A coalition of northern groups have written President Muhammadu Buhari, calling on him to urgently address all the security problems affecting northern Nigeria.
The groups were led by the National Response Initiative (NRI) in a meeting, chaired by Prof. Sule Bello.
Among the NRI-member organisations which attended the meeting were: African Research and Development Agency (ARADA), One Nation Group (ONG), United Democratic Forum (UDF), Kano Community Based Organisations (K-CBOS), Voice of Widows Orphans and Divorcees of Nigeria (VOWAN), Youth Global Vision for Peace in Africa (YGV), Arewa Socio-Economic Project (ASEP), National Movement for Good Governance (NAMOGG) and Kano Civil Society Forum (KCSF).
Key security issues of the country were deliberated extensively during the meeting, after which participants agreed to write an open letter to the president, for the attention of all Nigerians.
The participants, referred to as “concerned citizens,” voiced their support for the nation-wide calls for the immediate removal of the serving security chiefs in favour of those who will be seen acting more sincerely and seriously in defence of the people and national interest.
The meeting unanimously supported the various calls on government by concerned Nigerians from all walks of life to get its acts together and assume control of the security situation in the country in a manner that will bring to an end the “disturbing, destructive and traumatic spate of violence” that have held the North-Eastern, North-Central and North-Western parts of the country in the jugular.
The conveners said: “Our attention is particularly drawn to the more recent violent crimes in Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Niger states, due to the degree to which they represent, not only the escalation, expansion and deepening of insecurity in the nation, but also the manner in which they further compound the security situation.
“The problems of violent assaults and terrorism, resulting in rape, theft, plunder, arson and kidnapping, which have led to the death, maiming, impoverishment and destitution of many, must be treated with the iron fists that they deserve, in a manner that is designed to promote law and order as well as ensure that justice is done to those who deserve it,” the letter stressed.
Parts of the deliberations during the meeting were contained in a statement issued by the NRI spokesman, Kabiru Ali Saliff, calling on the government to desist from arresting innocent people who are legitimately discharging their constitutionally guaranteed rights and demonstrating against the state of insecurity in the country.
“Government should rather be seen arresting and prosecuting those who are causing insecurity in the country,” the statement adds.
The NRI adviced Buhari and his principal appointees to be seen visiting and assessing situations, especially in the crisis areas, “as example to state governors and other categories of leaders, for them to also fulfill their supervisory roles effectively.”
“We call for immediate restoration of security, law and order in the areas concerned so that normalcy will be restored.
“Government should establish a special commission in the area to address the destructive consequences of the criminal violence visited on the localities.
“In this regard, government should immediately set up an expanded judicial authority structure for the public trial of all those arrested in connection with these criminal activities.
“Only in this manner will it be possible to do away with the kind of ethnic mischaracterisation and stereotyping that is used to conceal, cover up and avoid going after the actual criminals, and derelict public officials, involved in such dastardly acts.
“This will greatly help the communities involved towards treating and healing the trauma associated with such crimes. It will help to promote awareness of the fact that crime does not pay in opposition to the present situation where criminals tend to hold sway while innocent citizens remain dead, injured, impoverished and displaced without help.
“Justice heals, but in order for it to do so, it must be seen to be done,” Prof. Sule Bello said.