BY DANIEL IDONOR
ABUJA — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, recounted the violent riots that broke out in the wake of the last presidential elections in some of the states of the North which claimed the lives of 10 National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, and declared that there will be no hiding place for the killers of NYSC members. He also announced N5million for each slain corps member’s family.
This came just as northern governors condemned the post election violence and stressed their support for the appointment of a 22_ man panel of inquiry to look into the remote and immediate causes of the violence, adding that the move will help curtail future occurrences as those involved would be brought to book.
President Jonathan spoke when he hosted family members of the slain corps members at the Presidential Villa where he formally condoled them on the loss of their loved ones and unveiled some of the goodies which the government has set aside to compensate them.
The first on the list of the goodies, according to President Jonathan, is the immediate disbursement of N5 million to each family of the 10 members of the NYSC killed in the post election violence that erupted in parts of the North.
But the families which include a widow and four children insisted that the best compensation for their slain loved ones was to ensure that all those who were involved in the heinous act were brought to face the full weight of the law.
Similarly, the President also approved automatic employment in the Federal Civil Service for one graduate from each of the immediate family of the slain NYSC members.
Immortalisation of victims
Speaking when he received the families of the deceased at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, President Jonathan said the victims are to be immortalised.
He said: “In demonstration of our gratitude for the supreme sacrifice that they have paid in the service of Nigeria, I have decided that each of the ten families of these gallant young men and women will receive a token monetary compensation of N5 million.
“Tomorrow, I will formally inaugurate the Fact-finding Committee which will undertake a thorough investigation of the unfortunate incident. I want to assure you that those found culpable will be brought to justice.”
Responding, spokesperson of the bereaved families, Mr. Awuchewu Okpokiri observed that “communication in the last violence was nothing to write home about. Most of us families did not know about the death of our dear ones until about a week after.
“I don’t think that is very good because I feel that when this kind of thing happened and we approached the authorities we should have been told of what had happened. A lot of us did not know the death of these children until April 24 for something that happened on April 18. We also want to ask just like every other Nigerian is saying today that the NYSC scheme should be reviewed in all its ramifications.
Presidency condemns CPC’s ustification
Meanwhile, the Presidency has reacted to attempt by the CPC to justify the post election violence as a reaction to a determination by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to win “the elections by any means.”
A statement by Special Adviser to the President, on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro said: “This attempt by the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, to justify the unfortunate carnage and bloodletting is vexatious in the extreme.
It amounts to rubbing salt on the raw wounds of families who lost dear ones, and those who were maimed and lost valuable property to the carnage. It also amounts to an open admission that the party’s supporters were indeed behind the violence, and that the party may well have planned it all.
“Malami went ahead to insult the sensibilities of Nigerians by drawing rather disingenuous parallels between these obviously orchestrated riots and the Western region crisis of the first republic. His words: “We recall the anger of the people of the Western region in 1965 and the people of Ondo state in 1983 against the use of federal might to dislodge opposition governments in the South West in favour of the ruling parties at the federal level with concocted results”.
“What Malami failed to explain to Nigerians was why these riots and killings happened largely in areas where the CPC won and Jonathan lost. He also failed to state that the pattern of voting during the presidential elections in those areas practically replicated the National Assembly elections. But while the CPC hailed the one as free, fair and transparent, it has condemned the other as fraudulent and rigged.”
“However, it is on record that the election results were collated peacefully at polling unit, ward, local government and state levels without incident in those areas, and that it was at the level of national collation when it became obvious that the CPC had lost woefully that all hell broke loose. Obviously therefore, the riots couldn’t have been as a result of the conduct of the presidential elections in those areas where the bulk of the killings took place.
It is thus extremely shocking that a political party, rather than condemn the killings, justifies them and worse still, with examples that just don’t fit. These blood curdling murders, even of our innocent youth corps members that CPC today tried to justify, are even more disturbing because President Jonathan provided a level playing field for a free and fair democratic contest. This has been acknowledged by the world at large. This was acknowledged by the leadership of the CPC even in the run up to the elections.
It is therefore hard to imagine what purpose these carefully choreographed riots were meant to achieve beyond an attack on those who were believed to have voted against the CPC candidate, and the Youth Corpers who were “guilty” of supervising the process.
This can only be the reason why even All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, stalwarts like Alhaji Bashir Tofa were attacked and his home and cars razed. Even the Kano Local Government revenue office was torched, yet that is an ANPP administration. Neither did the rioters spare our revered traditional rulers, as they attempted to burn down the palaces of emirs they believed did not support their candidate openly enough.
The CPC”s justification of murder and arson must be condemned by all. It is wicked, callous and insensitive. Nigeria is a democracy, and a country of laws. It is not a jungle ruled by whim and caprice.