By Gabriel Ewepu & Fortune Eromosele – Abuja
A coalition of Civil Society Organisation, CSOs, Joint Action Civil Society Coalition, and Nigeria Mourns Secretariat, Friday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to urgently rise and stop incessant killings, bloodletting, and kidnappings across the country.
The group made the call during a march to the National Assembly, NASS, tagged ‘A National Day of Mourning and Remembrance for all Victims of Violent Killings Rally’, demanding that justice should be served to those who have lost their lives to terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements.
The protesters were clad in black T-shirts, carrying placards with inscriptions such as #NigeriaBleeds #StopTheKillings #EnoughIsEnough #NigerianLivesMatter and #NigeriaMourns.
The peaceful protesters in their numbers also marched to the Federal Ministry of Justice and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to register their anger over how the federal government has failed to be proactive in dealing with those who kill and get away with their evil deeds and had also developed boldness and impunity in perpetuating their crime against humanity.
Addressing the protesters, the Country Director, Global Rights, Biodun Baiyewu, blamed the federal government for not responding to the killings of innocent citizens in the country as well as not punishing the perpetrators of violence and terrorism in the nation.
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Baiyewu said: “There is a surge in atrocities against women, children, learners, teachers, and the most vulnerable. Schools and institutions of learning have been targeted for elimination and the government appears to be unable and unwilling to take urgent actions to protect these demographics.
“The judiciary is vital to ending impunity but today makes it the 52nd day since courts all over Nigeria have been shut down by executive disobedience of court orders on judicial autonomy. While the courts remain shut, there can be no accountability for atrocity violence.
“The armed forces are deployed in 36 states of Nigeria on internal security operations, thereby retrenching the constitutional role of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). This is a constitutional anomaly.
“The rise in fatalities from military operations shows that the military is over-stretched, poorly trained for this role and without proper rules of engagement for it. This cannot continue.
“While these atrocities continue, the government, rather than enlist citizens in united opposition to it, seeks to divide the country with clear patterns of nepotism and persecution of civic actors and the independent media. Far from helping, these actions deepen the crisis in the country.”
Similarly, Programme Manager, Yiaga Africa, Ibrahim Farouk, lamented that the federal government is not doing enough in ensuring the security of lives and properties.
“As Civil Societies, it is our role to make sure the government plays their part in governance, therefore we are here to put the federal government on their toes to put a stop to the spate of killings in the country”, Farouk stated.
Meanwhile, the group called on governments at all levels to provide leadership and ensure that the security and welfare of all Nigerians are preserved as enshrined in Section 14 (2 )(b) of the constitution.
It said, “Since we issued those positions, we have observed what appear to be responses from various levels of government. We note, in particular, the outcome of the meeting of the Southern Governors in Asaba, Delta State, on 11 May 2021 as well as the statements that have emanated from the governors of Kano, Katsina, and Plateau states. We are not unaware of statements also from the presidency in response to the Southern Governors.
“These responses from the government have been neither sufficient nor adequate to stem the growing violence across the country. In particular, President Buhari remains indifferent to the growing toll of massacres, industrial-scale abductions, and lawless abuse of Nigerians all over the country.
“This week alone over 130 people were massacred in two separate incidents in Benue and Plateau states, without drawing a response from the president. It continues to appear as if the president is both indifferent to the suffering of Nigerians and unwilling to provide leadership in addressing it.
“As citizens, we cannot sit by and watch this happen. In 2018, we got together a coalition of concerned citizens to commemorate the lives and sufferings of victims of violence in our country in the first National Day of Mourning. Since then, we have marked 28 May of every year as a National Day of Mourning to remember all those whom we have lost to violence and also show solidarity with their families and communities.
“As #Nigerianbleeds we have come together on this fourth National Day of Mourning to ask the president to take urgent steps to #securenigeria by addressing these priority areas that we have identified above. There is no time to waste; the time to act is now.”