Some 68 civil rights groups in Nigeria have called on president Muhammadu Buhari to act now and come to the rescue of hapless citizens who are at the mercy of bandits and kidnappers.
In a statement released at the weekend, the groups said, “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’”.
The minister of Defence, Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi had last week said Nigerians are cowards for not confronting the bandits.
However, the groups said President Buhari had abdicated his role as the chief defender of the people and should therefore resign or be impeached.
The groups said, “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.”
They therefore called on we call on the President to take immediate steps to “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”
According to them, 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 and that the NPC should be called to meet regularly to address the crisis of insecurity. It called for an end to impunity among other things saying amnesty should not be granted to terrorists and abductors.
The groups condemned payment of ransom to criminal groups because such proceeds are used to purchase arms and ammunition to attack communities. They also called on the government take responsibility and end the persecution of the media and free speech both of which are foundations of a democratic state.
The groups decried the fact that “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.”
The groups criticised what they called, “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.”
Among the groups that signed the statement are Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Centre for Democratic Research and Training (CRDDERT), Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) Media Rights Agenda (MRA) and Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD).
Others are Borno Coalition for Democracy and Progress (BOCODEP), Global Rights, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE), YIAGA Africa, Tax Justice and Governance Platform, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria and a host of others.