#DAY1000 OF #CHIBOKGIRLS ABDUCTION GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION DAY 6: INSECURITY/KILLINGS IN NIGERIA: ALL LIVES MATTER
Today is the sixth day of our 24-hourly marches to the State House, part of our Global Week of Action to mark 1000 days of our #ChibokGirls’ abduction in their school on 14 April 2014, and the continued captivity of 195 of them.
Our focus today is on insecurity and killings around Nigeria. Our #ChibokGirls are victims of insecurity. Of their 19 parents who have died, 4 were killed by Boko Haram. Aside the insecurity and deaths by the insurgents, there has been ceaseless bloodletting across Nigeria with seemingly no end in view. The leading causes of the demeaning of the sanctity of life have been by the military clashes with civilians, pastoralist Fulani cattle herders in attacks of host communities, community conflicts and kidnaps. Research shows that there can be no development in any country or society without law and order. Peace is a prerequisite condition for development. Conflict prone countries are mostly at the bottom of the global economic league table.
NIGERIA CONSTITUTION 1999 PROVISION ON SECURITY
Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution which states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government; and the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.” Boko Haram gained grounds and the scourge of insecurity escalated in the North East because successive governments had failed to ACT TIMELY in the early years of the manifestation of criminal acts by the sect. Had there been such timely political, judicial, military and security coordinated response to the terrorists formation period, our ChibokGirls and other victims of terrorism would never have happened. “National security is a concept that a government along with its parliaments should protect the states and its citizens against all kind of “national” crises through a variety of means including, political power, political power, diplomacy, economic power and military might”. In a diverse, multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious, multi plural society like Nigeria, good governance principles are critical to growing and maintaining stability.
Our governments led by the federal seem to have failed in ensuring the observance of the core principles of good governance, thereby providing the context for the disenchantment across the regions and polity and these in turn escalate into conflicts between and among people of communities and states. The degenerate state of insecurity across the country has happened hand in hand with the collapse of security institutions and establishments. The capacity of the Nigerian-State to respond to multiple crises has been tested beyond limit. Today, most Nigerians do not feel safe. One form of sectarian, political, historical, economic crisis or the other explodes without immediate response from the State. When and how did the Nigerian Life lose value? The concept of according dignity of the Nigerian life now seems to be in extinction. Reality no longer mirrors expectation that when a Nigerian is killed, the nation-state would respond decisively to prevent and tackle the cause of such death. So we ask, “do the provisions of the 1999 constitution still matter on the protection it promises on the right to life for all citizens?”
Our diversity should be a source of strength because research abound that diverse societies which properly harness the talents of all outperform more homogenous societies. How is it that the same problem of Bad Governance has turned what should be our strength to our greatest weakness? It is sad that after 102 years of being one country and 56 years of gaining independence, religion, culture, geography, history, ethnicity, economic and politics exclusion have been identified as key drivers of conflicts across our land. For example, the Fulani Herdsmen crisis in Southern Kaduna, Zaria- military clash, settler -indigene crisis in Plateau and other places, Agatu crisis, Nasarawa crisis, economic and political exclusion and unresolved historical wounds – e.g. Agitations by groups like MASSOB/IPOB- military clashes & the civil war carryover, the North-east – Religious and economics, South-South – militants and Avengers on Economic injustice, political exclusion are indicative of a country that has not evolved to a nation of people with shared history, shared values, shared vision and therefore an agreed shared identity.
It is for this reason that our movement calls for urgent actions to be taken by the Federal Government to reverse the trend of escalation of crisis that could easily be prevented or terminated with an effective and robust National Security Strategy. Today, nations no longer emphasis mere military security. The core of national security is Human Security which encompasses culture, economy, equal opportunity to thrive in a non-discriminatory way to all members of society with political inclusion and the concept of the capable state which is underpinned by the rule of law and gains legitimacy from all in society from being able to provide the basic services of a nation-state. It is reason countries deploy INCLUSIVE GROWTH STRATEGIES for their development. It is what gives everyone a stake in their society and a commitment to offering their best as citizens.
Killings by the Nigerian military
Amnesty International reports that of the reported 20,000 fatalities caused by the Boko Haram insurgency, 8,000 of these were directly by the Nigerian military. ‘People were murdered, starved, suffocated and tortured to death by members of the Nigerian military’ according to the report. The international organization went ahead to detail a series of war crimes committed by members of the Nigerian military while it was fighting the insurgents.
