanent place for a champion and certainly not as roomy as a palatial home.

The Southeast and Southsouth leaders should as a matter of solidarity constitute its own community security outfit similar to Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed(Operation Amotekun) to show southern oneness and to declare the Nigerian Security Agencies incompetent of protecting the life and properties of its citizenry which is the cardinal objective of any responsible government as enshrined in the constitution. The current Nigerian Security architecture dressed in a tribal gown cannot guarantee the safety of life and properties.

Earth Shaking! Grand Breaking! Mind boggling! Ordinarily, these terms are used as exaggerations but on this creative innovation(Operation Amotekun), they could even be said to be understatements. When you think of Nigeria and its stupefying wonders, you cannot but believe that there are a lot of mudslinging and tirades that comes with the terrain of politicking.

It is therefore no coincidence that the Northern Youths and Miyetti Allah who are the unofficial spokespersons of the Presidential Cabal would flippantly unleashed missiles against this responsible community security outfit structured to save lives. It is unpatriotic and abuse of office to declare Amotekun illegal without the law courts. Every citizen has the right to protect himself or herself. Such illegality should also be extended to civilian JTF in the Northeast and Hisbah police in the North. Those opposed to the security outfit are insensitive to the plight of people suffering from insecurity.

The Southeast and Southsouth leaders should outwit the bobby trap of the Northern Oligarchs by fronting its own security outfit via the State Houses of Assembly to colour it with constitutionality. The greatest threat to the community security outfit is not the vocal Northern Groups and their sponsors but desperate 2023 Presidential Secret Southern Conspirators who are overwhelmed by political correctness and fear of being viewed with restructuring lenses(Anti-North). These ambitious men do not want to offend their Northern masters. This conspiracy played out during the inauguration of the Western Security Outfit where a top Presidential hopeful from the Southwest after observing the body language of the Presidential Cabal instructed his three coronated governors to steer clear of the venue in an apparent loyalty to the northern forces allegedly sharing presidency. He flew to Aso Rock to have a conversation with the President to technically exonerate himself of any possible backlash arising from the initiative in order to advance his candidacy. Those who are hobnobbing with these northern power brokers should learn from the political calamity that befell some former confidants of these men in total obedience to the wonders of Nigeria.

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The just concluded Supreme Court pronouncement is not only a 9th wonder of Nigeria but a doctored political miracle which can only happen in the giant of Africa’s soil. The former Eastern Heartland’s helmsman was axed because of his total loyalty to the then ruling party where he held the reins of power as Deputy Speaker Federal House of Representatives. Similar fate awaits his boss the then speaker who is now a governor except by divine intervention to punish them for frustrating legislations encouraging Project 002 conspiracy theory. All the arguments and prayers in support of this Marlian judgement are mere political cosmetics conjured by integrity stunted jurists.

A courtesy visit to the top Nigerian Agencies and Parastatals will leave you with official shock because they are peopled with certain tribe from head to bottom(Organogram) making you wonder if “One Nigeria” still exist.

It is high time the Southern leaders revisits the native intelligence deployed by their sages like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Ajayi Crowther, etc to beat a smart retreat because the North preserved and uses leadership ethos they mastered from their patriarchs like Ahmadu Bello and Usman Dan Fodio to distribute influence.

The outcome of the Amotekun Debate will shape the 2023 political games as those in support and against will be profiled. This is why most Gubernatorial and Presidential hopefuls are being careful of speaking out on the matter for fear of victimisation. If the South loses the battle to stamp its feet on this community security outfit(Which the Core North interpretes as restructuring in disguise) then the alleged Southern Presidency will die a natural death (because insecurity can never birth credible elections) and Project 002 will be fast tracked.

If the illegality tag handed on Operation Amotekun is not removed despite Southwest leaders responsible and objective dialogue approach, then “ONE NIGERIA” will remain the tallest wonder ever recorded in the history of the world. Nigeria obviously needs rebooting.

GOD BLESS YOU

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