By Celestine Okafor (Editor-in-Chief) @CeleOkaf11

A coalition of 68 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), on Sunday, condemned the rising spate of kidnappings, banditry and armed insurgency in the country, urging the federal and state governments to urgently rise to the challenge of providing adequate security in Nigeria for all her citizens.

The CSOs also blamed the government for what they described as the inability of the federal and state governments to tackle the insecurity situation in the land in recent times.

The 68 CSOs led by CISLAC, Global Rights and CDD, spoke at an emergency press briefing of the Civil Society Joint Action on Sunday at Wuse, Abuja. They lamented that Nigeria is currently under-policed and called for more recruitment of security hands in other to mitigate the personnel shortfalls that has affected adequate security of the country.

The CSOs however expressed great apprehension that the country might be gradually sliding into a "failed state" if concerted efforts are not taken by the governments at all levels to arrest the dangerous trend of national insecurity.

The CSOs said that: "Nigeria is in dire straits. All over the country, Nigerian citizens, including children, are killed daily by terrorists and criminals as well as in extra-judicial killings by state actors with the government doing little or nothing about it. The government, through the Minister of Defence, has instead callously abdicated its responsibility and called Nigerian citizens 'cowards' and urged Nigerians to ‘defend themselves’.

"Kidnapping for ransom has assumed an industrial and deadly scale never witnessed on the African continent. Our children are no longer safe in schools and Nigerian citizens and communities are now pauperised by terrorists who extort huge ransoms while murdering their hostages. We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, what has now become the government’s standard state policy of using taxpayers’ money to pay terrorists thereby funding and encouraging terrorism and criminality.

"President Buhari and his government have failed in their primary duty under Section 14 2(b) of the 1999 Constitution which is ensuring the security and welfare of the Nigerian people. Instead, under their watch, Nigeria is now a catalogue of bloodletting".

The CSOs gave instances of what it described as violent bloodletting in the country to include: "The unending war in the North East with our troops often bearing the brunt of this government’s security failures" and the alleged "Gross injustices by President Buhari’s government against the Nigerian people such that peaceful protesters are threatened and attacked by the government’s security agents while terrorists carrying out mass murder, rape, maiming and kidnapping of Nigerians including women and children are feted, molly coddled, granted ‘amnesty’ and paid by the government.

"This is tantamount to funding and supporting terrorists, encouraging murder and the decimation of the Nigeria’s gallant troops and amounts to treason against the Nigerian State and people".

Other acts of violence and injustices alleged by the CSOs to be ongoing in the country currently, include: "Terrorist herder attacks on unarmed farming communities and reprisal attacks in the face of government inaction and failure to bring the terrorist herdsmen and their funders to justice;

"Large scale terrorist attacks in the North West irresponsibly tagged by the government as ‘banditry’ in a bid to downplay their criminality;

"ndustrial scale kidnappings all across the country;

"Extra-judicial killings by State Security agents in various forms; Inter-ethnic violence and Menace of political cult gangs and ethnic militia".

While reminding governments of its statutory responsibility to the citizens of the country, the CSOs specifically cited Section 14 of the Constitution as having "imposed a duty on the State, I.e, the Federal Government, States and Local Governments, to protect all citizens.

"All Governments should invest in the security of life and property of every citizen. And since, armed robbery, kidnapping and murder or culpable homicide are state offences. All arrested suspected should be prosecuted by State Attorney Generals

"Nigeria is completely under policed. As a matter of urgency, more security personnel should be employed, trained and motivated to defend the society. When an American citizen was recently kidnapped in Niger State no ransom was paid. Yet, a team of US troops invaded the country, killed two of the kidnappers and freed the abducted American!".

Our Demands

However, based on the foregoing, the CSOs are making some demands on the government which they have blamed for the country's present security challenges.

"This government, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has failed to protect Nigerians as is their primary duty under Section 14 (2)b of the 1999 Constitution and we hold President Buhari solely responsible as the buck stops at his desk.

"As Civil Society organisations, we call on the President to take immediate steps to :

  1. Provide political and moral leadership for the security crisis and ensure governmental actions are humane in tandem with Section 17 (2) ( C ) of the Constitution;

  2. The Nigeria Police Council established by section 153 of the Constitution is constituted by the President, IGP, Chair of Police Service Commission and the 36 state governors. The NPC is empowered by the Construction to administer organise and supervise the Nigeria Police Force. The NPC should be called to meet regularly to address the crisis of insecurity

  3. End impunity for abuse of power and sectionalism through his appointments by balancing the need for competence with the federal character principle. In this way, he will demonstrate that every part of Nigeria matters as sectional appointments appear to fuel sectional violence;

    1. Amnesty for terrorists and abductors should stop. Huge ransom paid to criminal gangs is used to purchase arms and ammunition to attack communities. As security is technology driven the Government must acquire the necessary equipment to deal with the menace of terrorism, banditry and abduction.
  4. Take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state.

  5. Mobilize our rich Nigerian assets to address the insecurity situation across the country and seek international cooperation to ramp up security assets.

  6. Where the President fails to fulfill his constitutional duties as stated above, we demand he steps aside or the National Assembly initiates impeachment proceedings against him on grounds of gross misconduct as provided for in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

"We remain hopeful as citizens of Nigeria and call on all Nigerians to keep hope alive as we bond together and build a nation where true peace and justice reign.

The 68 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that signed the communique of the joint action press briefing are as follows: Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) and Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP).

Others are: Zero-Corruption Coalition (ZCC), Partners on Electoral Reform; African Centre for Media and Information Literacy (AFRICMIL); National Procurement Watch Platform; Praxis Center; Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civil Education (CHRICED); Social Action; Community Action for Popular Participation; Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP) and Global Rights.

Other CSOs include: Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE); YIAGA Africa; Tax Justice and Governance Platform; Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria; Women In Nigeria; African Centre for Leadership, Strategy & Development (Centre LSD); Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre(RULAAC); Women Advocate Research And Documentation Centre; Community Life Project; Nigerian Feminist Forum and Alliances for Africa.

There are also: Spaces for Change; Nigerian Women Trust Fund; Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa; BudgiT Foundation; State of the Union (SOTU); Action International Nigeria; Femi Falana Chamber; HEDA Resource Centre; Conscience for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution; Organization Community Civic Engagement(OCCEN); Say NO Campaign—Nigeria; Women In Media; Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and Sesor Empowerment Foundation.

Also, part of the signatories include: House of Justice; Molluma Medico-Legal Center; Open Bar Initiative; Tap N’Itiative; Partners West Africa, Nigeria (PWAN); We The People; Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD Nigeria); Centre for Impact Advocacy; Actionaid; Dorothy Njemanze Foundation; FEMBUD; Raising New Voices Initiative; Haly Hope Foundation; Centre for Liberty and Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution.

Others are: Adopt a Goal for Development Initiative; Education as a Vaccine; Stand to End Rape; TechHer; Invictus Africa; Dinidari Foundation; International Peace and Civic Responsibility Centre (IPCRC); Foundation for Environmental Rights, Advocacy and Development (FENRAD); Mowalek Centre for Sustainable Community Development; Silverchip Fox; Connected Development and Srarina Initiative for Peace, Justice and Development (SIPJAD). NNL.

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