In Zaria, more than 350 people including infants, women, and children are believed to have been extrajudicially executed by the military between 12 and 14 December 2015, following a confrontation earlier in the day on 12 December between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and the motorcade of the chief of army staff.
The same military, embarked on a chilling campaign of extrajudicial executions and violence resulting in the deaths of at least 150 peaceful pro-Biafra protesters in the south east Nigerian cities of Aba, Onitsha and others according to another investigation published by Amnesty International and other investigators.
Sadly, President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly promised these would be looked into. However, no verifiable steps have been taken up to now to launch a government review of these many troubling reports in order to take appropriate preventive and punitive measures.
At the last count, except for 6 states: Ebonyi, FCT, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi and Sokoto states, (except Ebonyi, FCT, Jigawa, Katsina, Kebbi and Sokoto states) members of the military can be found on active deployment in 30 states of the federation tackling internal security threats that normally should have been left to the police and paramilitary agencies to contain seeing as the military is not trained to deal with civilians and contain civil unrests. It is evident that our internal security system is broken and must be immediately fixed.
All lives matter. All lives are precious. No human being is more human than other humans, and no Nigerian is more Nigerian than any other Nigeria. We insist that our Federal Government must take every action necessary to restore dignity to EVERY Nigerian life.
Killings by Fulani herdsmen and cattle rustlers
Violence by herdsmen and cattle rustlers against host communities, from Southern kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, to Plateau, Benue, Niger, Nasarawa, Taraba, Kaduna and steadily advancing southwards to Enugu, Delta, Ekiti, all the way to Rivers. The herdsmen themselves face increasingly a decline in grazing resources. Both the host communities and the herdsmen have been neglected by the government and have been reduced to self-help.
But we cannot comprehend a situation where a group of people kills other Nigerians with impunity, openly justifies the killings as retaliation for grievances including cattle theft and the government does little or nothing to punish the killers or put an end to the killings. We cannot understand why a body of armed men can move around freely within the country and are at liberty kill, this an indictment on the security and intelligence services. This clearly shows speaks to the value placed on the Nigerian life by the government. We insist that all lives matter and must be protected at all cost. This is is the raison d’être of government: the security of life and property, and welfare of all peoples. This is the number one thing that legitimises a government, the ability to protect the life of its citizens.The response from the government and the security institutions show a clear disconnect from this fact.
Rising above Polarising voices
Unfortunately, the escalating tensions between herders and host communities is being allowed to degenerate to an ethnic and religious battle with leaders of religious faiths in open confrontations which portend even greater danger. As a movement, we see this as a failure of governance, and strictly that. We call on all to unite and face the root cause of the problem–failure of governance, than resort to suspicion, name-calling, etc as the sanctity of human life and our shared humanity supersedes every other seeming divide.
These are our recommendations:
A. Review our Security Governance Constitutional Provision:
The 1999 Constitutional provision on centralized control and command of Security can no sustain the size, scale and complexity. A review of the absolute control of security establishments from the capital negates the necessity for timely response to crises in states and communities across the country. At this time however, the President must rise up to the satisfactory performance of his duty as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. He must no longer delay decisions and actions necessary to end the loss of any Nigerian life anywhere in the country such as has recently happened in Southern Kaduna. The loud silence of the President when Nigerians are killed across the country must STOP. Citizens deserve better from their President.
B. Democratize the Security Establishments:
The country is being haunted by the failure to democratize the security and military establishments especially, and the rest of government institutions more broadly after more than two decades of military rule. Governance failure and systemic corruption have eroded the quality of our military and security institutions . Human rights violations have entrenched distrust between institutions and public and must be urgently addressed. It is time to invest expertise and goodwill into building a trustful civil-military relations.
C. INTELLIGENCE. INTELLIGENCE. INTELLIGENCE: The Nigerian intelligence capability is currently below par. We are unable to preempt and prevent crises, nor respond in a timely manner when insecurity escalates.
The government must place capable intelligence assets more than the use of force at the center of our National Security to make it more preemptive and preventive than reactive. Reactive restoration of Law and order by our military has led to many needless civilian deaths.
