• Northern coalition insignificant, says Presidency
• Sack service chiefs now, ethnic nationalities charge Buhari
• FG gets 14-day ultimatum to end killings
• Admit failure, seek help, CAN tells president, govs
A coalition of Northern groups, yesterday, bemoaned the growing insecurity in the region and called on the Federal Government to implement sweeping measures.
It asked President Muhammadu Buhari to “immediately relieve the service chiefs of their duties,” saying unless killings in the region stop within 14 days, the coalition would “mobilise citizens to take to streets until the government is completely shut down.”
The ultimatum came barely a week after protesters took to the streets of Buhari’s Katsina State, condemning killings by bandits.
The coalition “on a sad note” reminded the authorities: “The primary responsibility of government anywhere, particularly the one that was democratically elected by voters, is to protect the life and property of citizens.”
It recalled how the region “voted President Muhammadu Buhari en mass to power in 2015 in anticipation that as a former military Head of State and a retired General,” he would “deal decisively with all forms of threats to the security of our people, particularly the challenges of Boko Haram.”
It however regretted: “Alas! Five years into President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure, instead of reducing insecurity, it has escalated, exposing great numbers of our people to avoidable deaths and loss of property in a manner history has never witnessed before.”
Tagged: ‘Coalition Against Killings In Northern Nigeria (CAKIN)’, it vented its disapproval in a joint statement signed by Isa Abubakar (Northern Youth Council of Nigeria); Yerima Shettima (Arewa Youth Consultative Forum); Yusuf Idris Amoke (Northern Anti-Corruption Front); Muhammad Danlami (Arewa Youth Assembly); and Murtala Abubakar (Joint Action Committee of Northern Youth Associations).
Other signatories were: Dr Idris Mohammad (Citizens United for Peace and Security); Gamno Gujungu (Arewa Youth Forum); Muhammad Imam (Northern Youth Forum); and Mikailu Abubakar (Arewa Defense League).
“As patriotic citizens, it is our constitutional duty to raise voices and call attention to the killings taking place across states of the Northern region on a daily basis and mobilise citizens on how to constructively engage governments and demand an end to the killings.
“The coalition is saying enough is enough. An end must be put to the mindless killings of our people particularly in the villages, and the nonchalant attitude displayed by government and its agencies to the plight of people going through horrific experiences in the hands of criminals that seem to have overwhelmed our security agencies,” the coalition said.
But reacting, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the coalition is too insignificant to be taken seriously, alleging that the group is merely a front. “Let the big masquerade that sent them remove his mask. Then, we will respond,” he said.
Similarly, the Kaduna Sate chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), following a meeting where it assessed the security situation in the country, urged Buhari and state governors to admit they have failed security-wise and get help.
State chairman, Reverend Joseph Hayab, in a statement said the chapter is upset over mass killings and the growing insecurity in the region, especially in Kaduna, Katsina, Sokoto and Borno States.
He noted: “Our leaders should be humble enough to admit that they have failed the people and seek help from whoever and wherever it will come. It will be good for those in government to know that people are not buying the much propaganda that are being circulated on some media platforms about the security challenges.
“How can you tell the person whose family members have been killed by bandits or terrorists that you are on top of the situation, yet the killings continues unabated?
“If you are truly on top of the situation, these mindless killings and destruction should have stopped. CAN wonders how our government and security agencies always use this phrase without shame.”
Hayab said that in the last few weeks, Boko Haram and bandits have killed hundreds, even as “our security agencies appear to be overwhelmed and lack new tactics to handle the situation. Both the states and federal government seem to be shying away from the reality of the problem and appear to be living in self-denial while criminals are massacring people.
“People are now living in perpetual fear, as they are not safe on the highways and even in their homes. Rural communities are being invaded by bandits, and farmers cannot go to their farms for fear of being killed or abducted for ransom by gunmen.”
He noted: “As a religious body, this country belongs to all Nigerians and our leaders must listen to the cries of Nigerians about the continuous declining security situation. The protection of life and property of the citizenry is a constitutional responsibility of governments all over the world.
“Our government must therefore live up to this responsibility by tackling the present state of insecurity across the country. There is need for our leaders to do an honest stocktaking of the situation in our country.
“We need to check where we have gone wrong and what those things are that we are doing that we need to do better. Boko Haram and bandits are wasting many lives almost on a daily basis. People are being abducted and killed by kidnappers because they could not pay the huge ransom demanded by the hoodlums.”
Meanwhile, Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, the Yoruba World Congress (YWC) and other ethnic nationalities backed the calls for change in the nation’s security.
The spokesman for Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the Northern coalition has a valid case, noting: “Killings in Nigeria today are nationwide and little or nothing is being done by the government to contain the development.”
He added: “Governors’ security votes demand some attention, as the reckless amounts being collected without accountability can no longer be justified.”
One of the leaders of YWC, Otunba Tola Adeniyi, regretted that government has “failed to live up to the expectations of securing the country.” He submitted it was a welcome development that the coalition has “realised that death to one is death to all.”
The General Secretary, Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE), Dr. Kunle Olajide, said: “Sacking of security chiefs is overdue. By now, they certainly have outlived their usefulness. Besides, their subordinates who are eying their positions have been demoralised. For these, they should be replaced. In any case, their performance is not inspiring.
“Before 2015, the area of crises was mainly in the North East. In the last five years, the entire country has been engulfed with insecurity. North, West and East are not secure, and the entire North is under banditry. Even the home state of Mr. President, Katsina, has been attacked several times.”
Olajide, who supported the abolition of security vote “because it has been grossly abused,” said he was “not surprised” that the complaints about insecurity were coming from the North. “I expected it a long time ago. And that should remind the authorities that time is running out on them. They must initiate the process of restructuring right away,” he advised.
A security scholar at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Prof. Oyesoji Aremu, told The Guardian: “The killings in the northern part of the country have not only defied coalitions of military operations, they have shown that there are more to the killings. The orchestrated killings have also shown the failure of intelligence in that part of the country.
“The solution is not stoppage of security vote, although one is quick to ask what the governors do with such huge money as Chief Security Officers of their states, given the insecurity. Governors should be made to inject such money to compliment the Federal Government’s security.
“Secondly is the argument for or not to retain the service chiefs given the spate of insecurity in the northern part of the country. I think the President should have another look into this by doing the needful. It won’t be too bad an idea to have a review of their staying in their respective offices.”
A former presidential candidate, Dr. Olapade Agoro, said: “Nobody needs to tell the President that he has failed. We have seen the worst of insecurity since he became the President. On security chiefs, nobody needs to tell them to go. They must go if they have conscience without being told. Also, the security vote should be abolished. I don’t know what the security vote is for. It serves no good. It should therefore be abolished.”
On his part, Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said: “The security vote our governors and other political office holders waste should be rechanneled to benefit the country.”
Also, the national president of the Association of Southeast Town Unions (ASETU), Chief Emeka Diwe, stated: “Our people at the grassroots whose livelihoods depend almost entirely on their farmlands have had those farms ravaged by herdsmen and their cattle, yet nothing has been done.
“As I speak to you, there is hardly a single herdsman standing trial anywhere in Nigeria for killings and atrocious acts. Hardly can you find one in detention or even one being prosecuted. The feeling our people now have to contend with in Nigeria is that their lives do not matter anymore. This is what keeps fanning the embers of secession in youths.”
He added: “Ever since we began to lament and plead for the Nigerian authorities to come to our rescue over insecurity caused by herdsmen, who has responded to us? What has happened? Lopsided appointments in security, legislature, judiciary, and the executive have worsened the situation. How do you expect the country to run in a situation like that?”