ABUJA-A Coalition of 23 civil rights organizations has thrown weight behind the call by elders in the North under the aegis of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, that service chiefs be immediately relieved of their positions following the worsening insecurity in the country.
The Northern elders have in repeated statements in recent times, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, sack the security chiefs,alleging incompetence on their part.
In a communique released to the media in Abuja after an expanded meeting held in the nation’s capital city earlier, the elders had insisted that showing the service chiefs the way out of office was the best way to go since the security was not getting any better under their care.
The Northern elders’ position was greeted with opposition by a Lagos-based group under the aegis of Campaign Against Impunity. The group had disagreed with the elders call,asking the president to ignore any call to that effect. Besides, the Lagos based group had argued that sacking the service chiefs would demoralise the fighting spirit of troops thus further worsening the country’s security situation.
But reacting in a statement, Sunday,the 23 civil society organisations under a group called Coalition of Civil Rights Organisations, insisted that the Northern elders’ position had the blessings of majority of Nigerians given the worsening security situation under the leadership of the service chiefs.
The coalition condemned the statement by the Lagos group, saying it lacked the understanding of the security situation in the North to react to the Northern elders’ position they way it did.
Signatories to the statement included Dr Musa Dan Dutse,who signed for Actions Against Terrorism (AAT); Mallam Ibrahim Bichi for Change Agent Initiative (CAI).;Mazi Anayo Orji for Igbo League of Professionals (ILEP) and Hajiya Hazida Mohammed for Northern Children Rights Advocacy Group (NOCHRAG).
Others are Adebayo kolawale for Oduduwa Peace Network (OPN); Alhaji Shettima Abuna for Borno Patriotic Front (BOPAF); Alhaji Hassan Shinkafi for Zamfara Peace And Securiy Advocates Forum (ZAPESEA) and Barr. Esther Shekari for Action Against Violation of Children Africa.
“As a coalition of civil rights organisation following the security situation in the North in particular and the country as a whole, we wish to emphatically state here that we are in full support of the position of Northern elders that President Muhammadu Buhari sacks the service chiefs immediately,” the Coalition said in the statement signed by affiliate members.
“We also condemn the sponsored attacks on the revered elders by a faceless group of CSO led by one ignoble Campaign Against Impunity, based in Lagos.
“Ordinarily,we would not have joined issues with the pseudo group knowing that it is not only sponsored but also faceless but for the general public who may not know their intention and be gullible their antics,” the statement read.
“We are constrained to respond to these paid agents and also challenge them to a national debate,” the coalition said,asking:”How van a civil society organization whose number one mandate is to protect the rights of humanity be speaking against the wishes of the entire country?”
” How will the sack of the tired service chiefs demoralized the country? It added,saying:” We strongly believe that it is either this so called CSOs don’t leave in this country or they have sold their conscience to the devil.”
“We will like to put it clear to them that the mere announcement of the sack of the current service chiefs will elicit nationwide jubilation and boost troops morale immediately.
“Security of lives and properties will improve immediately because new ideas and zeal will be brought to the table, and the entire country will be the ultimate beneficiary,” the Coalition added in the statement.
It added:”We want to remind this selfish group that the nationwide ongoing protest is as a result of frustration of Nigerians which was occasioned by the actions or inaction of the current head of security agencies in the country, especially the service chiefs who have lost ideas to change the game in securing the country and their unnecessary long stay in which has demoralized the fighting troops and commanders.”
The statement read further:”We wonder where these enemies of the people got their facts from! However we would not want to dwell too much on their paid rubbish so as not to give them the relevance they are desperately seeking.
” We will wait to point some clear facts to president Muhammad Buhari that the security of this country is at a melting point and there is an urgent need to restructure the country’s security architecture with the sack of the service chiefs and replace them with younger officers with respect to Nigeria’s diversity.
The entire country is bleeding, the North is a shadow of itself, tne North East and the North West is the center of terrorism in Africa. This is not healthy for our country and if nothing is done, we may have big problems to contend with.
” It is on this note that we throw our weight behind the position of the North East elders in totality that the service chiefs be replaced immediately. We appeal to the president to replace them with younger officers with the zeal to end insecurity not just in the North but the country as a whole.”