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128 Civil organisations fix date for mass actions against insecurity across Nigeria

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

Atleast 128 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have declared their readiness to march on major roads and demand that President Muhammadu Buhari as well as 36 state governors rise up to their constitutional duties and put an end to banditry and other criminalities that had claimed over 2,000 lives within 2021 first quarter.

The groups under the aegis of Joint Action Civil Society Coalition/Nigerian Mourns called on Nigerians to register their displeasure with the state of affairs across the country by participating in a series of mass actions beginning from May 26.

Aside from that, the coalition challenged Nigerians to boycott all Democracy Day activities on May 29 as a demonstration against the state of the country’s democracy, which they described as not representing the true wish of the people in spite of several appeals.

Among others, the coalition includes Action Aid, Bimbo Odukoya Foundation (BOF), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Global Rights, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), Lagos Women 2030, and Yiaga Africa.

They argued that the development was decided after it became clear that the government had refused to perform its role as enshrined in section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution to ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians.

In the statement made available to newsmen yesterday, the group stated that in its yearly mass atrocities comparison, statistics further showed that the killings recorded across the country within 2021 first quarter was over 50 per cent of the fatalities recorded all year round in 2019.

In its 2020 mass atrocities report, Global Rights had put fatalities at 4,558 nationwide, a 42.9% increase above 3,188 incidents recorded nationwide in 2019.

In the 24-page report titled “Save the Date: National Day of Mourning,” the organisation had revealed that mass atrocities-related killings by region affected no fewer than 1527 (33.5%) in Northwest with Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, recording second highest after Kaduna.

In Northeast, the epicentre of Boko Haram insurgency, the report put mass atrocities-related killings at 1508 (33.08%), North-central 685 (15.03%), South-south 443 (9.72%), South-west 231 (5.07%), and South-east 162 (3.55%).

According to the group, however, the coalition revealed that the incidents of mass atrocities between January and March 2021 had risen to about 2,000 fatalities.

It revealed: “We recorded an all-time quarterly high of almost 2000 fatalities from mass atrocities incidents across the country. This week, across the 6 geopolitical zones, there were escalated combustions of violence resulting in even more deaths”.

The coalition, therefore, called the federal and state governments “to rise up to their constitutional duties as enshrined in section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution to ensure the security and welfare of all Nigerians, and pull the nation back from the path of destruction”.

Despite a strongly worded statement issued on February 22, the coalition noted that Buhari’s government “has failed to heed our call to fulfil his role as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and Nigeria’s democratically elected President”.

As a result, it observed that it was left with no other option than “to take action to drive home our call to the government. We are calling on all Nigerians to commemorate the 4th National Day of Mourning and Remembrance of Victims of Mass Atrocities on May 28.”

With the glaring failure of the federal government to stop killing in near parts of the federation, the coalition challenged Nigerians “to boycott all Democracy Day activities on May 29 in protest of the deplorable state of our democracy.”

Referring to the joint statement issued on February 2021, the coalition said it had catalogued the assortment of mass atrocities plaguing the country, in particular: the unending war in the North East with our troops often bearing the brunt of this government’s security failures.

It observed that the gross injustices by Buhari’s government against the Nigerian people such that peaceful protesters “are threatened and attacked by the government’s security agents while terrorists carrying out mass murder, rape, maiming and kidnapping of Nigerians including women and children are feted, molly coddled, granted ‘amnesty’ and paid by the government.

“This is tantamount to funding and supporting terrorists, encouraging murder and the decimation of the Nigeria’s gallant troops and amounts to treason against the Nigerian State and people.

“Terrorist herder attacks on unarmed farming communities and reprisal attacks in the face of government inaction and failure to bring the terrorist herdsmen and their funders to justice.

“Large scale terrorist attacks in the Northwest irresponsibly tagged by the government as ‘banditry’ in a bid to downplay their criminality.

With grave concern for the future of Nigeria, the coalition lamented industrial scale kidnappings nationwide, extrajudicial killings by State Security agents in various forms, inter-ethnic violence and the menace of political cult gangs and ethnic militia.

The coalition had called on Buhari’s government to take immediate actions to provide political and moral leadership for the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with Section 17 (2) (C) of the 1999 Constitution.

It observed that it had the government “to end impunity for abuse of power and sectionalism through his appointments by balancing the need for competence with the federal character principle.

“In this way, he will demonstrate that every part of Nigeria matters as sectional appointments appear to fuel sectional violence.

It had called the government “to take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state or mobilise our rich Nigerian assets to address the insecurity situation across the country and seek international cooperation to ramp up security assets.

“We had also demanded that where the President fails to fulfil his constitutional duties as stated above, that he steps aside, or, that the National Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

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