C. Review the Size and Re-professionalized the Military/Security Apparatus for Effectiveness: The training and equipping of army, police and others is extremely essential at this time to boost their effectiveness. The Federal Government should launch a Security Sector Reform Program strongly anchored on audit of competencies and capabilities and supported with empirical studies of what quality and strength of our military/security apparatus can best service our national security objectives. Tackling all cases of impropriety and installing effective systems of resource governance by the military/security establishment will transform their services to the country and people.
D. Maximizing the Key Role of the President in deploying his Political Capital to Mediate Regional and Group Tension and Promote Unity:
Our Presidential system of government confers enormous political powers on the office of the President of Nigeria. Anyone who is our President must be seen at all times to effectively deploy his formal and informal authority to respond, mediate, resolve and end all forms of tensions across the federation. The President as Head of Government, and Chief Executive of the Nation is the symbol of Unity for all Nigerians, and a leading unifying factor. He is also the “Father of the Nation”. President Muhammadu Buhari should therefore be seen to be actively playing this role using all the political capital and leverage his office bestows to create inclusiveness, cohesion, and harmony as against what we are currently seeing. Our Movement is grossly disappointed at how dismally President Muhammadu Buhari has used his enormous political leverage to reach out, inspire and mobilize the people of Nigeria toward a unified vision of building a stable and inclusive nation. Now is the time for the President as the Leader of ALL NIGERIANS to reach out to all disaffected zones and communities in the country. No Nigerian is more Nigerian than any other Nigerian!
E. Time for a Citizens-Led Nationwide Dialogues for Peace:
We have reason to believe that ethnic, regional, religious, historical and other tensions are promoted by a political elite class who thrive in divide-and-rule antics and fan the embers of conflict among other citizens for political spoils.
We strongly aver that it is time for Nigerian citizens to unite and drive an open discourse on “Building An Inclusive and Peaceful Nigeria”. Such citizens-led Dialogues can help foster understanding among our the diverse people of our country and douse tensions nationwide. Such a process can open doors for candid dialogue on the various issues of disagreement and disaffection and disagreement among our people.
At the end of the citizens Discourse, there should be a demand for a Federal Government led National Dialogue for Nation Building and Peace to bring everyone under one tent to discuss. The diverse citizens of Nigeria must now take their rightful place in our Democracy and collectively demand for Good Governance and accountability from ALL who govern them.
F. Immediate and Effective Mobilizing of Security and Intelligence Personnel to Speedily Re-Establish Law and Order and Security to Life and Property to Stem Any Further Killings in Southern Kaduna, Agatu, Guma, Zamfara, Katsina, Delta, Ekiti, etc:
The Federal Government working with state governments, local governments, local communities has to speedily move to begin mobilizing communities to establish law and order, security of life and property, as well as assurance of peace and safety for citizens
G. Sanctions and Speedy Prosecution of Killers and Anarchists To Serve as Deterrent and End Impunity.
All offenders who have killed or maimed citizens and destroyed properties MUST be found and made to face the full force of the law. There is a nexus between justice and peace. The FG must lead all other levels of Government to give Justice to all victims of insecurity and killings in our land. A key step to take is to review and respond to the findings of independent assessments carried out by bodies like the Amnesty International and other Nigerian groups on the military in North-east, Zaria, Onitsha, Aba,etc. The next step is to ACT DECISIVELY on prosecuting and punishing ALL OFFENDERS in such cases.
The worst carnage is presently ongoing in Southern Kaduna and most of the killings are unreported. Killings are alleged by the indigenes and residents of communities in Southern Kaduna to be rampant still despite the recent mobilization of military and police teams. The response from the inspector-general of police that the numbers of deaths are being “exaggerated” is extremely provocative. The response from the Office of the President that “the president does not need respond to every crisis that involves loss of life and property” is not only offensive, abhorrent and totally unacceptable but must be condemned by all citizens. We take strong exception to this. Correcting this error and addressing it correctly would mark the right beginning.
We hereby demand as a movement that does not wish to see a replay of the North East destabilization; that our President —President Muhammadu Buhari should immediately visit Southern Kaduna to assess the situation for himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Following the visit, we expect a quick stabilization of Southern Kaduna to pave way for peace and reconciliation which should be led by the State Government with the active involvement of the Federal Authorities.
It is past time, the Federal Government restored Respect, Value and Dignity to every Nigerian life by ending the killings in the land. ACT NOW!
For and on behalf of #BringBackOurGirls