By Dirisu Yakubu
Foremost rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has called for the establishment of national youth volunteers’ corps, following the invasion of the Abuja National Youth Service Corps, NYSC camp by youths searching for COVID-19 palliatives.
The group also condemned the invasion and destruction of properties of private individuals in some parts of the country.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Executive Director of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko said the brazen acts of criminality in the past two weeks must be investigated and those found culpable, punished in accordance with the laws of the land.
“We humbly ask Mr. President and the National Assembly to amend the relevant laws of NYSC to empower the scheme to begin the trainings for vetted and credible youths in military trainings to form a standing national volunteer corps. Membership should be drawn from the states to be mobilized and they should partner law enforcement agencies under the auspices of the office of the Director General of the NYSC. They should be rapidly deployed to carry out volunteer works of defending strategic national assets so that these kinds of ugly and lawless scenarios will never occur again,” the group stated.
HURIWA stressed that upon serving their country for a year, such volunteers could then be encouraged to enlist into the Nigerian military, police as well as other paramilitary outfits in furtherance of their careers.
According to Onwubiko, leaders across all layers of government must now imbibe the lessons of the protests which literary brought the nation on its knees, saying more than ever before, the youths particularly the unemployed, are prepared to take their destiny in their hands. He called for better funding of the youth sector to prevent a breakdown of law and order, as was witnessed a week ago when violent skirmishes hit major cities across the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Youths Development and NYSC should be put as first line charge such as the judiciary and the National Human Rights Commission and their budgetary releases boosted significantly to enable this forward looking management of NYSC and the competent Youths Affairs Minister empowers millions of young Nigerians,” he advised.
While calling on government to investigate the attack and burning of properties of Senator Victor Ndoma Egba earlier in the week, the group urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to beam its searchlight on the activities of members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, alleging that there is a chance they are part of the violence rocking the country in the wake of the mass protests.
“Government needs to investigate the intelligence that a certain Senator funded the armed hoodlums to attack peaceful protesters which must have aggravated the scenarios and led to many deaths.
“Government should investigate the police hierarchy. We suspect that the police hierarchy and beneficiaries of SARS are behind the coordinated attacks of warehouses. Certain criminal thugs may have been hired as agents provocateurs to attack warehouses to entice hungry and angry youths to join them in the looting sprees so as to dilute the essence, symbolism, significance of these global movements against Nigerian police use of torture and extrajudicial killing of citizens by SARS,” it added.